Snow Day Survival Guide for Parents

No school? Here's how to fill a snow day with active fun.

Kids love a good snow day. Parents, not so much—especially if they have to try to work while kids are underfoot, or it's the umpteenth day in a row that routines have been disrupted. Have you tried these tricks yet? Kids will think they're cool, and they'll encourage lots of active play (instead of screen time).

Snow day - children with snowman
Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images

If you actually have snow on your snow day, and it's not dangerously cold outside, you're in luck! These activities can keep kids busy for a long time, especially if you add some snow toys to the mix. If your kids are too little to play outside alone, hire an older neighbor child (you need someone within walking distance) as a babysitter/play partner. That kid's parents will be grateful too!

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If you have toys like these in your collection, now's the time to pull them out. (Or invest in a few before the next snow day). Nothing on your shelf—or kids already sick of what you have? Turn making new toys into an activity with these DIY ideas.

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Let them eat cookies.

... or muffins, or pancakes, or smoothies, as long as the kids make 'em themselves (and clean up!). Try a kids' cookbook or visit this healthy recipes board on Pinterest for constantly updated ideas. Serve with a side of fruit for some extra vitamins and antioxidants.

If you have a Hula hoop, bring it in from the garage and challenge the kids to give these activities a spin.

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Pull out the paper, clay, and paint and let kids go to town. Did you know art projects can build both fine and gross motor skills?

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It's a snow-day party with these game ideas that work indoors but encourage physical activity, like shoebox races and Freeze Dance. Perfectly themed for a winter snow day: Snowball Soccer. Don't worry, this one doesn't require any snow inside the house! For a little less physical activity, but a lot of laughs, try Minute-to-Win-It-style challenges.

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If you have an indoor Ping-pong table (an investment you might want to make if you experience long winters!), you're all set. But there are lots of other sports and sports skills that kids can practice inside, given just a little room and the right equipment.

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Set up a few mats and teach your own family yoga class so you can reap fitness benefits alongside your kids. Use an app or video, or check out these simple sequences.

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Let them build a fort.

Couch cushions, bedsheets, blankets, and binder clips are all fair game in the world of junior indoor fort-building. Encourage kids to do the work on their own by promising a fun snack and some good books to read once their fort is constructed. I recommend setting an expiration date and time for forts too (so parents don't get stuck with the mess or with an unusable living space).

Put them to work.

A snow day doesn't have to be all fun and games. Kids as young as 7 or so can help shovel your sidewalks, and kids of any age can use their unexpected free day to catch up on household chores. If you're working from home, you might even be able to assign some business tasks to your young apprentices. You can offer payment in cash, behavior tokens, screen time, or hugs and praise—whatever valuable currency you use in your family.

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