The List: Eight snow day activities for when you’re stuck working from home with kids

Icy conditions have canceled many schools and daycares in the region, so here are some ways to survive the workday

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
A blanket of snow covers the Columbus skyline in December 2020.

At this point in the pandemic, many are accustomed to simultaneously juggling childcare and a career, which generally involves feeling like you’re falling short in all areas of life (or at least that’s been my experience).

Regardless, this wild winter weather can still throw a wrench into things, whether it's via canceled classes or daycares, which can require more negotiation than usual. With this in mind, we thought we would brainstorm some stay-at-home activities we’ve incorporated as we try to navigate this chaotic workday.

As a heads up, you might want to clip and save this List for Thursday, when yet another blast of winter weather is predicted to drop five to eight more inches of snow on the region.

1. Zoom theater

Have an important meeting to attend? Let your kids dress in whatever costumes you might have laying around (Elsa from “Frozen” is still a popular option in our house) and then drift in and out of the frame at inopportune times. If you don’t have any costumes, you could also just have your toddler run through the room in a diaper as another parent frantically gives chase.

2. Treasure hunt

Let your youngest carry around and occasionally gnaw at an apple and then fret when they reappear with nothing in their hands. Did they eat the entire apple, core included? Probably not. Where’s the apple then? Who knows! Embrace the thrill of the hunt.

3. The guessing game

Here’s where you try to pinpoint the reason the arm of your toddler’s sweatshirt is soaked. It doesn’t smell like anything, does it? Could you smell this? Now take a look around. The toilet lids are still down, their diaper is clean and dry, and the water cup you gave them is still sealed tightly and sitting on the table. Let the games begin! (But first let’s get them in a clean shirt.)

4. Office assistant

Let your child frantically type away on your work computer while you step away for 90 seconds and then spend 20 minutes trying to undo whatever damage has been done. Wait, how in the hell did you reset my password?

5. Wind sprints

There’s no actual running involved here, but it’s a similar test of stamina where one tries to work in frantic, 10-minute bursts between interruptions. 

6. Juggling

Similar to wind sprints, but this involves two parents trading off kid and work responsibilities throughout the day and well into the evening. How long can we keep these balls in the air? Who knows! I’m just amped to find out!

7. Bird calls

You know how some birders can identify a species simply by hearing its distinct call? This activity involves trying to discern whether the cries coming from the second floor are ones of joy, petulance or (god forbid) pain. I’m coming! Is anyone hurt?

8. The Polar Bear Challenge

Usually this involves stripping down to a bathing suit and diving into an ice cold body of water. Here, we’ve adapted it to bundling up the kids in layers of clothes, a process that will take you the better part of 20 minutes and will net you four-and-a-half minutes of outdoor time before everyone gets too cold. Now you just need to get them back out of these clothes and oh, no, why is your back wet? (Repeat No. 3.)