Tip #1: Enjoy the beautiful morning
Gone are the snow days when I would sleep until noon and binge watch “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” . Now, the 5am wake up call from Child #1 is greeted with genuine joy, as we replace getting ready for work with snuggling. If I happen to dose during Mickey Mouse (Viewing #1), I am sure I can catch how Mickey surprises Minnie with her valentine, later in the day. By 6am, all three of my delicious children, adorned with footed pajamas, are giggling throughout the house. We manage to eat a warm, home cooked breakfast, and while I know the day ahead will be a bit long, I feel nothing but grateful to have time to spend with my children.
Tip #2: Don’t Look At The Clock
A successful activity in my house typically lasts 7 minutes. When you break down a snow day, this means we only need about 51 activities to get us to nap time. When you add this to a child in the home with a sensory processing disorder, time pretty much moves backwards.
“I think it’s probably time to get their lunch together” and my husband patiently replies, “It is only 8:20”. I take a deep breath. I have nowhere to be. There is no rush. We snuggle on the couch watching Mickey Mouse (Viewing #2: Mickey needs glitter to add to Minnie’s valentine. Nice touch)
Tip #3: If a child is enjoying an activity, under no circumstances should it be interrupted.
Fourteen activities into our day, we have only had three screaming fights, spilled four cups of milk, and one accidental black eye from the piano bench; however, our enthusiasm is starting to wane. There is only so much Laurie Berkner dancing, lego building, play dough making, baby doll throwing that we can take. We have landed on “Music Class with Mommy”. And if it means I can have to sing the dog barking verse of Old MacDonald for ten consecutive minutes, I will – because every moment is a precious opportunity to spend with my beautiful children. I will not dare to interrupt this activity if it is working, even if it is to identify what the large puddle is on the couch.
Tip #4: You can never really take too many baths.
You ate some guacamole, let’s jump the bath to wash that off. You had a popsicle at 9am and it’s now in your hair – how about some bubbles to help rinse it away. You sat in some unrecognizable liquid on the couch, again- just a little soak. Each of those baths could be at least 7 minutes, and we can continue ticking away at our activities.
Rule #5: Don’t expect to get anything accomplished.
A whole day at home, of course means there is time to get those house projects completed. It would be a great opportunity to download the newborn pictures of your now two year olds twins or probably finish the thank you notes from their birth, but this is not reality. You will be lucky if you remember to change over the laundry you eagerly put into the washing machine at 6am. Don’t even think about getting any actual work accomplished. There will be no opportunities for phone calls or even a text message because the sheer vision of a cell phone sends your children into attack mode. In dire situations when you do hand it over, be assured it will be returned to you with applesauce on the screen and all of your emails have been deleted.
Tip #6: Make sure your pajamas have a front pouch
It’s a given that you are still in your pajamas all day, but those pajamas must have a pouch. Think old college sweatshirt. It can be used to collect items throughout your day that you consider hazardous, sticky, argument inducing, or my favorite, the sneak away. Put your cell phone in there and sneak up to the bathroom for a moment of peace. The children will never see it (See Rule #5). Then at the end of the night, you can relive your day through the items in your pocket. The tiny eraser you were worried the baby would choke on can now be thrown away; the lollypop remains used for bribery are probably still edible, and I’m sure no one would judge you if you ate the remnants of that cheese stick. You worked hard today, you earned it.
Tip #7: Snow vs Children: Divide and Conquer
There is always the predicament of how to handle the snow. If you are home alone with your children, it is virtually impossible to shovel and keep them safe and you need to rely on the kindness of neighbors. If you have a partner at home, it becomes a question of: Which job would I rather? I feel the same way about a day at the DMV. Is it easier to go outside and shovel 12 inches of snow or stay inside with three stir crazy gremlins, I mean my beloved children. Either way, you end up exhausted, red in the face, and have probably pulled something in your lower back.
Tip #8: Calories Don’t Count
You have to get through the day. That means you eat when you can and you eat whatever you can. Chicken nugget off the floor – Lunch! Share a bag of chips with your son while you watch Mickey Mouse (Viewing #3 – Oh, so the conflict is that Donald forgot Daisy’s valentine, ah plot twist ). You will work off those calories picking up the same set of legos ten times anyway, so it all works itself out.
Tip #9: They will eventually go to sleep
There is more in a day than just counting 7 minute increments. Choose something to look forward to when all of the mayhem has subsided. Tonight, it is the satisfactory sound of the vacuum cleaning up cheerios from our 10:00-10:07 game: how many times can I step on the bowl of cheerios and throw them at my brother. It’s a favorite.
As I lay each of them into their beds, snuggled into their recently wiped down pajamas (guacamole doesn’t stain and I never did finish that laundry), I look at their peaceful sleeping faces and feel so lucky to have spent an entire day with them – focusing on nothing but them. And we all survived – well except the couch, we really have no idea what that liquid is.