The first time I got one of those requests, it surprised me. It shouldn’t have. I have a schedule that lets me work from home quite a bit, so I can usually stay in when schools are closed due to weather. Other moms are not so fortunate.
Let’s get this clear right off the bat, working mom friends: I’m not mad at you for asking.
You have to try all your options. Your boss doesn’t care if your kids are home and your neighborhood is buried under a foot of ice and snow. The office is open, so you’re expected to be there. And if the weather was a surprise, the closing was, too, so it’s not like you had a ton of time to put a Plan-B in place. It sucks, and you’re feeling desperate. I get it.
Which is why I feel like a jerk when, most of the time, I have to say no.
You’re gracious about it, and I appreciate that. But just in case you do think I’m a being bit of a turd, here are the reasons why I’m not the person you want watching your kids during a snow day.
Top 3 reasons I’m not your snow day babysitter
Snow day or not, you have to get your work done, and so do I. Few things send my anxiety through the roof like being on a tight deadline, buried in projects, and then getting snowed in with kids.
And this particular time of year is my absolute busiest. Yes, I am physically with my children, which means I’m able to keep them from burning down the house, but my attention has to be on my work. (By the way, if you’re working from home on a snow day and need ideas to keep your kids out of your hair, check out this article on snow day activities.)
I can’t yell at your kids.
When I’m on a conference call and my daughters are bickering over who’s taking up more of the couch, you can be damn certain that I hit the mute button and yell at them to shut up and get their shit together. My kids are used to this. It would terrify your kids. I don’t enjoy traumatizing small people. I want your kids to still like me when spring rolls around.
Your kids would be watching screens and eating junk.
I’ll straight up admit that this is what my children do on snow days – despite my attempts at creating fun activities, stocking up on healthy snacks, yadda yadda. I’ve made peace with it. I’m not sure you have. Lunch will not be organic, homemade hummus. People will be staring at Minecraft videos way longer than they should. I’m not judging the amount of energy you put into what your children consume at any given moment, but I’m not doing that—especially on a snow day—and I don’t need the stress of feeling like I should.
Wow… I did just sound like a jerk there, didn’t I?
Well, having said all that, let me flip everything over and say that I just MIGHT be willing to take your child off your hands during the next snow day. If your kid fits a certain description, we might actually be able to help each other out.
How old is he/she?
The amount of attention and supervision your child needs is directly proportional to my ability to watch him or her. Babies and toddlers? No can do. 9-year-old who can pretty much take care of herself? Now we’re talking.
Is your kid good friends with my kid?
Because sometimes it helps to have other children around when I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve actually invited some of my daughters’ friends over when they were off school because it cuts down on all the “Mom, can you get me…” and “Mom, don’t you want to play with me?” and “Mom, I’m bored.” Sure, the house gets trashed, but I get stuff done, so I consider it a good trade-off.
And the last bit of criteria has to do with me:
How busy am I, actually?
You might get lucky. You might catch me on a light workload day, in which case I might be able to watch your child. See? I’m not always a turd. And you don’t have to stop asking if you’re really desperate. I like helping, and I will if I can. Just maybe don’t put me first on your list of options to try the next time we get a blizzard. Work-from-home moms aren’t snow day babysitters, and even if they were, I’d be a sucky one.
If you work from home, do other parents ask you to watch their kids on snow days? How do you respond?