For Parents, No Such Thing as a Snow Day?

For parents, no such thing as a snow day anymore?Right off the bat, let me just say: I love my work. I really, truly enjoy it. And I count my blessing every day when I think about the fact that I actually have work to do, when so many in our country are currently out of a job. And, as a writer and editor who’s worked from home since my daughter was born six years ago, I appreciate the flexibility of being able to work remotely.

But, tonight, we’re supposed to get hit by a huge snow storm 12 to 16 inches. I’m sure the schools will be closed tomorrow. Our babysitters will no doubt be snowed in. The kids are going to wake up with shouts of glee when they see all the snow piled up outside. And I’m sitting here getting a little anxious, anticipating one of those schizophrenic days where I’m trying to juggle the demands of work with a dearth of childcare.

Remember when a huge snowstorm used to bring a quiet, calm stillness over life, at least until the roads were clear? But, for many working parents out there, it’s going to bring a day where they’re juggling kids and work. I can see it now: I’ll be zipping kids into snow suits, scooping snow out of little people’s boots and mittens, making hot chocolate with marshmallows, and tapping out one-handed e-mails with a baby in my lap.

Even if his office is “closed,” my husband will no doubt be putting in a frantically full workday at home from his phone and his laptop.  (I’m thinking of that guy in the phone commercials who’s texting while his kids throw snowballs at his head.) And I’m thinking: Why don’t we just take the day off? Or, take turns taking a half-day off? Would either of us fall so, so, dreadfully behind in just one day that we couldn’t make up the work later? Would our employers and co-workers regard us as total slackers for taking a “snow day”? I mean, is there such thing as a snow day anymore, in the age of VPN and e-mail? And what does it say about us that, with something as fun as a snow day looming, we find it so hard to simply step away for a spontaneous day of fun?

I ran across this article on the Huffington Post today and it definitely gave me pause: Workaholism in America: A European’s Perspective.  In the article, author Tijana Milosevic discusses the “career frenzy that remains unique to the United States,” and the opportunity cost of “dolce far niente” or “the joy of doing nothing.”

What are we missing out on when, for many working parents out there, even 16 inches of snow can no longer call a halt to business as usual? Milosevic recalls a line from “Eat, Pray, Love,” that says: “You Americans know entertainment, but you do not know how to enjoy yourselves.”

As I navigated away from the article, I couldn’t help but click on another related article on the Huffington Post entitled: “Do you stare at screens so much that you’re missing out on life?” In it, the author portrays an American population “zoning into the glow of digital and high-def screens, cocooned in entertainment centers, oblivious to the sun in the sky, the breeze in the trees.”

Tomorrow, I will be no doubt be juggling, at least a little bit. But I am hereby vowing to step away from my computer and just be here for what I would like to think will be one of the happiest, most memorable days of my children’s childhoods: A snow day!

Photo: morgueFile; phaewilk

Looking for some fun ideas for things to do with your kids on a snow day? Try these.

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