Many around here agree that this has been a tough winter. The weather and inevitable family colds make maintaining any kind of schedule impossible.
So as I listened on Wednesday to the looming forecast – upwards of a foot of snow on Thursday – I started to mildly panic. I had spent the better part of January juggling days spent home caring for one or both sick children, being sick myself, or being stuck indoors with healthy children due to the snow.
I thought about calling a friend and asking to cart my family over for a fun-filled locked down. But then I worried that we might be stuck there for days, and didn’t want to overstay our welcome.
So I came up with a plan: the Snow Box.
The Snow Box was a 9pm brainstormed idea on Wednesday night – a way to have a variety of activities at-the-ready along with a method of allowing my daughter to choose some fun. I put snowflake wrapping paper on a canister and box. The canister had numbers 1-10, the activities in the box had post-its labeled 1-10. As she chose a number, we’d do the corresponding activity. Activities included some usual suspects, like Play Doh and water color paints. They also included new items like pipe cleaners and this crazy kinetic sand I recently picked up.
The third selection was the run-away winner: a post office dramatic play set up. (I got the idea here). She not only played with it for a while in the morning the first time around, but went back to it twice throughout the day. Add in time for a movie break, lunch, and snow play, and we actually still had three activities we didn’t even get to. It turned out to be a super fun, organized day for all of us. My husband called the idea “magnificent”. I beamed.
What worked best about the Snow Box wasn’t exactly the activities, though they were great. It was that I felt prepared. I had tricks up my sleeve, to-dos in my back pocket. It was the first time in a while that I felt prepared. Since having my second child nine months ago, things have seemed a little more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants than I’d like. The one area I’ve managed to maintain some kind of schedule in is our eating. But where I used to set up my four-year-old’s drawing table every evening with some fun activity to keep her busy in the morning before leaving for preschool, now I was lucky if I just picked up the toys. The Snow Box made me feel powerful, and I was actually able to play with my daughter, and my baby son, throughout the day.
Still, it was a super busy day. In the vein of Maxed Out (review forthcoming), here’s what I did. Though I’ll say that while I was exhausted, it wasn’t the stressed out kind of exhausted I usually feel.
- Made fresh waffles, one batch chocolate chip and one blueberry (with prized frozen summer farmers market blueberries!). Washed those dishes and it was, “what’s next?” at a mere 8am.
- Introduced the Snow Box, and proceeded with activity #1: Play Doh. Actually played with my daughter and made stuff.
- Proceeded with Snow Box activity #2: water color paint, followed quickly by introduction of Snow Box activity #3:
- Made a dramatic play post office, the hit of the day. I had been gathering odd sized new envelopes and US Postal Service mailers for a few weeks, and had made a point of taking my daughter to the real post office twice recently to get her jazzed about it. It totally worked. We cut a hole into a giant Zappos box so she could “open” and “close” the post office. I gave her fake money, a little table to store her materials, and a map to see where in the world we were sending things. Some nice stickers for stamps and we were in business!
- My husband and I each shoveled for an hour, then he did 1.5 hours more. It was a beast.
- We ate the Glorious Green Soup soup for lunch, which I’d made the night before with my daughter’s help.
- I led two work conference calls totaling two hours, while Drew and Ladybug watched Happy Feet for the first time – appropriate!
- I did two loads of laundry and made meatloaf before taking a final walk with my daughter as new snow fell
- Was just about to kick up my feet when I realized I had to make two dozen cookies for the preschool Valentine’s Day party, assuming it was still happening (it was cancelled 20 minutes after we completed the cookies – to the freezer!). Still, we made the cookies together and enjoyed a warm cookie with milk minutes before bedtime.
And with that, I turned in for the night with a few Advil in hand.