Snowed in Chicago: A parents’ survival guide

Deep breaths. In and out, in and out. The forecasters weren’t kidding. All that stuff on the Doppler radar is now coming down in droves, your driveway is a layer cake of ice and snow and you haven’t seen a plow yet. School is canceled.

As you turn and see your kids putting frozen waffles in the DVD player, it hits you.

You’re snowed in. With the kids.

Don’t panic. There’s plenty to do inside and out during one of Chicago’s epic snowstorms. A clever mix of indoor activities and outdoor energy-venting, with snacks at proper intervals, can help you keep your sanity intact and your walls crayon-free without resorting to martial law.

The snow is coming down in droves, school is canceled and there’s no plow in site. It hits you: You’re snowed in with the kids. No need to panic.

You’re going to have to let them out in the snow at some point, and a well-timed run around the front yard will take care of cabin fever. Heavy, tightly packed snow is perfect for a snow castle. All you need is a few buckets from the garage and a little imaginatino.

Build a snow fort

The world’s a stage, the Bard tells us, but so is your living room. And with the built-in drama of having kids, there’s plenty of material to create your own play. Jill Olsen of iO Theater in Chicago shares her tips.

Put on a play

Two words: Paper snowflakes. These classic crafts are as fun as they were when you were a kid, though safety scissors have come a long way. With a few clever folds and snips, you can have snow inside to match the snow coming down out your window.

Perfect Paper Snowflakes

Perfect paper snowflakes

Nothing occupies kids’ attention like baking, and of all the things you could be cleaning off your kitchen counters on a snow day, flour is among the best, right? Check out our five favorite winter-themed cookies or get a head start on your Valentine’s Day baking with our best lovey dovey treats.

Cookie monsters


This idea comes to us from Kendra Neal, who says: “I am making my boys a “Snow Chart”. We are going to measure the snow once an hour! The boys are excited to be able to be a “weather tracker!”
That’s just good, old-fashioned Midwestern industriousness. Well done, Kendra.

Have a tip to share? Let us know on Facebook (username ChicagoParent) or Twitter (@ChicagoParent) as the storm bears down.

Be your own weatherman

Valentine’s Day “stained glass” hearts

Cotton swab snowflakes

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