If you want days like this, avoid “the look” at all costs. Photo Nick Reedy.
Unless you are single and never had a significant other in your life—and no, snowmobiles don’t count as significant others—you know the look. It’s 5% fear, 5% jealousy, 10% hate, and 80% you better go back inside and help me out around the house.
It’s a look that can bring grown men to their knees and lesser men to tears. It will send icy shivers down your spine and bring guilt into your heart. “But Honey”, you begin to say, which will promptly be cut off with an even more intense look and perhaps a few words that will cut you to the core.
Snowmobiling, while being the most enjoyable thing in the world to do with your pants on, can bring significant strain to relationships and family if everyone is not on the same page. Most adults have a lot of responsibilities in life and let’s face it, we would rather give up almost all of them to go sledding. So with that in mind here are a few tips and tricks to help you get out on the slopes and keep your significant other from tossing you out on the sled deck.
First things first. Communication. Now I am no licensed therapist, nor relationship expert, but I do know that communication between individuals is probably the most important factor in any relationship. You can never communicate too much, but you can communicate all wrong. Communication starts long before you start talking. It starts long before you start hearing as well. It starts with observing nonverbal cues. Facial expressions, body posture, eye contact are all good indicators that you are ready to start listening. A good communicator is a good listener. Listen to your spouse during the week. Listen to the things she tells you she needs done, where she needs help, where you can do better. As part of your communication efforts, try and let your significant other know well ahead of time what days you would like to snowmobile.
Planning ahead if a very difficult thing to do when you play by Mother Nature’s rules. We have no idea when it will snow, nor how much it will snow till usually it’s done snowing and we are grabbing gear and heading for the door. Insert “the look” here. We all want to go ride the best snow right after a storm when the clouds break and the sun comes out, but sometimes we get to, sometimes we don’t. It never helps us that all those single dudes are posting endless awesome photos on social media while we are changing dirty diapers. Winter is short though and those days are few and far between. One thing I use in my house is a monthly planning calendar including sled days. I try and put up 4-5 known riding days on the calendar (usually on weekends) and then I carry 3-4 floating days. As long as my wife’s calendar is empty that day or I can get daddy duties covered by a sitter I can use a float day. This helps her to know that I will only be gone a few days a month instead of feeling like anytime it snows I am running out the door. I also try and plan a couple “kid” days a month. Sometimes the known snowmobile days turn out to be really bad days to sled on (ok that’s a lie, there are no bad days on a sled). Rather, less than ideal days to sled on. Using those days to take the kids out of the house, or away from Mom will go a long way towards getting more kitchen passes. She gets a surprise break to go do whatever she wants to do and you get to be your kids’ hero for spending time with them.
One thing you will never want to do is to ask for forgiveness instead of permission. While God may be perfect and all-loving and grant you forgiveness for anything, your significant other most certainly will not. Guys, let me tell you a little secret. Woman never forget and they rarely forgive when they feel they have been wronged. You want to go sledding next weekend? Suddenly you are reminded of the 17 times you just up and went last season without asking or telling and then you get the laundry list of all the things she had to put up with while you are gone. If you are lucky she won’t add on all the times from the previous year, but rest assured, she has them fresh in her mind. But it’s not all bad, you can fix it. She can instead remember all the times you planned ahead and asked permission and did some chores for her before you went sledding. You are much more likely to be able to go whenever you want if you aren’t asking for forgiveness and instead asking for permission.
Lastly, try and get home on time. Your family wants to know you are safe. They want to know they can depend on you to be home when you said you would. Sleds break down, problems arise, and sometimes it’s beyond our control. But if she wants you home at 6 to put the kids to bed, you better be home to put the kids to bed. She will feel loved, taken care of, and brag to everyone about her stud of a man who sleds all day and comes home and takes care of his family. There is no shame in having to leave the party early. It will also go a long way for you to be able to sneak out on a float day because she knows you will fulfill your responsibilities even if you go out sledding. Money in the bank. Try to put yourself in your significant other’s shoes and treat them the way you want to be treated.
So here’s to hoping that a few little tips and tricks score you a few more riding days and a few more laughs and loves with your family along the way. It’s a tough balancing act when you have many responsibilities, but, one that when handled correctly can score you incredible powder days!
– Geoff “Phatty” Dyer