As a kid, snow days are thrilling: a whole day to do whatever you want! But for adults, they can be a little less magical: a whole day to entertain the kids.
To help you get beyond watching TV or playing video games, we turned to two professionals who have been in the snow-day trenches. Marcia Hall, first vice president of the International Nanny Association, and Greta Schraer, INA board member and director of CincyNanny, shared a few fun activities that will make the hours fly by.
It’s a winter wonderland outside
If the snow packs, you can make snowmen, build snow forts or have friendly snowball fights. If it doesn’t, make snow angels, play follow the leader in each other’s footsteps or fill spray bottles with a mixture of water and food coloring and treat the backyard like a big blank canvas. Kids love when grown-ups get involved, so Hall suggests pulling children around on a sled or romping with them on the snow-covered equipment at a playground.
Likewise, adults love when kids help with shoveling. “You can make a game or contest out of it,” says Hall. “Give each child a section—depending on their age and abilities—and whoever gets done first wins something.”
It’s too cold to go outside
Break out the snow-themed crafts, decree a game day or try making cookies or pizza together. Schraer likes to make snowmen out of paper plates or marshmallows and pretzels.
We’re stuck indoors, but the kids are off the walls
Get the gang moving with some simple yoga stretches or lay out an obstacle course and have everyone (including adults!) run time trials. If you have a video game console, choose an active sports or adventure title and sneak in some exercise or dance it out to tunes from a toddlers’ or kids’ radio channel.
I have to work and can’t be distracted
Set expectations at the beginning of the day. Hall, who regularly works from home, lets her kids know how many hours of work she’ll need to do, and breaks the work into one-hour chunks, bookended by playtime. “Giving them a little bit of time with me before I work can help them make it through the time I can’t give them 100 percent of my attention,” she says. “When they know that I will return to play with them after my work is done, I find that helps as well.”
Little kids will love doing their own work on a new coloring book with fresh markers or fun-shaped crayons. When a storm is in the forecast, you can prep a special box full of small crafts and games from the dollar store that only comes out on snow days.
For older kids, an educational tablet game or small building block set can do the trick. And if they’re high-schoolers getting a break from their own busy schedules, some screen time is fine. “I think TV and video games are great for snow days, especially for older kids that get to take a day off of school,” says Schraer. Hall gives her own children a few extra “techno tokens” on snow days to be redeemed for TV and video games.
I’m desperate and need a quick, fail-safe idea
Build an indoor fort. “Couch cushions, sheets and pillows are all you need to make a good fort,” says Schraer. “Add a couple flashlights to make it more fun, and have a snack or picnic lunch inside it!”
You can also send kids to friends’ houses once roads are safe. One of Schraer’s best snow day memories was when her high school closed for almost two weeks. “Because my mom had to work, I spent most of my time ‘snowed in’ at my best friend’s house,” she recalls.
But don’t stress—no matter how bored the kids claim to be, they’re still getting a dreamed-of, once- or twice-a-year snow day. Soon enough, the skies will clear and you’ll all be back to the normal routine.
Parents, how do you keep your kids busy on a snow day? Share your tips and suggestions in the comments below.
By Kristen Koch