What do you do when your kids' school is closed for multiple days in a row? Working moms share tips (and commiserate) about the dreaded Snow Day Shuffle.

The Snow Day Shuffle: How Do You Handle It?

What do you do when your kids' school is closed for multiple days in a row? Working moms share tips (and commiserate) about the dreaded Snow Day Shuffle.

Working parents with school-age children walk a fine balance when it comes to the weekday whereabouts of their kids. Most of us have the day down to an exact science and schedule. We’ve arranged for them to get to school. From 8-ish to 3-ish, they are in the care of their teachers. After school, there are activities, after-care, a friend who watches them—whatever it takes to make sure they’re safe and occupied until Mom or Dad returns around dinnertime.

For the most part, it works. Everybody’s where they need to be, taking care of business. All is good.

And then… dun dun DUNH!!!! A snow day hits.


This past week (and, for many of my friends, the week before) was the mother of all snow day crises. Most of us were already coming off of long holiday breaks. The gears of business were gearing back up, and we were all looking forward to getting back into a routine. Then came the Polar Vortex.

Sunday night, my Facebook feed started to blow up with anxious parents wondering how they were going to handle things if school got called off the next day. I saw moms with piles of post-holiday work and looming deadlines. Moms with tons of meetings scheduled. One mom who’d made the jump to freelancing was counting her blessings because her husband had six meetings the next day, and if she’d still been working in an office, they would have had to evaluate which one of them needed to be at work more.

I was fortunate because I have a more flexible schedule that lets me work from home, and I work with a family-friendly company run by a couple who was in the exact same boat as me. We handled business from our dining room tables the two days our kids were out of school. And except for a sibling squabble that broke out during a client call, all went smoothly. I actually enjoyed getting to spend those two extra days with my girls, and I felt bad for parents who would have loved to stay home, too, but who, for whatever reason, didn’t have that option.

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And so, I wonder: how do parents plan for unexpected events like a snow day? Do you make sure to have a back-up sitter on hand? Do you take personal or sick days? Are your employers helpful, or have you experienced negative repercussions from the snow day shuffle? If you have any particularly good strategies on planning for snow days, please let us know!

How do working parents manage their schedules when school is closed at the last minute? Get tips and commiserate about your snow day shuffle.

7 thoughts on “The Snow Day Shuffle: How Do You Handle It?

  1. A little bit of everything. Our daycare tends to close on public school snow days. The one in December, I had an extra day to use, so I took it off. We secured a back up sitter who is a stay at home mom with kids our kids age over the holidays to use on snow days. So the kids went there last Thursday and Monday. Daycare opened Friday and Tuesday. If it’s not too bad, my parents can come down and watch the kids, but it’s a 25 mile drive and they won’t do it in the bad weather. The bad thing is we pay daycare no matter what, and then to pay a sitter on top of it, plus driving the kids out of the way … It definitely raised my blood pressure. But hopefully this backup sitter works out for a couple of years. The kids had fun and played together mostly nicely.

    1. Yes, the financial aspect is also hard. Child care is already expensive, and when you have to double it up like that, it’s an unexpected burden.

  2. I am so lucky that I can take off if I have to. And, I have to. My husband can’t. And I agree with Katie – it hurts to still have to pay daycare when they are closed but I do understand that they still want to be able to pay their employees for time off. It’s just a crummy situation for everyone.

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  6. It’s a nightmare for me! I have a diabetic 7 year old so the school nurse is one of 3 caregivers for my daughter. My ex husband who lives an hour away is the other so when a snow day is called I have to call out. No choice! So I get 2-3 of those in a winter and then I get fired. What else can I do?Shes brittle so a teenage option is out and care.com can send one for $30 hr which is more than I make. So employers don’t think parents are off snowboarding with their kids. Some of us literally have to be home. And before you all say stick it on the dad..he’s a dead beat. Only does an occasional weekend night.

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