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In search of the best job ever

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By Karen Hendricks

We are approaching a milestone here at Off the Merry-Go-Round. We are nearly two years old!

We founded this blog and community as a way to band together and offer support to parents everywhere who were scaling back their professional lives in favor of more quality family time and a healthier balance of work and family.

It’s amazing how many of you have shared your stories, followed our blog, and commented on our articles. It is extremely rewarding to see the community grow!

It’s also incredible to read about high-profile CEOs following suit and stepping off the merry-go-round of demanding careers. Earlier this month, I caught the story of Max Schireson on the Today show. As the CEO of a major software company, he announced he was stepping down and sliding into a lesser role with the company as vice chairman, in order to focus more on his family and home life.

In his blog, Schireson explains his decision:

I am on pace to fly 300,000 miles this year, all the normal CEO travel plus commuting between Palo Alto and New York every 2-3 weeks. During that travel, I have missed a lot of family fun, perhaps more importantly, I was not with my kids when our puppy was hit by a car or when my son had (minor and successful, and of course unexpected) emergency surgery.

Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood…. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me.

A few months ago, I decided the only way to balance was by stepping back from my job.

I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.

He told the Today show that he’s simply looking forward to participating in his family’s everyday routine:

“I think what I look forward to most is just being more engaged in the day to day of it,” he said. “Having more time with the kids, whether making dinner or talking to them or helping with homework.”

Congrats to Max Schireson and parents everywhere who are joining us “off the merry-go-round!”

Click here to read or watch the Today show’s coverage.

Click here to read Schireson’s full blog post, “Why I am leaving the best job I ever had.”

 

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Father’s Day Food for Thought…

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Karen Hendricks

Here at Off the Merry-Go-Round, because our contributors are all women, we tend to talk from a mom’s point of view but a lot of our articles truly can and do apply to our spouses, “the dads,” too. We have several dads who follow our posts, and we welcome more fathers to join our community–because all of the latest research seems to point to a growing number of dads who are “stepping off the merry-go-round” and either trimming back on their careers or switching to “stay-at-home” dad status.

The latest stats on fatherhood, in the news thanks to this weekend’s Father’s Day, are pretty surprising:

  • Nearly half (46%) of all American fathers say they don’t get to spend as much time with their children as they’d like.
  • About half of all parents say they spend more time with their children than their own parents spent with them (46% of fathers and 52% of mothers said this).
  • There are 2 million American stay-at-home dads (2012 figures)–a number that has nearly doubled since 1989.
  • 35% of all stay-at-home dads say that illness or injury is the reason they are home with their children.
  • Nearly half of all stay-at-home fathers (47%) are living in poverty.
  • Nearly half of all working parents say they’d rather be at home raising their children, but they need the income from their jobs (48% of working fathers and 52% of working mothers said this).
  • 27% of all American children under the age of 18 are living apart from their fathers.

(All of these statistics are credited to the Pew Research Center.)

So, while some dads are more connected with their children by staying at home as primary caregivers, there’s also a large number of dads who are not living with or connected to their children’s lives. What an extreme spectrum of family life. Doesn’t it feel like so many other areas of our society, especially reflecting political values, where people are moving further and further away from each other’s viewpoints and finding they have less and less in common?

We talk about the struggle to balance our working lives with our family lives quite often here at Off the Merry-Go-Round… it would be great to include more fathers in that discussion. It is a challenge, whether you are a mother or father, single parent or married, working part time or full time, etc. There is indeed a lot of common ground that we can share among all parents.

I think there’s a lot of “food for thought” here… so while I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day, celebrating with your Dad, husband and/or other significant father figures in your life, take time to reflect and think about our society’s changing roles. How involved was your dad, what is your husband’s role, and what are you observing from your friends/family?

Read More:

Growing Number of Dads Home with the Kids

5 Facts About Today’s Fathers

Why Are Dads Staying Home?

 

Lessons from the Playground

Today we welcome guest blogger Lisa Cadigan! This talented mom manages the blog Daily Presents: Finding the Extraordinary in the Everyday, where this piece was originally published. You can learn more about Lisa in the bio which follows her article.

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By Lisa Cadigan

My family and I spent Saturday at a state park where we hiked for a while until we reached a playground at the end of the trail.  It was a beautiful day; the first peek of spring getting ready to burst forth in all of its splendor, and it felt great to be outside basking in sunshine under tall trees with the people I love most.

The kids had been looking forward to reaching the playground during a good deal of the hike – particularly my son, who often forgets to realize that he is actually presently having fun.  He often chooses to look for what may be coming that’s potentially better in his future rather than realize that the moment he is already occupying is pretty good, too.  We are working on that.

By the time we reached the playground, both kids were happy to be there.  They had been getting along pretty well all day, which I always view as a small miracle, and I hoped their shared adventure would continue now that we had reached the much anticipated playground destination.

Unfortunately, though, shortly after arriving at the playground, my daughter tripped and fell on the suspension bridge, leaving a painful red mark on the side of her belly.  She started to cry.  My son rushed to her aid, trying to make her feel better, a little afraid that it might somehow be his fault, I think, because he often feels that everything is his fault (which sometimes it is, but not always – this is another thing we are working on).  He started to give her a big bear hug and sing a song we had made up for her when she was a baby.  She got angry and started yelling at him that she was NOT a baby.  Plus, the hug was TOO MUCH.  The brand of help he was offering was not what she needed at that time.  We tried to explain this to our son; to thank him for trying to help, to tell him we were so glad he was looking out for his sister, but that part of helping people is listening carefully to find out what they need and then to offer THAT to them, if you have it to offer.  The truth is, I am not sure my daughter really knew WHAT she needed, because when he finally left her alone she became angry that he wasn’t paying attention to her anymore.  He was frustrated that his efforts were unsuccessful.  She was looking for an apology for the stupidity of his efforts.  My guess is that she just needed a little alone time to allow the sting to go away, and then an acknowledgment from him that he loved her and understood how much it stinks to fall and hurt yourself; that he was there for her while she healed.  He couldn’t magically heal the red mark, though.  Her body was going to have to do that in cooperation with a little time and space.

Later, when we sat on the deck in our yard, my daughter’s previously bruised belly poking out of her shirt in the warm sunshine, I hoped that she was feeling the soothing rays of the sun more acutely than the bruise; that maybe the bruise was even making her a little more aware of the warm sun, so that she could convert her anger at the stupid playground equipment that bruised her and her brother who couldn’t adequately comfort her into gratitude for the warm sun that was presently soothing her skin.  I hoped her brother would check back in with her to see if she was OK later, when she was a little more open to feeling his unique (and sometimes trying) brand of love.

I am supposedly a grown up now, but I still hike and play the playground games from the points of view of both my son and my daughter. I don’t always know how to comfort the people I love when they need comfort.  I struggle with giving them what they need in the times that they need it.  And I can get really frustrated when my efforts don’t work.  On the plus side, I am getting better at living in the present and at looking within myself to heal some of my own wounds and find my own peace, although I still need to remember that

a)    having the space and time to look deeply is largely possible thanks to the people around me who make a gift of that time and space.  I can’t take that for granted.

And

b)   my methods of finding peace may not work for everyone. Pushing my methods to find happiness and peace onto others in an effort to “help” rather than just giving them the time and space to figure out how these things work for themselves is like giving big bear hugs and singing baby songs.

Hiking and playground games seem to be my life’s work.  I don’t think I will ever master the games; but I keep playing them and playing them, varying the methods and strategies to keep it interesting.  The longer I play, the more apparent the simplicity of the rules becomes, and yet the act of playing still makes me breathe as hard as I do when I hike up a mountain.  Somehow knowing that hiking to a playground is simply the act of putting one foot in front of the other doesn’t make the work of the actual hike any easier.  But with practice, I am finding that it is possible to enjoy the feeling of the burn in my muscles when I play hard.

Today I am thankful for the people in my life who play with me every day.  May we continue to play without keeping score, and graciously offer “do-overs” whenever necessary.  May we take breaks when we need to, help each other up and try again when we stumble and fall, revel in the best moments of the game, remember the best views on the hike, and use all of the memories to help us appreciate the new moments as they come.  And at the end of the day, we need to give a high-five to all of the beloved peeps on our team, saying, “Well done.  Let’s do it again tomorrow.”

web-bio-lisaOff the Merry-Go-Round is a place of community & inspiration for parents who have scaled back their professional careers in favor of quality family time… and from the first moment we met Lisa Cadigan, we admired her excellent sense of balance between career and family. “I have been given a great gift – the ability to find joy in simple moments, the ability to find longer and longer periods of balance and peace in a busy, hectic life,” Lisa writes on her blog Daily Presents. Professionally, Lisa established Cadigan Creative, “laying a foundation for the elusive balance between career and family.” You can find out more about Lisa’s graphic design and marketing services on the Cadigan Creative website, where she also shares stories about how people are using creativity, kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. Brava, Lisa!

Work it out… Finding Time for Mom

The crescent moon yoga pose stretches arms and side abdominals...

The crescent moon yoga pose stretches arms and side abdominals… Image: Licensed under Creative Commons by Jessmyintyre

By Karen Hendricks

One of the most challenging things nearly all moms face: finding time to exercise. Why is it, that we are all so busy, yet struggle to make time to stay fit and healthy?

It’s hard… I get it! I think the main reason most moms don’t exercise often enough is because we put our family first and ourselves last. Nearly two years ago, when I made radical changes to my professional life, jumping “off the merry-go-round” of 60 hour workweeks meant a commitment to becoming healthier in mind, body and spirit, for my health as well as our overall family’s health. Trimming and toning my professional life translated into the need to trim and tone my body as well. Today, I am happy to say that I am 15 lbs lighter and feeling much healthier, thanks to a (mostly) whole foods diet and regular exercise routine. And because I’m taking better care of myself, I’m better equipped to take care of my family.

Here are 5 tips that I slowly introduced into my daily routines that I hope can help you accomplish your fitness goals too:

1. Walk as often as you can. Think about opportunities throughout your daily routine when you can lace up your sneakers and walk. My town now has a walking path so I will often walk into town for errands rather than drive. Also, while my children are at various sports practices, rather than driving home, I will more often stay at the fields and walk during that time period. It’s a great opportunity to show your children that you enjoy exercise as much as they do. Other benefits: you might learn more about your children’s sports of choice, you will definitely save on gas money driving back and forth to practices by staying put, it’s also a chance to enjoy music—bring along your iPod and ear buds, or you might forge new friendships with other moms by walking together.

2. Define your “wheels” in a new way. Biking is another great way to get around! Along the same lines as walking your regular routes (above), think about your routines and see if you can replace even just one car trip per week with your bike. For example, I have a grocery store just a mile from my home. On those occasions when I only need a handful of items (and they can easily fit into a backpack), I bike to the store and “kill two birds with one stone.” And a little extra weight on the back adds to the workout on the bike ride home! Biking with your family is another great option—you’ll be staying in shape and enjoying family time together.

3. Sign up for a class or join a fitness center. If you make this commitment, you’re more likely to follow through… because you’ll have a set schedule to hold you accountable and because you’ll want to “get your money’s worth.” Quite often, gyms and fitness centers offer special introductory rates. A few years ago, when my daughters were both enrolled in dance classes, I took a pilates class that ran simultaneously—that made it easy to fit into our family routine. I absolutely loved it! Pilates focuses on strengthening your core—your abs and back—through quality movement (not quantity) and proper breathing technique. After trying Jazzercise, Zumba and other more aerobic classes, I found that pilates provided a much more peaceful, refreshed frame of mind, as well as the toning and strengthening my body needed. Another benefit to pilates: It builds long, lean muscles which are more flexible, rather than bulky muscles produced by weight-bearing exercises. Once you have taken classes by a licensed Pilates instructor and have learned most of the essential exercises, you can truly continue on your own at home by devising your own routine or by using DVDs. I located a few beginners’ YouTube clips if you’d like to give it a whirl:

Beginner Pilates Workout – an introductory workout especially helpful if you’ve never done pilates before.

How to Get a Pilates Body in 10 Minutes – a short pilates routine to use when you’re tight on time. Yet, it hits every major muscle group! 

Stretchhhhhh.... Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Stretchhhhhh…. Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

4. Yay for yoga! Many people confuse pilates with yoga, and it’s true that there are similarities. Pilates is defined as “physical conditioning involving low-impact exercises and stretches” while yoga is “a series of postures and breathing exercises practice to achieve control of the body and mind; a school of Hindu philosophy with physical and mental disciplines.” (Dictionary.com) If you take yoga classes, you may need to shop around for a yogi that suits your needs as a leader. Several friends of mine have enjoyed the physical aspects but have clashed with instructors’ religious beliefs. I did not have this issue; my pilates teacher would often switch between the two and mix things up during class. She used yoga primarily as a way to focus, center and truly “listen” to your breathing and meditate before and/or after the hard work of the pilates exercises. The benefits of yoga go far beyond exercise—yoga is said to heal aches and pains, boost immunity and keep illness away, improve sleeping habits and much more. Click here to read “38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit.”

5. Step it up! This winter’s miserable, cold weather made it nearly impossible to get outdoors to walk or bike on a regular basis. Feeling “cooped up” indoors, I discovered an easy way to fit exercise right into my morning routine without freezing to death: step aerobics. Again, using a multi-tasking approach, I have found that “stepping” is a great way to start the day when combined with the distraction/enrichment of watching the morning news (I’m partial to the Today Show). I started out with simple step routines for about 20 minutes and gradually increased to 30 and 45 minutes. I keep a water bottle close by, and by the end, I feel energized plus I’m prepped on the news of the day.

Steps do not need to be complicated; you can simply step up and down, across and backwards, or side to side across the step. However if you’d like to graduate to more complicated patterns, there are some great ideas on YouTube, or again, take a step aerobics class at your local gym, and then develop your own routines.

Jamie and Tracey of Breathe Repeat

Jamie and Tracey of Breathe Repeat

A few more resources:

Click here for “Breathe Repeat,” a blog website focused on all things yoga. This is a great resource I subscribed to, after taking yoga classes from Tracey and Jamie at a conference in New York. 

Our blogger Jen shares her advice and inspiration to moms who want to train and run a 5K – Click here for her helpful post.

Stretching throughout the day is a wonderful stress reliever! Click here for our blogger Jennifer’s post “Brain Strain: What We Can Upload to Unload.”

Wishing you all the best with your workouts! Feel free to share your tips, advice and ideas below. What works for you? 🙂

One Foot on the Merry-Go-Round

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By Karen Hendricks

“Doing it All” (or should I say #DoingItAll) was the theme of a week-long series by Maria Shriver on the “Today” show last week. I identified with many of the women depicted in the stories, as they tried to juggle careers, children, marriages, family, financial concerns, special needs children, and free (me) time. While all of our circumstances are slightly different, the underlying theme is the same for nearly all women… Why do we feel the need to do it all, and do it all well? Do we feel pressured to do it all? Does society expect us to do it all?

By the way, The Merry-Go-Round = DoingItAll.

Along those same lines, The Atlantic recently ran a story titled “Moms who cut back at work are happier.” It’s based upon new statistics from the Pew Research Center, finding that growing numbers of women are making career sacrifices in order to spend more time with their families. Hello?! This is exactly what Off the Merry-Go-Round is about! How wonderful to know we are not alone.

Here are the latest stats:

  • 65% of mothers say they have been motivated by their families to make sacrifices for work—anything from quitting a job to turning down a promotion
  • 46% of the above women who made family-related career sacrifices report they are “very happy” with their lives
  • 53% of married mothers with children under the age of 18 say their ideal career would allow them to work part-time… compared to 23% who said full-time… and 23% who said they’d prefer not to work at all

The article goes on to contrast these findings with the scads of recent news stories about women “leaning in” and making great career strides. I want to say, that I am all for equality in the workplace, and I applaud strong women accomplishing great things and breaking down stereotypes. However as someone who once leaned in, I am happy to now lean back a bit and focus on my family. It was a conscious decision on my part. I love working part time, setting my own hours, selecting projects and clients—the ball is in my court—and it all revolves around my family.

So for me, personally, the stereotype I run into is this: People expect that once you have “done it all” that you should continue DoingItAll. So to hear that 65% of mothers say they too have made sacrifices in their career lives… that is extremely gratifying. Maybe the tide is turning and society will start seeing beyond women’s careers in judging their status in life. Raising wonderful children into productive, kind adults should count among the world’s toughest—and most rewarding—assignments.

Last week, the magazine Working Mother retweeted the following: “I don’t see a problem with women leaving the workforce for family. I see a problem with them being unable to get back in.” (Lauren R. Parker) That may be the next chapter down the road for some of us, as our children grow, leave the nest, and we attempt to re-enter the full-time job market.

Back to The Atlantic… I admire how W. Bradford Wilcox summarizes it all up in his article:

This data suggests that one reason married mothers who make work sacrifices are happier is that they would prefer to scale back at work—at least for some portion of their lives as mothers—and are happier when they can do so.

This reality is often glossed over in the public conversation about work, women, and family, but as Catherine Rampell at The New York Times observed: “Not everyone aspires to be an executive at Facebook, like [Sheryl] Sandberg, or to set foreign policy, like Anne-Marie Slaughter” (author of “Why Women Can’t Have It All”).” Instead, as K.J. Dell’Antonia put it, most women are “striving for flexibility and balance” when it comes to juggling their aspirations for success at home and work.

Again, in the public conversation and the formulation of public policies regarding work and family, let us not forget that the happiest married mothers are those who are able to lean homeward, at least for a season in their lives.

So here’s how it all boils down for me:

I have jumped off the full-time Merry-Go-Round of DoingItAll. Now, having one foot on the merry-go-round, working part-time, still involves a good amount of juggling but it’s manageable and fulfilling. I have no regrets about putting my family first. Good friends truly understand this and are supportive. And if people aren’t supportive then they are missing the point, missing the importance of family, and I truly feel sad for them. DoingItAll is indeed possible, for periods of time—however, some area(s) of your life will suffer. I think the real secret to DoingItAll is to give yourself the gift of grace… because there are times in your life when you simply can’t do it all. And that’s ok.

Commuting from Work to Home… When Home is Where You Work

By Jen Ashenfelter

One benefit of working in an office is the commute home. The 15, 30 or 45 minutes of “me time” between the office and home = valuable transition time from work to family. Whether singing with the radio turned up too loud, finishing another chapter of an audio book, or organizing your thoughts on the evening To Do list, the ability to disconnect from the office is essential for maintaining sanity.

But if you work from home like I do, then you feel the loss of that all-important “evening commute.” I’ll take working from home over being in an office any day, but creating that transition period should still be part of the routine.

My dining room table is my desk which makes walking away from work more challenging. With the computer staring back at me, there’s always one more email, one more sentence to write, or one more items to cross off the To Do list.  Meanwhile, everyone is coming through the door requiring my help or waiting for dinner. (Note: The ability to multi-task with my attention … and patience… simultaneously divided between work and home is a chaotic scene at best.)

Recreate that "welcome home" feeling...

Recreate that “welcome home” feeling…

Here are my tips and ideas for creating that transition time between work and home when you work from home:

Schedule. First, decide when your work day is officially over and schedule a “commute time” into your daily routine. Develop a plan of action—without one, there’s no doubt your “commute time” will get shorter and shorter before there is no transition from work to family. (I hear you, making the time is easier said than done, and believe me, I know. There will be days when work takes over but if you give yourself the period—however brief—to transition, you and your family will be happier.) 

Leave. Back away from the computer, files and phone, and physically leave the house. Walk the dog, train for that upcoming 5K, go to the grocery store, or stand in the yard and stare at the sky—doesn’t matter what you do as long as you pass through the door and return later. This will give you the best sense of separation of office and home. Of course, weather extremes such as a polar vortex, record-breaking heat wave, or super storm, may require an alternate plan…

Read. Find a book you hate to put down. When all you want to do is bury your face in that book, quitting time will be easier. (Warning: A riveting story could cause a longer commute.)

Bake. I don’t usually have home-baked goodies in the house for dessert but when the urge for a delicious treat takes hold, cooking seems more fun and less annoying…and you’ll score dinner-time points with the family.

Listen. The right music can adjust a crabby attitude, lift your spirits, or make you dance, so crank up the volume and let loose.

Play. From crossword puzzles to knitting to gardening, set time aside for your favorite activity.

Socialize. Call your sister or best friend to catch up. Invite a few mothers from the neighborhood or school to pop by to chat over a glass of iced tea (or wine). Attend a networking event with people you know in the community. Working from home can be socially isolating so add activities with other professionals, family or friends into your schedule.

With a few moments to unwind from work before getting involved with family responsibilities, you’ll feel less rushed and stressed and, hopefully, much happier. Do you have a “commute time” routine or ideas for making the transition from work to family fun and easy? We’d love for you to share your thoughts on this topic.

50 Ways to Spend a Snow Day

By Karen Hendricks

Snow day

Sledding in our backyard is always a hit!

From working parents’ perspectives, snow days throw a big wrench into our schedules. Meantime, stay-at-home parents often rejoice at the chance to spend snow days with their children. Snow days are like “found treasure.”

I’ve experienced both extremes, and now that I’m a “work-from-home” parent, I think we’re in another category altogether! I’d like to enjoy this unexpected gift of time with my children, but snow days or not, my freelance work piles up on my desk and the emails continue to gather in my in-box. It’s hard to strike a balance, but I feel as though my family takes priority and I can work extra-hard, nose to the grindstone, to make up for it tomorrow (assuming school reopens)!

What to do?

It’s usually at the END of the snow day, that I think of a great project or fun activity that we SHOULD have done, to make our snow day extra special. So that I’m prepared for the next snow day (and  you are too), I’ve compiled a list of activities to jump-start the next snow day:

  1. Let the kids sleep in!
  2. Make a special breakfast or brunch together–pancakes, waffles, etc. Add chocolate chips!
  3. Stay in your pajamas all day. Sneak a few pictures if you have the chance! (If you decide on this option, then #4 is out, LOL.)
  4. Have fun outside–build a snowman, go sledding, have an epic snowball battle, etc. If your creative juices are really flowing, create a snow sculpture.
  5. Bring the snow in: Cut paper snowflakes and decorate the house.
  6. If the roads are cleared, visit a ski resort for a day of fun on the mountain. Click here for our blogger Mary Ann’s tips.
  7. Make the official beverage of snow days: hot chocolate with marshmallows. If you chopped and froze your Halloween candy, sprinkle some atop the mugs! Click here for our previous post on this.
  8. Or, make a big pot of tea. Add honey and lemon… or add milk. But not lemon AND milk. Gack.
  9. Snuggle up and watch a favorite movie together. Add popcorn!
  10. Read a pile of books together (if you have elementary school aged children), or camp out in the family room, for separate but “together” reading time. Add blankets and a cozy fire in the fireplace.
  11. Be active… indoors! Rediscover your ping pong table, foozeball, or Wii sports games.
  12. Catch up on homework, school projects, music practice, etc. Enjoy “study time” together.
  13. Look at family photo albums together.
  14. Enlist the kids’ help to organize family photos on the computer, even putting together a movie featuring favorite photos using Windows Movie Maker.
  15. Look through last summer’s beach vacation photos and create scrapbook pages together–either by hand or online. Click here for a previous post, with lots of inspiration for beach scrapbooks.
  16. Summer dreaming: Brainstorm and identify potential summer vacation plans. Do some online research together to find fun summer travel ideas, beach rental houses, etc. Click here for our previous post on family vacation tips.
  17. Plan an indoor scavenger hunt.
  18. Baking! Whether you create cookies or cupcakes together, baking warms up the house as well as your tummies. Click here for our easy PB Chocolate Chippers recipe–only 5 ingredients!
  19. Make an extra batch of goodies to deliver to neighbors and/or package and freeze them to add a homemade touch to school lunch boxes.
  20. Have fun discovering entertaining YouTube clips together.
  21. Organize! Tackle a home organization project together–clean out one of the kids’ drawers, closet shelves or bookshelves. Bag up outgrown clothes, toys or books to donate to another family.
  22. Do some birthday party planning for the next family member’s birthday.  Create invitations, by hand or online. Consider planning a “pie party” and make a list of all the delicious pies you’d like to make, tracking down all the recipes. Click here for our blogger Ruth’s tips on hosting a pie party.
  23. Play a marathon game of Monopoly!
  24. Pull out a variety of board games and play the afternoon away. Pledge to unplug and stash all devices away for the afternoon.
  25. Be artistic. Have fun creating with paints, origami paper, beads, or other art supplies.
  26. Sharpen your pencils and write poems about the snow. Post them on your refrigerator or bind them together for a keepsake.
  27. Make an ice “sun catcher.” Click here to see our post, with directions.
  28. Tackle a huge puzzle together! Put fun music on while you piece it together.
  29. Invite neighborhood friends over for a fun play day.
  30. Plan your summer garden with the kids’ input. Go online and order all the seeds.
  31. Make a big pot of soup together. Click here for a delicious homemade version of Tomato Rice Soup–especially yummy if you have canned or frozen tomatoes on hand from your summer garden.
  32. Pamper your pet. Work together to brush/comb your dog or cat. Wash their bedding/blankets, and scrub their pet food dishes. Whip up a batch of homemade dog biscuits in the oven. Take pictures of your pets. Take turns taking the dog out to do his business in the snow, LOL.
  33. Family talent show! Put on your favorite music, and dance… or sing your hearts out.
  34. Still have Christmas cards laying around? Click here for one of our most popular posts ever–a fun art project that “recycles” Christmas cards.
  35. Once the snow stops, head outside to shovel or use the snow blower to clear all walkways and driveways together. Lend a hand to your neighbors (and tap into your kids’ energy) by shoveling their walks too.
  36. If you’ve been outside playing or shoveling, chances are you’ll all be ready for an early bedtime. Pull out your bubble bath soaps and let a few family members indulge in warm, sudsy bubble baths before bedtime.
  37. Spa day! If your household contains girls, treat each other to manicures and/or pedicures at home.
  38. Heartfelt activities: If Valentine’s Day is approaching, get a jump start on your children’s valentines for school exchanges. If your children are older, create home-made valentines for grandparents, friends or other special people in their lives.
  39. If you have high school aged kids, it’s the perfect day to begin researching college decisions: potential majors and potential college choices. Bookmark  favorite college and career websites on your computer.
  40. Have apples on hand? Slice them up for a healthy snack and whip up our recipe for Peanut Butter Dip–click here for the recipe.
  41. This idea may not win you “Mother-of-the-Year,” but enlist everyone’s help to catch up on laundry. Have everyone sort their laundry and let the sudsy marathon begin! Plan a family treat to celebrate, once the last piece of clothing is clean.
  42. Assuming you’re wearing snow boots if you’re going outside, no one will need to wear their sneakers today. Gather all stinky sneakers and clean them, running a few pair through the washing machine at a time. Sit them by the fireplace or by a heater vent to dry. Whew!
  43. Get crafty with magazines. Rescue a stack of magazines from the recycle bin and create some artwork together. Younger children can create montages of favorite photos they find, while tweens and teens can create posters filled with inspirational words cut from the pages.
  44. Pick up the phone and call a relative or family friend who lives far away. Put the phone on “speaker” mode so the whole family can enjoy the conversation. Or, use Skype!
  45. Retell your favorite family stories. Roll a video camera to capture the juicy details!
  46. Ask each family member to plan an upcoming family dinner menu. Whether using tried and true family recipes or brand-new recipes, have each person make a list of groceries needed. Your next trip to the grocery store is planned! Click here for our blogger Jen’s awesome recipe for Chicken A L’Orange.
  47. Play vacuum cleaner tag. Have each family member vacuum one room of the house, then “tagging” the next person with the vacuum cleaner to clean another room. By the end of the game, the floors are clean. Mops work too! Have a treat in mind for everyone to enjoy when the last room is completed. It could be the family movie idea (#9) or reading time (#10)… not necessarily an edible treat.
  48. Look through your school yearbooks together–yes, your yearbooks as well as your kids’ yearbooks. Thank me later for all the laughs you’ll have.
  49. Create a playlist of your family’s favorite songs on Spotify. Or, have each family member create their own “top 10” list of favorite tunes.
  50. Hug often. Today is a gift.

And now that I’ve made this list… we probably won’t have another snow day all winter. Oh well, I’ll be ahead of the game for next winter!

What are your favorite ways to spend snow days? Add your ideas by commenting below!