All of us who live in Chicago pride ourselves on our ability to “hunker down” when it becomes unbearably cold out. What better way to deal with the Chicago Arctic than to sit around in PJs, drinking hot coffee and curled up with a good book, letting errands wait and leaving icy roads for someone else?
Then come kids and their exasperation with being stuck inside when the threat of hypothermia is all too real. Telling my 6-year-old to read a book and enjoy some downtime while the outside freezes over would garner a similar reaction to my suggesting that Pokemon is passe: utter ridiculousness. Throw his 4-year-old sister into the mix, and I’ve gone from wearing a referee cap to donning full body armor. The fighting when there’s no place to go gets fierce.
While parenting is challenging, it’s all the more real when weather conditions compromise our kids’ ability to get space from one another. While I am no means an overly creative parent, I have found that some proactive planning and expectation management can make a world of difference when the weather doesn’t quite allow for the breathing room our sunnier days permit.
Make winter resolutions
Why focus on a single day for your kids to set goals? When the winter is at its worst, I have challenged my children to come up with a few things they want to do prior to the return of spring. The goals don’t have to be significant—maybe read a few more books each week, finish a puzzle, learn the words to their favorite song—just enough to keep the focus on themselves and not competing with their sibling.
Plan “You and Me” days
Although an elementary concept, I try to plan one day a month for myself and my husband to spend a few hours one-on-one with each of our children, without their sibling. A movie, an art class, bowling—it’s usually something outside the home so that the attention is on one another, rather than someone competing for my attention. Not only is it good for my son or daughter to be alone from their sometimes nemesis, it refocuses me and makes me realize how I love those darn-adorable, quirky kids.
Let ’em be
Rather than try to intercept, one of the most valuable things I have learned is that they can generally work out their differences. While “figure it out” can lead to catastrophe, I’m often amazed to have sent my two bickering kids down to the basement, only to hear giggles and shrieks of laughter erupt as they have moved past their differences and on to trying to make each other crack up. While I am never sure how long the serenity will last, I will lap up those brief moments of affection like that hot cup of coffee I’m missing on the couch.
Because we all deserve a little serenity now and then, don’t we?