Do you panic every time there’s snow in the forecast? Plan snow day childcare by having a back up for snow days.
Snow days. Kids love them. Parents hate them. There’s no in-between. For kids, it’s one of the best feelings ever to wake up to a blanket of snow. For parents, there’s an immediate panic while figuring out the logistics of whether you’ll be able to get to work and what you’ll do with the kids.
My kids are now eight and 15. So, thankfully, I am able to leave them home for snow days, if I am able to drive in. If the weather is too bad, I can work from home.
When my son was first in grade school, we lived with my grandmother, so he could just stay home with her. I could go to work if I could make it, or stay home, if the weather and roads were too bad.
When my daughter came along seven years later, she stayed with my mother-in-law, so as long as I could reach her home, I had childcare for my daughter. My son was seven at this time, so he could go to my mother-in-law’s, too.
We pretty much have relied on family, I’ve worked from home (or took the day off), or my son was old enough to stay home alone.
The most important thing is to have back up for snow days in place, in advance.
Discuss at the beginning of the school year or beginning of winter. Confirm your needs the night before, once the decision to delay or cancel school has been made.
Have a plan A, B, and C.
Back Up for Snow Days
Proactive things you can do:
- investigate the answers to the three questions below
- reserve a few days of your sick, vacation, or PTO for snow days
- keep an eye on the weather
- From Laura Vanderkam: “Thankfully snow days are not completely unexpected, the way sick days are. We look at the weather obsessively, figure out which one of us has the most flexible day, try to move any appointments/meetings to a day that is definitely NOT going to snow, and make sure we bring home whatever we need to work if we are the ones “on” for that potential snow day. Then I do what I can when they are playing independently or having screen time like Jenny said above, and try not to sweat it & enjoy some time with the kids. I’ll make it up in the evenings or next weekend.
- I remember by the end of winter 2013-2014 I was looking at the forecast and trying to get all my work for the week done on Saturday and Sunday. It was that bad.
- if bad weather is forecasted and you are able to work from home, prepare to reschedule meetings, bring work home, begin work earlier or work later around your kids’ schedules, work around naptimes
Things to Prepare for Ahead of Time for Snow Day Childcare:
- Ask childcare provider what the policies are for inclement weather (and other things you need to know about childcare)
- Are they always open?
- Do they observe the same schedule as the local school district?
- Ask school what the policies are for inclement weather
- Talk to other parents about their experience.
- Check the school district or school’s social media pages. Do they have a demonstrated history of making the announcement the night before, the morning of, or is it inconsistent?Ask your employer what the policies are for inclement weather for caring for your children and/or initiate a conversation about what your plans are
- Do you have the option to bring kids with you?
- Do you have the option to work from home?
- Do you have the option to take a personal day or vacation day?
When Planning Snow Day Childcare, Consider:
Parent’s Work Schedule:
- First shift
- Second shift
- Third shift
- School Age
Consider your kid(s) ages and whether you’ll need care for one or more
- For babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children
- What is your state’s minimum age for a child to stay home alone?
- Do you feel comfortable in your child’s maturity level for him or her to stay home alone?
Free Ideas for Snow Day Childcare:
- Split days between parents (mom and dad alternate taking days off to stay home with kids)
- If your child is old enough, allow him or her to stay home alone
- Family (grandparents, siblings, etc.)
- A neighbor who stays at home or is retired
- A friend who is a stay at home or work from home parent (Offer them a free day off with a childcare swap)
- Another parent who has taken the day off (and return the favor)
- Take your child(ren) with you to work
- Take a day off and make the best of a snow day
- Work from home
Paid Snow Day Childcare Ideas:
- Same childcare you use for afterschool
- Drop in center
- City/county funded programs
- Pay another parent, neighbor, friend
- Pay a neighborhood kid to stay home with your kid(s)