My firstborn was conceived on a snow day, so that should give you an idea of how far downhill my snow days have gone since having kids. Remember when snow days meant sleeping in and watching movies, or, you know, doing whatever other activities you were interested in?
Well, for those of us in the parenting trenches, those days are gone. (But, as every old lady tells me in the grocery store, I’ll miss these days, so something to look forward to?)
But there’s definitely a chance to have fun when you’re trapped at home with the kids in the snow, and maybe no one will lose their mind.
1. Bring the snow inside
My kids — ages 5 and 2 — love playing with snow, but they are little and can’t really deal with being outside too long. So I fill up a couple of big mixing bowls, grab a bunch of spoons and scoops and other random stuff that they can hide in the snow, and plant them at the dining room table. I’ve also heard of others filling up water tables with the snow, or even the bathtub.
2. Take photos
The lighting after a snowstorm is the stuff of photographer’s dreams: It’s like being surrounded by reflectors. Your already gorgeous kids will look even more perfect. If they’re old enough, let them use the camera to take photos of each other and the scenery.
3. Cook or bake
Making brownies from a box takes approximately 1,000 times longer with a couple of kids “helping.” Perfect. Let them mix and make a mess, and then give them a bowl of soapy water and help clean it up. Warning: That may make the mess bigger, but it’s something to do.
4. Build a fort
Everyone I talked to said this is on their list of things to do on a snow day. My kids wreck them, so maybe I’m missing something. But maybe if the kids are older, it could be fun as you’re not worried about your 5-year-old suffocating your 2-year-old.
5. Let them watch some TV
Who cares? It’s a snow day. I wait as long as I can to turn on the TV, as it really does give you a good break. If they’re older and you have some time, put on a movie and all hang out and watch together.
6. Or let them play online
I very rarely let the littles use the computer, so it really is a treat for them. We’re fans of PBSkids.org, which has lots of games based on their favorite PBS shows, but abcmouse.com also looks like a good bet, and they give you the first month free if you don’t want to pay. Common Sense Media has a great list of fun and safe websites you can check out with your kid.
7. Make maple snow
This is pretty easy, but parents have to supervise closely. Heat up maple syrup on the stovetop slowly and pour it over snow. You drizzle it over snow in different shapes, or write the kids’ names, and eat the little frozen treats at the end. Here are better instructions from the kitchn.
8. Put them in the tub
My kids love being in the bath. Usually, at the end of the day, I am trying to rush them in and out so that they don’t go to bed too late. So a snow day is a good time to let them soak in there, paint the walls, play with lots of toys, and splash more than I typically let them. I never have to entertain them in there — though sometimes I have to make sure that no one drowns the other — so it’s a good break for me, too. Nothing says luxury like surfing the Internet on the floor of your bathroom.Heather Ciras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @heatherciras.