As the winter months creep closer, it’s time to prepare for the colder weather that comes with it and, in some regions, even snow. This means bundling the kids up for school, buying new waterproof winter boots, mittens, jackets, hats, and scarves, and shoveling and snow plowing.
But with an unexpected (or expected) snowstorm can also come the dreaded snow day. It’s when a school announces that bus services are canceled and the school will be closed for the day due to the inclement weather.
You now have an anxious child (or two, three, or more) who was ready to head to school for the day and now effectively has a day off. What’s a parent to do?
10. CALL DAYCARE
Hopefully, one parent is able to take the day off to stay with the kids. But if you both have to head to work, or you’re a single parent, it’s time to call in reinforcements. If the grandparents live close by, it might be possible to take them there for the day.
You might also be able to leverage a daycare that already provides daycare services for your child before and after school (or their toddler sibling). See if they are available and accepting children for the day. Some daycares say they will accept older kids for the full day on snow days and other school holidays like P.A. Days and March Break.
9. BRING THEM TO WORK
If you work somewhere allows employees to bring kids to work (on occasion), like a small office or maybe even your own company, consider bringing the littles ones with you. They can bring their homework with them and sit in an unused boardroom, cubicle, or corner of your office to get their work done while you do yours.
Have a nice lunch together, introduce them to co-workers, and maybe even have them help you do things like make photocopies, answer the phone, and file paperwork.
8. TAKE THE DAY OFF WORK
If you are able to, call in and advise your boss that your kids have a snow day and you need to cash in a vacation or sick day. Many companies these days are understanding about these things. If you have the luxury of working from home as an option, this can also be a possibility provided you keep the kids busy enough so that you can focus.
Let them play in the backyard, watch movies, or have a video game day after they’ve done some productive work, like cleaning their rooms and finishing homework or getting ahead on school assignments.
7. HAVE THEM DO HOMEWORK
If the kids have homework from school, they can get a head start on the next assignment. If not, they can work on workbooks from home. Or come up with your own homework project for them, like to read a short book and write a one-page summary about it, or find a few pages of math problems online and have them complete them.
Kids should be able to enjoy at least part of their snow day, of course, making snow angels and playing outside. But make sure they do at least an hour or two of work to keep their minds fresh and in the habit of learning.
6. HAVE A SNOW PARTY!
Go all out and have a snow party. Throw on your snow pants, mittens, hat, and jacket and have the kids do the same, grab the sleds, then trudge through the snow to the local park and have a ball. Take turns sledding down a big hill, making snowmen and snow angels, and building ice castles.
Bring along some hot cocoa in thermoses and have a full-on snow party. Chances are others in the neighborhood will be doing the same so they kids might run into some of their school friends, too.
5. ARRANGE A PLAYDATE
If your child has a school friend who lives nearby (which is likely), consider arranging a playdate so they can enjoy the day off together, whether it’s finishing a homework assignment, playing in the back or front yard, or going out to do something fun, like ice skating or an indoor playground.
This might also work in one parent’s favor if they have to go to work: a neighbor who has the day off or who is a stay-at-home parent might be able to take your child in for the day. And you can return the favor on the next snow day.
4. TAKE A DAY OFF AND RELAX TOGETHER
If you already have the day off, work from home, are able to get the day off, or are a stay-at-home parent, use the snow day to take a day off with the kids as well and just relax and do nothing.
Put your feet up, play on your mobile devices, watch TV, read a book or magazine, play video games, experiment with recipes in the kitchen, make crafts, go back to bed – you choose. Do whatever is relaxing to you and make the most of the day off by doing, well, the least.
3. PLAY BOARD GAMES
A snow day is the perfect day to bring the family together for some fun, indoor activities – especially if the weather is bone-chillingly cold and dangerous enough that the parents aren’t going to work either because their office is closed, too, or on a skeleton staff.
Break out an old (or new) board game, make some hot cocoa, and cozy up for a family game day. Choose something intellectual that everyone can play or go all out with something totally fun and interactive.
2. WATCH A MOVIE
Use the day off as an excuse to take the kids to see that new movie that was just released in theaters. Instead of waiting until the weekend, use the snow day to check it out when the theater is likely to be much quieter.
This will depend on how bad the weather is. But if you wait until late morning or lunchtime, chances are the snowplows have done their job by then and you’ve sufficiently shoveled enough to drive the car out of the driveway and around the corner to the theater. Alternatively, make some homemade popcorn, grab some leftover Halloween candy, and watch a movie at home.
1. CLEAN THE HOUSE
One sure way to deter kids from hoping for a snow day all the time is to make snow days clean-up days. Yep, if the kids get to stay home from school, they need to do housework.
You don’t have to be a total grinch and not let the kids run and play in the snow. That is, after all, what snow days are all about. But if you find that your child’s school has snow days far too often, use the time for productive work at home that the kids usually don’t have time to do, like organizing their closet or playroom, or going through their clothing, books, toys, and other items to make a donation bag.