We moved to the Pacific Northwest last year, and for the first time in my adult (read: parenting) life, I'm dealing with snow days.
Snow days were so fun as a kid, right? Growing up on the Great Plains, they were such a rare treat. We were hardcore, man. Fierce pioneers braving the prairie blizzards. I remember going out to recess in South Dakota even when the wind chill was below zero: you just wore your snow pants and hung on for dear life.
But this, friends: this is a different beast. Folks around here aren't used to snow and ice. Cities don't have the same kind of infrastructure for dealing. So this winter, when we've had an unusual amount of ice and snow (climate change, whaaa?), the school systems are buckling. Buses are stuck and delayed; roads are too icy to get kids home from school. Days off right and left. Which are rad when you're a kid who can hang out and play all day, or a solo adult who can chill on the sofa in front of the TV. Not so cool when you're an introverted work-from-home mama trying to figure out what the heck to do with tiny energetic humans all day long.
A few reasons snow days are introvert-parent hell:
1. You're stuck inside with small children (whom you love, absolutely, enormously), but whom you can't escape. Can't leave the house, can't go for a walk, can't head to the children's museum. Perpetual company. Perpetual playing. So much talking. So little quiet. There is not enough coffee in the world.
2. You thought you were going to get some amazing alone time, and poof! just like that, it disappeared. You pay for 3 mornings' worth of precious work time (a.k.a. preschool) every week. That sacred four-hour chunk of quiet in which you're supposed to accomplish 15 hours' of professional work for the week, go to the post office, clean the toilets, fold the laundry, pay the bills, and plan the next month? Nope. Think again. The planet had other plans.
3. You are not in control. Even of the weather. Especially of the weather. Or whether your child will put pants on. Or whether the ice will melt in time for school tomorrow. Or whether you'll be able to rustle up frantic last-minute childcare so you can still make that important meeting. Here's the universe to remind you, just in case you'd forgotten, mama: you are NOT in control.
4. Trying and failing to avoid screen time. In the last three housebound days, you've already baked all the muffins, kneaded all the PlayDoh, read all the library books, done all the puzzles, drawn masks with all the markers, whacked the T-ball in the bedroom, played Keep Away in the basement, rocked Hide and Seek in the closets, and glued pasta onto crusty modern art masterpieces. You are goddamned f**king tired. You just want to sit on the couch and be quiet and watch the snow falling. Instead you're vrooming around the living room like Lightning McQueen while your three-year-old rams into you as a ferocious Chick Hicks.
So, what to do?
1. Go play outside. If you're brave enough to bundle the little boogers up before someone inevitably has to pee. The snow can admittedly be pretty charming. And the peaceful heavy quiet that comes with that magical blanket of powder is music to the introvert's ears.
2. Read, read, read. All day long. Read out loud. This is not such a bad option, as long as your voice hangs in there. Just make sure you hit up the library before the forecast calls for a snowstorm, or you'll wind up reading Strega Nona for the 45th time.
3. Bottomless coffee. Stimulants will give you more energy to talk, right?
4. Hide in the bathroom. You can steal at least two minutes of solitude hiding behind the door before they find you. And sometimes two minutes of stillness is all you need for a quick energy fuel-up.
5. Start drinking. Vodka + kombucha are a favorite blend from my old bartending days. I'm a way more extroverted mama when I've got a glass of wine in me. Tough times call for tough measures, no?
6. Play quiet games, like Doctor's Office. "Oh, you need me to lie on the floor and close my eyes so you can listen to my heart? No problem."
7. Do a yoga video together. No guarantees about how much yoga will actually get done, but at least you'll get to take a few deep breaths together before the cat curls up on your mat or the toddler falls out of Tree Pose.
8. Stand at the window and look at the snow. My preschool son and I did that one morning as the sun was coming up outside our window. It was gorgeous. The pinks and the oranges left us both silent with wonder. We shared a few precious moments of stillness.
9. Listen to audio books. You don't have to talk. You can just listen, turn pages, and snuggle. WIN.
10. Take naps. Snow days necessitate naps. Curl up together and turn off your phone. You'll have plenty of time to get your work done next week when they're back in school. And they won't always want to snuggle with you.