Schools and daycare centers are closed, but don't panic! These tips will help both you and your kiddos have productive snow days.
Blizzards blow in but that doesn't mean you have to blow off work when snow days close schools and daycare centers. If you're able to work from home in treacherous weather, use these tips to make the most of your time.
- Organize Your Time and Set Expectations
You need a plan of attack for snow days, but you don't have to be a scheduling genius. Simply write a schedule that ensures you'll have time for fun activities as well as your work. With older children, set expectations for blocks of time when you have conference calls or have to get work done. Make sure your kids know about these expectations and have activities to occupy themselves -- and that they know only to disturb you in an emergency.
- Prepare the Kids for "Quiet Play"
Shannon Stubbs, a professional blogger, created "Quiet Bins" for independent play, and they're perfect for the time you have blocked off for calls or focused work. Stubbs's bins include, "Books, a puzzle, a small sensory bin, some ... figures and three or four learning toys. I ... also set up some activity trays when I get up in the morning -- an easy craft, a sensory activity, math [activities], cutting, stringing beads, writing, etc." Activity bouncers are the perfect quiet play activity for babies and will keep your little one occupied while you're on a call.
- Set up an Office Space for Yourself (and Your Kid)
If you don't normally work from home, create a space where you will work for the day. If you have a baby or toddler, move her playpen or play mat into an area where you can keep an eye on her while you work. For older children, set up an area with toys, books, coloring activities or even simple crafts to keep them engaged and occupied.
- Find Something to Feed Their Imaginations
Anne Sweden, a freelance designer and blogger, lets her children's imaginations run wild on snow days. Says Sweden, "[My children] like to do little 'performances' for me. Getting all dressed up and practicing their parts keeps them occupied for quite some time." You can simplify this idea by bringing down old clothing and accessories and letting your children get creative with dress-up play.
- Switch Things Up
When you're scheduling your day, make sure you block off time for independent play as well as face-time. Mindy Farmer, a freelance writer and blogger, breaks up snow days into blocks of time with full attention interspersed with time for independent play. Says Farmer, "I find that my kids [prefer] full-on attention for less time [to] divided attention for more time."
- Snow Play
What are snow days without snow play? If you have a fenced-in yard, bundle up your kids and send them out to play -- this will give you a block of kid-free time to work. If you have a baby, bundle him up and take a walk -- heading outdoors in the chilly air may be the perfect thing to clear your mind between projects.
- Allot Time for Electronics
There is absolutely nothing wrong with allotting time during the day for electronics such as television, tablets and video games. Every family has different screen-time limits, so use your usual time frame (or maybe extend it a bit since it's a special day and you have work to do). If you're not sure of when to say when, read on to Screen Time for Kids: How Much is Too Much? for some perspective.
- Ask for Help
Snow may waylay your usual child caregivers, so think outside the box. Do you know any teenagers in the neighborhood who might like to make a few dollars? Ask a neighborhood middle– or high-schooler to be your mother's helper for a few hours while you work.
- Assign Chores
Start the day off by creating a chore list and having your children complete household duties before engaging in play. Even toddlers can help -- sorting socks from the laundry, putting toys away and tidying their rooms. Turn your chore list into a game, with the promise of a treat when it's completed.
How do you effectively work from home on snow days? Share your tips in the comments below!
Lauren B. Stevens is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer who's been working from home with her son for the past two years. Lauren's still trying to find the "perfect solution," but 4 a.m. wake-ups and nursery school help ... a lot!