If you haven’t at some point in your life, you just have to go see Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. If gold, glittery and glamorous gams kicking high in the air isn’t holiday fun for the whole family, I don’t know what is. Well, after catching a show for the first time a few years back, my older sister and I decided we would try to make a tradition of it and take a trip to New York every December. But works in a hospital, and as anyone working in a hospital can probably relate to, vacation time is hard to come by, and around the holidays it’s nearly impossible to get a day off unless you request it say, in early summer. Needless to say the only legs we saw this past holiday were the ones on the turkey dinner my mom prepared, since my sister just couldn’t get the days off from work.
One of the big reasons why getting time off was such a challenge for her was because as soon as Halloween hit at jobs everywhere, certain employees scampered to management to request time off because they had another important second gig: being someone’s mother or father. Most employers try to create some fair and balanced way of allowing employees time to request off, especially on holidays. But as anybody who has ever worked with a co-worker who is also a co-parent knows, there are some parents who believe they should get special treatment because their job responsibilities include caring for another life. More so, there are employers who allow it. They get to clock out a few minutes early so they can make it to daycare. Those trainings that run a little later into the evening? They’re excused because the kids can’t be out too late. When the holidays come around of course they have to receive time off to be with their children because the single gal in customer service doesn't have anything else better to do except maybe feed her cat. And don’t let management be able to relate to the challenges of raising children; suddenly the office becomes the secret society of daycare and diapers while the single and child-free are left to do actual work because a personal life void of children, well, isn’t much of a life at all.
It really depends on where you work, I guess. Dinks (those with dual income and no kids) and single folks alike have their professional perks as well. They’re often the first to be considered for the big promotion since their focus can solely be committed to the job at all times. They don’t get overlooked for overtime and business trips since they tend to have more availability. And they are an HR dream since they require less paperwork: no income reporting to family court, no family plans for health insurance, etc.. But you have to admit in many ways our economy tends to favor the parent. From taxes to time off our society seems to believe that the single person has no real worries or responsibilities. And with every W-2 that’s distributed this season, somewhere in the U.S. a parent does a cartwheel, while the single and childless keep their fingers crossed that the best case scenario will be they don’t owe Uncle Sam.
Any good employer will recognize that just because an employee doesn’t have a babysitter to rush home and relieve doesn’t mean they don’t have other important responsibilities. Any mature parenting co-worker should understand that there needs to be a balance and respect for your colleagues’ time if you intend to have any type of company morale. Being a parent doesn’t entitle you to a hall pass for the holidays; if you feel that it should, find a job that shuts down for them. Your children won’t be traumatized because you had to put in half a day for a holiday. Take it from someone who had two parents who worked in hospitals. There were Christmases where I’m sure my mom worked half a day, but I couldn’t tell you which ones they were because I honestly don’t remember and my holiday wasn’t any less happy.
While having children may come with many rewards, it also comes with a ton of responsibilities that you don’t get to clock out from. Keep that in mind the next time you see a co-worker leave after lunch for what may seem like afternoon of freedom, but is really the beginning of a night of whining, emergency rooms and cleaning up the vomit of a sick child. You may have to stay until closing time, but at least you have happy hour to look forward to.
Have you experienced any parenting perks at work?
Toya Sharee is a program associate for a Philadelphia non-profit that focuses on parenting education and building healthy relationships between parents, children and co-parents. She also has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog BulletsandBlessings.