The great majority of adults who grew up in snowy climates look back on snow days with fondness. A snow day gets kids out of school, and at least early in the season before the amount of snow accumulates, the snow itself provides the backdrop for major fun.
However, for adults, snow days can present more of a challenge. They disrupt life as normally scheduled, and if they persist, kids either become bored with the snow, or if there’s too much of it, it’s difficult to play in.
Thus, often as parents, we don’t embrace snow days — we may even dread them. However, there are methods that will allow parents to approach snow days in such a way that they don’t produce dread, but rather enjoyment for the entire family. So, if your family is tired of endless board games and TV marathons when the weather turns foul, read on.
One of the challenges of snow days is that they oftentimes make it quite difficult for families to come and go from their home as they please. Instead, we’re often stuck inside for long stretches of time that can make old and young unlike begin to feel restless, physically and mentally.
To combat that, families would do well to plan for snow days that are engaging and helpful.
Keep Up With Schoolwork
While schools are moving towards a future where e-learning may replace snow days, at this point, substantial snowfall almost always results in a lack of progress for school kids.
Certainly, that’s part of the fun of it. However, the reality is that often what’s missed is actually important. Did you know that researchers can predict the success your child will have in math-related fields by what concepts they understand in first grade? Or that literacy ability as a child has a direct impact on their potential overall status and well-being, and that the majority of kids struggle to remain proficient with reading throughout their lives?
Those realities put snow days into perspective. A few here and there will certainly not change the trajectory of a child’s life, but an excessive amount of missed classroom time can impact their ability to thrive. Just because teachers aren’t there to accept work, doesn’t mean you can’t read ahead with your children in their textbooks.
Learn About Your Current Situation
What better way to ensure that your kids are equipped to deal with the inclement weather in your area than by using the situation to ensure they know how to cope. As you navigate the snowfall and take the steps necessary to prepare, include them in the process so that when it’s their responsibility, they’re ready.
Information: One of the most important things that keeps snow days from being detrimental is knowing in advance what to expect. Typically, if a storm is on the way that will result in the amount of snow that makes snow days a reality, you’ll be able to tell beforehand.
Beyond the weather forecasts, local government entities typically prioritize public communication during severe winter weather. Teach your kids what sources are important to pay attention to, so they have the information they need.
Preparation: Have them participate as you plan out how many supplies you’ll be buying beforehand. Include them as you ensure you have the tools needed to clear snow from your home and vehicles.
Pick a Topic Together
Another method to use to keep everyone sharp is to brainstorm collectively about what you’d like to learn about as a family. You can use a snowstorm as the backdrop to become experts on something you’re all interested in.
If you’re unsure of what to use the time learning about, pick a few topics and then put them to a vote. You can then scour the internet for materials. Whether it be the history of ice cream or Iceland, the point is that everyone will be thinking, and hopefully having a bit of fun, together.
Connect With Each Other
You can ask virtually any parent how their family is, and you count on the fact that the word busy will be a part of the answer. While family circumstances are changing all the time, the one constant for those of us with kids seems to be that we’re perpetually going all the time.
Snow days disrupt that pattern. They require our families to coexist in the same space for longer than normal. Given that reality, there’s something to be said for taking advantage of the situation. It can become the ultimate staycation for your family. Consider activities that naturally lend themselves to connection, such as these:
The impact that cooking can have on memory and relationships has been historically hailed for its power. Long before we understood the specifics of the psychology of food, we’ve known the connection between it, and memory and comfort.
Snow days are great days to break out old recipes that mean something to you, because that act in and of itself will foster connection with your children. Additionally, winter is an ideal time to show your kids how to master activities like cooking on a wood stove or a camp stove, because if the power goes out, knowing how to cook without it can be an invaluable skill.
Consider having everyone in the family respond to the same storytelling prompt. Whether it be orally, or having everyone write down their answers and then share them, this method is a surefire way to learn something about the people you likely think you already know everything about.
As parents, while we certainly want our children to have fond memories of snow days, we know that they often come at a cost. They slow productivity, both in our children’s lives but also in our own when we have to leave work on their behalf. And when snow days are frequent, they can threaten the peace of our homes.
Yet, they can truly provide a space for families who want to use them personal growth and relational connection to do so. As with other areas of life gone right, the key to snow day success is found by approaching them with thought and a bit foresight. Just as we buy chains for our vehicles as the temperature drops, so can we also take steps to ensure that our extra time together, is time well spent.