Monday, March 02, 2009

Disconnect

It is still snowing to beat the band out and the kids' daycare is closed, but alas, my work is opening later this morning. Jason made it into work at his usual 6:30am time and said that there isn't as much snow there, so it kind of makes sense that they haven't closed yet. (He works near where I work.) But, I'm watching the occasional car drive down my street and seeing how slow they are driving - not something I'd choose to go out in. My MIL usually watches Piper on Monday but up where she lives, they got even more snow than us and she doesn't really drive in the snow.

Working at a university, I'm luckier than most though in that we get days off when the weather is really bad - not as frequently as the school systems though. But, it makes you realize what a disconnect there is for parents. Schools close and you're left in a lurch. Hopefully your employer is understanding because if they aren't, you're really up a creek if you don't have someone to take care of your kids - which a lot of people don't without advanced planning. Add this to the other issue we're becoming aware of as Caroline is approaching her first day of public school - mismatch of schedules.

As a working parent of young kids, you figure that once your kids are in "real" school, things get easier. In some ways they do - cheaper certainly - but the school's hours are a far cry from most people's required work 8-9 work hours a day. And this is what gets me - while a higher percentage of moms stay home with their kids when they are little, a large majority of women return to the workforce when their kids start school (either for necessity or by choice). So it just makes me wonder how everyone manages because it's really not clear to me how parents manage it - there's just no well documented path on this. Caroline's elementary school does have before/after care available, but most schools around here do not. Plus, that doesn't cover the summer or days when schools are closed. It's just amazing to me how disorganized this is given the fact that a majority of parents do work once their kids are in school. You kind of end up feeling that you are left to fend for yourself.

I'm not suggesting school systems need to change their hours or anything like that - I guess I'm looking more for the workforce to demand more options. And while things are changing with more flexible options for some people, it's not across the board. I know I don't have a real option to work less. It's 40 or nothing. You'd think there would be more part-ish time options for parents. I know for me, a 30 hour a week position would be PERFECT. Work when the kids are in school and we'd all be happy. There is some potential that I could work 30 hours in the office and 10 hours from home, but when in the WORLD would I have time to work 10 hours from home with the kids running around. I basically wouldn't see Jason at all in the evenings if I did something like that. It's just impossible every way you look at it.

It's just amazing to me how "old school" the work force continues to be in a day when most parents do work when their kids reach school age to some extent. Of course, if I wanted to work retail or another non-professional job, I'd have a lot more flexibility, but then I wouldn't have the option for health care either - another huge disconnect.

3 comments:

Katie said...

I agree! Part-time for parents should be the name of our lobbying group. Thirty hours seems like it will impact the workforce and mean less hours, but if more 30 hour jobs were available, SO MANY more people would be working, I think.

We should get the teachers unions to lobby for us too b/c those people are HARD CORE. They are the reasons why school schedules haven't changed ever.

It makes me wish I were a teacher sometimes, but that defeats the purpose of the womens movement-- when you are forced into a traditional job without choice.

I could go on-- and on--- and on...

Erika said...

They've done studies and found that when people aren't made to work 40 hours, they actually work more diligently. I know that if I was able to cut back to 30, I would probably actually accomplish just as much. Seems counter intuitive, but it's true.

I know I think a lot about the fact that I wish when I was in college and thinking about a career, someone had offered some advice on the best careers for working parents. Jobs with more part-time, flexible options - teaching, health care, etc. Of course, like you said, that is against the women's movement as well. But when you're 20, you don't think about that stuff.

One interesting thing I noticed at work, we have a very large number of orthodox jewish women in our speech language and occupational therapy programs at work. I inquired as to why and it's because those women choose usually to have several child and need to work and those jobs allow the most flexibility to work part time on your own schedule. It's one of the reasons I've contemplated doing massage therapy - I'd love to work on my own time (of course that comes with a whole set of other issues.)

Lisa :-) said...

I was a stay at home mom for 6 and half years. It was nice and we always agreed that I would return to work once the youngest entered first grade. It worked out that I started back when she was in pre-k. A former co-worker and I kept in touch and they were looking for someone and I just so happened to go back sooner than anticipated. I would drop my kids at school at 8 and then be home in time to pick them up at 2:45. It was great. I worked and if school was closed for snow, etc. I was off. My employer was fine with that and then I had a sitter in the summer and I worked 40 hours. It all worked out and then when we moved my youngest was still in 4th grade and she went to the before and after school care. It all worked out but. The funnier thing that was once my kids were old enough to stay alone and it did snow or they were really sick (that they needed me) my employer was less enthused. Go figure!