8 Tips for Enjoying Snow Days While Managing Technology

techsnowStudents have missed anywhere from five to 10 days of school in the past three weeks and now they are have a planned February vacation with another five days off.

I wish I had the magic wand of “let’s return to simpler days,” like the nose twitch of Elizabeth Montgomery, bless her soul, in Bewitched. I would do the twitch and return for just today, to a pre-technology era when just being together in the snowy winter and going sledding and shoveling together was more than enough entertainment.

The reality is even without the snow, the single greatest challenge of today’s post-technology modern family is how to limit the kids’ technology use. When you throw in a week of snow days, it’s like throwing a bomb on a fire; it becomes a potentially explosive situation with few outlets. Here are eight tips that parents can rely on, short of nose twitching back to a simpler time, when snowy days and technology meet.

1. Don’t give up. Accept the snowy winter and force yourself to remain upbeat and positive even though you just want to crawl back in bed and come out when it’s all over. If you do that, your kids will give up, too, and that means hours of endless gaming, resulting in brewing technology addiction and ongoing battles over tech use.

2. Snowy days are difficult days to work. Whether it’s a planned school vacation day or an unexpected snow day, being stuck inside and house bound adds to the challenge of being a working parent. When kids are stuck inside, parents need to be more available. Be prepared to shovel in tandem or join the crew for sledding or an hour of game playing. Forgive yourself for being less productive and do the best you can while multi-tasking your role of parent and employee.

3. Plan the day. The snowy day does not mean we are brain dead. It’s not an excuse to be comatose all day sleeping and having expectations well below our abilities. Snow days are opportunities. Introduce structure early with scheduled times for play and time for work. Get chores done; brush up on areas that need attention—for example, more juggling practice if your son plays soccer or drawing if you have a budding artist in residence. Productivity and snow days are not opposites. Parents can make them synonymous with a little planning and effort.

4. Disruption is not an excuse for overindulgence. Just because you are housebound does not mean it’s a free for all. How many of us fool ourselves into believing that we can indulge like there’s no tomorrow because we are housebound for a single day. Yes, it’s frustrating to be stuck inside and not in your routine, but that is no excuse to overdo eating, drinking, teching, or gossiping. It’s upsetting that we are disrupted. Let’s not exacerbate the issue by gaining five pounds while waiting out the storm.

5. Be realistic about technology. When you can be working and plugged in during a snow day (let’s say your co-parent is covering the home front or your kids are independent for a couple of hours), do it. Parents, you don’t owe your kids a limited tech use schedule because they are on one. You’re not equals and you are working. Stop berating yourselves for bringing home the bacon.

6. Get outside. Encourage your kids to shovel your walkway and any others available. Reward them to reinforce the work effort of yesteryear. That ornery neighbor might actually appreciate it in 20 degree below wind chill weather and your kids will feel pride in helping a needy neighbor.

 

7. Plan ahead. Now that you have a sense of the winter weather, plan to have activities that will help keep the kids busy. Some great examples are Sleeping Queens, Monopoly, an ongoing puzzle that you all can work on, audio books from the library for shared listening, a new double sled —they’re on sale now. Preparation is the best antidote for getting through this endless snowy winter while keeping tech use limited and well managed.

8. Practice reasoning skills. Discuss safe, non-violent news topics that are relevant to school age children — the situation with news anchor Brian Williams, for example. If you have two or more children, pick a topic for them to debate and judge who posed a better argument and why.

Snowy days, whether part of school vacation week or an unplanned day off from school, allow families to bask in the good old days of a slower pace with ample opportunities to connect in a deeper way with many teachable moments. It’s true that the time in the office can’t be made up but at the same time, that snowy, housebound day will never happen again either. See it as a gift of unexpected family time and relish the pleasure of being together. Sooner than you realize, you’ll be sans children. They all grow faster than we plan for.

 

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