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The Anatomy of a Snow Day (with kids)

My best and worst moments in parenting have all happened on snow days

Winter is kicking our butts here in New England. Seriously kicking our butts. In the last 10 school days, our town has had 5 snow days. FIVE. Five days of kids trapped indoors at home. Five days of whining, boredom, and just a little too much lazy time.

I haven’t seen the totals yet, but I’m pretty sure mother nature is breaking records here in Massachusetts. Three major storms in three weeks. Three major storms with at least 12 inches of snow. That’s A LOT for us.

And we’re just not set up to handle it.

Our houses are a little too close. We use our sidewalks (even in the winter). And the young and old alike are straining their backs and wrists with shoveling injuries. Yes. It’s that bad.

And I know what you’re thinking: Girl from the mountains of Maine complains about too much snow??!

Maine is just SO much better at snow. The roads are wider, the plow trucks are bigger, and there’s less people. It’s our season. We have snowmobiles, cross country skis, and snowshoes. We ski all winter. We have wood stoves and hot tubs that keep our indoor spaces at 85 degrees on sub-zero days. We have bigger cars and bigger houses. It’s just the way things are there.

If you’ve never lived in a northern climate, this entire experience is probably foreign to you. I’ve heard people equate the experience to a tropical storm or hurricane day in the south. And I get that. The difference is that after a tropical storm is over, short of major damage, you can go outside. Here, we’re stuck in permafrost (well, not technically, but it feels like it!). The snow is higher than our fence. It’s too fluffy to walk on, or build snow people, or slide on. And there’s just nowhere for little people with little legs to go.

So I wanted to share “the anatomy of a snow day” with you. We’ve had a lot of practice. Here’s what a typical snow event looks like with two little kids.

1. We run out of essentials. Before a storm, people buy all of the food in the grocery store. If you’re one of the many, many residents that made it to the grocery store before the storm than you got all the Chobani before it sold out. And the bread. And the milk. You’d think by the 4th storm everyone would be stocked up on bread and milk by now…

Before a storm people buy all the food in the grocery store

Before a storm people buy all the food in the grocery store

2.  In the morning, we stay in our pajamas for a long time. This is when I start the exhaustive “what the hell are we going to do all day” search on Pinterest. So far, I’ve curated a fair share of Kids Indoor Play and Learn Activities.

If you’re a parent in a northern climate, do yourself a favor and follow that board now. You’ll need quick access to it.

Because when you’re exhaustively searching Pinterest for activities to get you through the day, your toddler is probably playing with something they’re not supposed to. Like your DSLR.. but I’ll get to that later.

anatomy of a snow day: lingering in our pajamas

Anatomy of a snow day: lingering in our pajamas. Photo credit: Max.

3. We pack the living room with blankets and stuffed friends to watch PBS cartoons. Mostly Curious George and Wild Kratts. With lots of blankets and ALL the stuffed animals.

anatomy of a snowday: stuffed animals

Anatomy of a Snow Day: Nemo watches cartoons

4. We make giant messes and play and jump… until it gets out of hand. That’s when I pull my first safety: breakfast with the iPad (while I reconstruct what was once our living room).

Anatomy of a Snow Day: ipad intervention with breakfast

Anatomy of a Snow Day: iPad intervention with breakfast

5. And, somehow, all of our rules get broken in the first hour of the day as Max has sanctioned play with my DSLR. “I be careful, mommy” is about as reassuring as it’s ever going to get.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: playing with expensive toys

Anatomy of a Snow Day: playing with expensive toys

6. So I suggest we open one of the presents we never opened at Christmas (there are a lot of those).

Anatomy of a Snow Day: Opening leftover christmas presents

Anatomy of a Snow Day: Opening leftover Christmas presents

7. And a giant, but awesome, mess is created.  Toys with lots of parts make great snow day experiments. And messes.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: More messes

Anatomy of a Snow Day: More messes

8. And I spend an hour navigating the parts and helping them figure out how to put it together. And then the doorbell rings. The UPS delivery guy has delivered my new project life supplies in the middle of a major snow storm. Because he’s amazing.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: my project life supplies arrived!

Anatomy of a Snow Day: my project life supplies arrived!

9. So now we’re popping package mailers. For 5 seconds.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and now we're really excited about packaging - yay!

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and now we’re really excited about packaging – yay!

10. And, now that we think of it, wouldn’t it be fun to make that giant box into a movie screen? GET THE ART SUPPLIES – creativity is happening.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and now we're making a movie

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and now we’re making a movie

 

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and Max KEEP THE CRAYONS ON THE PAPER

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and Max KEEP THE CRAYONS ON THE PAPER

11. And I rush to fix the cardboard “screen” for our “movie”.  Though the directors are difficult to work for. There is an intense creative discussion about how the movie will operate. There is the “directors” way (Cal + Max) and then there is the way the “creative team” (me) can actually do it. There are pieces the “creative team ” should have anticipated we would need. Because obviously the “creative team” can anticipate, in advance, the snow storm, the random package, the idea inspired by the random package, and all of the components needed to create the creative idea days in advance.

Eventually we agree on the method of production, gather supplies for “sound effects” (basically just loud noises with pots and pans), and Cal narrates the movie for the “premiere” while Max snacks. Because all movies – even the homemade variety – require snacks.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: the movie premiere

Anatomy of a Snow Day: the movie premiere

12. 3 second later, we’re dressed and outdoors. Yes, it happens that fast… but only when they want it to. And only days there is no school.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play with sand buckets and shovels (which will later be found in snow banks, sprayed by the snow blower)

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play

Anatomy of a Snow Day: outdoor play with the dogs. At least Cassie loves it!

13. And the boys help me shovel. Because after the movie, and the toys, and the camera, and the stuffed animals, and the iPad, and the cartoons, they’re really happy.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and the boys help me shovel

Anatomy of a Snow Day: and the boys help me shovel

14. And we make snow angels.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: snow angels

Anatomy of a Snow Day: snow angels

15. And the boys cheer me on as I figure out how to use the snow blower for the first time. And my mom takes an awesome picture.

Anatomy of a Snow Day: learning how to use the snow blower

Anatomy of a Snow Day: learning how to use the snow blower

And that’s all before lunch.

And, as I finish this, I’m getting climbed on, playing the peek-a-boo game, and listening to Octonauts (it’s a Disney show). Because naps don’t happen on snow days. And because sometimes blog posts have to get out.

 

Thankfully, we’re all getting time off for all of these days. And that makes it all more possible. And a heck of a lot more manageable. And, of course, there is also takeout.

 

How do you snow day?

 

xoxo,

julie

 

My best and worst moments in parenting have all happened on snow days

0 Comments

  1. Now that my kids are older, snow days mean I bring work home and “try” and get it done in between their whining over that fact they can’t use the computer, they’re hungry, or whatever. I used to have those enjoyable snow days when they were small, but my oldest is man sized and I just can’t physically force him to do things things anymore. Snow days mean we burn through all the things faster than normal which means more dishes, more laundry, more cleaning, more trash, and less food in the house. I am not able to really enjoy them a whole lot these days, so I end up going out to shovel/snow blow just to get out of the house. With all the snow days though I have been forced to slow down an breathe which is good because I am overwhelmed at work- partially due to all the snow days! It’s a viscous cycle.

    And another thing: How is it that you look so pretty when you snow blow? I end up looking like Nanook of the North! Maybe I should pick up a fur-lined jacket…

    • To be honest, I have no idea why that picture came out so good! It was probably the glowing pride for figuring out how to use that beast!

  2. Fascinating! We don’t have such extreme weather in this part of the UK (you would laugh at what we consider heavy snow) so it’s so interesting to read about it.

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