You wake up and discovered that it's snowed. Overnight, just like that. Maybe you weren't expecting it or maybe you were, but now it's here and it's giving you permission to just stop. The kids are still in bed, everything is quiet. The day of constant moving that was spread out before you can just... stop. No school, no schedule, no stress. The snow has given you permission to let it all go. To be present. And boy, it really is such a present. Especially in 2020, kids need snow days. We all do. More than ever. Snow days are nature's mental health days, and you need to grab onto them with both hands.
As a winter storm made its way to the East Coast, some school districts had already said they plan to call a snow day if the weather calls for it. Not Mayor Bill De Blasio in New York City, unfortunately, who announced that children could learn remotely if schools couldn't open. Unlike New York City, other school districts see the merit in one of the most perfect rituals of childhood. The snow day.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed everything for our kids. Playing with friends, birthday parties, karate lessons, ballet class, and sleepovers. All gone. To keep them safe, of course, but what does a kid really understand about such things? Even so, they've adapted. They gamely wear their face masks and carry on. But the buck has got to stop at snow days.
A New Jersey school district principal said it best in an email to parents that went viral on Twitter back in October. "We have decided that few childhood activities remain unchanged due to COVID-19 and we will maintain the hope of children by calling actual snow days due to inclement weather," the email read. "Snow days are chances for on-site learners and virtual learners to just be kids by playing in the snow, baking cookies, reading books, and watching a good movie. These are times for memory-making, and we believe these types of opportunities should remain intact."
Another school district in Virginia felt much the same way, with the superintendent writing to parents in an email, "It has been a year of seemingly endless loss and the stress of trying to make up for that loss. For just a moment, we can all let go of the worry of making up for the many things we missed by making sure this is one thing our kids won’t lose this year."
I would take it one step further and say that parents need to take snow days with their kids. Being a mom has often felt like a service-based relationship for me, I'll admit it. The minutiae of our days bound together by meals, by laundry, by homework and trips to the grocery store and reminders to clean rooms.
Our snow days were a time out for me too. When I would look out the window and know for sure that we weren't going to be anybody but our own selves for a whole day. That I would get my boys out of bed and we would eat pancakes, stacks of them, all together in front of a cartoon. All of the sudden it was like we were all friends, all the same age, all wanting the same thing. To build a fort and have snowball fights for awhile, bake heaps of chocolate chip cookies, nap in the afternoon with our cheeks cold from the snow if the storm got really bad. Play Boggle and Sorry and all of the lame games we all loved.
Snow days were the days when we might have loved each other best. And no pandemic can take that away.