“One winter morning Peter woke up and looked out the window. Snow had fallen during the night. It covered everything as far as he could see.” -Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day
We have had epic amounts of snow over the past several weeks. And rumor has it, there’s more on the way. But I really can’t think about that, so I’m choosing to ignore those reports for now. During a typical winter storm, a snow day in the life of homeschooling doesn’t feel too different from a normal day. We may feel more inclined to stay in our pajamas all day, but a lot of our every day activity can be the same. Yet after multiple snow days, things start to change. We’ve lost the freedom to come and go as smoothly as we usually do. We feel the weight of the snow that is surrounding us and cabin fever sets in. The survival of days like this lies heavily in Mama (and Dada’s) frame of mind. Not an easy task to keep grounded, stay upbeat & patient when we feel the cabin fever, too. But we try. I’ve found the best way to get through the day is healthy mixture of engaging and stepping back. I’ll admit it, we even turn to a little thoughtful screen time. Thank you, Mr. Rogers. I struggle with the guilt of screen time…but that discussion is for another post.
How sweet is that TV watching cuddle?
So we spend our time reading, playing, creating, and romping around together. Big Brother is really into games. Board games, card games, made up games. Little One, being several months shy of 2, is starting to embrace turn taking and following rules. The company ThinkFun makes fantastic games for kids in this stage of game playing. Our favorite is Roll and Play. Big Brother has been playing this game since he was 2 and so he knows it well. It’s proved to be a great game to play together because they can practice playing a game together, taking turns and Big Brother gets a chance to work on some reading with the cards giving him picture clues.
During the day, I back off to let the boys interact with each other and tap into their imagination to figure out how to entertain themselves. I do this on non-snowed in days, but there’s way more opportunity for it when we’re not leaving the house much. It’s only been in the past 3 months that Big Brother and Little One have figured out how to really play together without my guidance or interaction. Sometimes it will go on relatively peacefully for up to an hour where as other times they only last 10 minutes. It’s a work in progress. Big Brother can be can be extremely nurturing and thoughtful in his play with Little One. I can tell that he tries to include him in appropriate and playful ways. It makes my heart melt.
I use this time for my own recharge…cup of tea, maybe throw my mat down for 10 minutes (15-20 on a good day) of yoga, read a book, or let’s be honest, do my own zoning out with some screen time (read: Facebook, blog reading or writing and so on). Taking these mini recharge moments for myself throughout the day is the only way I keep it together. There are days when the boys’ chemistry is off and I don’t get much of this recharge time. These are the days when Mama tags out real fast when Dada gets home.
I think some really wonderful moments have come from these days buried inside our house. The boys have had the opportunity to dive deeply into their imaginative play. The stories they tell each other, the games they create, the bond that is strengthening between them is magical. And in these moments, when I hover nearby to listen to their stories and ideas is where I can begin to see a window into their interests. Through these days inside I’ve discovered that we’re ready to start learning about the solar system and maps. Big Brother has taken trips to the moon in his rocket ship, he’s traveled around to visit other planets and is really focused on understanding Earth and our seven continents. Little One has followed along and will point out the Sun and Earth on a map of our solar system. So we’ve found some books, downloaded an iPad app that allows us to interact with and learn about how the solar system is set up, and I’ve begun my search on Pinterest for all things space.
Appropriately, right after Dada’s book on time has been published, Big Brother is trying to wrap his mind around time. He not only wants to understand telling time but he’s focused on our calendar and trying to get a sense of the days of the week and months and what they mean to him in his life. This encouraged me to dig through my mounds and mounds of old teaching materials to bring out the weekly calendar I used in my classroom (slowly proving to my husband that YES, there is a reason we’re holding on to all that stuff in the basement).
I want to share with you how we continue to explore space and time in the weeks to come. In this post and future posts, I would love to hear your ideas, experiences and ways in which your family has navigated all of this…snow days, mama recharging, sibling harmony, and exploring space & time. My drive in starting this blog was wanting a chance to share our world, but also a chance to connect and crowd source this journey of parenting and homeschooling.