Care.com

Julie Z. Rosenberg @JulieZR

Snow Days: How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Care Crisis

4 tips for finding backup care during bad winter weather.

The great thing about today's sophisticated storm tracking equipment is that it allows us to prepare for extreme weather well in advance. Shovel? Check. Rock salt? Check. Hot cocoa and marshmallows? Check. Backup child care plan? Oh, need to get on that.

With schools bound to close at some point during the winter, caregiver driveways certain to be snowed-in and jobs still needing your attendance, how do you get a babysitter during a snowstorm? Here's advice for winter storm prep that will get you to work and your kids cared for -- no matter how miserable it is outside.

Tip 1: Watch the Weather

Justin McNaull, director of state relations for AAA agrees: "Pay attention to the weather at least 24 hours ahead. If it's obvious you're going to get a ton of snow and the roads aren't going to be safe to travel, you generally have a chance to figure it out with at least a couple hours of warning."

Tip 2: Call in the Backup Care Cavalry

If you have a Care.com Premium Membership, you now have access to a great new benefit: Care.com Backup Care. Our Backup Care service will treat you like a VIP and help you find child care quickly and easily. Our 24/7 concierge team will handle all the details for you: this includes finding, screening and booking your back-up care solution.

Click here to learn more about this benefit and make your request.

Your company may also provide backup child care as a work benefit, such as through Care.com’s Care@Work program. This program offers employees of participating companies access to child care either at home or at a nearby child care facility. If your company does offer Care@Work as a benefit, make sure you request care as soon as possible. The trick is to register before the snow comes to ensure you're in their system.

Keep in mind, though, that snowstorms often mean closed roads and travel safety warnings. In those cases, we may not be able to send you a backup caregiver if they aren’t within walking distance of your house. But don’t fret; with a little advanced planning, we’ve got you covered! You can use our online feature, Search for Care in My Town, to get a map view of all the sitters in your neighborhood. You can also browse their vital stats and availabilities. These sitters are specifically within walking distance and can don a pair of snow boots to trek on over to your house. Problem solved.

Word to the wise: start assembling your backup care cavalry before the first snow falls. Line up interviews with walking-distance backup care providers, use our Safety Center tips and tools to narrow your choices, and add the ones you love to your list of favorites. When the snow hits, Care.com can send them an instant message announcing your need for help. Your crisis will be averted before you even finish shoveling out your car.

Tip 3: Enlist Local High-Schoolers to Help Out

Teenagers make great babysitters, especially in a pinch. Since they’re still in school, they typically get the same snow days as your kids, so you can consider them a great last-minute care option as well.

Keep in mind that just because they’re teenagers, that doesn’t mean that they’re unprofessional or inexperienced. On the contrary, many teenagers take child care classes and receive first aid and CPR training -- and you should look for one who has these skills. And when you hire a teenager to watch your kids, remember that you’re also getting the benefit of maturity -- but not too much. They're still young enough to understand how to be silly and have fun like a kid. They've probably babysat for younger siblings, know lots of fun games and know how to keep your kids entertained. Plus, teenagers have the energy to keep up with them! Start building relationships with the teens in your neighborhood who you’d feel comfortable having as your Plan B…or C or D.

Tip 4: Start a Group in the Care.com Community

If you’re really in a bind for emergency backup care, consider starting a local parent groups in the Care.com Community. This will help you create connections with other families in your area and give you an extra backup care option when all else fails. For example, you can start a group for all the parents in your neighborhood and use that as a way to organize group playdates. Or, you can create a group for all the parents in your child's school system. Not only will these groups provide you with extra peace of mind in an emergency, but they’ll also give you an opportunity to establish new friendships as well!

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