The Snow Day(s)

Snow day

I had another blog entry teed up for this week but then Snowmageddon hit the Mid-Atlantic.

I know this topic won’t apply to everyone around the country (and I’m jealous of those of you for whom it doesn’t apply!), but for those of us on the east coast, it certainly applied these last few days.

Snow Days - The initially fun but then problematic to “life” snow day(s). I love a good snowstorm.  Even the anticipation of it is fun.  We don’t get much snow here in Virginia so just the forecast of snow causes school to close.  The kids obviously love that.

Then it starts coming down, and it’s so stinkin’ pretty.  Everyone is home together, you get the fire going, maybe a drink by noon because it just feels like you should, of course.  And, it’s awesome to take the kids out to play in it. All four kids in our house - from 3 to 17 - love playing in it. Shoot, I love playing in it. That was us on Friday.  It was fantastic.

It felt vacationy.

But, wait…  It wasn’t.  The rest of the world was still working.  And, I and the rest of the team at goHappy had 8 gazillion things to do that day.  So, we hopped on a morning check-in call to chat through what the most important things were for us to get done that day (as we’d all decided to “work from home” that day).  That was at 9.  And, I got in a solid 3 hours of work, which was about 1/4th of what I needed to do, before the kids were bouncing all over my office.  

At that point, there was enough snow on the ground where the kids had become totally amped to go outside and go sledding, make a snowman, have a snowball fight - whatever - anything just to get outside and play in it.  So, out we went.  And, it was awesome.  Several hours later (and a few texts and emails from my phone before it became too wet and had to put it back away), everyone was ready to head back inside to warm up.  Still lots of work to do, but, the kids were ready to play inside now (my 5 year old is totally into bull riding for some reason - so, guess who gets to be the “bull”??). We don’t get that many snow days where we’ll all off together.  So, I pretty much did very little work that afternoon other than responding to Slack messages (if you don’t use Slack for work, you should!) and a few emails.  No real proactive, productive work.  Certainly not what I had planned to do and thought I “needed” to do.  But, again, it was Friday and a snow day, so what the heck.

Saturday brought a ton more snow - for us it was like Snowmageddon (it’s very rare for us to get 13+ inches in one snowstorm).  We couldn’t even really go outside and play much that day because of how hard it was coming down and the 40 mile an hour wind gusts (was seriously like tropical storm gusts minus the tropical part).

Sunday was a total bluebird day - sunny, warm - perfect for more playing outside, but certainly not enough for that much snow to melt where secondary roads had become navigable - at least not for us in Virginia (I know you heavy duty winter states are laughing at us).  So, by 4pm, we got the notice that school was closed on Monday.  The kids were super excited.  But, for my wife and I, we both had a ton of work to get done the next day.  And, our nanny couldn’t get to the house because of the snow.  We couldn’t get out yet anyway to get to work - the roads around us were still that bad.

We planned to both work from home again, as did the rest of the goHappy team.  I got in some good productive time in the morning before the kids were in the office again.  They were ready to head outside and play again.  Of course.  It was beautiful out again, so why not?  So, out we went.  My wife needed to stay inside and crank on work, as she has a big presentation this week that she needed to get ready for so I was on point.  And, it was a blast.  Again.  But, I had this “I’ve got so much stuff that I need to do” feeling hanging over me most of the time I was out there.

As I was thinking about it last night (school is closed again today but my wife and I are both back at work today - she’s flying out to the midwest and I’m at the office), I thought - I need a “Snow Day Plan”.  I loved the time I had playing with the kids.  But, because of that “I’ve got so much stuff to do” feeling hanging over me, I almost had this feeling of guilt/angst while playing with them - at least on Monday.  Which made it not nearly as fun as it could have been quite frankly.

So, as I thought about what a “Snow Day Plan” might look like, my 3 quick takeaways for the “Snow Day Plan” (which I guess really applies to any “out of the ordinary work from home day” when the kids are there) are:

  1. Block the time (both work and play) and agree to the time blocks with your spouse.  I do better when I block specific periods of time to do things - it causes me to focus a lot more on that thing - it’s this mentality I guess of “because it’s blocked, then that’s what I’m supposed to be doing”.  When I blocked the time off in the morning for calls, etc., my kids were more understanding - as long as they knew what time we were heading out to play (the 3 and 5 year old still don’t really grasp time, so my wife had to keep explaining what “in 1 hour” meant every 5 minutes…).  And, for me, when I “blocked” the time on Friday afternoon to play with them, I enjoyed it a heckuva lot more than on Monday because I hadn’t blocked it then (and thus, had that angst feeling hanging over me).  I may be odd, but that’s how it felt for me.
  2. Be “all-in” with the kids when it’s play time.  This is true for me, no matter whether it’s a Snow Day or not, but it certainly was true those few days.  When my mind is wandering to work when I’m supposed to be playing with them, they pick it up - immediately.  My 5 year old actually grabbed my face while talking to me (when he noticed I wasn’t really paying attention) and said “Daddy, look at my face!”  I didn’t accomplish anything for work when I was thinking about it while playing.  And, I didn’t get to enjoy the playing as much either.  So, I really shorted the one without it benefiting the other.  Not much of a win/win there.  Next time!
  3. Enjoy the time.  As I thought about how many Snow Days we’ve had over the last several years since our oldest has started school, there really haven’t been that many of them (like, literally 12 or so over the last 3 years that I can remember).  And, for those 4 days or so each year, the world doesn’t fall apart - it doesn’t even crack a little in my own little world (I’ve pretty much caught up already today on all of the stuff “I thought I had to get done that Monday”).  So, I want to just soak the next one(s) up - although I hope we get a little break from the next one!

I’m sure a number of you all who have been at this “Snow Day” thing a lot longer than I have (and are a lot better at this than me) have thoughts, tips, traditions for those times - and we’d love to hear ‘em.

  • Any fun stuff that you all do on those days?
  • Any tips on how to get at least some of the “work stuff” done that you need to while still having a ton of fun with the kids, spouse, whomever?

Please fire away!