I’m writing this on a day the boys have a two-hour delay. When I came downstairs after my shower I found the entire playroom draped in blankets—chairs, bins, and couch cushions were all underneath, holding up the fort—but not the couch itself since three of the boys were standing on it singing “Day-O” with the karaoke machine and dancing.
Snow days, man. They’re half “the best days ever” and half “this was sprung on me and I have no idea what to do.” Right?
I try to revert to Christmas vacation mode on snow days, by which I mean, I try to keep a fairly structured day, even while all of what we’re doing is leisurely and fun. I like compartmentalizing our day—it keeps the day from stretching out in seemingly unending hours while the house falls down around me. This is our basic day:
Breakfast and Post-breakfast
I don’t mind everyone moseying on downstairs as they wake up—lounging in bed longer than usual is one of the perks of snow days after all! When they do, they usually curl up on the couch, and eventually, they’ll be hungry, so we have breakfast. Sometimes I’m up for making eggs or other hot thing; other times we just do cereal/yogurt/fruit. When everyone’s done eating, it’s play time. If it’s not too cold, I send them outside (the big boys have to shovel at this time, and they can stay out and play whether it’s cold or not, since they’re big boys. Amazing!); if it is too cold, it’s more forts and karaoke.
Much earlier than normal lunch time, the boys will start telling me they’re starving. This is half because they eat lunch so early at school, and half because forts and karaoke (and legos and drawing/reading and bothering each other) only last so long before they want to be diverted in another way, and food is almost always their go-to (as well as bothering each other.) I try to put them off until a reasonable lunch time (otherwise we’ll end up having to do second lunch a bit later in the afternoon), which doesn’t mean they can’t eat—I don’t mind breakfast lasting most of the morning—but the most amazing thing is that, despite the fact that they’re starving, they aren’t hungry for more cereal! I do also make hot chocolate and popcorn or cookies fairly frequently. And so the morning goes.
Lunch and Post-lunch
Lunch is nothing fancy, unless I’m in a fancy mood. Mostly, I have the older three make their own sandwiches, and I make sandwiches or similar for the younger three. They eat at different rates, so when they’re done they go do whatever they were doing until everyone is done. At that point, we clean up the house. All the forts need to be taken down, all blankets put away, all cushions put back on the couch, all legos cleaned up, etc. I usually divide it up into sections: Boy no. 1 cleans the front room, Boy no. 2 cleans the playroom, Boy no. 3 cleans the TV room, Boy no. 4 cleans the entryway, Boy no. 5 picks up the books and puts them back on their shelves, and I do the kitchen. This is based on the size and complexity of each space—bigger boys have more to do. After that (or sometimes during, depending on the weather), I send the big boys out to shovel again.
After the clean-up (and shoveling, if needed), we have quiet time. When the boys were all little, this was true quiet time—the little boys would go down for naps, and anyone who wasn’t napping stayed with me on the couch and watched a show while I had my own nap. Now that they’re bigger, it’s not as quiet as I’d like, but I still call it quiet time, and the boys know that this usually means I put a movie on while I lie down on the couch in the midst of them. The big boys don’t have to stay with me in the TV room, but the little ones do (the big boys usually go up to their rooms). On snow days though, I let them play video games during quiet time instead of watch a movie. Oh the joy that my boys have at being able to play video games! We normally only let them play on weekends, and only one hour each per day (sometimes more—another half hour each or so—if they have a new game, or if they’ve done an extra amount of chores), so having a bonus video game day is like Christmas. Also, though we have a handheld, I require them to play on the TV so their brothers can watch. This way, everyone’s occupied (and I can snooze.)
Dinner Prep, Dinner, Bedtime
Between when quiet time is over and my husband gets home from work has traditionally been the worst time of the whole day, but now that the boys are getting older, it’s only sort of terrible. There’s just something about me needing to make dinner that makes everyone want to misbehave! On a snow day though, the video games help—because they each get an hour turn, there’s always someone having their turn right up until bedtime. I make dinner, we eat dinner, I send the big boys out to shovel again if necessary (and sometimes we send them all out to play in the snowy dark, which they all love), a little playtime with Dad, then it’s bedtime. Day survived.
Do you like having a structured day when the kids are home unexpectedly? Or does doing so stress you out even more? I hope this might have been helpful to some of you!