Here is some positive truth for you mamas. This polar vortex will end. Soon enough, we will complain how we can’t escape the heat and will welcome the cooler temps and snowman-building once again. I promise. In the meantime, let’s try and embrace the positive sides of the negative temps just a little bit longer.
A few weeks back, while I’m cleaning up the never ending tornado of scattered toys in a huff – wondering if they will just be dumped out again in three seconds flat – I hear my daughter singing in the other room:
Frosty the Snowman, is a jolly hoppy soul.
With a ‘cornpup’ pipe, and a button nose, and two eyes made of coal.
Frosty the Snowman, was a fairytale they say.
He was made of snow, but the children know, how he came to life one day.
There must have been some magic in that old silk hat they found……
……Mommmy, come and sing the Frosty song and dance with me pleaseee.
Sure, why not? The weather is cold. We have been stuck inside for what seems like forever. We have forgotten what grass looks like. Frosty the snowman seems pretty appropriate right now. But her singing is a reminder that maybe I am doing okay. If this tiny human is making the best out of the bitter cold hand we’ve been dealt through February, and now March, with some song and dance – so should I.
The truth is parenting is hard. And I realize I’m not always the best person for the job. My fuse becomes especially short when I’m stuck forever inside. And so does hers. But in the spirit of making the best of it – I realized how imperative it is to keep her engaged and busy during these long bouts of cabin fever. And how doing that helps to maintain my own mental health as well.
No plan is ever a good plan.
If I don’t wake up on a mission to play, the morning is consumed easily by cartoons. The unfortunate reality is a cranky threenager later. While I am not brave enough to tuck my TV in a random closet for some sanity quite yet… I brainstorm a number of indoor- worthy activities before she even wakes up. Once the day is up and running, I give her the freedom to choose.
> Paper crafts
> Wooden puzzles
Even though TV isn’t on the list, letting her choose from my list gives her a sense of control over her day and she stays engaged longer in the activities of her choosing rather than those of mine.
Choosing also means we are doing only one activity at a time. Single-tasking allows for another activity to start only if the one before it ends. No more cleaning up the Lego from everywhere, the paint from the floor, and the Play-Doh from the bottom of Peppa’s camper van all in one go – on repeat through the day. Instead we contain each activity and ensure its cleaned up and put away before the next is a go. She learns to focus on one task before starting another – and I stay slightly more sane.
Her default setting is definitely painting.
And most would think I’m crazy to pull it out each time she asks – but the fact is painting is only available when the option is given. If I don’t provide it in the options, she doesn’t choose it. The power of suggestion is real.
And the benefits are unreal.
I find giving her my full attention bright and early means I assure time to myself later. Simply put, she is a better kid for it and I am a better mom for it.
She listens better. She doesn’t pull out the whiney toddler voice (as often). She is relatively calm, cool and collected = I listen better. I don’t pull out my yelly mom voice (as often). I am relatively calm, cool, and collected. Hey, this might be working.
Our routine “chillax” in the afternoons usually goes off without a hitch. She is either laying on the couch pooped out and napping (even though she technically ditched naps about 6 months ago), or quietly playing with Peppa Pig solo while I lay on the couch pooped out. If you are wondering, I definitely like scenario two better.
I rarely experience scenario two.
Remember, you aren’t the only one being challenged by these negative temps.
So why not join forces and invite your friends to your home for indoor play dates? The kids are instantly entertained by the presence of other tiny humans and we get to drink our coffees hot and complain to other adults about how it’s (insert profanity here) minus thirty-two for the tenth (more profanity) day in a row. That’s a win.
End the day with bath time.
Cause you are now covered in paint, Play-doh, or the like. And, more importantly, it gives another moment of peace. I let her choose the toys she wants to play with from the bath bin, choose whether she wants bubbles or not, and tell me whether she wants it warmer, cooler, shallower or deeper. All the choices mean she will probably spend an hour or more splashing around and its the perfect chance for me to make dinner, do some clean up, or just sit around and do absolutely nothing.
Not everyday is positive.
And that’s okay. Remember you may have the best intentions, but sometimes things just don’t go as planned. If you’ve tried to turn your crap day around and you realize that nothing but the setting and rising sun will fix it – then give yourself a pass. Hug your intolerable child, use the TV as a babysitter, pray they will just go to sleep early, have a glass of wine, go to bed. Do whatever you need to do to let it go, clean the slate, and try again tomorrow.
Maybe it will be warmer outside.