FORSYTH COUNTY — With an unplanned three-and-a-half day break from school this week thanks to stubborn icy conditions, many Forsyth County parents were left scrambling to care for and entertain their children at home.
Despite a few challenges, most seemed to enjoy the extra family time created by the unexpected school vacation.
For Kathleen Kraynick — mother of Laura, a South Forsyth High freshman, and Ryan, a seventh-grader at Piney Grove Middle School — the first couple of days off were fun since she and husband Ron were both home.
“I’m fortunate that I have a lot of flexibility in my job,” she said. “I was able to work from home … and my husband works for Coca-Cola and they were closed Wednesday and Thursday, so he couldn’t go into work anyway.”
Kraynick said their days consisted largely of the family playing together in the snow, “some Netflix, some frozen pizzas and a little wine for mom and dad.”
By Friday, however, the children at least were tiring of all the family togetherness.
“As soon as the roads were clear enough for me to get Laura to a friend’s house, she was packing her bag. She was ready to walk the three miles if we couldn’t drive it,” she joked.
Heath Beeferman said his sons — Sean, a seventh-grader at South Forsyth Middle, and Cory, a third-grader at Brookwood Elementary — had similar sentiments by week’s end.
“It starts getting a little boring when there’s not as many buddies outside playing after a while,” he said Friday. “Even though they probably wouldn’t say it, I think they’re probably ready to get back to their schedules.”
Like Kraynick, Beeferman said he and wife Tracey have some flexibility in their jobs, which allowed them to be home with the kids.
“She was basically able to be connected and just work from home the entire time,” he said, noting that he was off Wednesday but returned to work for a bit Thursday.
On Friday, he took his younger son to work with him to allow mom to focus more on her work at home.
“He hangs out on the computer and says ‘hi’ to folks and other people have brought in their kids today … since a lot of other counties were out today too,” Beeferman said.
“We went and got breakfast on the way out and then to a fun lunch, so he was eager to sign up for all that.”
Paige Brown, whose children Wills, Stone and Nika attend Pinecrest Academy, said her family also got to spend Wednesday together.
“The first day was like, ‘Oh, what a nice treat,’” she said, noting that as an office manager for a counseling center in Duluth she didn’t have the luxury of working from home.
“With them being out Thursday and Friday, it was more me kind of being disappointed that I had to go back to work and they were home and I couldn’t be home with them.
“That’s the hard part of being a working mom.”
Unlike Beeferman and Kraynick, Brown said her kids, a ninth-grader and two seventh-graders, weren’t quite ready for school to resume.
“I think they’ve enjoyed not quite having to jump back into everything quite yet [after Christmas break], but they are missing their sports,” she said. “Today they were disappointed that all their practices and stuff weren’t going on yet, so the school part not so much but the athletics part they’re missing.”
Beeferman and Kraynick said they were thankful for modern technology, which allows so many more parents the option of working from home.
“It’s definitely not like it was when I was growing up,” Beeferman said. “The technology helps a lot of parents out nowadays.”
Technology also helped his sons stay connected to school from afar.
“The teachers put a lot of activities online that they could do at home,” he said. “My youngest son’s teacher put up a little blog where they kids could write about their snow days and post photos.”
Regardless of whether they stayed home, all of the families agreed that being prepared for last-minute changes is just part of parenting.
“I kind of look at it as whether you’re a working parent or not, you just have contingency plans for when stuff happens,” Kraynick said.
“For me, this was no different that if the school nurse had called me on Tuesday afternoon and said your child is sick and then they had to be home the rest of the week.
“You just have to adapt.”