I’m not even going to try to think of anything cute for this one

So here's a topic that's bound to bore those of you in warm climates:

What do you do when school (preschool, daycare, your babysitter can't get there, etc.) is closed because of snow or other bad weather conditions?

They just announced that NYC public schools are closed tomorrow, and I know bunches of the rest of you dealt with closings yesterday and today.

I can probably work from home (although I'm supposed to get on another plane for work on Thursday), but what about people who can't? What do you do? I'm especially thinking about it as our babysitting house of cards has been shored up a little lately, but three weeks ago this could have been an enormous disaster. What do yo do if you have to be at work and there's no place for your kids to go?

(Also, remember my ire about being puked on last week? Well, I got food poisoning/stomach flu myself on Saturday. I never ever wanted to vomit on the NYC subway, but I did. I'd really like to thank my ex-husband for rearranging every part of his Sunday that he possibly could to take the kids while I was wishing for a fast death, and for bringing me gatorade.)

43 thoughts on “I’m not even going to try to think of anything cute for this one”

  1. I can usually work at home too, but when I haven’t been able to, I just have to suck it up & take a vacation day. Which KILLS me because I don’t have enough as it is, and I want to use them in the WARM weather!Hope you’re feeling better!

  2. Well, where you have snow days, we have fire days. The only difference is that snow days are (thankfully!) more common and when there is a fire in your area, everyone in the rest of the world thinks your entire city is in flames, so they are forgiving when you have to cancel a business trip.When day care closes because of fires in the region, someone stays home from work. Sometimes, the fires are sufficiently bad to mean that one of our work places is closed as well. Sometimes, we have to take a personal day. In my current job, I may have to be one of the people taking care of things at work if there is a firestorm, so much of the child care would fall to Hubby. But I know that ahead of time, since we have a disaster response plan, so I guess if I didn’t have Hubby, I’d make arrangements with someone else to come and watch the kids. In a pinch, most of what I would need to do could be done remotely, so there would just be more crying than I am usually comfortable with.
    Sorry to hear you were sick. The huge increase in stomach bugs is one of those things I should have seen coming when I had kids, but didn’t.

  3. My husband works from home every day, so that’s a possibility. We’re also fortunate enough to have both sets of grandparents in town, although at the moment my in-laws are doing the snowbird thing in Florida. Vacation days are an option, too.Worst-case scenario? Honestly, depending on what kind of work I had on-deck, I could probably pull off taking them with me and having some semblance of a productive day. It’s a pretty understanding environment. Besides, we’re a pretty skeletal crew right now so I doubt they’d be too disruptive and I could probably even set the baby up in a pack and play in a spare office for a nap. It would take some packing, sure, but it could work. But I hope I don’t need to find out.

  4. Down here in Florida, we also have the dilemma – just with hurricane days (fortunately most years they only account for a day or two). Like all the other commenters, we hope that one or both of our companies will close as well (some companies’ policies say they follow the county’s school closings). If not, we try to work from home. And in worse case scenario – take a vacation day.

  5. Luckily, I can work from home if needed for my job, but I’m not nearly as productive at home. If my 4-yr-old naps (ha!), I can get a chunk of work done, or if I have a phone meeting, I can put a movie on for him. When this happens, I usually end up logging about 1/2 a day and taking the other half as PTO (paid time off). This is what usually happens when my son is sick also. Thankfully, I get a generous amount of PTO and I am very frugal about using it (for better or worse) for just these types of situations.My husband can’t do his work from home and has way fewer vacation/personal days than I do, so this usually falls on me.
    Also, if we have an extended illness (not snow days, I know), my father-in-law will come and spend the day with our son if we give him a day’s notice. He lives about 2 hours away and is retired — and LOVES to hang out with our son.
    So, all-in-all we are pretty fortunate, but these situations always amplify the work/life balance guilt.

  6. I took my son in with me back when I worked; the folks I worked with got used to my sling and seeing me edit while nursing.Even though I’m a SAHM now, we have a frighteningly thin backup support network so this still scares me – how to cover all the needs all the time.
    So sorry to hear you were sick! And on the subway! Was anyone helpful? Was it as awful as you imagined? This bug has been particularly virulent this year …

  7. Oh god, and I forgot to express my sympathy on your illness. Our vacation to the Bahamas was visited by the Norwalk fairy, and I totally understand that wanting to die feeling. Only my 3 year old didn’t get it, by some miracle of God. My husband was in an urgent care clinic on IV fluids the day before we flew out. Ugh.

  8. I live in the DEEP south, so snow days are rare, but what is sometimes worse is that just the THREAT of snow or ice is enough to make places shut down for one or two days. (We’re predicted to have snow at the end of this week, and I think one local school system has already issued a “probably closed” statement. it boggles.) Since returning from maternity leave and starting from nothing on my leave balances, I am usually unable to stay home for fear of reprimand from work, but luckily my husband has hundreds of hours of personal leave and no problem staying home.

  9. Norovirus just made its way through our house…not fun. My husband is a nurse, and he said the joke about Noro is that the first 12 hrs you think you’re going to die, the second 12 you hope you’re going to die!I have the larger leave balance and I can work from home, so I am the one who usually stays with my daughter.

  10. For snow days, we rely a lot on our other parent friends. The parent group at my daughter’s day care has a “snow day” list you can sign up for– parents who are in a real bind can call others on the list for emergency child care. If I can stay home on a snow day, I don’t mind having another child or two at home with me since I know another snow day will arise when I will need the help.For my school age kids, the at-home moms of my kids’ friends have been a big help. If they take my kids on a snow day I always reciprocate on a weekend so that they get some time off too.
    Also, we have a list of high schoolers (kids in the neighborhood or older sibs of our kids’ friends) who want to make extra money on snow days. They’re off school too, and they usually like to get paid to take our kids sledding!

  11. My DH keeps the kids at home right now. When we were both working, my mom watched the kids, so if we were willing to brave the hill leading to her house, we had childcare. If we chose not to brave the hill, we took PTO.My sympathies go out to all the stomach bug sufferers! I had it last week and @Ruta’s comment is correct–I just wanted to die.

  12. I generally stay home because I have more leave/sick days than DH does. We just had 30 inches of snow this past weekend and are expecting 12-20 inches more tonight and tomorrow. All bets are off with this weather…I’ve done any combination of work from home, DH works from home, DS watches FAR too many videos, work at night to catch up, etc.I start to feel uncomfortable when my routine is messed with for too long, so I’m longing for next week, when hopefully, things will be back to normal.

  13. School is closed until NEXT Tuesday and daycare was closed yesterday and today (and probably tomorrow and the next day, and rightly so).My husband and I are taking turns being at home and here’s what we’ve been doing:
    Reading aloud
    Baking (bread, cake, cookies)
    Giving cooking lessons
    Playing Wii
    Watching movies and tv and, last but not least playing outdoors.

  14. Arrgh! Fortunately my work has been canceled this week along with daycare (although I keep madly working through naptime and whenever else I can). I have no idea how I am going to convince my 3 year old to go back to daycare. You know, someday, when we can go back to work. Oh look! It just started snowing. How refreshing.

  15. We went through the stomach bug a couple of weeks ago. Miserable! Fortunately, my husband was able to take a sick day to cover while I was hunched over the toilet praying for death. His work was pretty sympathetic since the virus seems to have originated there.

  16. Along the same lines, now that my boys are going to be starting K this coming Fall and we will most likely no longer have full time childcare back up coverage, what do people do for the summers once their kids are in school?Hang in there to all you folks with the crazy snow. I’m in LA – if it makes you feel any better, it is raining and so our commutes will be at least double their normally already too long times.

  17. This is a common problem, and unfortunately there are few answers, and most of them were tough. When my parents were state employees (and therefore potentially on call during a state of emergency) there was no back-up plan, and my mom says she still has no idea what she would have done in that case. I think there are better provisions now.I count my blessings everyday that I have a very flexible working arrangement. Literally, every single day. I know that many parents would give their eye teeth to have it, and I don’t take it for granted, and I don’t abuse it. And for that flexibility, I feel like I am a better employee and make a better product for my company and our clients.
    For the parents that are told “I don’t care if your daycare is closed, there is no public transportation and your kids are sick, show up for work or you will be fired” unfortunately, I think the answer ends up being that they have to leave their children in less than ideal situations. There has got to be a better way, I wish I had the answer on that one but I don’t. Anyone with social work/child care experience that knows of a government “drop-in” program at low or no cost?
    And @mo, thanks for reminding me it’s raining, I’ve been inside all day, about to head out. It’s good to know when the San Diego drivers might be getting their crazy on.

  18. @mo- ugh. Nothing worse than SoCal drivers in the rain. Except maybe SoCal drivers in the fog. And I have to keep my cool despite the whackjobs on the road, or else I hear “What happened Mommy? Why are you mad?” from the backseat….Anyway, my friends with school age kids line up a series of day camps for them during the summer. Various organizations run them, including the YMCA. Some of them sound seriously fun. One kid I know had photography and surfing day camps, among others.

  19. Oh, and @Caliboo- I keep hearing ads for “College Nannies and Tutors” on KPBS. If I didn’t have my Mom for back up day care when the kids are sick (she flies over from Phoenix), that is what I’d be looking into. I don’t know if they would help in the emergency situation, but they specifically mention backup day care as a reason to call them.I wonder if you have to pay extra if you’re exposing them to norovirus?

  20. I do the same as meggiemoo. I generally stay home since I earn more leave than my husband. We have no other back-up, since we don’t have family available/capable of caring for our two kids.I’m so fortunate that I can take off easily, but I do put myself through the wringer — the old dueling responsibilities of work vs. home.

  21. Like other commenters noted, we don’t have daycare back-up. My parents would help out, but live an hour away on rural roads so if it’s a snow day, there’s no way I’d ask them to travel. Hubby and I take turns – he can “work” from home (and just makes up the hours after the kids go to bed since he’s in the software industry). I work in a rehab centre and can’t realistically take my work home with me. There are days that the littles have come to work with me if I really can’t reschedule a patient.Because my husband can work from home, he doesn’t really need to use a sick/vacation day – he just makes up the time. I need to take a vacation day. There was one storm last year that I qualified for “paid emergency leave” – more than 60cm of snow with no reasonable way to get to work (car buried in snow, all buses pulled off the roads, police warning drivers to stay off the streets) but that’s more the exception than the rule. Our union is pushing for “family leave days” but we’re not there yet. But, even if I had to take a non-paid day, I’m fortunate that I won’t lose my job.

  22. I’m a freelancer and my husband teaches high school; our daughter’s preschool follows the local school district’s closing schedule. So luckily for me, their snow days are generally the same. (He teaches in our town, she is one town over.) The daycare we used previously prided itself on staying open during the biggest storms, so I do sometimes miss the ability to drop her off while the two of us took some couple time.These days, though, the two of them stay home and play in the snow while I bundle up and take the laptop someplace warm that has wifi; I’m the primary breadwinner and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. It’s kinda ironic: It’s only when the weather is truly horrible that I have to leave the house for work.

  23. Did the stomach flu last week, or rather the stomach flu did us all….horrible.Coconut water saved us…Amazing stuff. And no colors or nasties….
    Luckily have no work tomorrow; but still frustrated. Barring sub arctic conditions we will be out there in it; Still its 1030pm EST and there’s still no snow.

  24. We are extraordinarily fortunate that one of the perqs of my job is back-up daycare. You can either have someone come to your house or there’s a center for kids over six months. There’s a co-pay, but it’s less than a nanny.Something to push your company for. I’m sure mine did the cost/benefit analysis and determined it was much cheaper than the lost work time.

  25. My day care stays open unless they have no power. Occasionally, on terrible weather days, I have arrived to drop off and found them a bit understaffed but usually in a half hour, people start showing up and I leave (I stay until I am comfortable with the ratio). The day care does little buses to drop-off/pick-up at the elementary schools, so if school is closed, they just keep the kids all day. You can sign your school agers up at the day care for school breaks (summer, winter, spring, etc). They also keep the kids on teacher institute days and other random days off.The summer camp program is not cheap, but they do a ton of field trips, swimming lessons, two meals and two snacks, and it’s not run by teenagers as the program through the park district is (which would be totally fine with me if my kids were 9 or 10 since we were left home alone during the day in the summer when I was 10, but I’m not comfortable with that for a 5-year old).

  26. My boss once told me, as I arranged to work half a day while my husband stayed home with kids and also worked half a day because our home daycare provider (she keeps kids in her home) had the flu, that I needed to find back-up day care. He told me this via email. This was after many other nasty and un-empathetic remarks as I tried to figure out how to manage after my Mom died. As I read it, I burst out crying. “Back up day care!” WHAT? I work part-time. My husband has very flexible hours. We can usually make it work if there is bad weather or someone is sick, etc. On the rare occasions that we can’t, I have to take time off. When my 60-something MALE boss told me to find “back up day care” I cried at the ridiculousness of it (also was having a terrible day). WHAT back up daycare? The daycare fairy? Seriously? WHO can you get to keep your kids with no notice in the middle of the week when your daycare is unavailable? I have no reliable family that lives close (after my Mother died). All my friends are in the same situation as I am (there might be a friend once in a while who could do it — MAYBE). There might be drop in daycare options at some places, but I would not trust sending my kids there. High school and college babysitters are at SCHOOL during school days. I ask again? WHAT back up day care?My response to him? I said — one of the reasons why I work at a University is for flexibility, family-friendly policies, and above average leave time. In these situations, I will try my best to be at work if absolutely necessary, otherwise, I will take vacation leave.
    Then I continued to sob in my office until it was time to go home.
    The end.

  27. @Erin- I swear that most universities could really use a solid dose of actual human resources management. We think they are nice, flexible, family-friendly places to work, but from the stories I hear, they are actually stuck in some sort of 1950s time warp in which they act like their employees either have no family obligations or have a full time stay at home wife to handle all family obligations.I can’t imagine any of the bosses I’ve worked for in industry saying anything like that. Not even the hard-nose ex-military guy who insisted on “core hours” for his team.

  28. This storm isn’t as bad in that we are in a state of emergency here and they have told all major employers to close. I won’t threadjack but I was thinking along the lines of “what do you do with the kids all day when unexpectedly home for 6 days”. A friend sent a great indoor obstacle course description around. I dug some new Lego kits out of the gift closet. (Worth it.)But our complete lack of backup daycare is one reason I’m still not working. One more year until my youngest is in K and we can make it work. Oy.

  29. MemeGRL – If I was unexpectedly off of work for 6 days during a snow storm, I would go sledding (works even better after an ice storm). I took my bigger (age 4.5) out last night while I shoveled and blew snow. He had a blast pretending a stick was a plow and mounted it in the snow piles I was making and pretended to be on the moon planting the flag and pretending his snow suit was a space suit. We were out for over an hour before he got cold (it was about 24 degrees, so not too bad if you’re bundled). Then, inside for cocoa and snuggly bedtime.The whole getting ready to go out, go out, come in, warm up ritual could easily be 2 hours if you dragged it out and made everyone put their stuff in the dryer when they came in.
    Then, once everyone is warm, go out again. Repeat (can you tell I love outside?).

  30. Ahhh, the never ending guiltage of being a working mom. When the schools close here for “inclement weather” (which being in the South, thankfully, doesn’t happen that much), I have to take a vacation day unless my work closes as well. We live in a rural area, so I usually can’t get out of my driveway when that happens anyway. It is a pain, but what can you do??? I can get a little work done at home, but with 2 little girls ages 4 and 6 – not a lot! We had a snow day on Monday and I had a work call with a potential vendor and I did all kinds of prep/bribing to ensure quiet during my call. Almost made it to the end, too… Almost…

  31. I wish I could enjoy snow days as well, but my deadlines don’t change, even though daycare was closed for 2 days and counting and the whole campus was closed for one. Unfortunately, only the 6mo old is not going crazy from the disruption in schedule.

  32. I have recently been thinking more about this. My partner and I most often take turns staying home if need be, but I’ve been wondering about other options. I have Parents in a Pinch through work, which would send someone to my house if I call the night before or morning of, but to be perfectly honest I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of a stranger in my home, with my kids, for 8+ hours. My lastest idea is to advertise for a grandmother through local church/synagogue newsletters and try to find someone who isn’t working, who doesn’t really need steady income but would like to be a part of our family. We could use her for occasional babysitting with the idea that she would get to know our kids and then we could see if she was available if we got in to a pinch.OT, but I’m so glad that your Ex helped out and helped to take care of you when you were so sick. Great modeling for your kids!

  33. I used to work in a sales environment where the norm was to be there at 7 and leave no earlier than 6…not exactly family-friendly. But I must say, many of the managers were women and they were very flexible when it came to things like what to do if school is closed unexpectedly. A number of times, people brought their kids into the office for at least a few hours if they couldn’t find any other options, and no one seemed to mind at all.Still – I didn’t have kids when I had that job, so I didn’t really connect with the kid talk that went on around me, but now I “get it”, and it makes me sad to think how much some of my co-workers struggled with trying to balance their family and work responsibilities. Even in a supposedly family-friendly company, it seems the job always wins b/c they have so much leverage over you. Families get a raw deal in our country.

  34. @Cloud and @Erin, do I have horror stories for you! Trust me, plenty of bosses in the business world act like total jerks when it comes to leave in emergency situations. For instance, a couple of years ago, my husband was supposed to attend a tournament about an hour away from here. A terrible storm blew in and dumped snow on both the tournament site and our home at about 2 inches an hour (we eventually got 26 inches of snow). It was obvious that the event would be canceled. My husband’s bosses told him to go anyway, in the teeth of the storm, and told him he’d be fired if he didn’t. He went. It took him three hours to get there; level 3 snow emergencies were declared in every county he drove through, so he could have been arrested. When he finally got there, the event was, of course, canceled. He was stranded for three days. Meanwhile, I was stranded in my home with our then two-year-old, praying the power would stay on. He finally got home after a four hour drive three days later. He never received an apology of any sort.This wasn’t an isolated incident. He was recently forced to drive to his new employer’s office through another storm that dumped 10 inches on us in five hours. We eventually got 16 inches of heavy wet snow, which brought down huge limbs from trees all over our neighborhood. People had driven off the road all along his route to work. His boss gave him some crap about everyone needing to be a team player – then sat at HIS home, five minutes away from the office (ours is 45 minutes away), safe with his family, doing nothing, because he was on vacation and refused to come in and help in an emergency situation. Some manager! The top boss disappeared at 6:30. My husband didn’t even get to leave until midnight; it took him nearly two hours to make the normally 45 minute drive home. So apparently only non-management personnel are expected to be team players.
    He gets the same guilt trip about taking sick leave. His last employer actually demanded a sick note from MY doctor to prove I was in a surgical procedure – my husband had to stay home for a day to take care of me and his boss was angry about it. My doctor’s office thought I was crazy when I asked them for it.
    Mind you, it’s not like my husband disappears from work at the drop of a hat – he drags himself in when he’s deathly ill and works insane hours. But his employers feel secure in treating their people like serfs because his industry is in such awful shape. His experiences have made me extremely fearful about what I may experience when I get out of school and enter the real world again.

  35. Luckily for us (but not so much for her) my mom is unemployed right now, so we are able to have her come stay with us when we need a sitter at the last minute (due to snow days, or when kiddo is sick). I don’t know what we’d do otherwise, except use up all of our sick days and then suck it up. My hubby can often work remotely, but then he doesn’t get done what he needs to with an almost-3-year-old in close proximity. We are just hoping it doesn’t happen too often.

  36. My employers policy is that sick days can only be used when *I* am sick, and we don’t have family/non-working friends close by, so when kiddo is sick or daycare is closed my husband and I are on our own to figure things out. Our work thankfully is flexible enough that we can work adjusted hours or work from home or make up the time later so that we can care for our son without losing pay at work. In a worst-case scenario I can use a vacation day to stay home with my son, but like many others, I don’t have enough vac. days to begin with and hate “wasting” them in the wintertime.

  37. I am still on maternity leave for a couple more weeks so I haven’t tested this out yet but there are a couple of hospitals in our area that have day care for sick kids on a drop-in basis. I think my sister used something like that when her kids were younger as well.

  38. This wasn’t an isolated incident. He was recently forced to drive to his new employer’s office through another storm that dumped 10 inches on us in five hours. We eventually got 16 inches of heavy wet snow, which brought down huge limbs from trees all over our neighborhood. People had driven off the road all along his route to work. His boss gave him some crap about everyone needing to be a team player – then sat at HIS home, five minutes away from the office (ours is 45 minutes away), safe with his family, doing nothing, because he was on vacation and refused to come in and help in an emergency situation. Some manager! The top boss disappeared at 6:30. My husband didn’t even get to leave until midnight; it took him nearly two hours to make the normally 45 minute drive home. So apparently only non-management personnel are expected to be team players.

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