by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
"Four snow days and one late start; plus tomorrow school will probably either be canceled or a late start. And that's just in January! It's ridiculous!" I was talking with my friend Beth, newly relocated to the East Coast, as she cruised the grocery store trying to stock up last night before yet another mammoth snow storm rolled in, trapping her and her five children at home for another round of everyone's favorite game "Entertain Me, Mommy!".
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With La Niña bringing in record snow fall around the country, moms everywhere are scrambling to figure out what to do with bored kiddos stranded indoors for days at a time. Sure Mother Nature is known for her mood swings and property destruction, but disgruntled kids take a close second. While here in Minnesota we haven't had a snow day yet (State motto: Snotcicles build character!), being trapped indoors led my three rowdy to boys to swing from my chandelier. They pulled it right out of the ceiling. Bet you thought that only happened in cartoons!
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So what's an exhausted mom to do when even the allure of the electronic babysitter isn't enough and you're one step away from sending everyone to their rooms for "quiet time"... until bed time? Here are a few ideas to both educate and entertain your kidlets until the buses resume:
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1. Walking on hot coals. Your kids probably already know that adventurers do all kinds of wacky things like walking on hot coals. So use what you've got and create an obstacle course by strewing Legos all over the floor (Heck, they're probably already there anyhow). They're not hot like coals, but they hurt every bit as much when you step on them! Lesson learned: Pick up your toys before mommy lets your brothers play cannibal with you.
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2. Laundry keepaway. You didn't splurge on those vaulted ceilings during the height of the housing bubble for nothing! Take advantage of high ceilings by turning laundry folding into a game of keep away. Since kids only want what they can't have this will be a great way for them to claim ownership of that pair of dirty underwear. Plus throwing stuff is fun. Lesson learned: If you don't want to lose your favorite jersey to the ceiling fan, best put it away!
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3. Snow shoveling maze. If living in the land of the frozen tundra has taught me anything, it's that driveways don't shovel themselves. So round up the kiddos and use those shovels to make a maze in all that fresh powder. If you're lucky they'll get into a snowball fight with the neighbor kids and won't notice you sneaking back into the house for two minutes of blessed silence. Lesson learned: If everyone helps it doesn't take long to get the snow cleared... until the plow comes by and pushes it all back into your driveway. Extra credit: Have readers look up "Sisyphean" in the dictionary.
How are things in your part of the country -- have your kids been out of a school a lot this winter? What creative ways have you found to keep everyone sane and your furniture intact?
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the new book, The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.