How cool is that? We’re all on the cusp of an amazing opportunity to save up really cool stories and create amazing memories for our kids. Since you’re probably running around right now trying to get ready, here’s a handy checklist of things to do to ensure this storm is memorable.
1. Intentionally run out of something.
I don’t mean home heating oil or baby formula of course, but running out of less-essential items makes for improvisation and great stories. Years from now, your kids will be saying things like, “Remember when it snowed and we ran out of regular milk and we had to drink chocolate milk for four days?” It’s up to you, mom and dad—give them those memories.
2. Measure something.
Wait, was the snow in that last storm really over your kids’ heads? Help them out by taking a yardstick to the backyard (or the balcony; I don’t want to discriminate against city-dwellers here) and snapping a photo. Maybe cheat a little and find a spot where the wind has made the snow drift higher; we won’t tell.
3. Walk a long way to do something.
As long as everyone you care about is safe, for the first 12 or 24 hours of a storm, things that are ridiculously inconvenient can be kind of fun. So, when the highways are closed or the subway shuts down, embrace the suck. Your kids will be talking for decades about the time they walked through the snow with you to buy Doritos and cookie dough.
4. Make breakfast.
A friend of mine took to Facebook recently to defend joining the mass of people stocking up crazily on milk, eggs, bread and other groceries before a storm. It’s not that he thinks his family will starve, he wrote, it’s that this is one of the few times he gets to stay home with his kids and make a big breakfast. Don’t forget the maple syrup.
5. Take notes.
Of course, we’re all taking notes all the time now—on Facebook and Twitter. But do yourself a favor and take notes in a place that’s private to you and your family. What was your spouse wearing? What did your daughter say that was hilarious? You don’t have to write a magnum opus, but you’ll thank yourself later for jotting down some details now.
6. Go sledding.
Or skiing. Extra points for cross-country skiing. In most parts of the United States, there is only a limited number of days per year when you can really get into any kind of winter sports and fun. The next few days are going to be among them.
7. Go to work.
Not for the whole day, mind you, but there’s something fun and different about being at work when you don’t really have to be—when most of the city has closed down and the few people who do come into your normally buttoned-up office are wearing jeans and boots. Plus, if you’re in the office during a snowstorm, you must be really important, right? Just be sure to leave before it gets too dangerous.
8. Build something out of snow.
The go-to option here is a snowman, even a small one on your porch or balcony. Or you can go all-out with a fort (and accompanying snowball fight with your kids). If your kids balk, apply the Kevin Costner rule, and just go outside and start building: they will come.
9. Let your kids do something mildly dangerous.
Don’t go too crazy here, but think about some of the things you probably did during snowstorms as a kid (if you grew up in a part of the country that has snow), that you’d normally never let your kids do. I was seven during the Blizzard of 1978 in Rhode Island. Nearly four decades later, I still remember hitching a ride with my dad in the back of an open pickup truck en route to the only store that was still open (see #3 above).
10. Use the fireplace.
Those of us who don’t have working fireplaces are indescribably jealous of those of you who do. If you don’t take the opportunity to build a fire while the snow piles up outside, well, you’re just doing living wrong.
11. Dress like an L.L. Bean catalog.
You probably have flannel lying around the house somewhere, right—either a gift that you never wear, or perhaps left over from your grunge days in the early 1990s. (I’m assuming you’re not a Millennial hipster.) There’s no better time to dig that stuff out.
12. Help someone to move a car.
There are few opportunities in modern life for people to assert their dominance over machines that are as satisfying as teaming up with six or seven other humans to push a car out of the snow.
13. Use power tools.
That snow blower you bought three years ago? Now’s the time to get your money’s worth (and build up karma by doing your senior citizen neighbors’ driveways as well). Honorable mention if you go remove snow the old-fashioned way (with a shovel), but time it so you get the feeling of accomplishment from removing a mass of light, fluffy clouds from your walkway—but don’t strain your back or risk a heart attack.
14. Introduce the kids to the classics.
Your daughter’s reached 9 years old without ever watching Back to the Future? Your son is 10 and has never seen the original Star Wars? Either of them is 15 and hasn’t sat through The Godfather? You’re clearly a horrible parent, but now’s your chance to make amends. Put them on the couch and force-feed them culture.
15. Pretend there’s a power failure.
A blackout is something that’s normally fun for the first hour or two. Then, as the food in the fridge starts to go bad and the silence is punctuated only by the screams of bored kids, it gets excruciating. So, make your own pretend power failure—light candles, ban TV, make people talk to each other—just do it for a reasonable time period. Which brings us to…
16. Games. Seriously, games.
Never does time go by faster, or are more memories created, than in a rousing family game of Risk. Seriously, it’s a game in which strategically stabbing other players in the back is not only allowed, but encouraged, so it’s guaranteed to memorable. (On second thought, maybe try Monopoly.)
17. Put your phone on airplane mode.
Yeah, I know, we give this advice for just about anything these days—even the Pope is telling people to shut off their phones. I’m not advocating you go full-Amish here, but if ever there was a chance to unplug from technology, this might be it.