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The Midlife Sage Says: Plan Your Own Play Day

Local children get all excited when the schools are closed for a snow day.

As an evolving curmudgeon, I snort with scorn because in my day we walked miles through a blizzard for the privilege of going to school so we could postpone our chores at home. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance inside that we could sleep late, watch movies, play video games, or hitchhike to the nearest ski resort. But, if given the opportunity, we knew how to have fun.

I’m concerned that young people no longer know how to play. Area news reports and online sites are seriously advising families about what to do with their children during a snow day. One particularly astute recommendation is: Go play in the snow. Really? Does that come with instructions? Can it be done without a cell phone? Do the gloves need to match the hat?

As a caveat, I realize that today’s children live with regimented schedules in a dangerous world. No, they can’t ride their bicycles all over town or swim in the canal or go alone into a park restroom as kids did during my youth. But, some children are overprotected, coddled, and babied beyond necessary. We’ve all seen that pouty little princess in a lace dress who secretly wants to stomp in puddles and make mud pies. That should be a requirement for all children.

Here’s a question for young women:

What would you do with a free day? Imagine that all your responsibilities – including work and childcare – were cancelled or done by a magic surrogate. What would you do? Now take this scenario one more step. What would you do if the activity didn’t involve money or electronics? If that idea makes you panic, you know that it’s past time for you to plan your own play day. You owe it to yourself to grab a few hours of uninterrupted, stress-free time to do whatever you want and be completely free. Making mud pies is totally acceptable.

Here are some suggested activities that don’t require money or electricity: read a book, start to write a book, learn to play a musical instrument, plan a week’s worth of healthy menus, go for a long walk, write letters (not emails) to friends, arrange your photographs, take a bubble bath, organize unneeded clothes and household items into donation boxes for local charities, write in a journal, visit a neighbor, chart your family tree, light candles, groom a pet, and sit outside and appreciate the nature around you. You’ll be amazed at your inner energy after you unplug from your normal routine.

Young women endure hectic lives, and it’s not easy to adjust certain situations. But, don’t despair because I can honestly say that life gets better with age. Another advantage of being older and working from home is that my children are grown, I limit my extracurricular activities, and I can declare my own “Snow Day!”  It could be sunny outside but if I assume there is snow somewhere in the world, I can legitimately show solidarity with the plight and cancel my schedule. It’s that easy. See, you have so much to look forward to with each passing year!

Elaine Ambrose is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.