Sometimes you get a surprise snow day called in at 6:30 the morning of that you totally weren't expecting. Other times, you know a day or two ahead of time it's coming. Today was one of those days. It is cold today. Like maybe hell froze over or something. I'm not sure but we won't be leaving our house for a couple days so I definitely prepared.
Years ago I would just wing it on snow days. I'd throw together whatever I could find in the fridge. Feed the kids cereal and make them play Xbox all day to get through it. By the end of the day they were all driving me crazy and I just wanted to hide in my room. Not really fun for them or me. Memories aren't made playing Xbox and eating cereal. Snow days are special for a kid. They lay awake at night praying for them. The look of excitement in their eyes in the morning when they wake up and you tell them there's no school today and they run to the window to see the snow. It's like magic. Then I took the rest of their day and made it lame and so unremarkable.
A little forethought made it so much better for them and for me. I don't always keep a grand breakfast on hand but there is always pancake mix in the pantry. I do however keep a secret stash of really simple activities for us to do together now on snow days. Nothing expensive or fancy. I realized they really just enjoy spending time with me and making something together and those are the memories they will keep.
I bought a big box of popsicle sticks on amazon and a pack of different colored felt sheets at a craft store on one of my many trips to keep hidden until one of these such days. We spend hours building houses and forts and furniture and then make believe with lego people. I always have glue for my glue gun but I happened to pick up some colored glue the last time I was there, they thought that was so cool!
When we moved into our little house, I made our kids choose their very favorite things. I gave them each a tote to fill and that was all they were able to bring. The rest went into storage until we can get out barn cleared out to make room for the last of our stuff. I quickly realized, they don't miss any of that stuff. They never had a ton of toys to begin with but they are really happy with some legos and a few little beanies as long as they have things they can use to create new things. Do this! Have your kids pick their favorite things. Really assess what they are playing with and get rid of the rest. Find a family or three who could use some help and give them what you do not need. When there are less distractions in your home, your family will actually spend more time together.
Meals are really important in our home. I was raised to always sit down and eat at the table and you don't get up until everyone is finished eating. If you don't do this, start. Sit down and eat with your kids. They may not talk to you at first and they may think it's annoying or weird, but the longer you sit there, the more they will open up. It will become natural. On these special snow days, really draw this out. Eat really slow and ask extra questions. You have plenty of time so there is no need to rush. My favorite parts of the day are the parts when we are all sitting down at the table talking about whatever. When my kids are having conversations about who knows what and my husband and I look at each other across the table and just kinda laugh on the inside because it's just nonsense. Snow days have become even better now because we really draw it out and relish these moments.
Let the kids pick out their favorite movie. I tend to either make them agree on one or they each get to pick one and we watch both. We make popcorn and bundle up in our favorite blankets. If they get antsy, pause the movie and go make some hot chocolate. If you are a board game type of family, play some games. We are more of the card game type and playing war helps my kindergartener practice number values so that's a great game to take up a lot of time and use those little brains.
For me the key to surviving snow days has been planning ahead and actually spending time making simple memories. Your kids don't want a bunch of stuff. I promise you. I have given my kids all the things. It's when I took it away and gave them all of me, they were so much happier. So make them a special breakfast and let them help you make it. Sit and build lincoln logs or popsicle stick houses. Play a board game or cards with them . Cuddle on the couch and watch the most annoying movie ever because they love it. You will cherish the time together and the memories will stick with them forever. The look of wonderment they wake up with will last all day and you won't to miss a minute of it.