Working Parents: How To Survive a Snow Day

Last Updated Jan 18, 2011 4:10 PM EST

My daughter slept with her pajamas inside-out last night, in hopes of a snow day today. I had never heard of this tradition, but apparently it's the school-age child's equivalent of a rally cap. Guess it worked, because she's home.

It's her third day off in three weeks. Yes, I'm counting. The first snow day of the year was great - sledding, hot chocolate, rosy cheeks. By now the bloom is off the rosy cheeks. I work at home, as do many of my peers. My ability to concentrate on work takes a hit when there are two high-energy little people skidding around in their socks. And when they finally seem occupied by a stuffed-animal car chase and I sneak off to my computer, suddenly they notice my absence. Within 45 seconds, someone comes padding up behind. "Mom, can I have a snack? What are you doing, Mom? Can I watch an elephant video on your computer, Mom?"

Elephant-video viewing does not help me make money. There has to be some way to regain lost productivity during snow days. I asked my work-at-home friends for ideas, and they came to my rescue. Here I offer the snow day survival guide for parents:

Plan ahead: Take everything home from work that you might need if more than a "dusting" is called for.

Stockpile screen time: You know when a big storm is coming. No TV, computer, or video games three days ahead of time. Then you don't feel so guilty if they veg out in front of a screen on the snow day.

DVR a movie: This is a reward for late afternoon if the kiddos have been appropriately quiet for your conference calls earlier in the day.

Negotiate with your spouse: Can he or she get to work late, leave early or come home for a long lunch? You may be the work-from-home parent, but you still have to work.

Babysitters within walking distance: If your child's school is closed, so is the high school babysitter's. Book her the night before.

Subcontract the shoveling: After the last storm, I picked up a child-sized shovel at the supermarket for $4.99. My four-year-old loves that thing. If kids are old enough, they can shovel your driveway. Then the neighbor's. They might even earn a few bucks. Even if they're too young for a driveway, they can attempt to clear the walkway. Lavish all honest attempts at snow removal with praise.

Playdate exchange: Thanks, friends. I owe you. Next time at my house.

Don't sweat the mess: Your job is to keep your job, not clean your house. Ignore the urge to pick up toys. They'll be waiting for you at 5:01 p.m.

Concentrate: If you get one quiet hour, use it wisely. Work really hard on the one item on your list that requires the most thought. Don't check e-mail, don't look at Facebook, don't return a call you know will drift into small talk. After that hour, if you can, shut off the computer. And grab a sled instead.

Photo courtesy Darren Kirby, CC 2.0
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