Snow Day Survival

Hello from North Haven!

Unless the relative warmth of the ocean intervenes, we might be looking at quite a bit of snow soon. While other parents might dread a snow day, I, as a teacher, look forward to them with glee. Even now that I have an almost-three-year-old to entertain, an unexpected day at home is something to celebrate.

The first snow day I spent with my daughter was shortly after I returned to teaching after nine months at home on maternity leave and sabbatical. We had our routine down pat by that point, and the snow day meant a return to form rather than a new stress. The second snow day was last March, with my husband gone on a long trip to his hometown in California. We painted, played, and baked hamentaschen cookies.

Entertainment/mess making during the March snow day of 2016

Entertainment/mess making during the March snow day of 2016

If we do get our anticipated day off, here’s what we’ll likely do:

Wake up, potty, choose an appropriately elaborate outfit. Brush teeth, brush hair (maybe), go downstairs for breakfast. Allow my daughter to eat at a leisurely pace, rather than hanging over her saying “we have to go! hurry! we’re going to be late” which is the routine every week day when I have to bring her four miles downtown to her preschool and then backtrack two miles uptown to get to the school where I work, all as close to 8 a.m. as possible.

After breakfast, we might suit up and go outside, if it’s pleasant, or read a pile of books, play with play-doh, draw, bake something, pretend to bake something, or, once we lose steam, watch a movie. Lunch, nap, repeat in the afternoon. Make dinner. And/or popcorn.

I don’t at all feel obligated to be a sparkly fun craft project machine, whether on weekends or on unexpected days at home. I can open the cupboard door where the supplies are kept, I can roll play-doh into a ball to make a “doh-man,” I can draw a baby owl when requested. But I know my kid well enough to know that the more structure I put into an art project, the less likely she is to want to do it, and the more frustrated I’ll feel, and the more time I’ll have wasted setting it up. Rather, I let her be the cruise director to a certain extent. I might suggest an activity, drawing for example, but once I’ve gotten the materials out, she gets the lead. She might just want to line the crayons up, or draw circles, or pretend the pencils are drumsticks. And it’s all totally fine. If we have a flat piece of cardboard, she might decide it’s a boat and tell me how to help her decorate it. Or wear it as a hat. Or put it on the dog for a blanket. Whatever.

Sure, I step in if it seems like she’s angling for television to be the focus of the day, and I definitely make sure she helps clean everything up. But letting my daughter be the boss helps her to be more independent and self entertaining, and lets a day off actually almost be a day off for me. But if she wants to spend the afternoon lining up her letter and number magnets, or rolling and re-rolling a piece of bread dough, more power to her. And more relaxing for me.

Courtney Naliboff

About Courtney Naliboff

In addition to this blog, I'm a contributing writer to kveller.com, a Jewish parenting site, a blogger and book reviewer for reformjudaism.org, and the author of Salt Water Cure, a column in Working Waterfront. I report news from North Haven for Working Waterfront and Island Journal, and was a speaker at the Maine Conference for Jewish Life in 2015. Follow Frozen Chosen on facebook or visit my Web site for more writing and free music to download!