If you live in the UK, you are either very aware of the snow and freezing weather we are having or you are right in the middle of it and are snowed in, or struggling with the effects of the snow and icy weather. It was a novelty for the first 24 hours but now I think most of the country is a bit over it and would like normal weather to return.
The snow has been tricky for many people, trying to carry on normal life, and it’s been a challenge for working parents. Snow is lovely, and pretty and the kids love it, and it is fun (for a period of time) but here in the UK we don’t get a lot of snow so we don’t tend to plan for it, and when it is bad enough, schools close, and children are at home, and working parents have to figure out how to juggle unexpected childcare needs.
I happened to be in conversation with someone about school closures and he took it upon himself to mansplain to me, why I, a working mother, should embrace the snow day. You see, I am a woman, and clearly needed a man, because men are so much clever and better at life, to tell me where I was going wrong…
Apparently, I have got my priorities wrong, you see. I shouldn’t be worrying about my job and work, and having to juggle that with an unexpected school closure day and work is something that can just be disregarded, because “you always have work, time with your children is precious”.
I get that, and yes, time with my kids is precious. One day they won’t want to spend time with me, and I do appreciate the time I have with them.
However, as a working parent, I have obligations, plans, meetings, groups to run, deadlines to meet, and expectations of me, from other people. I have to manage that with my family’s needs. It’s not just a case of taking a day off and hoping it will all sort itself out.
Apparently, I should be frolicking in the snow, embracing the day, and I am selfish for thinking that my work should be considered at all.
Apparently I should not worry about bills being paid, or rent covered, because snow days are special and amazing and work is not important, for providing, you know, erm, money, to make sure we are all fed, clothed, and have a house to live in.
Apparently, there is something wrong with me, and the MANY other parents who when faced with a snow day, and a need to make sure they can either take a day off work, work from home, arrange last minute child care (and find a way to pay for that, if needed) and we are all terribly selfish and stupid.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a working mum. I love my children very much, and would hurl myself in front of a bus for them, but I have always been a working parent, and it comes with territory that rare snow days like we have had, can make life complicated. All I want to do is be able to plan things so we are happy and safe for the day, however that works.
The attitude of this person, who seems to think that working parents can just drop everything, ignore their job, not worry that they might loose pay for a day, have to arrange childcare, or not be able to get work done/meet deadlines, is disgusting and patronizing. If you are someone who thinks that working parents should be spoken to like this, or has no understanding of the challenges working parents face, then perhaps you need to take yourself back to the 50’s, they are missing you, a lot.
There are so many parents who simply cannot take a day off, not work, not be paid, or have to deal with annoyed employers or the needs of their jobs, to “embrace a snow day”. Yes, we would all like to take a day off and frolic in the snow with our kids, but real life is not always so romantic and ideal. We don’t all have the luxury or ease of just forgetting about work for a day.
But of course, he’s a man, and I am merely a pitiful woman, who should go back to the kitchen, shouldn’t I? I am so glad he patronized me, talked down to me, reminded me that I am selfish and silly for having an actual job, and not being grateful for a lovely day at home with my kids. I am off to play in the snow with them, and not worry about the blog post I need to get up in time, or the tax document I need to process for our charity, or the e mails I need to read and reply to, or the invoices I need to send, so I get paid actual money that contributes to our household. How silly I am… How silly are single parents who don’t have someone to help them cover bills and costs of living and providing for their kids, how silly are people who work contract hours and don’t get paid if they don’t work, how silly are self employed people who if they don’t work, can’t claim pay. How silly are people with deadlines and job tasks that won’t go away even if the snow stops play. Aren’t we all just SO silly. Drop it all and go and play in the snow…
*In reality, our snow day has been ok, I am lucky enough that I am offered a lot of flexibility in what I do, and I was able to take my children to work with me this morning, and they are happily watching tv and crafting whilst I work this afternoon. It’s freezing cold, and sleeting outside, we won’t be gamboling about in the snow, I am afraid, but I have promised them a movie and popcorn family night later and they are being very good. The kind and helpful man who pointed the glaring error of my ways, and reminded me that I should be grateful for snow days, got a piece of my mind, and will probably avoid me until the snow melts, lest he gets a snowball thrown at his head… ;)*
Working mums and dads everywhere, you are awesome, and doing an amazing job of looking after your kids and working hard to provide for them, and I hope your snow days have not been hideously stressful.