As cold and ice linger, schools across metro Atlanta were closed today again. A dusting of snow and another day at home may be fun for kids, but school closures can be a source of frustration for the parents. School closures can be disruptive for parents especially when parents are due at their workplace.
The warmup will start this afternoon. Until then, stay off the roads. While conditions have improved on interstates, surface streets are still iced over and too hazardous for travel, the Georgia Department of Transportation said.
Sarah Hamaker, a parent coach who blogs about parenting at www.parentcoachnova.com has put together 7 tips to help parents cope with unexpected weather-related closures. (She experienced two last week). Hamaker, based in Fairfax, Va., recommends the following strategies:
Have a loose schedule for the day. Kids are used to the structure of school and when it’s a free-for-all day, it can be hard on everyone, especially parents who need to work from home either most or all of the day. The day could look something like this:
Breakfast/dressed by 9 a.m. (or 10 a.m. for older kids)
Play outside from 10:30 to noon
Lunch at noon
Quiet time from lunch to 1 or 1:30 (reading, etc.)
Electronics or watch a movie from 2 to 4 p.m.
Play a game or read a story with siblings or with mom/dad from 4 to 4:30
Help with dinner
Note: It’s always better to have a certain time for electronics, like 2 to 4 p.m., rather than a time limit, like two hours, because it’s easier to check whether the kids are breaking the rules or not.
Pull together a “snow emergency” bag of tricks. For example, toys that have been put away or aren’t played with as much go into the bag, books or other games—in other words, something that only comes out when it snows.
Make a list of Things to Do When You’re Bored for your kids. Be creative. Things I put on such a list include building a fort with blankets; have a tea party with stuffed animals; go on an indoor scavenger hunt for hairpins, safety pins, bandages, cotton balls, shoe laces, tea bags, and a spool of thread, pretend you’re at the beach on a rainy day; put together a puzzle; write top 10 lists of favorite foods, books, movies, songs, etc.; go camping indoors with a small tent; read to a sibling; develop a secret code with a friend or sibling and pretend to be spies sending coded messages; make paper airplanes.
Separate the kids for quiet time. This is essential for days when siblings are cooped up with each other. Having an hour or two with everyone on their own can keep emotions from boiling too high.
Tag team with neighbors to watch the littler ones outside. Kids often want to stay outside a lot longer than adults, so having a rotation with other adults on the street can be helpful.
Other activities can be baking or craft projects. And think of special treats, like hot chocolate when the kids come in from playing or eating dinner in their PJs by candlelight. Small, silly things are what kids remember and cherish.
Be a little more lenient about letting them get messy, and remember your own childhood excitement over an unexpected day off. Too often, we parents just get grumpy with snow days because it interferes with our own plans, but if we can recall our own joy in having snow and a day off of school, it will help us interact with our own kids in the same situation.
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