Snowed In For Fun
“Snow day.” You longed to hear that phrase as a kid, but what about as an adult? And what about when a snow-day turns into “snow-days?” In some parts of the country, days off from school due to weather can come in a row, instead of isolated incidents. Worse, for many people, “snowed in” is literal, due to snowfall amounts, ice, and/or below freezing temperatures and chilling winds. How can you keep everyone from becoming creatures from t.v. zombie land (or, what if, gasp, the CABLE goes out?)
Get out the Games: Scramble for the Scrabble, Parcheesi, and Life. Mix it up when playing with mixed ages – Play a game of tic tac toe or Candy Land for the younger kids, then have them play with an older sibling as a team for games like Life or Monopoly. Make up new rules to tried and true games, or grab a deck of cards and see if the kids can invent their own games. Add some fun by using small action-figures, gummy bears, or even m & ms as the placeholders instead of the regular pieces (Bonus: you can eat the pieces later if you go with candy.)
Wired for Fun: Instead of leaving the video gaming to the kids, play with them. Play in teams, for larger groups, so no one feels left out. Dial up the fun on games like Rock Band by helping everyone DRESS UP in rock star attire. Get out the video camera (or use the recorder on your cell phone) and tape the antics. You can watch them later (esp. if the cables still out). You can also play audio games – have kids play pieces from songs on their Play List and everyone else has to name the song, or the artist. Tell a story thru song – have the kids choose songs that tell a story through their words or song titles. Connect the Notes – play two songs and the listeners have to find figure out how they’re related.
Food for Thought: Some people cook with their kids all the time, but for many folks, the hustle and bustle of daily life doesn’t always allow time for dinner helpers every night. Now is the perfect time to cook up some fun. Have everyone make one dish for a multi-course meal, or contribute something to a more traditional meal. Make a “favorite foods salad”, with everyone helping wash, peal, or cut, depending on ages and skill level. Salads are great for kids, since if you don’t like an item you can simply avoid it, but you still contributed to the whole dish. Get out the cookie cutters and see what ELSE you can turn into fun shapes beside cookies (and peanut butter sandwiches). Cooked chicken patties work well for this, and you can use metal cookie cutters to make pancakes or eggs in fun shapes, by pour the mixed egg or batter into the cookie cutter, inside a non-stick fry pan (spray the cookie cutter inside and on bottom to help the food not stick to them).
Book’em: Sure, everyone can squirrel away and read for a while, an activity that might come in handy when you’re lucky enough to be stuck together for too many days in a row. But when everyone is ready to reconvene, have some fun planned for them. Play title or character charades. Have the kids work together to act out a scene from a favorite book, or re-tell a favorite story. If everyone isn’t feeling dramatic, ask them to use puppets or stuffed animal to re-tell the story. Make up new endings to old favorites. Read classics like Peter Pan and Cinderella and ask the kids to come up with a different ending (they could write it out, or simply tell you the new ending). Tell a traveling-tale. You start telling a story, stop at a pivotal point and ask the next person to keep going. They in-turn, will tell part of the story, and then it travels on to the next teller. You can set a timer, say for five minutes each, or just have participants stop whenever they like.
Clean Crusade: “Clean your room” is probably not the fun-filled activity your kids were hoping for, but with hours, maybe days, stuck IN the house, it’s a great time to do a clean up. Organization and Anti-Clutter Websites have lots of suggestions along these lines, and you can make up your own as needed. Do a “5 in 5” – set the timer for 5 min. and ask everyone to put away 5 items (even better if you also throw 5 things away). You can repeat this, say once an hour, to get a family room, or kid’s room cleaned-up. You might also want to use this time to tackle a larger project, like cleaning out a larger kids playroom, storage area, or garage. For big jobs, you can grab some boxes or bins. You need one per child plus, plus 3 large bins labeled TOSS, KEEP, and ?. Set a timer and have everyone try to fill their box – then have them sort their boxes into the bigger bins. You could separate Toss into Trash & Giveaway, or you could do Giveaways later by sorting the Keep bin again. Use the ? bin for anything you (or they) can’t decide on right away – this way you don’t waste time trying to decide if the Pokemon quilt has been outgrown, or figuring out if the Barney Tapes still work. You can build in little rewards as needed. First one with a filled box gets to go first when you play Wii later, etc.
Wrap it Up: You’ve played (and probably somebody cried), you read, and wrote, cooked (and ate) and cleaned. Now everyone is tired (or you’re tired and they ought to be) and you want to settle the troops down for the night. Push some furniture out of the way in the living room, family room, or even a bed room, and build a fort. Stretch blankets and quilts and tuck them into coaches and chairs. Have a small tent handy? Go ahead and pop it up. Grab the sleeping bags and plan an inside camping adventure (especially if you know there is no school again tomorrow). Get out the flashlights and tell SCNOW stories (semi-scary stories all featuring, what else, SNOW!)
Engage and Enjoy: It’s easy to feel like your “always” with the kids, and let them scurry off in every direction, or set them up with arts and crafts and go do work or chores, but once in a while, see a day like a snow day as a gift. Spend the daily fully engaged and involved playing and doing WITH the kids and you’ll feel more connected and rejuvenated (and better prepared for the NEXT snow day!)