CM: the dance of winter - dealing with the dreaded snow day

My newest piece from Connected Mom. The timing of this is fortuitous, since we are again home with a snow day today. Our 5th in 3 weeks! Who else is a little sick of this snow? 


Here at Connected Mom we run the gamut from Stay at Home Mamas to Work at Home Mamas to Work Outside the Home Mamas. I fall in the latter category. Each of these choices has its pros and cons. In the pro column for us is that, as an only child, we love that Gwen gets to play with a whole group of kids everyday, and that she has made some great friends. I love that I get to see other adults everyday, and talk about things completely outside the realm of parenthood. However this winter, which has been a doozy, has shown that a con is definitely the occurrence of multiple snow days in close succession.

I remember before Gwen was born. My office rarely closes for snow, but when it did, it meant a day full of hot chocolate, PJs, and lazy hours of movies and books. Now though, my daughters daycare/preschool closes far more often then my work does, and has no concern for when I have important work meetings. Suddenly snow days are full of guilt because you cut out on your coworkers, guilt that you aren't giving your child enough (if you are attempting to work from home), and possibly a cranky child who doesn't understand why we can spend all day out in the snow.

So here, in no particular order, are my top 10 tips for surviving unexpected snow days:

1. Talk to your boss beforehand. Figure out what works best for both of you in the event of a snow day. I know some parents that will probably be using half their vacation days before spring arrives. See if you can work out a half-time arrangement, so you don't have to take a full vacation day. Something has to get done? Promise you'll telework over nap. But let them know that you will be entertaining your child and that you just won't be able to give the same 100% you would if you were in the office.

2. Talk to your spouse beforehand. My husband and I check out the weather at the start of the week, and if there are big storms brewing, look at our work schedules to see if there are days one or the other of us can. not. miss. Having an idea of who is staying home when, before the morning of, is a huge stress reliever.

3. Try to get outside, if only for a little bit. Lots and lots of layers, maybe culminating in only being outside for the same amount of time it took to get all those layers on and  back off, but the fresh air and energy release is worth it!

4. If you can't get outside, make sure you get some physical play going. The cold has been intense this year, some days in the negatives when accounting for wind chill. Those days, its just not safe to go outside. But my daughter and I will have races in the hallway, or do yoga together, to burn off some extra energy. My girlfriend taught her daughter how to do jumping jacks, which her daughter loved and practiced for a good half hour on her own. Remember that your child is used to running around all day with a handful of other kids, all of whom probably have more energy individually then you do!

5. Make it special. My favorite memories of snow days when I was a kid are hanging out in my PJs, and my Mom's from scratch hot chocolate. My daughter, like me, loves the chance to spend some extra hours in her PJs... so that's what we do. She also gets a movie in the afternoon, which she loves, and gives me a few hours of work time that won't leave her feeling neglected.

6. If you have to work, reconnect throughout the day. We've had so many snow days lately that my days at home have mostly been work from home days. Its hard for my daughter to not have my undivided attention, and I feel guilty that I'm not giving 100% to either work or child. So I'll make sure to take 15 minutes or so after I finish each work project to be silly with Gwen, read her a book, ask about her game, or just give her some cuddles. And at lunch, I give her my undivided attention and lots of conversation so she feels heard and loved.

7. Keep your cool. For me at least, if I'm having a day when I'm feeling too torn, and the guilt of not giving my all to anyone who needs it can make me cranky. It helps me to remember that Gwen is off her game too. She didn't ask for this snow day either, and while she was excited about it initially, that doesn't mean she isn't going to miss her friends or her school routine. So it helps us both to do something silly to change it up and remind her (and me) exactly why she was excited to be home in the first place. I try to do something that will get her laughing, and gives me a chance to breathe and reboot. Throw on some music, break out your best/worst 80s moves and have a dance party in the living room. Just try to be frustrated when you're doing your version of the moon walk!

8. Provide them with their own work space. Gwen has gotten much better about playing independently while I work, and one of the biggest helps to that has been making sure her little desk (next to our computer desk) is stocked with paper and markers, and making sure to rotate the toys in the toy chest in that room as well. She's happy that she can be in the same room as me, I'm happy that she has options to keep her imagination running wild. A spare blanket has become a fort, and her toys all got a trip to the dentist the other day, all while I knocked out my work a foot away.

9. Keep a special activity in your back pocket. When its been a week or two in a row of multiple snow days, my daughter starts to get a little tired of her same toys with no other friends around and Mama working. That's when I pull out something different. It could be a sheet of stickers I picked up at the store, or a toy of hers that I stashed away when it wasn't getting a lot of play (its amazing how not playing with something for a few weeks can make it seem new again!), sometimes just changing the mix a little can reignite that imaginative play!

10. Remember that these days are fleeting. Soon enough spring will be here and we'll be wishing for a day at home!

Only 37 days until spring!!

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