Parents balanced work obligations and family time when a worse-than-expected snowfall closed schools around the region — and some worried about losing pay days.
As schools throughout the region remained closed for a second day in the wake of Sunday’s snowfall, parents stretched to find ways to juggle work schedules and entertain children during the unexpected break from classes.
When the sledding hills were too worn down, parents switched to hot cocoa, movies and board games, while occasionally sneaking off to the home office to send emails or make phone calls. Some parents worried about how the closure would cut into their paychecks. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service warned that we could be in for another round of lowland snow beginning Friday.
Cristina Wood, who teaches after-school programs for Seattle Public Schools, had the days off — and will also miss two days of pay.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” she said. “I feel relieved I don’t have to be anywhere and worry about the commute, but there’s also a little anxiety about what that means for our budget, especially if this continues throughout the week.”
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Wood spent Monday in her Rainier Beach neighborhood with her 6-year-old son playing in the snow, reading and giving him a little additional screen time. On Tuesday morning they had a long breakfast and planned to brave the slick streets for a trip to the store.
“I’m trying to keep the day full of things, stretching out time,” she said.
Sarah Courtney, the mother of three kids in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood, figured out a way to split up child care Tuesday: She took the morning shift, Grandma took the afternoon shift and her husband — who left work at 6 a.m. — took care of the kids after 3 p.m. “If more school is canceled we’ll probably do something similar — super early shift and super late shift,” she said via email. Courtney said she’d work until 8 p.m. Tuesday to make up the time.
She called the snow day a “great opportunity for me to spend some time with them reading and working on letters one-on-one.”
Michelle Thompson, also a Seattle Public Schools employee, spent a second day at home with her 11-year-old son in their Lake City neighborhood. Thompson, a kitchen manager at Northgate Elementary School, said she misses a payday every time schools are closed. She’s a single parent, and snow days make budgeting challenging.
She gave her son some extra reading to do, let him go sledding and swapped off child-care duties with neighbors. She also kept an eye on the forecast. “I hope it doesn’t mean another day off school,” she said.
Christian Krehbiel took paid time off to stay home, and his wife, Allison, works for a company that allowed her to take Monday off with pay. “Work is piling up, so tomorrow is going to be busy” for the two of them, he said via email. “Hopefully there is not another snow day tomorrow!”
By Tuesday morning, the kids had had their fill of the snow in their West Seattle neighborhood. Grant, 4, asked his parents to help him build a train track. Cora, who is almost 1, took a nap. And Christian Krehbiel said he was ready for the weather to warm up so they could get back to their routines — after all, this week, Grant had two birthday parties, including his own at preschool, and didn’t want to miss either one.
Nicole Francois, of Issaquah, who works at home, said having her husband and 6-year-old at home was “wonderful and awful all at once.” On the one hand, she had a hard time getting work done. “But, our family is together for a whole extra day, warm and cozy in our house,” she said. “This is the sort of thing that memories are made of.”
Teddy White, of Edmonds, said he and his wife both stayed home Monday while their 12-year-old son headed to the hills with a sled, “quite self-served and happy with no school.” White returned to work Tuesday, and his wife, a gardener who can’t work in the snow, stayed home. “I do see more potential snow over the weekend,” he wrote via email, “which at that point I might be done with snow.”
Seattle Times Education Lab engagement editor Mohammed Kloub contributed to this report.