8 Struggles All Parents In The Northeast Face During Winter
There are a million reasons I would never want to live anywhere but the Northeast. I love it here. It's beautiful! I like having easy access to so many amazing cities (New York! Boston! Philadelphia!) as well as some of the most bucolic settings you'll find anywhere in America (The Hudson Valley! Or my home turf, Litchfield County, Connecticut!). I even love being among the "east coast liberal elite," even if it's said pejoratively (you can't shame me, Trump). I lived in Los Angeles for almost two years, and that experience has led me to adopt an oft-repeated adage of us Northeasterners: I wouldn't want to live anywhere without seasons.
Season are great. I love all the seasons... but winter really pushes it. It's not so much that it's awful. Snow is cool. Even cold has its place! Sledding, ice skating, building igloos, skiing, wearing knit caps without looking like a douchebag poseur — these are all wonderful. But come on, winter? Do you have to stay for so damn long? Like, I would be perfectly happy to give you from my brother's birthday, December 16, to the third Monday in February. I think that is perfectly reasonable. Surely you could get all the snow, sleet, ice and all out of your system by Presidents Day! But no. Here in the Northeast, winter can hit as early as October and go until the end of April. That is just too damn long.
And you know what makes it even worse? Having to manage your kids throughout the winter. Winter is hard on everyone up here, but parents have a tougher time than most. Here's why...
When it comes to children past infancy, anything more than a single layer of clothing runs the risk of becoming a battle. (And sometimes even a single layer of clothing is asking too much, which is why my kids run around naked all summer.) They complain that the clothing is too hot, too itchy, or feels funny because the seams aren't resting exactly parallel to their elbows as specified in their contracts. (You know the contracts upon which they have listed their specific demands which you have never actually seen let alone signed.)
Complain though they may, you as a Northern parent understand that anything less than, like, fourteen layers is basically just volunteering for hypothermia, so you go for it, day after day. Of course, then there's the business of stripping off the coat once you finally get them into their car seat (for safety reasons) and then hurrying to put it back on as soon as possible once you unbuckle them.
Layers are a completely necessary, massive pain in the ass, is what I'm saying.
My charming and sweet sister-in-law, who lives in Southern California, posts pictures of her kids on the playground in February. I check her local weather and it's usually in the mid-60s. I stare into the abyss and hear Simon & Garfunkle's "The Sound of Silence" start to play as my children run around my small apartment in circles, screaming as they dump every single toy they own onto the floor. I look out my window and gaze at the gray sky and the gray roads and the snow that was once white but is now gray and another little piece of my soul dies. By January, I've stopped crying when this happens. I ran out of tears around January 7.
So it's not that we don't want to see our children, it's just that snow days throw them at us when we were in no way expecting to have to catch them. It's like, "OK, it's 7 a.m. Let me do these chores and then get everyone ready and off to daycare and then I'll go to work," and then Old Man Winter is like "HA! WRONG! HERE'S YOUR KID! I'M CLOSING YOUR DAYCARE FACILITY! FIND SOMEWHERE ELSE TO BRING THEM TODAY!" And it's like, "Well, crap, this is really inconvenient, Old Man Winter, because I have nowhere else to bring them and I have to go to work." And then Old Man Winter throws his head back and laughs because he's a total a-hole. I didn't know daycare facilities close sometimes until I was a working mom, but it totally happens.
As a current stay-at-home mom, I can tell you that snow days continue to blow. My kids go to preschool three mornings a week. I rely on those mornings to write, do chores, and get errands and appointments in that I can't do with them in tow. Snow Days throw off those mornings and create a domino effect throughout the rest of the week.
Finding Excuses Not To Go Play Outside
Kids see snow and they want to play outside. You see snow and you see all the massive amounts of layering you're going to have to do. You also see how damn cold it is out and realize that you're going to have to be out there with them. Kids don't feel cold, but you sure as hell do, and it's not pleasant. Sure, romping about with your kids in the snow is fun... sometimes. It's not an every day sort of pleasure. Pro-tip: you can probably distract them from wanting to play outside by offering them hot chocolate instead. Honestly, the thought of hot chocolate when he comes inside is half the reason my son wants to go out in the snow, anyway.
Ice And Snow Adds At Least 10 Minutes To Any Commute
This is even assuming you don't have to dig your way out of your driveway, which blows and can take hours if you don't have a snowblower. Even on a "good" day, you probably have to scrape ice off your windshield and drive slower than usual to account for roads that have narrowed because of massive piles of snow and ice slicks. Considering every child you have automatically adds about 10 minutes to your getting out of the house under the best of circumstances (not even including all the damn layering you're going to have to do), you're going to need, like, 14 hours to get ready to go anywhere.
Mud And Puddles All Over The Floor
Either you have to resign yourself to the idea that the area in front of your door will remain a muddy pond for the next few months, or your kids will forget to take off their shoes when they come inside and track the stuff all over the house. Either way, I hope your mop is in working order, because you're going to be using it a ton.
Kids Have A Very Difficult Time Moving In The Snow
OK, it's hilarious to see their tiny, uncoordinated little legs try to walk through snow. But it's also annoying if you have stubborn children like mine who insist upon walking absolutely everywhere by themselves and do not accept assistance of any kind. To exacerbate this problem...
Kids Freak Out If So Much As A Single Snowflake Touches Their Skin
So it's like, "I want to play in the snow!" and then all of a sudden you hear them wailing and you think, "Oh no! That snow must be filled with battery acid and razor blades!" but it turns out they just got a fingertip sized amount of snow between their coat and mitten.
Yes, parenting throughout the Northeast winter is not for the feint of heart. When times get tough, just do what I do and remind yourself that you only have to go through a very wet spring and humid summer to get to the glory of your next Northeastern fall...
Images: Courtesy of Sarah Ashman; Giphy(7); Gifsoup; Tumblr