Parents Perspective

Snow Days: Best or Worst Thing Ever?

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As I write this post, the Northeast region of the US is bracing itself for the worst effects of winter storm Juno, which blanketed New York City in a measurable, though nowhere close to historic, layer of fluffy snow. Other parts of the country, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, weren't so lucky, getting pelted with thick layers of the white stuff.

In the city, we'd been warned that we might have to hunker down for a few days, as subway systems were shut down, ground transportation came to a halt, and many office buildings closed their doors and told employees to work remotely. The usual calamity ensued as super markets lines snaked around the block and grocery shelves began to empty of necessities (which for New Yorkers, includes kale and gluten-free snacks, apparently).

I marked it a big event that I could call today my first "adult" snow day (woohoo!)—even though I still have to work from home. Nonetheless, hearing the two magical words of "snow" and "day" in combination can't help but conjure the feelings I got in elementary school (and even high school!) when I heard that school was cancelled.

Growing up in Ohio, snow days weren't always easy to come by. Winters in the Midwest can be brutal, so often it took at least a foot and a half of snow to call off school. When my mom received the call that school wouldn't be in session that day (she was a teacher, so she always knew before most other parents), the only emotion that could accurately describe my initial reaction was pure ecstasy. Sleeping in! Daytime TV shows! Unlimited snacks! Pajamas all day! Sledding!

Since both my parents were teachers, snow days were never a problem for my family. If I didn't have school, neither did my mom or dad, naturally. Now, I realize how much of a burden snow days must be for some parents; the "real world" doesn't exactly dole out days off from 9-to-5 jobs quite as easily. For young children, being left at home alone just isn't an option, so that's when daycare becomes the only choice—even if that daycare comes in the form of a trusted neighbor or family friend. I can't imagine that scrambling to find someone to watch children for the day is an easy task for some parents.

Then, there's the issue of multiple snow days in a year. How do different school districts handle them? It's hard enough to get children to focus once warmer weather hits, but having to extend the school year to make up for missed days—as some areas must do—has to be next to impossible when the balmy days of June roll around. Some schools have taken to making up for days missed with Internet lesson plans; a great tactic, unless a child isn't able to easily access a computer at home. The family I babysat for in college had to deal with "blizzard packs," or take-home packets of instruction that parents were responsible for at home. Are parents supposed to be held accountable for unfavorable weather conditions and the resulting missed days of school?

I was fortunate to grow up with parents that had professions that allowed their schedule to essentially adapt to my own. How do other parents out there deal with impending snow days? What about educators?

Brooke Bunce is an editorial assistant at Parents who helps dream up kids' crafts, games, and snacks. She's an avid fan of snow days, since they allow for more time to watch cat videos. Follow her on Twitter.