Many of you parents who are not native to New England are now experiencing the true horror of our local winters: the snow day, a local custom in which schools shut down and parents must figure out how to entertain their children all day without actually killing them.
This turns out to be harder than it appears.
These eight simple rules will help navigate the rest of the season, which, if current trends prevail, will include 118 more snow days.
1. Buddy 'Em Up Then Let 'Em Play Outside
Almost all children love snowstorms. Why? Because they are insane. Also, because snow turns your dirty little yard into a fluffy white canvas of the imagination.
Please fight the impulse to keep your children inside, “away from the cold.” They are better off outside, where they can expend their bottomless stores of restless energy.
Just make sure you have a buddy system in place. And give clear instructions to each child that they must summon an adult if their buddy attempts to take a nap in the snow.
2. Sugar Is a Dangerous Ally
Now that your children are at home for the entire day you will be tempted to organize activities that put them in a good mood. And nothing insures good moods more than homemade cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
But please try to remember that sugar is the crack cocaine of childhood. Yes, they will be grateful and giddy, right up until the inevitable crash.
This is why you’re best to reverse the accepted pattern: send them outside after you’ve spiked their blood sugar.
3. Never Utter the S-Word Unless You’re Prepared to Back It Up
Children love sledding. Why? Because it is the one chance they have to crash a high-speed vehicle with their parents permission.
For this reason, you must be cautious about floating the prospect of sledding. Because the moment you mention the possibility of sledding it is the only thing your children will talk about until you actually take them sledding.
4. Accept that There Is Now Melted Snow in Your House
Because there is. It comes from your children, who you sent outside so they could work off the energy from their cookies and cocoa.
What happened next is really simple: they transported snow into your home. They did this despite the fact that you had them take all their wet clothes off on the porch and/or in the mudroom.
Nobody knows how, exactly, they smuggled the snow into your home. It is one of those eternal mysteries. Don’t fight it. Just get a towel.
5. Remember that There Are Really So Many Educational Shows on TV
It’s true. There are.
Remember: your children are missing school. Valuable lessons are going untaught. Cognitive milestones are not being reached.
This is why God invented PBS.
6. Esteem Those Who Work Inside the Home
Those of you parents who tromp off to office jobs, who live among the adult concerns of quarterly reports and what to order for lunch, please consider snow days a kind of re-education program.
You now get to experience what it’s like to be with your kids. All day long.
As a result, you now understand — in a way that you never did before — why your partner is so exhausted and surly when you walk through the door each weeknight.
7. Unless More Snow Is Called for, Enforce a Normal Bedtime
To children, snow days just feel like a vacation. None of the normal rules are in place. For this reason, the untrained parent has a tendency to let the kids stay up late. What could be the harm?
The harm is that, with any luck, the snow will finally relent and your offspring will return to school. They will not do so happily if they have not had enough rest, for hell hath no fury like a sleep-deprived child.
Just as important: sleep wards off sickness.
8. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
No really. It does. The reason you kind of hate your children right now isn’t because they are tracking mud into the house and bouncing off the walls and whining for you to take them sledding already.
It’s because you are seeing too much of them.
Soon enough, that will change.
The snow will turn to rain then sun and you will send them off to school each day and actually sort of miss them.
Hold on to this feeling, folks. Summer’s right around the corner.