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Heavy snow means a heavy burden for working parents when school is canceled, as it has been today.

Snow Day survival guide for working parents

By Sunday, Feb 8, 2015 Life In the Berkshires 2

Glendale — By the time I received the second voice mail from the school superintendent announcing school will be closed due to Winter Storm Marcus, I decided a Snow Day Resolution was in order for working parents facing their fourth winter storm in two weeks.

There is a good chance many working moms and dads may already have a battle plan in place when faced with unexpected circumstances. How do I know this? Because I am a working single mom whose third-grade son will not be at Muddy Brook Elementary School on Monday, February 9th, and he loves to have snowball fights.

Figuring out this piece of the economic puzzle of how much a snow day really costs pales in comparison with loss of business productivity, closed stores and transportation shutdowns. When roadways are closed, a day’s worth of revenue is lost that equates to millions of dollars.

Yet today’s working parents are warriors as they rely on skills to balance the impossible. In order to plan and execute well, having your own personal Snow Day Resolution offers peace of mind to problem-solve something that you thought was not in your control.

Here are a few tips to keep your productivity in motion and the children engaged without using the television as a babysitter all day long.

One way to keep kids occupied is to assign them tasks such as clearing vehicles of snow, as this 9-year-old is doing.

One way to keep kids occupied is to assign them tasks such as clearing vehicles of snow, as this 9-year-old is doing.

Inform the children of the Snow Day Ground Rules. Each family has its own set of traditions and ground rules to operate successfully. When a Snow Day occurs, implementing an extra set of rules will help you feel less anxious at a time that requires extra planning. What are five things you can establish that will help you stay sane, accomplish your work, and inject creativity into your children’s day that gives them good memories? One suggestion is to schedule one long romp in the snow for them so they do not get bundled up and unbundled repeatedly. And they may be exhausted afterward and rest.

Find an egg timer. If you are able to telecommute, schedule your work day using an old-fashioned egg timer. A microwave timer will also do the trick. Set your work schedule for 60- to 90-minute increments and coincide one children’s movie or arts and craft project within that first time frame so all outgoing calls can be made in quiet within one scheduled time frame. Popcorn before noon is allowed on snow days.

Create a future co-op among several parents. If you do not have the good fortune of having a family member nearby to help care for your children when you have to work, consider a co-op. Pull together three or four parents with same-age children designed similarly to a consortium of adult babysitters, but free of charge. A co-op enables each family to rely on each other, build community, and submit hours for childcare without incurring any financial costs.

Building a snow tunnel is an irresistible occupation for kids.

Building a snow tunnel is an irresistible occupation for kids.

Get a yardstick, bundle up and go outside. During your lunch break, take the children outside and have each of them measure various parts of the yard to see how much snow fell. When they return inside, have each of them record it in a special book they design – this is where arts and crafts supplies come in handy. They can compare how much snow fell in one storm versus another.

Hire the older children to shovel at home or serve others in the neighborhood. Many older people in neighborhoods do not have the capacity to shovel their walks or driveways. Enlisting your older children to offer to help the elderly with snow shoveling will provide focus on serving others in their community.

Have them clean out their closets. In the spirit of giving, give each child a box and have each child go through his or her closet and get rid of clothes, shoes, or toys, etc., they no longer want or use that they feel would be good for someone else to have who is in need.

Decide on a Snow Day tradition. At the end of the work day and their day off of school, implement something each person within the family can look forward to doing together. Play a board game? Cook a meal together? Light the fireplace? Allowing each child a voice in the decision of the Snow Day tradition will give them a sense of ownership and something to look forward to at the end of the day.

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