Working Parents: How to Prepare for an Unexpected Snow Day

Last winter was brutal in the Midwest. I remember hitting a breaking point the week I was assigned eight freelance assignments and found out my kid’s school was cancelled for the millionth time (only a small exaggeration) that winter. Lucky for me, I work from home. Unlucky for me, my children were going through a fighting stage. Even though it wasn’t ideal, I didn’t have to juggle finding a place for my kids, but many working parents do. Unexpected snow days can wreak havoc on working parents’ days, so here are a few ways to prepare for the unexpected this year.

Make a Contact Sheet BEFORE the Snow Day: Gather a list of potential contacts and resources to use if a snow day occurs. It could include relatives, friends, babysitters, drop-in day cares or church programs that can help with child care when you need it most. Store contacts in your home management binder, or utilize a free app like Evernote to keep your list always on hand.

When it comes to drop-in day care services, be sure that you have called, researched and checked them out on the Better Business Bureau’s website before taking your children to the facility. I have found the best recommendations come from friends on Facebook and through our local mother’s group. Even though it feels like an emergency situation, it is still essential to research the day care provider before leaving children there.

Trade Babysitting Services with a Friend: When we were struggling financially, we found a way that we could afford a date night—trade babysitting services with a friend. Trading with friends helps cut the cost on childcare, plus it can also help in a pinch like an unexpected snow day. Partner with a mom who doesn’t work outside of the home to see if she can help when unexpected school cancellations arise. In exchange, babysit for her when she wants to enjoy a weekend day at the spa or a night out with her husband when you are off work. Let’s be honest, who could refuse that?

Lean on the Neighbors: Do you know your neighbors? If not, remember that they can be one of your most valuable resources when situations like this occur. If you have a special relationship with the people that live in your neighborhood, see if they might be willing to take your kids for the day. Most likely, their kids are home as well and could use some friends to keep them busy.

Split the Duties with Your Spouse: If you both work, consider splitting the childcare duties. Could you take the morning shift and your husband take the afternoon shift? Evenly splitting time helps all parties so that everyone gets time with the kids, and you both also get time to work. It seems like a win-win situation.

Try Working in a Different Way: Working at home with children is challenging, but if none of the above scenarios are feasible, contact your employer and see if there is a way that you can do your job from home or make up missing hours over the evenings or a weekend. This is also a great time to bring up how they would like you to handle future snow days that may occur so that you are prepared the next time another rolls around.

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