Focusing On Family In A Snowstorm

Focusing on Family in a Snowstorm

by Dan Neighbors

Here in Northwest Ohio during the winter months we usually get a good amount of snow. Sure, there are places north of us that would say we have no clue what a lot of snow is, but we get our fair share. We're used snow on the ground during the winter months, and for the most part it doesn't really phase us...unless the forecast is 12-18 inches over a 24 hour period causing what is being labeled Snowmageddon 2022. It is then that everyone remembers that they don't have a working shovel, they are all out of toilet paper and eggs and milk and bread, and that they have to spend the next 48 hours locked inside their home with their kids. Panic ensues.
I mean, I understand some of the panic when it comes to the shovel problem. I have my ol' trusty plastic shovel that has helped me get through 12 years of winters, but alas the top right corner broke off late last February and I never got around to replacing it. During the first real snow of the season this last week, I realized once more that my trusty sidekick had an injury. He made it through the 2-3 inches that day and helped me clear the driveway, but it was obvious he needed some help. So when I heard about 12-18 inches this week, I rushed out to get a nice, fancy new one. To my dismay, everyone else in Toledo had the same idea but just a few hours before me. Everything was gone. How dare they!

Some of you are thinking to yourselves, "The dude should've picked up a shovel earlier, like in December." To which I would reply, "You're right. I'm an idiot." The fact of the matter is, I didn't, which led to me visiting 6 differing stores looking for the ever illusive shovel. I still don't have a new shovel. It's just me and my trusty friend. We're not panicked. We've made it through 12 winters. What is another 12-18 inches amongst such good friends.

I say all of that to say that I understand. Sometimes something big like a snowstorm or quarantine (remember 2020?) catches us off guard and unprepared so we panic a little. I did with the shovel, but I've made my peace. Some of you may be panicking about the next 48 hours alone with your children locked inside. Whether you realize it or not, you could use the next few days of time stuck at home as an opportunity to invest in your kids and family. You could take your panic and turn it into a blessing for your family. So to help you do that, I thought I would take a moment to prepare you or at the very least give you some ammo and ideas to deal with the panic of the next 48 hours.

   1. Be willing to take a break from the normal routine. 

This snowstorm is unexpected and out of the ordinary, but too often when things like this come by we try to keep doing what we always do. We try to keep to our schedule, work from home, or get all of the household chores done while the kids are home with nothing to do. It doesn't make much sense -- we're stuck at home with our kids, not at work on our own, and still we try to keep all of our appointments even though we have children at our side. Instead, I recommend another idea: go ahead and take a break yourself and give all of your energy to making the next 2 days awesome for your family. It's not very often that a huge opportunity like #Snowmageddon2022 comes around where mom, dad, and all the kids are stuck at home from work for 2 days. Take advantage of the time that God has given you. You may not get many more opportunities like this. Meditate on Ephesians 5:16 as you think about taking a break, "Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

   2. Sit down and plan out some fun scheduled activities to do together with the kids. 

We all know that if we go into these two days without a plan, then most of our time will be spent on our phones and tablets watching Bluey (One of the best kids shows out there. It deserves some of your time.). Although screen time isn't all bad, as parents we probably would agree it's unhealthy to spend 48 hours straight glued to devices. So, instead, why don't you come up with some great activities to do with your family. Here are a few ideas:

-- Board Games: Pull out your favorites and make it a board game afternoon or evening. Let the kids pick their favorite, then you pick.

-- Do a family campout in the living room: Grab a tent if you have one or just bring out all of the blankets and pillows for a giant slumber party. Tell scary stories or tales of when you were kids. Make sure to roast marshmallows for smores. Gas stove works great, but you can always cut up the marshmallows and build the smores on a baking sheet then bake them at 200 in the oven for about 1-2 minutes.

-- Have a dance party: There's nothing better to get out the energy and break down barriers than an all-out dance party. Just throw on some music with a beat like Tobymac or Peabod and go crazy.

-- Bake something delicious: Work together as a family to find the most delicious cookie or dessert recipe and help each other make them. My most recent favorite is Laura's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Fudge Cookies.

-- Play Hide-and-Seek: This is a favorite at our house and it works for all ages. Even teenagers love it, just turn off the lights and play at night.

-- Make Snow Ice Cream: Your kids will love this idea, I promise. We've done it at our house with lots of cheers. Try making snow ice cream from Gimme Some Oven. It's fun, easy, and delicious. Just remember my #1 rule: Don't Eat The Yellow Snow! 

-- Read Aloud through a Book Together: You have lots of time, so why not grab the Chronicles of Narnia or the Hobbit to read with your family. Another favorite that we may start soon is the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson. If you're unsure about reading aloud to your kids, check out this encouraging article from Desiring God.

   3. Take a nap and some time for yourself. 

As a parent, one of the greatest missed opportunities would be to not take a nap or get some alone time during this snowstorm. Too often, we may get stuck on the busyness of the day or focusing on the schedule we created above without even taking time to rest. It's ok to tell the kids we're taking some rest time (Psalm 3 is a good reminder to us that rest and our God will refresh and sustain us). If you have little ones, put them down for a nap. If you have older ones, have them rest or read in their room alone. The only rule is to stay in your room for at least an hour. This will give you time to read the word, pray, and even rest your eyes for a little bit. If all goes well (I know nothing ever works out perfectly), you could get more than an hour.

   4. Use the extra time to disciple your children in the word and prayer. 

If we are taking a break from the normal routine and busyness, we should have plenty of time to spend in the word and prayer with our family. Use breakfast together as a time to talk about what you are learning in your personal bible reading (Personal Bible Reading Plan Found Here). Tell your kids about some of your favorite character qualities of God and what they mean to you. Use the evening time to read scripture, sing, and pray together. You could even start learning to memorize some verses together. If you need some more ideas, you can join our EKidz Parent Group on Facebook here where we have resources to help you disciple your kids with the Gospel Project.

   5. Have a Family Movie Night. 

We haven't mentioned screens yet, but one of my favorite things to do when you're stuck inside because of the weather is to watch a good movie. So grab some popcorn, a blanket and cuddle up the couch together as family around a good film. If you're not sure what to watch, you can check out Pilgrim's Progress on YouTube or start The Chosen series here. Both are biblical, well-made, and God-honoring! You can also check out Plugged-In for movie reviews and lists of some of the best Family Films.

   6. Go play in the snow with your kids!

How could we skip this one! If you have a historic snowstorm, you'd better go outside and play in it! Go tackle your kids in the snow. Build a snowman. Throw snowballs at your wife. Have fun with your family. It would be a shame to not enjoy the beauty of God's creation in Snowmageddon 2022! Let this year's snowstorm be the spark that lit a fire in your family life!

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