While we had a fairly mild December, winter hit hard in January. Any sense of routine we’d manage to get back to after the holidays was extremely difficult to hold onto, thanks to two-hour delays, no-school-at-all-days (including 3 in one week!), and a round of colds that caused a few (minor) sick days.
However, if I’ve learned nothing else over my nearly nine years of motherhood, I know that you have to be flexible and adaptable to change.
Especially on a snow day (or sick days).
So, while I do my best to keep on top of the regular to-do’s of everyday life…for the most part…I also make sure to adjust my expectations of what will get done when the boys are home for a snow day. Unrealistic expectations and trying to do too much only leads to frustration, stress, and a grumpy mommy and kids.
I’ve discovered that a snow day can be miserable or memorable, and it’s all up to my attitude. (Of course, this applies to basically every day and any situation, really.)
Instead of wallowing in the inconveniences (And trust me, I KNOW they aren’t generally convenient. They require rearranging schedules, canceling plans, and letting go of the to-do list), do your best to grab onto the blessing of a special day with your child.
When I make the extra days with my kids less about my routine and more about appreciating the time with them, our days have far fewer meltdowns (from them and me).
So, since we still have quite a bit of winter left (at least here in Ohio), here are some ideas for you of how we’ve been enjoying our unexpected days together:
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GO OLD SCHOOL
Winter weather is a perfect time to turn off the screens and break out the board games, card games, and more. Our boys get so excited about these because it requires a whole lot more interaction and togetherness than just picking a movie to watch.
Some of our favorites: Carrom (an old game that my family has played for 5 generations), Monopoly, Screaming Eagles (older board game from my husband’s childhood), Spoons, Kings on the Corner, 4-Hand Solitaire (similar to Dutch Blitz, but using 4 different decks of regular playing cards), and puzzles of all kinds.
Challenge your kids’ creativity and teamwork skills (and practice letting go of control a bit…Haha) by building something together.
Our boys love traditional blocks and Legos, of course, but there are so many more options! They really enjoy their marble run (The Dad Lab has a great idea for making a simple one with clothes pins and a ruler) and creating a blanket fort. And there’s no end to the ideas they can come up with for a simple cardboard box, some paper towel tubes, and recycled oat boxes or cereal boxes.
If you have little ones, Play-Dough is also a great way to build and play together (you can even make it at home!)
Most children enjoy coloring, crafting, and painting – if only for the mess they get to create! Break out the crayons, pencils, paints, construction paper, stickers, leftover fabric scraps, and more.
My kids like not only drawing but also writing and illustrating their own books. Just staple or hole punch some blank pages, then tie them together with some ribbon or string (or stock up on some blank-paged journals), and let them develop their inner author!
Believe it or not, my kids really jumped on this one. I think most of the thanks goes to the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” (which I purposely had them watch with me, in hopes of inspiring some change), but they also enjoy that sense of accomplishment and a job well done when they pitch in around the house.
Josiah recently helped me in the kitchen and was very thorough, even saying how much he liked cleaning. When his older brother came in later with a dirty dish, Josiah was frustrated and ran across the room in a panic, saying, “You’re messing up my cleaning!” (Welcome to my life, kiddo!)
If you take the time to (patiently, calmly, kindly) teach your children the correct way to do a chore or task, they’re much more likely to help out around the house.
With all that energy not getting spent outside much during a snow day, my boys have to do SOMETHING physically active or things get crazy really quickly.
I start out by turning on some soul-feeding music while we work and play (favorites right now: Seeds Family Worship, Yancy, Hillsong Kids, The Rizers). This pretty much ALWAYS leads to a dance party, and we all get lots of wiggles (& giggles) out!
We’ve also been known to move as much furniture as we can out of the living room and have a little gymnastics practice (mostly cartwheels and summersaults), and my boys also like following their exercise routines from gym class at school.
Of course, if it’s the best kind of snow day and you can get outside – GO! Build a snowman, take a winter hike, go sledding, or just walk around the neighborhood.
MAKE A TREAT
Concocting in the kitchen is a great way to teach life skills, warm the house (if you use the oven), make a bit of a mess, and create a few memories.
Hot chocolate is a winter staple here, and it’s super simple to make. I follow the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box (only I use half dark cocoa and half regular!). And cookies are a never-fail crowd pleaser. (These BACON CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies are a unique twist on a classic!)
No matter what you do – whether it’s building, reading, playing, dancing, or simply sitting on the couch, watching movies – the best way to survive that unexpected snow day is to treat it like the completely out-of-the-usual day that it is. Adjust your plans and expectations, and let go of what you can from that to-do list.
When you see it as a gift rather than a reason to grumble, your children will look forward to snow days not just as a chance to miss school or play in the snow, but also as an opportunity to spend time together and make memories with you.
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