Last month, I experienced the extreme pleasure of being trapped in my house, with four insufferable children, for a solid week. This was because Mother Nature, in all of her wisdom, wanted to provide me with a learning experience in the form of 18 inches of frozen precipitation.
Before you say it, yes I realize that “up North” you have snow plows and salt trucks and everyone knows how to drive perfectly in the snow (even if your news reports consistently demonstrate that you, too, are capable of 87-car pile-ups on the interstate… You forget about that every time). My town also has a plow (one) and a salt truck (I think it’s the same vehicle, actually) and it takes care of our “main” roads. By main roads, I mean like three of them. So the rest of us are pretty much stuck.
Oh, and I live in the mountains. If your car careens into a mailbox, oh well. If my car slides even the tiniest bit, I might end up Vulture Food at the bottom of a cliff. So I tend to just stay indoors when these conditions strike.
Anyway. So I got stuck in the house for a week, with three teenagers, a four-year old, and a body full of raging pregnancy hormones (mine). My fiance was here too, but I pretty much like being trapped with him, at least sometimes.
Here’s something I learned: We do not prepare for this. We’re a bunch of idiots who dash to the store, purchase obscene bulk quantities of milk and bread, then return home to await our eventual fates. I still haven’t figured out what all that milk and bread is for. We hardly drink milk in this house. But I bought some anyway, because Perceived Shortage.
On the news they’ll tell you cute stuff like, “remember to put your snow tires on your car”. We live in the South. No one has special tires for snow. Most people barely keep functioning regular tires on their cars. I failed my last inspection due to this.
They also mentioned chains, and I don’t know if this is because people get really kinky when they’re snowed in, or what. I seriously don’t know what chains do in the snow.
Plus, like I said, our roads aren’t plowed. So tires are irrelevant. You might as well be advising me to gas up the yacht (or whatever you do to yachts).
So, what do you need, when preparing for a snowstorm? If you have a bunch of precious little angels in your house, I suggest the following:
Back-up internet. Either your internet service will completely go out, or it will be so bogged down by your entire town using it at once, that it’s basically not going to work. Especially if you have Frontier internet, which is ironically just like the internet they had on the actual, original frontier. Remember all those scenes on Little House on the Prairie, where their internet wasn’t working? Yeah, they had Frontier Internet.
So, either purchase extra data on your phone and turn it into a hotspot, or download your kids’ favorite shows ahead of the storm. If you’re really desperate, skip the internet entirely and drag your old DVD player and DVDs out of a closet.
Board games. The pieces will entertain younger children for fifteen minutes or so, and then you can keep your older kids busy for hours cleaning them all up because they should’ve known better than to leave that shit where the toddler could get into it.
Towels. Lots of damn towels, in a basket by whatever door you most frequently use. Your children, understandably, will want to go outside. Then they’ll want to come in. Then they’ll want to go out. Then they’ll want to… You get it. If you don’t actually want a pond in your entryway, keep a steady supply of 972 towels there.
Coffee. If you want to survive.
Kitty litter. People on the internet claim you can use this to create traction if your car gets stuck, or whatever. That’s a cute idea, for people who are actually able to access a maintained road system. But I’m listing this because your cat’s litter box is going to fucking stink if you’re running low on cat litter and can’t get to the store.
A spare shovel. At some point, you might remember that smarter people shovel their driveways (to get to the road that isn’t plowed, I guess). So you’ll attempt to shovel your own… And that’s when your kid will demand to “help”. He’s only going to move the snow around and accomplish absolutely diddly squat, but it will make him feel good and he won’t be watching Paw Patrol, at least. So give him a spare shovel and let him have at it.
Toilet paper. Lots of toilet paper. Because, for fuck’s sake, someone is getting diarrhea that week. Trust me.
Kid-friendly food… Yeah, I know, you were trying to do a thing where you all get healthy for a few weeks at least, before you go back to your shitty old habits. Well, today’s not the day. I’m not saying you should devote yourself to giving your child a preventable, nutrition-related disease during this week. But grab some things that don’t require you to stand in the kitchen for two hours chopping vegetables. You’ll need that time to wipe puddles off the floor and break up fights over who gets to use the internet next.
… BUT NOT SUGAR. For the love of God, not sugar. Leave the sugary treats off of your pre-storm grocery list, unless you just don’t hate your life enough already.
Wine, beer, liquor, marijuana, whatever. No, not for the kids. This is for you. But not if you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnant, you’ll just have to suffer, like I did.
Stay off of Facebook. This isn’t a thing you can purchase at the store beforehand, but it’s important so I’m listing it. You might think that you need Facebook more than ever before. It’s your only link to the outside world, from inside your snowy hellscape. However, I can guarantee you that the previously-listed “must-have” elicited a chorus of “that’s sad, I don’t need alcohol during a snowstorm, I love my children” from approximately one-third of my reading audience. And these people are all over Facebook during snowstorms, bragging about how wonderful it is to be trapped in the house with their darlings. Avoid Debra, her snow craft pictures, and her righteousness. Trust me.
This is far from a complete list, I’m sure, but it will get you started on a path toward somewhat-sanity during your next weather event. The real reason I wanted to share these thoughts was so that my readers would chime in and offer their own tips. Please offer your own snowstorm-with-kids tips because I need them. These didn’t actually work all that great and I’m pretty sure I haven’t recovered from this experience yet.