October 10, 2011

HolidayPools

Paul has the day off today, and the schools are out too. We have William's friend Clarissa here for the day, because her parents both work for companies that don't get Columbus Day off. Every time there's an odd day off like this, I get cranky again on behalf of working parents. People can't be taking every third Monday off for non-celebrated holidays, Teacher Workshop Days, etc., just because they have children. What a huge pain in the butt for them! There has to be a better way.

One idea would be to form little groups---like carpools, but HolidayPools. Except that term makes it sound like sharing a holiday, when actually it's more like sharing an unpaid vacation day and the care of children who would normally be in school or daycare. And SchoolPools would be catchy, but sounds like a homeschooling concept. Well, let's use HolidayPool for the purposes of this post, but with the understanding that it's only a working title until we think of something better.

Let's say two 2-child families HolidayPooled: every other holiday, ONE family would arrange take a day off, and BOTH sets of kids would stay with that family. If all four parents were able to take one day off each, that means each employee would only miss one day of work for every four problem days.

Or, for example, in Clarissa's family, she's the youngest, and her older brother no longer needs care on days off. If there were four such families, each family would cover one out of every four problem days (and could be on call in case any of the four older siblings had an emergency)---but if there were eight parents, that means each employee misses only one day of work for every eight problem days.

Sigh. But oh, man, what a hassle to set up the groups each year, and lots of people don't know enough families with same-age children, but also wouldn't want to leave their kids with strangers. Well, it's a huge hassle no matter what. And it seems like a ton of people must be in this boat. Surely there is a market for a business to handle this? The school sometimes has partial coverage: like, during week-long vacations and Christmas break, they have a (pretty expensive) program kids can attend. (Which also provides jobs for any teachers who can't afford to take the vacation time.) But right now they don't have anything for one-day holidays or for Teacher Workshop days. And even in a household with an at-home parent (Beth Fish had an article long ago about how "never having to worry about taking a day off for all this stuff" is one of the benefits she hoped her working husband was aware of), I feel like these days happen really often---so they must seem all the more often to people who have to think of a solution every time.

41 comments:

Reading (and chickens) said...

These are the kind of days that I stayed at home for (uh, sorry, awkward sentence phrasing). I used to hyperventilate about all the random days off, especially because I worked p/t and didn't get any vacation days anyhow. My son's preschool is doing a HolidayPool type thing for preschool for all the working parents, though, and it seems very wise (and yet I am still so glad to not have to participate).

Anonymous said...

oh, man, Swistle, this is a BIG pet peeve of mine. And I only have ONE kid, and both my husband and I have fairly flexible schedules in that we can work remotely. STILL, it seems like every little tiny non-celebrated holiday is a day off for my daughter's school. she's in pre school now, but they follow the county, and kids get TONS of days off. i always joke with my husband that she's never going to learn to read with all of the down time. anyway, this is a great idea, and we did a little of this with another family last year, but it wasn't easy or possible for every "holiday." luckily I have a VERY helpful and eager mother in law, and if she's not around, a very reliable teen-age babysitter who has the same days off. it's a major hassle, though.

Kristina said...

This is SUCH a good idea. I work outside the home and my son just started Pre-K this year and already there have been holidays and workshops days, etc. Luckily his daycare is at the same location and was open, but there are some days that won't happen and then I'll have to find an alternative. So annoying.

Shari said...

Our local Y has school-out days where you can sign up your kid for care for holidays and such. And, AND!!! they also do it for SNOW DAYS. For working parents, those are even WORSE than scheduled holidays. I can always work at home if it snows, but I can't watch the kids (baby and preschooler) and work at the same time when they close the day care. Luckily, our day care rarely closes, and even more luckily, the grandparents live nearby and love to have days with the kids, but I envision taking advantage of the Y days out when the kids are older.

Amanda said...

This is such a great concept.

My therapist was just telling me that Mothers need to go back to a system of bartering so that we can work to help each other without money involved. It's awesome in concept but people are so hesitant and preprogrammed to believe that they'll be taken advantage of.

el-e-e said...

Love this post. Love all the comments so far. I would definitely participate in a pool like this, but it IS coordinate because... all those parents, including me, work, and aren't involved at the school in person very often, so we don't often meet!

I wish our school would do the coordination of it! Sign up sheet, "meet and greet" for this particular situation - becuase I wouldn't send someone to a home where I didn't even KNOW the parents,, etc.

Currently I'll work from home (difficult) when this happens, OR we'll call in grandparents in the case of a random 4 day weekend or something... they have to make a 6 hour drive but are willing and able.

el-e-e said...

..but it IS difficult to coordinate...

Anonymous said...

You're right - it IS a drag...

We have one coming up Friday.

I also don't like all the early dismissal days...we have 2 a month!

Ohliv

-R- said...

My old company offered a backup daycare for days like this. You could use the backup daycare for free something like 10 days a year.

-R- said...

Oh, I hit publish before I added that I do think the Holiday Pool is a good idea. I am even thinking right now of the family I would want to coordinate with. Even though I won't need the pool for several years since my kids are still in full-time daycare. And the Holiday Pool would probably be nicer than the backup daycare I mentioned in my previous note because my kids would know the parents and kids in the Holiday Pool.

Nik-Nak said...

Definitely a good idea. We currently have great grandparents on constant standby for days like these. Schools don't seem to realize how unforgiving most employers are nowadays.

pseudostoops said...

One of the items in the "plus" column of our current daycare was that it doesn't take a lot of days off. I am already anxious about how this will all work when Poppy is in Chicago Public Schools, which take off about 47 days per year. Now I can plan to start a neighborhood holiday pool! (I actually also thought about offering to pay my stay at home next door neighbor to add my kid to her brood for the day. Too weird?)

Melospiza said...

I must admit that my first thought in reading this post was Shit! The kids are supposed to be in school today, right?

(Deep breath. They are. No Columbus Day holidays for us.)

My second thought was a little smugitude: OUR school DOES offer coverage for these days. Most of the time. When enough parents take the day off (and then it's like $47 per kid, which, JUST GRIN AND PAY IT.)

Then I realized how we usually cope with the constant random holidays/ conference days etc etc until infinity is a combination of my husband telecommuting for the day/ $47-per-kid-at-school-care/ MIL. Ninety percent of the time these three things cover it. It still sucks, and yet: I'm not sure what the alternative is. "School and work just aren't really set up to accommodate each other!" I might say shrilly at a drop off or pick up. Or in the lunch room at work. (I must admit: my immediate instinct is to blame work. Why the hell can't we have a decent number of days off?)

Holiday pools are an awesome idea. Although frankly, if I am taking my incredibly precious and limited annual leave to cover this day, my first choice wouldn't be to watch someone else's kids. I'd rather go somewhere fun, as a part family, or sleep in, or etc. Not babysit. Plus I have the additional problem that neither of my children have overlapping friend families: if I were watching all the children of another family, one child would be grumping around sullenly about how he/she wasn't getting the playdate of his/her dreams. Or would be making awkward conversation with the mismatched kid.

Jessica said...

My daughter's daycare WAS open today, but a nearby transformer blew. The center has no power and had to close. I just now realized they must have had a bunch of extra kids because they provide holiday coverage for school-aged children. What bad luck!
"Fortunately" for us, my husband's office (very close to daycare) also lost power, so he was sent home, too.

JeannetteLS said...

It's a terrific idea and some of your commenters had good thoughts on the coordination of it, too. when I was the stay at home mom because of my back, I had an agreement with two working moms. The teenage kids hung out at the house of one of the ABSENT moms, not realizing that we had already schemed.

I would simply drop by now and then. Not even every day. They could not predict when it would be. Sometimes twice in a day because I "forgot" something. Sometimes three days in a row. I would stop at a local store and buy six "Slushies" and just pop over because I loved the kids so much and just wanted them to have a good day. Or cookies. They never knew how to act, but it kept them from doing anything too out of line.

And I usually was the one who watched the six kids on snowdays, but the moms took turns about some of the other days.

It's harder today, though> MUCH harder. i don't know how single moms cope. Or single dads.

Your idea just makes such GOOD SENSE>

vanessa steck said...

Here in DC there are several programs that come in and do one day basketball camps (for some reason the biggest one is basketball, I dont know why) for holidays like this. They do it at the school, for the length of a normal school day. Seems like somebody could make a ton of money just expanding that idea.

Alice said...

at my last job, my boss (and really good friend) was the single mother of THREE kids, all in different school stages. between random days off and sick kids (the kids always managed to take turns being sick) she felt like she was always one misstep away from being fired, even though we worked at a place that was pretty lenient about working from home. it really is a crappy situation. holidaypools sound BRILLIANT.

Jody said...

Our district's elementary and middle schools provide teacher workday coverage (which overlaps with most of the minor holidays, but not Thanksgiving or the winter break) through the same administrative office that runs the after-school program. It's available to everyone, not just the folks enrolled in after-care. A whole heap of the local after-school programs (camps, YMCA, sports organizations) also run camps on those days. But I totally agree, it's ridiculous to expect parents to manage all these little holidays when everyone's vacation and personal-leave options at work are vanishing.

Crafty Beth said...

And what do people do with the late-start days? The kids from my son's preschool who moved on to kindergarten this year have late start twice a month! Not sure how we'll manage all this if I go back to work once the kids are in school--I guess I better start planning my holidaypool group now!

HereWeGoAJen said...

This is a genius idea. I stay at home, so wouldn't have to use it (yet) but we do a very casual system in our neighborhood already, switching off when we have things like appointments or when a mom chaperones an older kid's field trip.

Maggie said...

I am irked because I have today off but my elementary school son doesn't. However my daughter in day care does have today off. My son instead has Friday off. Why?? So I have today off and then have to take Friday off from work. Would it kill the public school to actually have the stupid holiday off instead of four days later? Hate this!

Tess said...

You know, when Ava was in daycare I felt I had MORE flexibility than if I had stayed home (I had childcare even if I wasn't working, etc) but now THE TABLES HAVE TURNED. It is a NIGHTMARE.

I'm lucky that I have been at my job 10 years and so have plenty of vacation time, but I'd prefer to use it at MY convenience, not at the SCHOOL'S. E.g., Ava has an early release day once a month, on a WEDNESDAY, FTLOG. Who wants a WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON off? No one, that's who.

And. AND! Her school does provide holiday care through the after-school program, but it's expensive and has the added bonus of making you feel extra guilty because most students don't use it. I feel like I'm screwing her out of a "vacation" day.

AUGGG.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I "stay" home and my husband has his own business. This means he has ZERO flexibility because oh sure, when you are an entrepreneur, you can "make your own hours", but guess what? Those hours are pretty much 24/7. And I am not complaining, this is the lifestyle that we like and that we chose for ourselves.

I have all of the No School days marked in big, red Xs on the calendar and I point them out to my husband. He has it in his head that as the kids go into school, that will "free up my time" to work something else. Possibly. Maybe. But I will be resentful as hell if I get a position and then have to take off a crapton of days because my husband can't get out of his commitments. He doesn't understand this. It's not a problem.

Yet.

Sally said...

Not sure if it's the same in the States, but in Australia (or at least in my state) often schools offer care on those dates (and on pupil-free days). But it's not "school", it's fun activities and the kids can choose what they want - play video games or play on the playground or do dance classes or do cooking or drawing or whatever. It's staffed (obvs) and parents pay a fee but this is subsidised by the government. As a working parent, I've relied on this a lot (it's offered all through the school holidays, too, and they have fun field trips during that time and visiting magicians or reptile handlers or whatevs). There have been days over the holidays when my daughter has ASKED to attend even if I am at home because they have such fun things going on there.
Do any schools in the US offer this? Might help?

Erin said...

This is a major source of stress in our household. We have no system, but just take it one random holiday at a time.

Shoeaddict said...

I have a working mom friend who has twin daughters who "aged out" of daycare but she doesn't feel like they are old enough to stay home alone all day. She finally found a local teenager that helps her with them. Seems like that's probably an issue with lots of people. (They are 11, btw).

StephLove said...

I work at home part-time so those days are only mildly annoying for us.

Columbus Day is great in our school district though because the kids go to school and a lot of adults have it off. Of course, they schedule Open Houses at school for that very reason and we spent most of the day at one school or the other, but Partner and I did manage to squeeze in lunch together and watched half a movie so it was a nice day.

Margie said...

Yes! Brilliant! My kiddo isn't in school yet, but now I know that if I'm still not working outside the home at that time, I need to remember to offer to take children of parents who have to work on those days, unless you can make a go of Holidaypool before then :) Great idea!

Jenny Grace said...

At Gabriel's school, kinder is a 1:30 release, and the older grades are 2:30. If you have kids in the older grades, that hour difference is just really inconvenient. Not enough time to run an errand, too long to be stuck on the playground, not quite long enough to justify putting the kindergartener in after school care if you wouldn't otherwise need to, expense-wise. I pick up my 3rd grader nephew for my sister on days when I can so she doesn't have to do the hour wait.
There are four other moms who have kids in older grades and in kinder who each take one day a week, like a little mini-co-op (Wednesdays are minimum days for the whole school, so.)

Suburban Correspondent said...

You know what freaked me out? Your saying that people don't know enough families with same-age children. Really? How can that be? Part of the reason families end up being friends is because their kids are in class together and play together. It seems to me that people would naturally be doing what you are suggesting. Are you saying they don't? Are we that cut off from one another as members of a community? It's sort of weird to think about, isn't it?

Jenny said...

My husband works remotely from our house, so usually if the kids are off school he just sticks them in front of a movie or lets them write on the walls or whatever and carries on working. He has to! He can't take off for every teeny little holiday, and neither can I. I don't even get off work for most of the big ones, like Veteran's Day. But at least we do have a decent child-care solution.

Lately we sort of holiday-pool with an at-home mom we're friends with, whose kids go to school with my daughter. It's lovely of her. It makes me wish I could reciprocate more.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. It's hard. And, we just moved across country, with no friends or relatives in this whole time zone, so getting together with friends is not an option. Plus, we just started new jobs, so neither of us can take days off without repercussions yet... it's causing an immense amount of stress, and our older son has just started Kindergarten! AAARGH. I really do wish the school would facilitate this, even if it's just asking who'd like their contact information shared with other interested families! They probably can't for liability reasons, though, like if one family turns out to be composed of serial killers.

Lippy said...

Most of the schools here offer a day camp sort of thing ($25 for the day). Which as a teacher, I have to work on inservice days, and need care for my kids, we have one at the end of the month. Our daycare lady is closing for two days this week, so we have to use personal days (one big disadvantage with home daycare). I think this is a business opportunity for a stay at home mom.

Aimee Olivo said...

I know of several groups of families in our town who do this exact thing! When Lucas was in daycare, I also had a similar arrangement with another family, that we'd switch off for snow days.

Mrs. Commoner said...

This is why I love you. You stay home with your non-school aged kids everyday and yet you're able to see what parents who work outside of the home have to encounter and are empathetic towards it. Not only that, but this is a great idea! The thing is though, we have two children both under the recommended age to be left home alone (one isn't even in kindergarten yet). So, since we work until 5 each day, we have to have the kids in daycare for the hours they are not in school. This actually makes holidays like yesterday easier for us. In fact, our school district is on a two week fall break right now and our weekly daycare tuition covers events like this. If the kids weren't in daycare anyway, we'd have to find someone to watch them for that entire time - not really possible. Same goes for christmas and spring breaks. So, although your idea is great in theory, I'm not sure it would really be able to be put into practice.

LoriD said...

It's a good idea... I'm sure there are people already doing that.

Our school board used to have 9 "Teacher Days" - 6 full days and 6 half-days. The half-days were always in the afternoons, so the kids that went to the afternoon kindergarten got 6 fewer days of instruction. I wrote a letter to the school board to complain about the inequity, as well as the hassle for working parents (including their own employees - the teachers!). I'm guessing I wasn't the only one to complain, because we no longer have the 1/2 days and those extra 3 days happen at the end of the year, in June. Small victories.

Farrell said...

well typically day cares and many preschool/day care type places are open on most days, esp. days when regular elementary school kids are off. And then most after school programs also run when the elementary school kids are off, though of course you have to pay more for those days. at least in my area.

what really killed me last year was sophie's after school place was closed on school snow days. So then I was REALLY scrambling because around here, they close school if it flurries. So i could still totally get to work, but I didn't have anywhere to send Sophie and I wanted to save my vaca days for legitimate around-holidays days (before and after xmas, etc.). But then they thought, "Hey, if we stay open, we could make a lot of money because lots of parents are stuck!" It's a much better plan.

kakaty said...

Oh man, this is a HUGE issue for working parents. And these last few weeks - man it about killed us. My kids attend 2 different schools (one a daycare, the other a full-day preschool) and their schedules do not match up. For instance in the last 2 weeks we've had FOUR days off between them! For some reason October is always bad. In the past we were able to Holiday Pool (and car pool) with another family but that kind of fell apart for various reasons this year.

Luckily my son moves to the preschool next week so for 10 months (until my daughter heads to K next year) they will be at the same place and on the same schedule. BUT! Next week is this stupid "phase-in" week where he goes for increasing times each day (2 hours on Mon, 3 on Tues, etc) which means it's an entire week that I or my husband has to take all or some of the day off. AND their entire program is full-day – it’s a preschool for working parents. AND my son has been in out-of-the-home care since he was an infant so it’s not like this is his first experience in a classroom. I would understand 1-2 partial days but a WHOLE WEEK! Gah!

I did know this going in and overall it’s an excellent program (daughter has been there for 3 years). But right now it's driving me crazy. Luckily my husband can work remotely so for the short times he can just go and work from school then bring the kid to my office and I'll take a partial day off. And we had to have the whole “who’s job is more important right now” discussion as we figured out our schedule which is never fun. As you can imagine we both have understanding workplaces but I still feel like I'm abusing they system and it sucks.

(Whew – sorry for venting here, but thanks!)

velocibadgergirl said...

I have no idea how to make the Holiday Pool work, but it's a BRILLIANT idea.

fairydogmother said...

There are many companies that offer this benefit like -R- mentioned, and lots of people don't even realize it. Especially if you (generic you - you, your spouse, neighbor, etc) work for a large employer in your area (So here, especially MS, Amazon, Expedia, etc., for example) it is worth checking with the benefits dept.

Also, as many have said, Y's, Boys & Girls Clubs, community centers, even county rec programs often offer much more affordable programs for the 'Pop-up' no-school days & school breaks. Kids can even drop in at Boys & Girls Clubs for just the price of an annual membership (which may not be right for every kid or family, but is an option that some families don't realize exists).

Jibberblog said...

I just want to say that I hate these "professional learning days" or "clerical days". I work from home full time, so it's not even a problem of time off for me. I just don't understand how solid learning can be accomplished with so much interruption for random days off. What is the summer for? Can the teachers not do their professional learning then? It's frustrating, especially knowing that in our climate we'll also have at least one and maybe up to four or five snow days to make up as well, which puts the kids in school through June 11th some years. Makes so little sense.