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Where we live, we are soon expected to get about 3 feet of snow. It hasn’t really snowed that much since my sophomore year of High School! And I am stoked for a lot of fun in the snow. But let’s be honest, snow days can be really long if not planned out a little. The prep, the “find the missing mitten”, the clean up of drippy muddy mess when the kids all come tromping with their gear back in.

Here are some ways to prep for a successful day in the snow with the least number of tears possible.

  1. Lay out the gear ready to go.
    1. I’ve found that if we don’t get a little organized in the start before the eager ravenous for snow adventure crowd suddenly can’t find that glove…. the whole day gets set off on the wrong foot. So whether it is a ski day, sledding, etc, it just helps to lay as much as possible out so my energy and positivity doesn’t get drained in the first 30 minutes of the day. And it is SO easy to forget the little things like hand warmers which really do go a long way.
  2. Set up a shed and drip dry zone
    1. While we may bundle the crew tightly, it is just inevitable that you may spend 15 minutes getting the 3 year old ready for 10 minutes out in the snow, only to do that again and again throughout the day. So with those extra trips in and out, we lay down several beach towels as our shed zones to help avoid slip zones and mud getting tracked in.
  1. Pull out the crock pot soup
    1. Whether it is a freezer meal I have been meaning to use or a simply go to soup to put in the crock pot in the morning, I too want to play in the snow with my kids instead of slaving away in the kitchen.
  1. Prepare what “Snow Activities” you will do
    1. This Christmas my sister gifted one of my kids a “Snow Man” kit, cutest thing. You can turn your snowman into a clown with all kinds of funny faces including the traditional top hat. Only thing missing was a fun scarf. Cute one from felt or pull aside a smaller unused one. Infinity scarves stay on well or simply tie the scarf so it won’t blow off in the wind. If building a full snowman seems too daunting with the quality of snow, make a mini one! I love this one on the cover of Our Photographers Magazine. You can always use beads or just little pebbles for the eyes and mouth. We made these little accessories out of felt for this mini snowman family. I will share in another post the fun scavenger hunt we did for our babies announcement in another post. This little family was at the end with the big news.

With this smaller size of snow men, you can use medium sized buttons or pull aside doll clothes to dress them. American Girl doll sized clothes are about the right size for mini snowmen.

  1. Another fun activity we had a blast with is making snow treats. Just educate the littles about what is “clean” snow and which isn’t. And to stay away from the yellow snow! Ewww! To make snow treats… simply A. Use cookie cutters to cut out basic shapes, such as a heart over hardened topped snow or B. Add some jello gelatin (with a spray bottle) to help solidify the treat, then use the cookie cutters to make the shape and place on a tray in the freezer until ready to play. We like to add drizzled sweetened condensed milk, chocolate syrup or snow cone flavoring and fruit to our creations. Or if you drizzle on cream you can let the kids “melt” their creations in their hot cocoa to cool it off.
  1. We pull out the camping shovels to build snow caves, unbury the sleds out of the garage and anything else that might be used for snow fun. Sand toys for the beach can play a fun simply role in playing in the snow for the little ones. If there is not enough snow to make a full igloo, make one for the toys. Simply pack it down heavy then start digging a hole with a large spoon or garden shovel.

My 8 year old and I had a blast making a mini igloo for her Barbies.

  1. Encourage warm up breaks with hot cocoa and granola bars and bananas.
    1. It take a LOT of energy outside of the normal playing in the yard in the snow! Rather than just cookies and hot cocoa, bring out the granola bars and some energy fruit like bananas. Otherwise prepare for some tired grumpy bumps.

Those three words that can sometimes lead to my ultimate mom guilt.  Because they come again and again!  Sometimes I think , “not again.  I love you, but I have SO much to do….. or I just want to socialize for a few minutes with the other moms!  Play date is for mama’s sanity too child! I can’t wait til you are old enough to swing yourself.”  And then you know what… I feel guilty again for looking at such a task as a chore.

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Because, tomorrow, they will grow up and my 2 year old won’t have that little sweet chime in his voice when he comes to my office door and “mom you come push me? Push me on da swing mom!”  And so then I pull away from whatever email, edit or project I am working on to go out in the backyard and push him. (not always mind you, but I attempt to balance it out)  I lift the swing back back back and let go. And he or she will squeal with delight “Wheeeeeee!!  Higher mom higher!  Whoa mom, too high, too scary…”

It goes on.

But you know something…. as adorable as their little chimes or squeals of joy are, there is something a little sweeter.

Sometimes I will be working, and take a look out the door into the backyard and see something adorable, I hear something adorable.  It is the way they play with each other.  Yes there is the “NO IT’s MY turn First! MOOOOMMMMMM Milo’s NOT letting me have a TURN!” thrown in there… but every once in a while, I hear them playing together nicely and taking turns spinning each other and giggling together.  This sibling bonding is heartwarming and I love to see it.   I believe that even at a young age, kids recognize the sacrifices we make.  Believe me, there are times I can’t get anything done!  But I have noticed what a huge difference breaking up my day has also had on me, on any stresses etc to step away from chores or emails or whatever to play with the kids, to go to the park, to stop and smell the roses… It brings me back to priorities, to family, and you know something… it drives me, motivates me.

Madeline will notice when I make a sacrifice and she sees when I am turning away from something else that I need to get done.  And it is a serious tug and pull.  This balancing act.  Being an adult, helping pay the bills and making those sacrifices.  I feel like a juggler for a reason. That ought to be a synonym for adult.

Madeline sees when I pull away because every time she sees that I am spending quality time with her, and not half looking at the phone or playing hide and seek (while doing chores at the same time (admit it! you do it too:)

In those moments we are building a puzzle, or reading a book or playing with ponies, or swinging, even if it just 5 or 10 minutes here and there…. she looks at me and says, “I love you mom.”

Time is love.

Have you played today?

My child: “Mom!  What’s for dinner?”

Me: “Whatever I can get made!”

And in the meantime I will juggle as I deal with raw meat, a hot stove, knives, curious kids wanting to help and hunger that just can’t wait.

What’s your daily juggle?  Let us know in the comments below and it just might make it into our next video!

Here are my quick tips for having a hassle free dinner making session.

  1. Have an activity.
    1. Truthfully, we usually wait until this time of day to turn on any screens, so I use dinner prep time as a time to turn on a show.  But if you want to avoid too much screen time, that have a box of “dinner prep time only” activities that you pull out special for this time of day.  Here are some examples (play dough, stickers, puzzles, watercolor paints…)  Just make it a fun activity that they don’t get to do whenever.
  2. Involve them.
    1. We have started a chore chart in our house, which can be really tricky to be consistent with, but I have found that during dinner prep time, this is a great time for them to do some simple chores and help out.  The stickers and eventually earning a toy are their incentive.  Small chores like wiping down the table, picking up toys, putting silverware on the table, folding napkins, scrubbing potatoes, washing their hands etc are a few examples of some chores.  They will feel part of the team too helping out.  Be sure to encourage them along with reinforcement. Plus, they are more likely to eat the food if they help!
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  3. Let them watch
    1. From a safe distance, let them watch the stirring and chopping.  Always be cautious of heat and use this as a reminder of listening to mama to stay safe.  We have adopted Daniel’s the Tiger’s , “Stop and Listen to Stay Safe.” Each show has a lesson and that one has helped.  Turning on the oven light and letting them watch keeps them preoccupied for a few minutes.
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  4. Give them a Snack
    1. Look out for this one!  I feel like there is never enough ‘up’ space in our house and I can’t seem to keep the chips and other not so healthy snacks hidden well enough!  And as most of us know, the moment they snack on too much junk, the less likely they will actually eat their dinner!  So my suggestion of keeping those little hungry tweeters at bay until the good healthy stuff is ready is to take advantage of their hunger!  Raw carrot sticks are one such example that my little’s are quick to grab at, especially if it is offered to them when they are hungry.  Plus, it takes a while to naw at too, so it is a slower eat.
  5. Let them play in the back yard.
    1. Having a gated backyard has been my dream for a LONG time!  When I am chopping and boiling and frying it is not fun to have little baby birds at your feet needing constant attention.  So I pull out bubbles or a something fun like chalk and let them go play.  The big thing is making it something new to keep them entertained long enough with out too many sibling quarrels.

Good luck and happy eats!  Let me know in the comments what you like to do to keep your little preoccupied while you prep dinner!

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