Mommas, I’ve been lying to many of you. Straight up lying. Often to your faces.
You see Mommas, I love snow days, and I will miss them now that Spring has (finally) started to peek her head in the room. Oh don’t get me wrong. I hate snow. I hate shoveling it. I hate not being able to run around outside. I hate being chilled to the bone the way that whipping winds and five day old snow can chill you to the bone. But even with all that hate, I seriously love snow days.
(Before I go any further though, let me offer a disclaimer: I am a stay at home mom. I am privileged in that snow days don’t create utter scheduling havoc in my household. And for you parents who deal with the hassle of frantically looking for childcare at 6 a.m., I do not love snow days).
I’ve been dealing with schools my whole life, first my own, then college and post grad. I was a teacher in my former life. And now I’m a mother of school-aged children. Snow days have always been in play in my world (except that stint in post grad Texas–though even then schools closed for ice). Without being able to escape the “snow day” world, the way I see it, I have two choices really: spend the season in miserable anticipation or find a way to embrace these unavoidable days. So here’s why I’ve chosen the later.
I have long associated falling snow with silence. I remember walking around my neighborhood with my elementary school friends, falling snow visible in street lights, and it being quiet enough to hear every flake land. It seems so often during snow, the world holes up for a bit and everyone quiets down. The silence of snow is one of the most calming sounds I know, and it reminds me to take a moment and listen to the present world. This is difficult as a mother of three young children. It is difficult as a member of today’s constantly connected society. It is difficult in general. Snow muffles the world a bit, and it’s a welcome moment.
I’m not a morning Momma; in fact, I often find I’m pulling myself out of bed because my children are standing and staring at me. I just don’t do mornings, thought I want to. You see, my mother was magical; she was always awake and dressed and (somewhat) chipper by the time I woke up (or really she woke me up), but I was not handed down this gene. It seems to have skipped me. So when a snow day rolls around and I don’t have to jump out of bed and run around at top speeds to get everyone ready for their drop offs and pick ups, well, it’s like a little slice of heaven.
On those mornings the little people show up next to me, I can just reach for them and snuggle them into bed with me, allowing the morning to wrap back around us. We giggle in bed, watch some TV, and plan on staying in pjs all day. When I go turn up the heat in the house (which is usually set cooler since there are no little people scheduled to run around in the rooms), I may make some waffles and coffee and bring them back for a bedroom picnic. We wake up slowly, and since no one in this house does “rushing” well, these days suit us. We manage to get though the first few moments of the day without tears or anger or both (usually).
Finding “extra” hours
For some reason, I can get more done on a snow day than I can on any single other day of the year. When a day pops up, unexpectedly, where all obligations and expectations have suddenly disappeared, it’s like a blank canvas of possibilities. All of the sudden, it’s not about “squeezing in” this around that. It is hours and hours and hours and hours of openness. I can do anything. Any. Little. Thing.
It’s a snow day and now I’m cleaning the baseboards of my house. It’s a snow day and I’m going to box up all the clothes the kids have grown out of. Oh I know! I’ll clean the hall closet out. Wash the couch cushions. Scrub every inch of grout in the whole house with a toothbrush. I’ll build the biggest block castles and the most intense train tracks. Every doll will get a makeover at the salon and the Lego house will get built.
Now, truth be told, a snow day usually means I start a number of “big” projects around the house and complete none of them. Zero. And actually, I often end up with a bigger mess than I started with. I know that after years and years of this pattern, I should understand the reality. But still. When I hear that silence the night before and the sound of the plow dragging up the street in the early morning hours, my mind starts to swirl with all the possibilities of what a snow day could bring. I become the most incredible version of super mom. I can do anything and everything, start to finish. And while I don’t love the mess at the end of the day, I do love the feeling of being empowered enough to truly believe I can get it all done.
Not taking kids in and out of cars
I spend approximately half of my waking hours taking children in and out of the car. I’m sure there are many things about having young children that I will miss as they grow, but this will absolutely never be one of them. The shoes. The back packs. The snacks and waters. The lovies that must come along and the puffy jackets that go to the car but don’t get worn in the car seat for safety’s sake. I must make fifteen trips up and down the garage stairs just to get to the point where I can pry my children away from their morning discoveries (all of the sudden they want to play with toys they haven’t touched in months), usually resulting in tears and tantrums on both sides.
The relief I get from knowing I won’t have to participate in this circus show for a day is immense. It is better than a second cup of coffee consumed while it’s still warm. This regularly scheduled battle no longer exists. I can tell the kids to keep playing. To play harder. To forget about searching for shoes. Because we’re just staying home today.
For some reason, when I know a snow day is probably coming, I join the hysteria and run to the store. I may actually be perfectly stocked with food and necessities for a week, but still, I join the flock and throw my car into the closest parking space. No amount of rationality will redirect my minivan. It just goes.
But, I find that rather than panicking about getting enough milk, bread, eggs, and water, I am frantically on a search for “things” to entertain my children with. It’s like a snow day requires some “new” and unusual activity so we don’t lose our collective minds. So I grab baking supplies, enough to make at least four hundred cookies. They want pizza? Well, great then, they’ll make it. Get new paints and markers! (Never mind the fact that I have three new sets of each at home). Seasonal activities? Yes! Yes! I’ll take those too! All of them.
After this hysteria dies down a bit and I shove my arsenal of snow day supplies in a closet, I find that having theses activities is a bit of a snow day joy. It gives me a few opportunities to just sit with my little people and soak them in. They work together without pinching and pulling. We have some common goal and in the act of achieving it, we cheer each other on. There’s no time for projects like these on school days, and weekends are so consumed with birthday parties, playdates, and errands, we often don’t get to be together in this way.
I most love snow days because of the unexpected time it gives me with my people. Time where we work together and speak gently to one another (don’t get me wrong, this is, like, only how about 10% of our snow days are spent; the rest is in turmoil and tears or completely ignoring each other).
Life can get into a rut. Snow days help break that rut. They give this Momma a chance to slow down and see her children. We wake slowly, do projects, revel in the lack of “have tos” and “hurry ups.” They’re not beautiful. Half finished projects line the hallways, causing flashes of anxiety to overwhelm me. The children are covered in food and paint.
Each child has a few new scratches from a sibling row. I have questioned my abilities as mother on at least two occasions. The clock has seemed to stop at 5 p.m. and bedtime feels like an eternity away. But we’ve also completed a project or two and giggled at one another. We took our time and took some breaths. We’ve felt like a team. And we took on the snow day and won.