What would childhood be like if you’ve never put a spoon under your pillow, flushed ice cubes down the toilet or put on your pajamas inside out the night before a winter snowstorm?
A true milestone of growing up is the ever-so-coveted snow day – the gift that all children angst for each winter when that first hint of snow is detected in the forecast.
While skipping school for the day is the most immediate and best part of a snow day for most children, there are many other hidden mental and physical health benefits associated with snow days. Considering our current pandemic situation, snow days are more important now than ever before.
Although life seems to be quieter than usual now due to many COVID-19 restrictions still in place – snow days gift children and their parents with approved interruptions to their normal schedules. It’s so easy to get caught up with school, extra-curricular activities and work, and before you know it, it’s the weekend again. Snow days allow us all to get a much-needed mental health break from routines to rest and use our time as we please. Students are putting in extra energy this year simply by having to wear masks all day, sit behind their plexiglass dividers, and maintain the social distancing requirements. These are significant challenges especially for the younger students and they all need a break to recharge. Snow days also provide parents, who might also be home from work, the perfect opportunity to play with their children without the time constraint of having to be somewhere at a specific time.
Snow days provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep for yourself and children! Whether you go back to sleep in the morning or have the freedom on the snow day to take a cozy nap, catching some Zzz’s is one of the best things you can do to protect your physical and mental health. Sleep also boosts our immunity, makes us happier and reduces our stress – which is ever more important given as we continue to weather the current pandemic.
When the unexpected snow day rolls around, they provide perfect opportunities for finding or doing what makes you happy. Children might enjoy simple pleasures of cooking breakfast, playing with their pets in the snow or watching their favorite movies, while adults may simply cherish the removal of pressure to be productive while truly enjoying their families.
Playing outside on a snow day isn’t only a childhood rite of passage, it’s essential for the mental, emotional, and physical development in children. Snow days provide parents and children with the perfect storm of having a day off to explore the outdoors while having some fun to boot. People can even absorb Vitamin D on cloudy days, which we all lack in the winter. Today, as so many children are learning remotely, on Zoom and behind iPhones and computer screens, a fresh air change of scenery has so many overall health benefits. COVID-19 has cancelled many things for children; it hasn’t canceled good old fashioned fun outdoors with siblings, neighbors, or friends.
Since COVID-19 began, so much has already been taken away from children, whether that be playdates with their friends, the ability to visit extended family, take trips with their family or even participate in after-school activities. While a snow day has many health and physical benefits, it’s also an opportunity to hold onto some part of “normal” childhood.
So, the next time you hear about that distant snowstorm that might blanket your neck of the woods with cancelations, think about some these mental and physical health advantages that come along with it.
And kids remember - when you hear about the next winter storm headed your way – tell your parents to also turn their own pajamas inside out, too!
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