I’m sitting in the relative comfort of Florida with my youngest child as the rest of our family and all of our friends back in DC prepare for the upcoming snowstorm. If you also spent the weekend stocking up on bread, milk, cereal, and toilet paper, let me share the upside I’ve learned about snow days: they can be memorable in a terrific way. Yes, they are miserable if you have a true emergency affecting your home. But if your house is secure and you can manage to stay warm and telecommute, here are some tips to making your Snow Day one to remember fondly.
- Find a way to telecommute, take a day or half-day off, or at the very least negotiate a flexible schedule for the day: Obviously some people in certain fields can’t do any of these things, but if you can, do. One of the blessings of being a freelancer and having a spouse who telecommutes weekly is that we can usually manage to both be home during Snow Days. Chances are that if the weather is so risky the kids have off of school, it’s not going to be easy for you to get to work, anyhow. And working from home with your kids around isn’t easy. Do yourself a favor (if you can swing it), and take at least a few hours off.
- Charge all of your devices: Knowing our area, your lights may temporarily go out, so before the whining begins, have everyone fully charge. Bonus points if you can round up your portable chargers and keep those ready to go as well. Needless to say, for practical reasons, you should also have your emergency kit (flashlights, glow sticks, and headlamps are plentiful in ours) on hand too.
- Gather favorite games: Go old school with your kids and have everyone in the family who will be home together pick out a game they’d like to play. My husband and our freshman in high school recently taught our third-grade son to play Risk. When we’re all together, we like everything from the dice-based Tenzi and collaborate Forbidden Desert to the more strategy-based games like Settlers of Catan ; Pit; and Ticket to Ride. I’m also fond of the morbid but hilarious Guillotine, and the easy-peasy Sleeping Queens.
- Everyone gets a say: Give the kids a chance to plan their Snow Day activities: If one kids wants to make hot cocoa and and bake cookies, awesome. Another wants to go sledding? Wonderful (IF you have your sleds, which have been collecting dust since last year). As long as what they want to do doesn’t cost much (or anything), require traveling in an unsafe way (that usually means driving), or involve more than, say, one or two friends, why not? Say yes, and discover the joy of child-led fun.
- No jumping ship: You can’t have a family Snow Day if you let each or all kids make plans with friends at someone else’s house. That’s why I recommend having one rule that you spend at least a few hours together before entertaining sending kids over to a friend’s house. Of course if you’ve worked out some childcare exchange in order to get in a half-day of work-a-home time? Then yes, send the kids off and then prepare for even more kids to come your way.
- Feeling extra lazy? Pick a movie (assuming you have power) you haven’t shown the kids yet and watch it together. Whether it’s on Netflix or from your personal library, pick a title that means something to you, and watch it with the kids. Don’t just have them go off to see it. Experience it again, with them.