After 4 ½ snow days, I have read numerous panicked facebook posts about what to do with “little monsters” and the havoc they create, teenagers playing video games for countless hours, and families in complete chaos of stuff, things, noise, and junk food.
It is not only possible to survive the snow days, but also to keep the peace. I reflected on our snow days, and the key to our beautiful, creative days. Here’s the scoop: it begins with you. The parent at home with the children holds the energy of the home. And when your battery runs low or has interference, the children reflect it. Here are a few helpful parenting tools for keeping the peace on snow days.
- Detach from your personal agenda. Don’t just try to mold the children into your typical day. You will only be frustrated with your lack of accomplishment, and they sense the frustration and respond negatively. Anticipate your needs and leverage yourself. This may mean getting up an hour earlier than everyone else to get into your head space (yoga, writing, coffee, whatever your thing is). Ask your spouse for the help you may need to get the “have-to’s” done. The most important part of the day will be your thoughts about the day. Begin with positive affirmations and peace of mind: Today is a beautiful, peaceful day. I am patient, present, and purposeful.
- Set expectations & boundaries. It is important to set expectations and boundaries for the day, from the beginning. If you wait to set the limits until they are pushing them, you will constantly be saying no. Children are made to push the limits, so go ahead and give permission to push some. Recognize that there is no harm in “the mess” and set the expectation that they are responsible to clean up their own messes. For example, my four year-old thought it would be great fun to fill up baggies with water and setthem out on the deck. My first instinct was to say no; I could foresee water everywhere. And then on second thought, I realized there was no harm in it – it satisfied his need for adventure and he knew the expectation to clean up. Other expectations include respecting others and one project at a time. It is also important to engage children in useful work – even the youngest child can help organize books, match socks, and fold towels. I ask each child to be responsible for “maintaining one blessing” (bathroom, dishwasher, floor steamer, etc.). Remember: it’s about the process, not the product. It’s okay if it is not how you would do it.
- Create a creative space. Everyone needs space to be creative. This is a prepared environment to foster authenticity and creativity – art, music, writing, puzzles, knitting, etc. This is where you do what you love, with no destination. The creative space is orderly and need only be minimal. The objective of a creative space is creating not consuming, so the space should include real materials and no batteries or electronics. Snow days are a perfect day to do a creative project that one would not make time for on a typical day. A creative space lets children take responsibility for their own joy and fulfillment.
- Give the gift of Presence. The gift of presence is present moment mindfulness. This is about being together in the here and now – rocking a baby, playing a game, making dinner, sharing a conversation.
- Maintain a stable blood glucose level. We function best when we are neutral and even, not spiked and not depleted. Healthy snacks, lots or exercise, plenty of rest, and not too much sugar is a good recipe for a balanced day.
- Observe nature & nurture. I believe snow may be the most peaceful natural element. Take the time to observe it and relish in its beauty and the originality of each snowflake. Snow enbodies purity, innocence, and potential. It nurtures our mind, body, and spirit if we allow it.
Snow days are a time to go within, within both our self and within our home. Use the time for individual creativity and family togetherness. Peaceful parenting is an art of balance, not a juggling act. Begin with peace, set respectful expectations, and give the gift of presence. Stay warm and safe, and en-joy your snow days.
Cultivating love & peace,