I remember the winter of 2014 like it was yesterday. I was pregnant. I had an almost four year old and a two year old who were both enrolled in preschool two or three days a week. And we must have had a minimum of six school day closures for “inclement weather” that year. All of these seemed to keep falling on a Tuesday, the day BOTH of my kids were supposed to be at school. One school district in town initially made the mistake of canceling school AFTER kids were already on the bus, so from there on out the entire city instituted a “better safe than sorry” policy, and we were canceling or delaying school at the slightest chance of a freeze.
I remember that all of my friends with kids my kids’ ages (preschool and younger) and I were at the brink of entering a slight (ahem, severe) depression. One day we all braved the icy conditions half a mile to my friend Erika’s house because being at home one more day with preschoolers and NO structure or adult interaction might have literally been the death of us.
But I remember something else too: I very clearly remember signing onto Facebook in the midst of feeling like winter of 2014 was going to overtake me and seeing a MUCH different attitude about the snow days from my friends with elementary-aged kids. They were like, “Bring on the snow days! I love having my kids home!” And “PLEASE CANCEL SCHOOL!” And “YAY! School is DELAYED!” (Side note: anytime that the local school district “delayed” school, our preschool’s policy was to cancel. So older kids got to sleep in, and preschoolers got to stay home.)
I was beside myself. Completely baffled. For one, I felt totally guilty. These people are happy to sacrifice their freedom and have their kids home all day, but here I am wishing nothing more than that I could get away from my kids… like pronto! I also felt like they were surely just pretending… who could possibly be happy about this? (Keep in mind, we were paying for our kids to be in preschool and counting on the extra time to get things done and clear our heads.)
Fast forward two years. I now have two preschoolers and one kindergartner, and this is ALL starting to make sense. It’s a MUCH different ballgame. While I know without question that raising children never ever gets easier (on the contrary, more difficult and complicated), none can deny that there are things about raising children that actually do get easier as your kids grow up.
If we had a snow day tomorrow (not happening, the forecast predicts 70s and sunny this week, hallelujah), I can ACTUALLY see that I might feel positive about it now! Here are some reasons why.
- Elementary school starts at the butt-crack. I am an early riser. I have early rising children. Getting out the door early isn’t a big stretch for us. However, there’s a little bit of a rush each morning to get the kids (even if it’s just one) fed and dressed, lunch packed and out the door. You just have to be on task… “do this, now do this, now do this, okay let’s GO.” Now I can see why people might welcome a break from this every once in awhile. (And from packing lunches.)
- Elementary school kids CAN READ. This by itself means that they talk at least 30% less than before. (They read everything at first, like the cereal box, etc.) This means that they can sit down with a book ALONE and be quiet for 10 minutes. This means that they can turn on the TV and find their own shows without my help. You see what’s happening here?! We now have one person making less noise and my mental clarity just went up about 15%. (As per usual, my numbers are verrry scientific.)
- Elementary school kids can technically ride their bikes to their friends’ houses and be outside mostly unsupervised. Try that with your two year old and you’ll end up on the news. We can’t actually do this quite yet, but it’s in the very foreseeable future. Game.changer. This means I can now be inside, while my kids are OUTSIDE with their friends (ice days never stopped anyone), and my house just suddenly feels about 800 square feet larger.
- School-aged children can entertain themselves and their younger siblings. As Henry gets bigger, he still wants my attention, but he mostly just wants me to watch him every now and then, which I am happy to do. As a four year old, he wanted me to participate in the activity with him and the more I gave, the more he took. It’s not that we spend less time together: we still talk at bedtime, we still have family dinners, and cuddle on the couch in the mornings. It’s just when he is playing, I am no longer his sole playmate, and when he is home, I am excused from being Sam’s sole playmate too. And I will unashamedly do a hallelujah dance about that one.
- Big kids go back to school tomorrow. When your kids are in preschool, if they go Tues/Thurs and school gets canceled on a Thurs… that means they don’t go back to school for FIVE more days. And you, mom, will change every diaper, wipe every bottom, clean up all three meals (minus the emergency chick fil a lunches… if you’re lucky enough to be able to drive there), and play all the CandyLand, and maybe you’ll run one personal errand in those five days. In elementary, it doesn’t feel nearly so suffocating to miss one measly little day of school.
I could keep going, but I think you get the gist. While I love my kids being little, I also love watching them grow and the independence that comes along with that. And moms of littles, you know what we shall say when our kids are ALL in elementary school? Bring on the ice days! (We will look like such fun moms.)