Snow Days

The joys of a snow day with your young child

Mara Bier, Jewish Federation of Greater Washington Department of Jewish Life and Learning

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…. but the fire is so delightful” or is it?

As we enter into the coldest months of the year, we begin to think about the possibility of a snow storm and perhaps even a multi-day blizzard. If you grew up in our area, you may have fond memories of snow days. We sat by the radio or TV for hours waiting to hear the announcement: "The following schools systems will be closed..." and hoping that our school was on the list. Then home for the day with nothing to do but play in the snow and drink hot chocolate. As a parent of a young child, you may be waiting with anticipation for the day when you will be able to share a snow day at home with your young child. The excitement of seeing the first flakes fall, watching out the window to see how deep the snow is getting, sledding, snow ball fights, catching snowflakes on your tongue...what wonder Mother Nature bestows upon us. Or not.

As a parent, we also know that we have to think about the real "white stuff" (toilet paper, milk, bread and ice-melting salt) and fight the lines at the grocery store. In today’s world, we are also warned of the possibilities of power outages, responsibility of shoveling the walk, and the fact that your office may be up and running even if schools are closed. There are the boots, wet socks, and cries of “what can we do,” all of which work to strip the wonder and beauty of the snowstorm from us.

As with so many things, attitude and a little prep work will go a long way to bring the joy and wonder of snow back into your life.

Be prepared. Shop now for those essentials that will make the day or days go by well. Do you have art materials stashed away for a snowy day? Cookie baking ingredients? Warm winter clothes?

Be in the moment. So many young families are always on the go. Take advantage of “being stuck in” and give in. Cuddle longer in the morning, make snowflake pancakes, read books together, play a board game, look at old pictures. What other things can you think of that you never get the chance to do with your children?

Be thankful. Teach your children the blessings for the wonders of nature. Make it a family ritual to say these prayers at the sight of the first snow as well as other wondrous moments of life (first flower of spring, or seeing a rainbow, and other moments of joy in nature.

On seeing the large-scale wonders of nature, such as mountains, hills, deserts, seas, long rivers, lightning, and the sky in its purity:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, oseh maasei v'reishit.

We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, that such as these are in Your world.

Be generous. Think of others:  are there elderly people or those with disabilities on your street that can use a hand with shoveling? Were they able to get out to purchase essentials or can you deliver some to them? Might they just need some company if the days are getting long? What a wonderful example you would be setting for your children if you engaged in these tzedakah (acts of loving kindness, charity) activities with them. Use the time to think about those that do not have warm clothes for such weather. Cleaning out your closet of winter clothing that you no longer need or does not fit and getting them ready to deliver to local collection agencies is a wonderful project to do during a snow storm. And don’t forget the animals. Spread bird seed on the snowy grass. Leave water in plates around your home, replacing the water when if freezes over.

How lucky to be the parent of a young child and have the chance to delight in the world through their eyes. Enjoy!

Check out Pinterest for more great snow day ideas.