That dreaded 4:30 am phone call comes in, or maybe your child’s school doesn’t even give you that much notice. Your kids are going to be home from school all day due to snow, or maybe the start of the school day has been delayed by 2 hours. You still have to go to work at your normal time. What can you do?
There’s no question among parents that safety is a priority when it comes to their children going to school. The problem among many parents is, “What am I supposed to do about work!?”
While some parents are planning a day filled with the best sledding hills in Indianapolis or other fun things to do on a snow day, many of us are working jobs that that don’t allow us to earn money if we don’t show up for our shift, we aren’t able to make up work hours and may not even have sick or vacation days available. The truth is, there’s no perfect answer.
Community Childcare Programs
Check with local YMCA Before and After School programs and At Your School programs to see what their policy is for drop ins. There may be an option to register ahead of time and only use the program when you need it. At the same time, check on their delay and cancellation policy. In many cases you’ll be able to take your kids to the program even during the delay, they just may operate on a two hour delay from their normal start time, which is still earlier than the school start time.
Team Up with Your Neighbors
Get to know the other parents who have children at your neighborhood bus stop or who have children who attend school with your kids. Cultivate a community where you help out when you can lend a hand and another parent can help out when you need it. Come up with an agreement to take turns being late for work or missing work if necessary when the kids are out of school.
Communicate with Co-Workers and Your Employer
If you have the type of job that allows for you to work some of your hours from home or on weekends or after work, do that. If you have a job that doesn’t, talk to your co workers ahead of time and see if they would be willing to pick up your shift last minute, work part of a shift for you or trade if it’s an emergency. The most important thing here is communication with your employer or manager.
Ask for Help
Talk to your child’s teacher or principal. They may have connections to resources that you are not aware of.
Prepare Children for Time Alone
Leave them alone if it’s appropriate. Indiana, like many other states, does not have a legal minimum age requirement but the Indiana Department of Child Services offers a great brochure resource for helping you decide if your child is ready. A very big way that parents can gauge their child’s readiness is to think about how responsible they are when parents are home. Are they making wise decisions, are they doing things that they are supposed to be doing? The DCS resource walks you through questions like that. As a parent, preparation is key and waking up in the morning and deciding that today is the day, is probably not the best time to try it out the first time. Try leaving your children alone for short amounts of time when it’s not such a critical time.
Help Where You Can
On the contrast, if you are a parent that can lend a hand, talk to your child’s teacher or school principal. Let them know that if they are aware of someone who is struggling, you can help transport, you can host a child for the delay or whatever it is you are willing and able to do. We’re not all in the same boat but we can do our best to make someone’s load lighter.
One of the most important lessons we can learn from these situations is that we need to build that village that everyone always talks about, you know, the one that it takes to raise a child? It’s also important to be prepared and reach out for help when we need it.
Additionally, children are out of school on many other occasions, such as: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Spring Break, Summer Break, Fall Break, Winter Break and more. Plan ahead as much as you can.