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Snow Day Tips for the Introverted Parent

Quiet Revolutionary Rachel Meyer’s Story

We moved to the Pacific Northwest two years ago, and for the first time in my adult (read: parenting) life, I had to deal with snow days.

Snow days were so much fun when you were a kid, right? For me, 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 during 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 with such calamities. So last winter, as we were having an unusual amount of ice and snow, the school systems were buckling. Buses were stuck and delayed; roads were too icy to get kids home from school; days off right and left. And that’s 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.

Here are a few reasons why snow days are introvert-mama 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. Trapped with tiny talkative people, all day long. 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 three 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 Play Doh, 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 goddamn 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 3-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 snow 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 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, no? And sometimes two minutes of stillness is all you need for a quick energy fuel-up.

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. Stand at the window and look at the snow. My preschool son and I did that this morning as the sun was coming up outside our window. It was gorgeous. The pinks and oranges left us both silent with wonder. We shared a few precious moments of stillness.

  8. Listen to audio books together. You don’t have to talk. You can just listen, turn pages, and snuggle. WIN.

  9. 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.

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  • colleen barker

    I feel so much better about myself reading this. My boys are grown now,
    but you nailed it with this description of a snow day. I felt so guilty
    and desperate trying to find quiet, alone time. I still have this
    feeling like “I wasn’t the fun parent”. Your book and these posts
    continue to help soften that not so flattering self(parent) image I
    have. Now I have the most lovely (quiet) dinner dates with my boys 🙂

  • ej k

    This is fabulous! Thankfully in London we don’t get many snow days, but I totally get a 2 minute bathroom break being a wonderful, and so needed, little slice of solitude!

  • Tami Harbin

    You are such a funny writer!!!! I think the most important tip I was given when my kids were young was to instill a quiet time every day we’re at home when people are all in separate spaces (sometimes one of our spaces was under the table or another on the couch…but usually in bedrooms ) doing something quietly all at the same time. Really young ones can nap and the others recharge in other ways. We’ve kept this going in summers and my youngest is in 5th grade now and oldest in 9th. If need be, set a timer so that the more extroverted ones know when they are free to see if anyone is ready to play with them. We also watched Cars 1 about everyday at supper time when my husband was working in a distant city. I just couldn’t interact anymore by 6pm after being with my littles all day. So Cars helped me have a type of quiet which allowed me to handle bedtime which is a big feat! Bon courage parents!

  • Momof3misses

    Thank you for This! We just came off of 2 snow days without any snow to play with. It has been so bone chilling cold that school was closed. My 9 year old is very active and talks, talks, talks. Alas, no work got done for me. I tried to relish this time as best as I could.

  • Ruslan Khuzin

    Sometimes lighting a candle helps to pass some time in quiet during long winter evenings. You can switch off all the other lights and just have some tea together in candlelight. Warm greetings from snowy Russia 🙂

  • YES YES YES YES YES. Thank you for this. The audio books are a stroke of brilliance. I also say embrace the television as your new best friend for the day and celebrate its ability to give you some downtime and refuse to beat yourself up over it. (I have to say this because I caffeine gives me an upset stomach, so I’ve had to raise my twins on No. Coffee. At. All.

    Maybe you can write a series on Introverted Stay-At-Home Parent Survival with lots of different scenarios??