It was weekend that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. My son though? The one who made it so memorable for me? He won’t remember a thing.
A few weeks ago, as the super storm dumped ice and snow and sleet on our city, my little family stocked up on groceries and got ready for a long, locked-in weekend.
Conventional wisdom (and all the parents ever) says that parenting through a blizzard can painful and –true- our house is a little worse for wear than it was before the storm hit but, much to our surprise, our weekend was fantastic.
We made a snowman, and we went sledding. We read books for hours in the blanket fort we made in the living room. We lay on our backs and caught snowflakes on our tongues. We stirred homemade hot chocolate and, with a hearty helping of rainbow sprinkles, a batch of milky ice-cream made from snow. There were no tears, no fits, no tantrums.
Exhausted from play, and from endless mommy and daddy time, naps and bedtimes were simple and pleasant. The weekend that was supposed to be madness was, instead, a weekend of parental fantasy.
My boy turned two the weekend before the storm, and, in the past month his vocabulary has become broader and his words clearer. As we snuggled after his bath on the snowy Saturday night, he asked to look out the window.
As he peered out at the falling snow, he pressed one hand to the window glass and one on my check, he turned his eyes towards mine and, with earnestness I’ve not before seen in him, he said, simply, “I love you, mommy, thank you for snow.”
The weekend, our snowy, locked in blizzard was beautiful. It’s a weekend that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. My son, though? The one who made it so memorable for me? He won’t remember a thing.
Though he’ll probably recall the snow for a little while, and beg for snow ice-cream for a little while longer, by the time he’s a boy, the memories will have faded away. He won’t recall the cuddles in our blanket fort or the snowman he patted into being. He won’t remember staying up for extra books or cracking the eggs for our brunch. He won’t remember his first sled ride or the wetness of the snow or the way his hands turned pink before he was ready to come inside.
Though my boy won’t remember our beautiful weekend, I’m confident that time that we spent and the love that we shared made quite an impact.
My son won’t remember how he stretched and reached to tie the blanket above our couch or how her placed pillow carefully on the floor, but I hope moments like these will stack upon one another until he knows, fully and without question, that ours is the kind of home it’s okay to make a mess in as long as were making it together.
He won’t remember staying up late for extra books or how mommy and daddy fought sleep as hard as him to enjoy a few more minutes. He won’t remember which books we read over and over or the way hi curled his body into mine when his eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer. In the years to come, however, I hope he feels the same sense of comfort and calm as he craws into the big bed for stories. I hope he associates words with warmth and books with love and the sound of my reading voice with happiness.
My boy won’t remember helping make our family brunch or stirring the hot chocolate and the snow ice cream, we’ve started traditions that I hope we’ll continue for years to come. As he grow and changes, I hope that he’ll look forward to each year’s first snow and the special treats that will come along with it. I hope as the air cools he’ll smile at the thought of hot chocolate and check the pantry and the refrigerator for ingredients and that, as he cracks and mixes and stirs, he feels connected to years past and years to come.
My beautiful son won’t remember the wetness of the snow or the cool of the air, the pink of his hands or the aches that come along with coming into the warm again. He won’t remember the thrill of his first sled ride or the way the wind blew through his hair as he tumbled down the little hill. I hope, though that the fun he had during the snow will spark a love of the outdoors and an association between joy and open air.
My boy is too little to remember tomorrow the things that we did last month. In time, the little bits of recall from our wonderland weekend will slip away from him forever.
But I’ll remember. I’ll remember it all. And through my memories, and the experiences my husband and I create for him in the years to come, the weekend will live on within him.
Here in Vermont, it’s been winter for approximately 1000 days. It’s time to solve the season’s biggest problems, from dry skin to wet boots on floor.
Up here in Vermont, it’s already been winter for approximately one thousand days. We’ve fielded questions from our kids like “Will I ever feel my face again?,” “Why don’t we live in Hawaii?” and “You want me to go play outside? Do you hate me?” for weeks now.
If parenting is difficult on the blissfully warm, grab and go sort of days, adding a layer of ice, snow, and complaining has the potential to make it nearly unbearable. While completely unscientific, I approximate that there is 85% more crying in my house December-April than the rest of the year. (And that’s just from me.)
I want to embrace winter. Really, I do.
For one thing, it would certainly be in my best interest to actually enjoy this, the season that never ends. With that in mind, this year, I signed my ten year old up for snowboarding lessons.
He (hopefully) cultivates a lifelong love of a sport, and I get to stay home in my pajamas on Saturday mornings, drinking coffee and maintaining circulation in my toes. Everybody wins!
To be fair, it’s an uphill battle. There is seemingly an endless stream of reasons to unabashedly despise this time of year.
And because misery loves company, I asked a couple thousand of my Facebook friends to weigh in on their #winterparentproblems, with added bonus points for sharing ways they’ve found to make it better. Turns out, it’s a discussion everyone wants to have.
Here’s the general consensus of complaint.
1. Wet boots all over the floor
It’s not like the kids leaving their shoes in a heap right in front of the door is strictly a seasonal thing, however, the sheer bulk of boots in combination with salt and sloppy puddles makes for an elevated level of irritation.
The jury is still out of whether my children have learned ALL THE SWEARS on the occasions I’ve stepped in those puddles with socked feet, but hey, it’s only January. Plenty of time to fill out the vocabulary.
You could assemble one of these. Of course a giant, easily accessed tray full of river rocks could be some parent’s worst nightmare, in which case, you could opt for a less throwable/chokable cabinet liner in the tray instead.
2. Wet clothes left in the bag
Filed under “Are You Even Serious Right Now,” would be the morning confession that the kid’s gloves, hat, and snow pants have been left to fester, wet, balled up in a plastic bag all night.
Of course if the kid is of the age where this should be their responsibility, it’s a lesson they may only need to learn a few times. They either play in wet clothes or miss time outside, neither being a super rad option.
For the littler people, well, this scenario is likely your fault. But you managed to bring the right bundled kid home from daycare or preschool, so whatever. You can’t win all the time. Chances are you have a back up set, as kids this age sit in mud puddles just for fun. If you don’t, hit the second hand store ASAP.
One hot tip I learned to dry mittens faster- slide toilet paper tubes inside mittens to maximize aeration. Genius.
Stuff newspaper into boots or invest in one of these fancy boot dryers.
3. Lost gear
Remember the poor little kittens who lost their mittens? Remember how they DID IT FOR THE NINTH TIME AND THEIR MOTHER WENT TOTALLY APESHIT AND SENT THEM BACK TO SCHOOL TWELVE MILES ON FOOT TO FIND THEM? That’s the way that little ditty went, right?
Can someone explain to me how a child leaves the house with a coat in sub-zero temps and manages to return home without it?
There are two camps here. The kids who should be old enough to keep track of their own things, and the kids who are not. Last year, when my third grader misplaced his boots, he was on the hook to pay for a replacement.
The deal is, my husband and I provide the first round of gear. Lose it, and it’s your money that buys the next. Miraculously, they turned up just days later.
My four year old, on the other hand came home from school on the very first day that she had been sent with snow pants and informed me, “I had to borrow today because mine weren’t in my cubby.” You know, the same ones that had been hung up at drop off not fifteen minutes before. Haven’t seen those suckers since.
Label, label, and label again. Label everything down to their damn socks. Then teach them how to identify their stuff. How many pairs of pink snow pants could be floating around one classroom? FOUR DOZEN. Approximately.
Get everyone on board with taking inventory. Tuck mittens into the hat and the hat into the sleeve of the coat.
Send the younger ones to school in hand me downs, back ups, and mismatches.
4. ALL OF THE SICKNESS
Winter turns my house into a round robin of sniffles, vomiting, coughing, and vomiting again. A couple years ago I decided to stash a bucket under my kids’ beds from the moment the first leaf falls until we bust out the bathing suits. I’m not playing around in the middle of the night when someone inevitably wakes up like Linda Blair. Everywhere is a GD petri dish, and kids find a way to sneeze DIRECTLY INTO YOUR MOUTH.
Wash your hands frequently. Obvs.
Use a new toothbrush after a round of colds or flu or whatever nasties may befall your household.
Drink more water.
Don’t be the person that shows up at the party with the snotty kid. Extend the courtesy of keeping your family’s germs to yourselves.
5. The added risk of falling on ice, especially while holding a small person
I never felt more proud of my maternal instincts than the time I was wearing my dozing infant, slipped on black ice and managed to fall in such a way that I not only avoided cracking her skull open, but I also absorbed every iota of impact while she remained COMPLETELY ASLEEP.
Whether your kids love winter or not, there’s no contesting the fact that they spend far more time indoors these months than others. It’s dark before dinner, everything takes more planning, and even the heartiest get cold eventually.
Screen time is up, physical activity is down, and everyone is just that much closer to sticking their head in the oven.
This was a seasoned group of parents that I polled. Most are life long east coasters who have slogged through a collective 8 MILLION WINTERS and lived to tell the tale. Some of my favorite suggestions were:
Jogging trampoline. Whether you throw it down in the basement or allow it to take up prime real estate right smack in the middle of the living room, it doesn’t matter. Just go ahead and encourage them to jump, jump, JUMP until their head feels loose.
Clear out space in the garage or basement where they can roll around on whatever wheels they prefer. Set up a space heater.
Yoga balls are great for bouncing.
Crib mattresses are also great for dragging to the floor and jumping on.
Glue felt to the bottom of an old skateboard deck and let them carpet surf.
And, if all else falls, there’s always mall walking.
7. All of the dryness
So, how does it feel to live in the Sahara? Do you like waking up like someone shoved cotton balls all the way down your throat? Enjoying those chapped lips? How about the horror stories that have been relayed to me about the kids who apply the same finesse they use to piss all over the toilet seat to their weekly bloody nose? At least 3 people told me they’ve recently washed blood off walls. Come ON. Winter, you’re the worst.
Put a bottle of lotion next to the soap at every sink. Apply after each hand washing.
Buy a small army of humidifiers.
Maybe watch a few episodes of Dexter so you can really nail the clean up process.
8. Maintaining car seat safety while keeping the kid warm
This is the new frontier of parenting woes. (Legit, mind you. I’m not trying to be dramatic.) Lord knows our parents threw us into the back of our tuna can of a family car without so much as a car seat. Times have changed. Now we all know phrases like, “five point harness” and “latch system.”
On top of that, we now all know that you aren’t supposed to wrestle a kid and their Stay Puft Marshmallow Man coat into the seat. But how are you supposed to manage wrangling them out into the cold, into the car, back into the cold, back into the car while keeping them safe and avoiding the side eye of every Judgy Know It All who is certain your child is going to get pneumonia?
This is the most comprehensive write up available on how to properly manage this situation. The Car Seat Lady FTW.
9. Scathing jealousy of those on vacations in warm climates
Seriously, jerks. Stop with your Facebrag photos of palm trees and your stupid pedicured toes in the sand. Since I know you’re out of town, Imma head to your house and cover your windows in my kid’s sticker collection.
Hide them, unfriend them, and make new friends who are so deep in student debt they won’t be taking a vacation until 2048.
10. Time spent preparing vs. time actually spent outside
Holy hell, if this isn’t the resounding cry of winter weary parents everywhere. First of all, I’m certain it takes astronauts less time to gear up for a mission to Mars than it does to wrangle a rabid squirrel dipped in vaseline toddler into winter gear. And if you have more than one to dress, forget it. Don’t even bother. Building a ship in a bottle, then backing over it with your car is probably a more productive use of time.
Let them pick out really ugly stuff that you’d never choose, but they are excited about. It may not be the warmest, but it’ll be warmer than the stuff you buy and they refuse to wear.
For the kids who get snow in between their coat sleeves and mittens and act like they’ve been set on fire, these mittens are essential.
Honorable mentions (with little to no solutions.)
When your kids have a snow day, but you still have to work.
Winter sports are EXPENSIVE.
Teenagers who refuse to dress appropriately.
All the extra time you have to pad onto leaving the house (or anywhere)
Dirty, salt streaked car, inside and out.
Frozen glasses. (My favorite contribution, hands down. “Dealing with frozen glasses. My kid was pissed about the ice on his eyewear and threw them down to the floor the other day. We’re waiting on the new pair for him to break.”)
Catch the freshest, cleanest snow for sugar on snow by putting mixing bowls outside during the big snowstorm.
Sugar on snow is the best. It’s a delicious, easy, seasonal treat for all ages. Simply heat real maple syrup on the stove and drizzle it over packed snow. The maple syrup instantly transforms into a kind of chewy, icy taffy.
Many New Englanders eat it with a fork, accompanied by a pickle and a donut. I grew up eating it with a side of saltines. Now I enjoy it with coffee or malty beer.
Sugar on snow is most popular in in March, during maple sugaring season. However, my family uses any snowstorm as an excuse to make it. My tips:
– As mentioned above, leave mixing bowls during snowstorms to catch the freshest, cleanest snow
– Use a candy thermometer to get the syrup up to 230 degrees. But don’t let not having a thermometer prevent you from making sugar on snow – just heat up the syrup on the stove.
– Don’t use that maple flavored corn syrup stuff. Use the real thing.
With the northeast poised to be slammed by the type of snow storm that clears grocery store shelves of everything from cartons of milk to decks of playing cards, it seems likely many kids are going to be home from school tomorrow whether they sleep with their pajamas inside out or not.
We know there’s a range of emotion that occurs when you’re staring down the barrel of being snowed in with children. Panic, excitement, and anxiety, followed by a mental inventory of toilet paper, alcohol, and hidden junk food stashes. So in an effort to take some of the work off your shoulders, we’ve scheduled your ultimate snow day. And if your kids argue about any of the plans, well, tell them you’re sorry but it’s on the list.
Put the cereal on the table and the milk on the lowest shelf for easy access and perhaps snag yourself a few extra moments of snow day “sleeping in”.
If your driveway is long, park at the end of it. Save yourself a few feet of necessary snow removal.
In the event the cereal didn’t cut it, throw down a real snow day breakfast by whipping up these no frills pancakes, or pull out the bisquick. Out of eggs? No problem. Blow their minds by using snow. (WHAT?! It’s true. We learned it on the internet.) Two heaping tablespoons of it can replace 1 egg. Freshly fallen works best, which is great. You might be up to your eyeballs in it.
Challenge all participants to a winter gear round up. Capitalize on their inherent need to win and be fast while sparing yourself getting everyone dressed.
Sure, you could build a regular old snowman with a jaunty hat, carrot nose, and some rock buttons. Or you could be the house on the block that makes the rules by building one of these bad boys.
Drag your sleds to the nearest hill and bring along a serious shovel. How else do you plan to engineer an epic jump? (Pro tip: Bring some water if the snow is powdery.)
Fill spray bottles with water and food coloring. Turn the white canvas into winter graffiti. Don’t use just red. Unless you’re going for a look that’s more hunter/maniac chic.
Stage a snowball fight, or if you want to minimize the likelihood of tears, hang a cardboard target from a tree instead.
Are they asking to come in yet?
Any dissenters who aren’t old enough to stay outside alone? Haul some snow inside by the bucketful and fill the bathtub. Retrieve the sand toys you never got around to packing away properly anyway and let them have at it while you move on to warmer things.
Here’s the part of the day where you get all jedi mind trick. Do you want a clean house and happy entertained kids? Inform the crew that the house is about to become a movie theater. However, first that’s going to require a bit of organizing and cleaning up, for which they will earn (fake) money to be spent on the afternoon’s blockbuster. Pillows, blankets and cushions can transform the viewing area, and the craftier among the group can fashion tickets and signs. The cash they earn can pay the entrance fee and all the popcorn and hot chocolate they can eat.
Post movie, turn the theater into an ultimate fort for the evening’s board game competition.
Hopefully you’re well stocked on the essentials. And if they’re home longer than a day, remember if they’re old enough to walk, they’re old enough to shovel.
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