My Soapbox · Parenting

Christmas Blues?

The holidays are upon on which means crowded stores, lots of lights, the repetitive play of all the festive music and school’s out!

Being an early childhood teacher, we typically get the short end of the stick as it relates to our school calendar. Because of the service we provide, we are not able to close for the typical school breaks (i.e. Spring break, Summer break, Fall break, and Christmas break). Parents of infants and toddlers are not prepared to have their children cared for during the breaks school-aged children are offered; unless their child attends a school that follows their local school system’s calendar. ECE (early childhood education) teachers need the same breaks public school teachers have. We have the same requirements of lesson plans, parent-teacher conferences, assessments, hours for professional development, staff meetings and yet we typically have longer work days (unless that public school teacher avails themselves for an after-school activity) and are not afforded those beloved breaks.

Fortunately, my school follows the associating school system’s school calendar. For the 1st time in my tenure, I not only get Christmas break but also Spring break. I am not sure if its the anticipation of the break or the fact that I sincerely need a break but I am ready. Around these parts, Christmas can get cumbersome with the programs and the endless options of Christmas crafts for the parents, the planning of parties, and then, gifts, of course. I love Christmas and all the jolly that it brings but this year, I wonder if the parents truly appreciate a charger with their child’s handprint or the handmade ornaments? Do they apprehend the many hours of practice and patience it took for them to witness their child halfway sing Christmas songs?

I have heard parents complain about having to find adequate childcare during these breaks, especially if they do not have family near. Most corporations only close for possibly Christmas eve but always for Christmas day. Depending on what happens throughout the year, they are not able to save PTO for these 2 – 3 weeks. There are solutions: my school is providing the parents with a list of teachers who are willing to earn extra money by babysitting, the parents can coordinate with relatives for an overnight trip (depending on the age of the child and relative); they can talk with parents in their class or age group about their plans to see if they can make some arrangments; or they can take their child to work. The latter is probably the least desirable option; however, waiting until the last minute for a solution is not feasible. Personally, I do not think it is fair to complain (easy for me to say since I am not a parent), especially when a yearly calendar is provided before the school year begins, thus providing ample time to plan from A to Z. I know being a working parent is not always convenient but I do not hear these complaints when vacations or PTO is taken because parents are still being charged for their child’s absence.

One thing I know is true is that I am beyond ready for my Christmas break. My brain needs a break. My throat needs a break. My car needs a break. My body needs a break. It is time.

Give love. Get love.

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