4 tips for working parents losing their minds on snow days

do with kids on a snow day


It's the 2017 snowcalypse! This year, my kids are nearly ages 7 and 9, and they are running around my apartment building with neighbor kids. In fact, I'm not 100 percent sure where they are. I do know that I am taking advantage of this self-issued free day to to some major closet-purging and reorganizing …. everyone is happy! Stay safe and warm! 



Today's predicted record-setting flurries of snow rival only the flurry of parental grousing via Twitter, Facebook and text:

“It's not like they're walking 10 miles in a blizzard. Just keep them indoors at recess.”

“How am I supposed to get anything done?”

“I'd like to propose to the school district that they preface their automated school delay and closing announcements with, ‘You're going to need a glass of wine for this. Go ahead. We'll wait…'”

“Know of any sitters within walking distance of my house?”

“Fuuuck, school is closed. Again.

The recent weeks have found working parents in a tizzy. How to get to work? Where to park the kids? Can you cancel meetings and work from home? Even if you are snowed-in from your job, can you actually get anything done with kids suffering an acute case of cabin fever (and no public institution to park them)?

This time last year the New York Times asked me to weigh in on my thoughts on programs offering remote learning when school is closed. Those programs are fine for teens, but for the rest of us:

School closings are not just a quaint childhood rite-of-passage (though I fondly remember watching “The Price Is Right” and munching on grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup). Instead, they highlight corporate and government policies that lag far behind the changing realities of most U.S. families – the majority of whom depend on jobs and schools that do not always support working parents.

I'm not gonna cook up some humble brag on this topic. I have it super-sweet for a single professional mom. For one, I am self-employed and work from home, and have gobs of flexibility on 90% of my work. Plus, I am in an income bracket that means that a single unexpected missed day of work will not make a life-changing difference in my income. Plus, in the rare event that a sick kid or closed school interferes with an important meeting or media appearance, I have many friends, relatives and neighbors I can rely on to lend a hand with my kids.

But what can other professional parents do to manage snow days? Here are 4 ways to get a grip when the weather leaves you high and dry:

1. Line up child care now. Even if you don't typically use babysitters during a weekday, connect with some nearby resources today: Stay-at-home moms, retired people and teenagers, who will be home from school, too.

2. Create a day-off-school cooperative with other parents. Instead of grumbling to the other moms at the bus stop about the fact the schools can't seem to be open for five consecutive days in a row, recruit your fellow working parents to take turns watching kids on the parent-teacher days, teacher planning days, Pulaski Day and the random closings. Use a Google Drive document and schedule every one in. New rule: Any time a parent grips about school closing, lure them into the program.

3. Park the kids in front of the TV and call it a day. If you really must work, own it and don't look back. Forget about making paper snowflakes or seasonal baking. As I mentioned in the Times op-ed, I have cozy memories of snow days while growing up in a small Illinois town: When my own single mom was working, my two younger brothers and I made ourselves grilled cheese sandwiches, Campbell's Tomato Soup and pickles and hunkered down for marathon episodes of “The Price is Right.” Give the kids a stack of DVDs, point to the frozen dinners and let them know you will be MIA until 4 p.m.

4. Give up and party. As one Times commenter wrote: “Why is productivity in our culture the most highly regarded measure? Let's forget finding ways for people to work (or go to school) at all costs. Let's give folks an occasional day off!”




About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.


  1. Honoree Corder on February 10, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I totally agree with all of them, #4 especially! I revamped my schedule when I realized I would only have 5 more summers, Christmases and Spring Breaks with my daughter before she was off to have her own life … and, dare I say, snow days! So since we’ve had 3 of them in the past two weeks, we’ve made the most of the time and I haven’t regretted a moment.

    • Emma on February 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

      LOVE this perspective, Honoree!!

  2. Marc on February 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Marry a teacher next time around ;)

    • Emma on February 11, 2014 at 10:47 am

      I’m dating one now, actually. Stay tuned.

  3. Liz@ChiefMomOfficer on February 14, 2017 at 6:42 am

    I love #3. I got so annoyed the other day at a post on our local town Facebook group waxing poetic about all the fun things you should be doing with your kids during a snow day. How dare people (people = mothers) complain about it! They should be making crafts, baking cookies, and playing outside in the snow with their kids. As if some people don’t still have to work.

    Sorry, but my work doesn’t stop just because it’s snowing outside. I still have 7 hours of meetings to go to, and things to get done.

    • Emma on February 14, 2017 at 7:58 am


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