Nothing warms the cockles like seeing photos of puffy-coated, flush-faced kids frolicking in the snow on Facebook. Goofily grinning after bravely sledding down the hill on their own, proudly posing beside a towering snowman, toothily shrieking with joy as snowball bits rain overhead mid-toss during an epic backyard snowball fight: These images are so sweet they make me forget what an exhausting frigging endeavor it is to get my own offspring from Point A (inside the house) to Point B (RIGHT OUTSIDE the house). I imagine you can relate — otherwise, why would we endure all these steps just to let our kids play in the frigid winter wonderland?
1. Tell them, “Of course, my loves! When the blizzard stops being life-threatening, we will go out and play. I PROMISE YOU. You don’t have to ask me another 70 times this morning.”
2. Hunt down their long underwear, warmest pants, sweatshirts, and something waterproof-ish for yourself, all while hoping they don’t offer to help you because their “help” will definitely result in a 412 percent messier house.
3. Make this wintry opportunity work for you by telling them they can play outside in the snow after their rooms are tidied up.
4. Drink a very large cup of caffeinated anything while calling out orders to clean under their beds, too. (Make sure to put up your feet while they are occupied: This is your last chance to rest for a while.)
5. Feel pride at how good a job they did cleaning. Give in to their pleas and happily tell them it’s time to go play.
6. Yell for the kid who just ran outside barefoot in his PJs that he needs to GET BACK IN HERE AND LOOK FOR HIS BOOTS AND SOME COMMONSENSE WHILE HE’S AT IT.
7. Tell the kids to pee.
8. Tell them they do, in fact, need to pee, whether or not they think they do SO JUST DO IT NOW, OKAY?
9. Force each kid one by one into the bathroom to witness them peeing because their fake-peeing trips to the bathroom aren’t fooling anyone.
10. Try not to breathe while the last kid to go discovers the need to poop something the length of a top hat once she sits down without clenching.
11. Begin the search for gloves and find one on top of the fridge.
12. Maybe find another glove that is very much not waterproof and definitely the wrong size for your kid’s tiny hand.
13. Settle for two right-hand mittens for one kid, mismatched gloves for the other, and gardening gloves for yourself.
14. Zip the little kid into her snow bib while the big kid does his himself.
15. Kindly advise him he’s putting it on backwards, while simultaneously catching your daughter’s chin in her zipper.
16. Clean two specks of blood off her chin and tell her that snow will make it feel better so please, please stop crying and CAN WE BE DONE WITH THIS DRAMA AND GO FREEZE OUR BUTTS OFF NOW, PLEASE?
17. Lift her in all of her dead-weightness to prove to her in the mirror that she is not, in fact, bleeding to death. It’s just a tiny scratch, really. She does worse to her brother on a daily basis during breakfast.
18. Shove hats on everyone’s unruly heads as they circle you like hyperactive vultures.
19. Change their hats to something else because obviously those hats aren’t the ones they wanted to wear, MAMA.
20. Slowly lower each kid to the floor to apply their boots and wrestle with that elastic ankle thingy and the snaps to keep their pants in place so no snow gets in there. HOLY BANANAS ON AN EARMUFF, WHO INVENTED THIS SWISHY SNAP-LADEN ORIGAMI FROM HELL AND WHY IS THERE NO EASIER WAY TO MAKE THIS CONTRAPTION WORK?!
21. Put their hats back on, which fell off when you helped them stand back up. (Yes, you heard the ankle snaps come undone already: You’re simply actively ignoring that fact for your own sanity’s sake.)
22. Put their coats on them, for they no longer can bend at the waist or use any fine motor skills in order to do so.
23. Bat away complaints that it is taking too long, they’re SO HOT, or that they have an itch they can’t reach.
24. Tell them to stay in the yard, for you’ll be right out.
25. Listen to them debate whether to build a snowman or an igloo while you throw on some layers.
26. Walk outside and pick up your little kid who tipped over and is flapping like a drunk beetle on its back.
27. Tell your big kid to put his gloves back on.
28. Negotiate terms of play between the kids: snowmen first, then the igloo.
29. Tell your little kid to put her hat back on.
30. Try to do some shoveling while they play nicely for 12 seconds or so.
31. Get asked to help with the snowman.
32. Tell your big kid to put his hat back on.
33. Start rolling snow to make the middle section of the snowman.
34. Tell your little kid to put her mittens back on.
35. Listen to your old-lady grunts echo through the neighborhood as you heave the middle section of the snowman onto the towering bottom your kids slapped together, internally battling whether you can be the hypocrite who removes her coat because you’re sweating like a three-toed sloth in a finger-counting competition.
36. Call out to your kids to get sticks and rocks for arms and a face for the snowman, only to realize they already went inside, bored with how long it was taking for you to build their snowman.
37. Realize that while you should be annoyed that they ditched you, you’re actually enjoying how quiet it is out there. Ahhhh….SILENCE.
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