In Case of a Childcare Emergency
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In Case of a Childcare Emergency

Snow days. A babysitter who calls in sick. Such crises are an inevitable part of life as a working mom. Here's what you can do to prepare.

1. Line up backups. Find babysitters who can work on a per diem basis by posting notices at local senior centers, colleges, pediatricians' offices. Interview prospective sitters (and check their references) in advance.

2. Register at a drop-in center. Many companies have childcare centers for employees to use in an emergency. These may accept outside kids as well. Often regular childcare centers also allow for "drop-in" care. Do the paperwork in advance so you'll be able to drop your child off without fanfare.

3. Set up a swap. Ask an at-home parent of one your child's friends to mind your child in case of a snow day. In exchange, offer to watch her kids on a weekend or for an evening or two.

4. Talk to your boss. Ask in advance for permission to bring your child to the office (or to do your work from home) as a "last resort" on a snow day or if your regular childcare falls through. Don't abuse the privilege, but don't hesitate to use it, either.