Winter in Western NY. If you aren’t familiar, it’s pretty much comparable to the arctic between November and March. Sometimes longer if we’re really lucky. While we’ve been spared somewhat this year, I still feel certain that winter is the absolute WORST season for parenting.
Now that I have two small children, I find that we are stuck inside during the majority of these horrible months. I mean, the temperature last weekend hit -25 degrees with the wind chill. I’m all for bundling up and getting out there now and again, but -25 degrees is like some north pole, tundra, polar bear bull shit. So for hours and hours on end, I am attempting to entertain two kids inside my home.
Between Christmas and birthdays, there are literally 400 toys in the house – a multitude of things to do to keep them busy. But if your kids are anything like mine, they play with toys for about seven minutes at a time and then they spend an hour rolling around the kitchen floor complaining that you aren’t playing with them enough. The baby, who has every infant toy ever created, would rather spend his time speed crawling to the back door and eating dirt and salt off the boot trays (yes, our door ways are lined with boot trays – another reason winter blows). And my four year old prefers to use the dog leash as a lasso and the top of my sauce pan as his shield for fighting bad guys. When they are tired of these things, they go back to hanging on my legs and begging me to entertain them. This pretty much sums up my weekends.
And then there are school breaks. Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I rejoice in a week away from work every now and again. But after two weeks at Christmas and a week in February during the middle of winter, I start reconsidering whether school breaks are actually such a “vacation.” During these weeks, the preschool teacher in me scrolls through my Pinterest boards at night searching for activities to keep my kids busy as long as possible educate my children. Sensory bottles, art projects, counting games. I spend tons of time planning and creating these things. Of course, my kids LOVE this shit for about 12 minutes, and then they get back to begging me for snacks and crying because I won’t let them climb on the coffee table and shoot Nerf guns at our flat screen TV.
After 13 hour days spent between our playroom and the kitchen, I occasionally give in and agree to take them somewhere more exciting, like one of the many local indoor play gyms (which is an entirely different post on its own). Another reason this season is the devil? The gear it requires to actually go anywhere. The boots, the coats, the hats, the mittens. It takes at least 45 minutes to get everyone dressed in the appropriate attire in order to even attempt to leave the damn house. While I wrestle the baby into his car seat, the four year old is undoubtedly climbing around in the snow banks behind me – only to cry afterwards for ten minutes in the car because his pants are wet and cold. And on top of all that, the car seat Nazis will chastise you if you DARE put your child in a car seat with a coat on. This is unsafe practice, if you weren’t aware. I don’t know about you, but I consider going out in -25 degrees without a coat also an unsafe practice. Either way, it’s the worst.
And finally, when there is snow outside, the children will most definitely, unquestionably, ALWAYS want to play in it. If your kids are little, that means you will be playing in it, too. The back hallway of my house turns into a snowsuit shit storm, as my four year old screams about his boots being too tight, his coat being too bunchy, and his hat being too itchy and so on. The baby is usually lying on the floor looking like some cross between the marshmallow man and an infant mummy. I spend another 45 minutes putting on the gear only to find out that my kid has to pee and it’s an emergency. Can’t we just fast forward to summer when he can pee in the grass in the backyard for god’s sake?
Every February, I begin to wonder why any human being would actually choose to live in a place that is so cold for so many months of the year. But I know that in just a few short weeks, the snow will melt, the temps will rise (slightly) and we will be able to get back outside. And then of course, we’ll have the rain and the mud to deal with until June.
In conclusion, if you are a parent and you are considering moving to Western NY, just don’t.