Spring Break: Big fun or a big pain for parents?

Late Friday night, I walked upstairs to find my two oldest children giggling in Rose’s bed. They were waiting patiently for her Cinderella alarm clock to strike midnight ushering in the official beginning of Spring Break. (There was a big debate in our house about when Spring Break really begins. We thought as soon as school was over. Rose declared it was at midnight because Friday was still a school day.)

The kids are obviously thrilled to be out of school for a week. They can’t wait to sleep in and are ecstatic about not having homework hanging over their heads each afternoon.  They just want to ramble from house to yard without a schedule, without a plan and play for hours with whatever interests them.

I know my kids aren’t alone. Across the country, school-age children look forward to their Spring Breaks, but what about their parents? Is spring break really fun or just a logistically nightmare for parents?

Stay-at-home parents have a bunch more little people hanging around messing up the house, expecting to go fun places and interfering with their normal routines.

For parents who work outside the home, they’ve either got to take vacation days, put the kids in daycare or find friends or family who can babysit.  And often the whole family still has to get up just as early as normal.

I phoned and emailed friends to find out how they are handling Spring Break. Some are more prepared than others, and some have jobs that lend themselves to enjoying the break with their kids.

While I was getting my hair cut last week, I asked my stylist, who owns the salon, how she was feeling about the break. She frowned when she answered and was downright aggravated by it. Her son’s preschool closes down just like the big school and her middle school-age daughter is not old enough to watch her little guy all day. She’s hoping her mother will help out some, but she hadn’t asked yet. I think she’s hoping to catch her off guard and make her mom feel sorry for her.

Another working mom friend, who is a human resource executive, said they usually have to use a daycare during breaks, but this year they are sending all three kids to stay with their grandparents in Mississippi. The kids seemed thrilled about spending all that special time with their grandmother, and I think my friend and her husband may actually get a real break too! Even though they still have to work, coming home to an empty house when you’re used to three kids is pretty heavenly.

The other friend I talked to is an interesting case. She lives in Augusta, and they generally rent out their house every Spring Break to people in town for the Masters Tournament. So even though she works, she almost always takes vacation that week because they literally have to vacate their house. They’re taking their three kids to the beach for the week.  She added at the end of her email that she worries much more about finding a full-time sitter each summer to keep the kids happy and occupied!

The last friend I emailed about Spring Break is a high school teacher. Her reply was simple and succinct: “One of the major reasons that I selected teaching as my profession is the shared time off with my kids… summers, Christmas break, Spring Break.  I LIVE FOR AND LOVE SPRING BREAK!! : )” I believe this mom is just as excited as her child about Spring Break.

How do you feel about Spring Break? Is it as much fun for the parents as for the kids? Do you normally take vacation? Do you use a daycare provider or sitters? Do you have family and friends that help out? How do you plan to keep them occupied for a week?

47 comments Add your comment

DB

April 6th, 2009
12:09 am

(Theresa, the blog STILL isn’t opening in IE — blech!!)

As a stay-at-home-mom who worked from home, I LOVED spring break!! I loved sleeping late, staying up late, playing massive games of Monopoly until 2 AM and the break from the routine of school uniforms, homework, etc. “Keeping them occupied” wasn’t really an issue, because spring break was the time we could do all the things we couldn’t fit in during the school year — go to Fernbank and spend a leisurely afternoon, catch an IMAX, drive up to Dahlonega and pan for gold or gemstones, go to the zoo, rent movies and stay up late, spreading a blanket on the floor and eating popcorn, hit the High Museum if there was something interesting for the kids, go to the Atlanta History Museum, take my daughter to the Swan Coach House for a la-di-dah lunch, paint a bedroom and shop for a new bedspread, have friends spend-the-night every night, not just on Friday or Saturday, make cookies, help kids plan and cook a dinner, get some “help” planting the planters by the door (which involved a morning-long trip to the garden center and enthusiastic choices of unexpected plants!) — goodness, there was so many things we found to do.

If I worked outside the home, though — well, yep, there goes a week of vacation, or else you split the week with your spouse, or you take off the Monday and Friday, work half-days, etc., etc. Depends on how flexible the job, I guess. My mother had the same attitude as your igh school teacher friend: that’s why she became a teacher, so that she’d have the same holidays as her family.

Enjoy the spring breaks while they’re small, guys, and they want to be with you! When they get older, they look forward to spring break trips to the beach with friends, or mission trips with the church or school, etc. As the kids got older (middle school, etc.) we would always plan a family end-of-season ski trip for spring break (ours was in March), and the kids have great memories of those trips. But now that one is in college and the other is graduating next month, I’m sadly becoming aware that the fun spring breaks of years past may just become a memory.

FCM

April 6th, 2009
8:22 am

About the only adults I know that love spring break fall into 2 catagories: Teachers and what we used to call a “Dunwoody Housewife”.

Guiding Light is going off the air after 75 years. One of the major reasons cited, is that the target market is no longer at home. They have gone back to work. In these economic and single parent times, going back to work is a necessity.

I did not have my children for someone else to raise. However, I maintain that the school system (especially as GA continues to do poorly on the national level) needs to seriously rethink their vacation schedule. Currently the State is looking at reducing the work week in schools and adding mandatory days off….That will put more burden on the working families. It is also a poor call considering our national ranking.

It is time for the school board to come into the next century and stop using the out dated model from the 50’s. Much of Corporate America has stepped up to the plate, more and more people are able to working flex hours or work from home (ex Theresa). More parents of a certain Socio-Econ Class are able to be active in their children’s lives (I am lucky enough to be one). However this does not help the parents who have to work the late shift, or retail hours, or hospitality hours. These parents are doing what they have to to provide for their children too and should not be punished for it. Many resort to dangerous (and maybe illegal) solutions of leaving the children at home with little to no supervision (or one adult to more children than the average daycare facility).

OK off my soap box. I am out this week with my kids. We are looking at the Space Center, Movies, Stone Mountain and the more mundane (Spring Cleaning). Later today we will hit the park. One of my good friends took her 7 yo on a cruise.

In the past mine have done a tour with Grandma or been in daycare. This is only the 2nd of 6 Springs Breaks I have been able to be off with mine.

I think if a parent is able to be off then it can be fun—if they choose to make it that way. However, for the majority of parents I think that Spring Break is an added stress and harassment.

Mac

April 6th, 2009
9:27 am

As someone who used to live in Panama City Beach, during spring break, I used to have to step around passed out, or fornicating-under-blankets students when I did my morning beach walk.

Theresa

April 6th, 2009
9:32 am

Hey Mac – tune in for tomorrow questions about those teens on their spring break and you can enlighten us more about what is really going on down there — Panama was THE Spring Break destination when I was in high school. I never went but my brother did. But save that topic for tomorrow.

DB — I will send a note to our tech people — I swear I’m pasting them in correctly now — I wonder if I have to go back in and fix all the past ones — boy I don’t want to do that — holy cow!! I’ll check on it.

motherjanegoose

April 6th, 2009
12:30 pm

Mac….I am thinking that you mean high schoolers and perhaps college students? We did have a chat about this a while back and encouraged a blogger, not to let her Senior daughter go.
My 21 year old son made it home safely from his March week long cruise but he is a bit older and perhaps??? wiser.
Anyone who has spent any time in the classroom knows that all children get a little antsy at this time of the year. Teachers and children need some space ( from each other). While this is not always convenient for parents, it makes for a better rest of the year.
I have always been an educator and thus have usually been off on the same schedule as my children…HOWEVER when my son was a baby, my husband worked the night shift and walked in the door at 7:30 a.m. when I would be leaving for Kindergarten…half day back then ( I met a teacher at the airport last week who told me that most of Pennsylvania still has half day Kinder….interesting).
I then got home at 1:00 and my husband slept until 7:00 p.m. when we would have dinner, take a walk with the baby, bathe him and put him to bed at 8:30. We managed. YES we had 2 parents and that is not always an option…I realize this.
Respectfully, the schools do not really care about what dilemmas you have with your children during breaks, snow days and summer vacation. They cannot be thinking about every student and what suits their individual schedule. My motto has always been, ” do not complain unless you can come up with a viable plan to fix the problem.” SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME. It is certainly true that some blogger here may have a wonderful idea that has not been discussed and I am interested!
Year round school has put some parents in a bind as elementary, middle and high schools ( within the same district) are not always on the same break and if you have a child in each location, you would be looking at 2 weeks off every 6 weeks in a varied cycle. Anyone want to opt for this?

We are off to New York and Dad will be staying home to work.

Theresa

April 6th, 2009
2:09 pm

DB — I think I have to go back and repaste all the old blogs using this new button — I will try to correct all tonight so IE should work tomorrow — Sorry for the inconvenience — thanks!! Theresa

FCM

April 6th, 2009
2:30 pm

MJG – you said “Respectfully, the schools do not really care about what dilemmas you have with your children during breaks, snow days and summer vacation” Yet I will tell you straight out I do not give a rats butt about how the school system thinks. It is people like you who perpetuate the outdated model. I have found you are absolutely correct about one thing….the schools do NOT care…..they are there to simply make more mindless drones and pass children through the system.

jct

April 6th, 2009
3:47 pm

Whew! I can finally get in. Hope you all are well. Congratulations LM! Has anyone heard from new mom? I know I am all over the place but who knows when I will be let in again.

On topic, so glad step son is now 18. He is working everyday of his spring break. He will be graduating next month so this is it for us. Now time for different worries.

b

April 6th, 2009
3:53 pm

Spring Break is always a time of “cut and paste”. When my kids were little I didn’t have enough vacation to take a whole week off so they went to day care which cost lots of $$$. When they were old enough to stay home alone, I would take a couple of afternoons off to do stuff with them. Now that I just have a teenager at home and more days of vacation I try to arrange at least a couple of things throughout the week and well as take 2 days totally off. I always find it odd to have this time off, I did not have Spring Break until I was in college. I would prefer that the kids not be out now and let them go back to school later in August.

motherjanegoose

April 6th, 2009
3:59 pm

FCM….the problem is that no one can come up with a suitable solution. You sound angry and I understand…sometimes a little justified anger will move folks to actually do something.

Complaints are rampant but problem solving is not happening. You are absolutely correct and on an even playing field…the school system does not give a “rats butt” what you FCM personally think either ( just the facts….I said respectfully because it is not as if I do not care or have empathy for your problem but I am not nor ever will be the school system).

If you are just complaining and not offering a viable solution, then that is where it will end up…in the complaint wastebasket of the public school system.

I frequently ask my clients to give me solutions to my dilemmas and so many have come up with creative ideas that I would have never even thought about. I am thrilled to implement them.
Are you ready for the challenge? Let’s hear your good ideas!

The outdated model works absolutely fine for me, so I am not trying to reinvent the wheel. I do not need to fret about this as I am on my last child at home who is now 16 and can stay by herself.

The parents who are complaining loudly perhaps need to pool their resources and present a viable solution. I am sure there is one great idea out there that we have not yet considered.

As Clark Howard says, you should vote with your pocketbook and thus you could take your child out of public school ( with all of those other mindless drones) and pay for private school where the powers that be will be much more accommodating for you and every child they are serving…do they even have spring break….yes and winter break for skiiing too…. tee hee!

As they say NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER OF INVENTION. Someone please share a workable solution! I understand your frustration but am not intelligent enough to come up with a solution…someone else is…let’s hear it!

luvs2teach

April 6th, 2009
4:04 pm

This teacher is enjoying her spring break – doing a little cleaning today and going out of town for the Master’s later this week. My kids are older – my college daughter had her spring break a couple weeks ago, and my son is working this week. I wasn’t a teacher when they were young, so I understand having to find a way to work it out – when they were very little, dad and I worked different shifts to minimize or elimnate daycare/sitters. When they were young-school-age, I was lucky enough to have a very flexible employer that let me work from home, or bring them in part of the day. When my children were teens, they often made some decent money babysitting for the week for our neighbors. I didn’t become a teacher for the unpaid days off – truth be told, they’re more like comp time for all the extra hours I put in. Do I appreciate the break? You betcha – just like the mom coming home to a blissfully quiet and child-free home appreciates it – kids are hard work.

Many of my students (I teach middle school) were going out of town this week – some to grandparents, several to the beach, Disney, or on a cruise, and a sadly large number to go spend the week with the non-custodial parent. I don’t work in a “rich” school either – we’re about 50% free or reduced lunch.

As far as the week off, I don’t think it’s a leftover from the 50s – I believe it’s a leftover from our farmer roots – spring break was to help with the spring planting – just like summers off were to help tend to the farm. I don’t think schools are being unresponsive – they are bound to the wishes of the over-all community, and most communities are dead-set against things like year-round schools (just read blogs about that topic over at Get Schooled – or the hoopla over the school calendar start date). You can’t make everyone happy – the state law currently mandates 180 days – we have folks who would like to extend that time to become more competitive world-wide, and yet we also have groups like Georgians Needs Summers who want a full three month summer. For every parent that stresses over finding care for Spring Break, you have another looking forward to the annual family Disney vacation. You can’t make everyone happy.

Amy

April 6th, 2009
4:35 pm

>>>>About the only adults I know that love spring break fall into 2 catagories: Teachers and what we used to call a “Dunwoody Housewife”.

Guiding Light is going off the air after 75 years. One of the major reasons cited, is that the target market is no longer at home. They have gone back to work. In these economic and single parent times, going back to work is a necessity.>>>>>>

1) What is a “Dunwoody Housewife”? What does that mean?

2) I know all kinds of people that stay home with their kids, and none of them live in Dunwoody, if it even matters. There are TONS of people who do that; the idea that at-home parents don’t exist anymore just isn’t true. I wouldn’t consider these people weathy, either; the ones I know drive old cars, live in small, older houses, and rarely go out to eat.

Also, I find it odd that any show would be canceled because the “target audience” is at work during the day. People have been recording daytime TV for about twenty years now!

FCM

April 6th, 2009
4:39 pm

“Are you ready for the challenge? Let’s hear your good ideas!” I have repeatedly stated various ideas on here and at Get Schooled, to the State Legislature and to my Congressmen….in the end the Teacher’s Unions win. The government in general gains nothing by having people who can think, they need those who believe in 40 acres and a mule.

I meet more a more teachers, (or in your case ex teachers) who are sure they are ‘entitled’ to the time off. After all they are the ones dealing with our precious darlings daily.

If we could even get school choice (you know let me have vouchers for my tax dollars) and make the schools compete for the funds. Let me have a say in who my child’s teacher is.

One (IDIOT) teacher my child had has no children at never will–her admission—she said “These are my children. After all you send them to me for 8 hour a day to raise!” Really? I did? What choice did I have? Homeschool? Private School? I did not hire that person teach….In fact I wouldn’t hire her to walk my dog let alone near my child!!! I am sick to death of know it all educators who are clueless…Yes, I know MJG you are on the lecture circuit and thus are not the same.

FCM

April 6th, 2009
4:49 pm

Amy— you missed the point entirely.

SAHM is not the point. IF you WANT to be a SAHM and can (and not every mom wants to stay home) then good for you. A ‘Dunwoody Housewife’ was term of the 80’s for the women who were always in tennis gear having lunch and drinking lemon water…..but never broke a sweat on the court. Their children were often nannied and more than likely in private or boarding school.

As for the GL information—that came straight from the article last week here in the AJC. “Soap operas have been in a long, slow decline in popularity, primarily because many of the women who made up their loyal audiences are no longer at home at that hour. They’re working, and can find the communal experience that their favorite soaps once gave them elsewhere.”

motherjanegoose

April 6th, 2009
5:05 pm

I am an ex classroom teacher and now teach teachers. Just for clarification, I am entitled to EVERY bit of my time off, as I am not getting paid one dime during the 15 weeks per year that I schedule myself to be off. I work double duty when I do work and this is why I can afford to be off. Additionally, I am not the sole provider as I am still married…I do know that others bear this load alone.

Teachers are contracted to work a defined number of days per year and thus ( it would appear) they are entitled to their days off, AS CONTRACTED.. You sign a contract with the schedule that is posted before school starts.
Readers,would it be fair, mid year, to tell the teachers that the county has some upset parents who do not know what to do with their children over the breaks and thus all breaks are now being cancelled? Who,in their right mind, would say “sure, I will work during these breaks even though I contracted not to!” By the way,does it cost more in custodian salaries, utilities and even feeding those who qualify for free lunch…if all breaks were cancelled in favor of looking out for those parents who cannot find suitable care for their children. Someone is not looking at the bigger picture.

FM…since this blog is national, you may need to step out of your hula hoop and clarify for non Atlantans what a Dunwoody Housewife is. You seem to have some disdain for these folks but others have no clue who/what or where….just as you would probably not know when pheasant hunting season begins…nor do I….LOL….but my clients in North Dakota do!

I am sorry but the school system cannot consider everyone’s dilemma. There are those who work the midnight shift….should we have school 24 hours per day with choices for all parents?
Some work weekends…who will teach on Saturday and Sunday?

If I am making no sense at all, I would love for some of the other readers to tell me….MJG you are nuts…we should absoluteley accommodate all scheduling concerns for every parent and adjust our schools to meet their needs, requiring teachers to be ON all year long with no breaks…. after all the parents are the taxpayers….I am waiting.

new mom

April 6th, 2009
5:11 pm

Hi guys!

I am still here…actually today was the first time in the last few days I was able to access the blog, so it’s nice to be able to read the entire post and comments. Theresa, sorry you’re going to have to redo some of them, what a pain.
I have been finding it hard to have time to sit online and read and comment. Especially compared to when little girl was little, napping all the time…now we’re out of the house a lot or, or days like today, playing and dancing inside. I’m wondering how I’ll be able to juggle a new baby in September and keep up with a (by then) 2 year old!
But on subject, spring break doesn’t affect us yet, other than give my husband some lighter traffic. But I love some of the suggestions listed!
Signed,
a SAHM who hates soap operas! ;)
PS–congrats LM on your nuptials!

FCM

April 6th, 2009
5:16 pm

MJG- you dated yourself….seriously a Hoola Hoop? Nor do I expect for the schools to accommodate all scheduling concerns. Did you miss the part where I took off this week? Did you miss the part where

As for deserving the time off, of course you earned it! I earn my 15 days a year too. What kind of moronic logic is that?

Pheasant tastes good….I believe its hunted in fall…sometime near Halloween.

MJG — I have been blogging on here for more than 3 years….does that somehow make a difference since you keep commenting on your time here, and also appealing to the masses?

I am not FM I am FCM…..it stands for Fulton County Mom….I have been a proud FCM for 6+ years. I have supported my kids’ school up until recently when I realized just how unjust to families below my SES they are.

Amy

April 6th, 2009
5:24 pm

>>>Amy— you missed the point entirely.
SAHM is not the point.>>>>

What WAS the point that I “missed entirely”? I guess I am still missing it. Seriously, could you sum it up in a sentence or two? If I missed it, maybe others did too.

I THOUGHT your point was that parents aren’t at home during the day anymore, because two incomes is a necessity.

MY point is that that isn’t true. Many people don’t find it a necessity, and many people ARE still home.

>>>As for the GL information—that came straight from the article last week here in the AJC. “Soap operas have been in a long, slow decline in popularity, primarily because many of the women who made up their loyal audiences are no longer at home at that hour. They’re working, and can find the communal experience that their favorite soaps once gave them elsewhere.” >>>>

Yes, I realize you got it from an article. Regardless, I still think it’s weird that, in a day and age when VCRs and TiVo are quite common, that a show would lose its audience because “people aren’t home at that time.” I didn’t know people still watched TV at the time of day it came on! :)

motherjanegoose

April 6th, 2009
6:01 pm

FCM…typo on my part….sorry. My hula hoop comment is enjoyed across the country and gets plenty of laughs when I mention it.
We always joke about this ( being in a hula hoop) as so many of the parents do not have a clue about school.

Those who do not live in Atlanta probably have NO idea what in the world Dunwoody means.
This is/was an affluent area of Atlanta where everyone is/was proud of their zip code.

When I worked in Buckhead, I used to laugh and say 49 other states are not impressed with the fact that someone mentions “I live in Buckhead…” They even asked me if we actually had restaurants out here in Gwinnett County GA.

I do not have answers here but I have ventured to 49 states ….quite far out of my hula hoop and have learned that I do not know everything.

FYI….I take 15 weeks off per year not days.

I personally do not think you are making sense ( as teachers ARE entitled to their days off…every one of them) but perhaps that is me. I have been told I am very logical and methodical but maybe I am not able to convey it in this blog…..so, call me a moron if you wish. It won’t be the first or the last time.

I am old…yes it is true …but I hope I am wiser for it. FCM, we do not need to joust and tie up this blog…we are at odds and each has a right to an opinion. Let’s see if anyone else has anything to contribute. Someone must have something to say, unless they are all Dunwoody Moms and on spring break with their children….LOL. Between the two of us, we have contributed almost half of the comments today….is anyone else out there or are they are slathering on sunscreen?

deidre_NC

April 6th, 2009
6:19 pm

wow heated posts here today. first i want to say that i think not as many women record soaps and then watch them at night-maybe because their husbands dont want to watch them or maybe they donthave time and watch more family friendly shows..who knows-but soaps have been saying interest was declining for years-maybe it because even the sahms just have busier lives than ones of my moms (and mine a little) generation.its really not a subject to get panties in a wad over.

i have vaccilated between loving spring and summer breaks since my oldest was in school-when i didnt have to work outside the home i absolutely loved all the breaks-when i did have to work osth and my kids were younger i hated it-its was hard to find daycare-plus i just hated not being able to spend the time with them. i have no ideas to make it all better. my youngest graduates this spring so it doesnt matter anymore-now she will be going on her own to spring break trips…

new mom you will be surprised how easy it is to juggle two kids-really lots of women do it with more than 2–it just takes lots of patience lol..LOTS!!! and one think i learned from my granma–their only little once-take the time to just enjoy them for sooner than you think they will be gone–spending time and truly enjoying your kids is so much more important than anything else you will ever do-for you and for the kids–you know like cat stevens song ‘cats in the cradle’…

fk

April 6th, 2009
7:42 pm

I loved spring break when my son was younger. Some years we took a trip. When we stayed home for the week, we sometimes had out of town guests. Other times, we did 2-3 day trips, and the other days were do-nothing days and we enjoyed them, usually invited a friend over for the day. One year, I think the my son & his buddies slept out in the tent 2-3 nights. We usually went to visit dad at work one afternoon. I went back to work when he started high school. That was more of a headache, especially when friends started driving. I’ve never known a teenage boy to err on the side of caution. Now that I’m working, I am enjoying the lighter traffic this week.

“Cats in the Cradle”…wasn’t that Harry Chapin?

FCM

April 6th, 2009
8:28 pm

oh you can say hoola hoop…..I found it funny…but dated. I dated myself by saying Dunwoody Mom (and admitting to a crush on 45 year old grandad named Donny many blogs back)….

Just as much as educators don’t think parents get it….I can tell you that ‘mainstream’ workforce parents feel that educators don’t get. Unfortunately what I find is neither side is willing to come to the table. I have spoken with Bortz and Howard about their stance on private schools. I also find it very interesting that so many parents (new mom I think you claimed this once too) that are/were teachers want their kids in private schools. For some parents that is not an option.

I am a product of a private school (hey I never claimed my mom wasn’t a Dunwoody Housewife). I am the product of some of the better opportunities life has to offer. However, that does not change my feelings for the plight of kids in families that aren’t. I learned that Brumby ES district has 70% of the kids are on reduced lunch…where do you think they are spending their spring break? Probably not on the family trip to Disney. Sedalia Park has 50% on reduced lunch…I imagine they are not hanging on the beach. I see some kids here in my neighborhood (North Fulton) that are in charge of siblings and these kids aren’t much older than mine….they claim a grandparent is home but the grandparent isn’t the one at the park/pool with them. That’s why I said dangerous.

Yes, Amy, certainly there are SAHM…..However, many of those run business from their laptops. It is certainly not the world it was when “Dunwoody” was a popular term. I disagree that SAHM is an option for many…..an option for many in a traditional 2 parent home perhaps. Today the divorce rate is over 50%….that means that a great many children are likely to be in a single family home. As luvs2teach says, many children are spending time with the non custodial parent. For others, and I know many, that is not an option, as both parents are working. My point is we are not dealing with traditional families…..MJG pointed out we are national…I would point out we are GLOBAL….and certainly many styles of family are on the blogs/communities….Accommodating all would be harsh…It is possible that we are still on agricultural calendar–Daylight Savings is—that too is very outdated.

MJG—Teachers earn their time off….So do working parents…I am not sure you realized I was serious on that. Yes, you should be entitled to your vacation…Just as I am entitled to mine…I work hard too and I earned it.

I just find that having PTA meetings at 10AM during weekdays, telling parents that children are not welcome at night school events, having large numbers of off days (I don’t care if the mandate is 180—that could well be the source of the problem not the solution), etc is stupid. It does nothing to encourage BOTH parents or even SINGLE parents to be involved. Certainly, you can make children the priority. In my house, mine know they are loved and that I am interested in them….they also know that if they want food on the table, a roof over their head, and the ’specials’ (Hannah Montana this weekend?) that Mom has to earn the living, which means she works.

nurse&mother

April 6th, 2009
9:32 pm

I’d rather talk about how much teachers get paid considering they only work about 200 days per year. I get so tired of hearing them complain that Sonny may put them on a 6DAY furlough. OMG!!! You would think that he gave them a 6 WEEK lay off. When people are losing their jobs left and right, teachers have no right to complain. I have several teacher friends. I actually haven’t asked them specifically what they think. I am referring to the quotes from the president of the georgia teachers assoc. (or something along that line) in the local paper.

Teachers get paid so well, I think I may go into that line of work and have weekends, holidays and summers off.

sorry to hijack the blog. Back to topic, spring break doesn’t affect me personally, but I can appreciate the fact that others have to make accomodations. I realize that there is not an easy answer and that schools can’t please everyone.

MJG, I will have to say that school systems don’t care what parents think even when they come up with a plausible solution to a problem. Trust me on this one! I am becoming more and more jaded on the public school system. If I had the money for private and the time to travel 40 minutes one way to a reputable private school, I would do it. But unfortunately it is not a solution for me. I have tried several times to make our schools better and more competitive, but those idiots are too content with the status quo. So sad.

luvs2teach

April 6th, 2009
9:40 pm

FCM – The 180-day school-year is both the mandate and a major part of the problem – you see, budgets, teachers’ contracts, and whatnot are based on a 180 day calendar (teachers being paid for 190). If schools were open more days, costs across the board would increase (not just teachers – bus drivers and gas, food workers, office staff, and utilities, etc). Teachers (nor their unions – which we don’t have here in Georgia, BTW) aren’t in charge of federal, state, or local funding – it’s elected senators, representatives, and school board members that make the bulk of the funding decisions. Right now, with the economy being so bad, communities are looking at ways to reduce costs, not increase them.

We often hear the question, “But what about the children” – and that is often matched by the response, “Schools are not babysitters” – it’s not exclusively parents, teachers, or politicians spouting either particular rallying cry. How much of a nanny-state we in the US choose to be has been debated back and forth practically since the US was formed (and considerably since Obama was elected). It’s easy to blame “them thar gubmint schools” for the problem – heck, we’re an easy target, after all – but the issue goes much, much deeper than that.

luvs2teach

April 6th, 2009
10:24 pm

FCM – I wanted to add that your point about 10AM PTA meetings is valid, but that needs to be brought up with the school PTA president – from what I’ve seen at my children’s schools and the ones where I’ve worked is that the decision is not made by the school (teachers or administrators) – it’s made by the PTA folks – other parents. Despite the name, it’s really run buy the parents, and teachers have little input (disclaimer – my school’s PTSA does great things for our school and I’m thankful to the parents who take time out of their day to volunteer – however, it’s still primarily a parent-thing – not a teacher-thing when it comes to decision-making).

I’ve been lucky as parent – my experience has been with schools that have evening PTSA meetings as well as Open House and Meet-and-Greet. However someone who works the second shift could say that the schools aren’t being responsive to their needs – my husband rarely got to attend anything because he works primarily nights. Again, you can’t please everyone – sometimes not even in the same household.

I’m just not sure people would be willing to pay more in taxes to have the schools open longer – I just see too much anti-big-government sentiment right now.

luvs2teach

April 7th, 2009
12:02 am

nurse&mother – I actually recommended a one day furlough to my county as a cost-saving measure LAST YEAR…however the day I suggested was a professional learning day mid-year, not pre-planning. What has teachers upset is that many of us already come in early PRIOR to preplanning to get our rooms and first week plans ready, because pre-planning is so full of meetings and whatnot, that we have very little time to actually PLAN. I was even told my first year teaching by my department head to do my planning at home – I wouldn’t have time for it at school.

Most teachers are all too aware of the economic difficulties – some even have spouses that have lost their jobs, too. We’re ok with being asked to sacrifice along with many others, but what we want the legislators and others in charge to know is that the days you’re not paying us for, many of us will probably work anyway…simply because you can’t walk in that first day and not be prepared. We’re asking that if you cut our planning time, then please cut the meetings and the so-called professional learning. Ask your teacher friends – I’m willing to bet they’ll concur.

I am upset with your statements about how well paid teachers are – now, let me start by saying, I’m not one to complain about my pay. I knew what I was doing when I left the “real world” and I took my pay CUT with aplomb. After 10 years, with a BS in Science (not science ed, TYVM), I make less than $50,000. My daily pay is about $261, and my ‘calculated’ hourly (as opposed to my true hourly) is about $35 an hour. I could make more per hour as a massage therapist. I made more per hour on weekends waitressing. Now, if you want to calculate my daily pay over 250 days (50 weeks – 2 weeks vacation) it runs about $65,250 – I was still making more in pharmaceutical sales. You make more with advanced degrees, but you have to pay for that – with two in college, mama’s not doing that at the moment. You make more with each year, but after 10, you only get a raise every other year – unless you get a COLA. In my county, I pay both retirement and SS, but I’ll likely never collect much of the SS due to the way payouts are calculated. None of this is a complaint – I make it my mission to try to educate people on what it’s really like, because I’m tired of teachers being the easy target.

I also like to explain all this because, you see, I was the one on the other side of fence, thinking the grass looked mighty green over here in Education-Land, with all the breaks and the summers off. Working with kids – it’s going to be fun, right?? Well, let me tell you – if that is the only reason you want to teach – DON’T DO IT!!!! IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!! IT’S ABSOLUTELY NOT WORTH IT! It’s a much harder job than I ever imagined, and pretty thankless most days (just read Get Schooled for a week and you’ll see what I mean). The paperwork is mind-bendingly endless – running joke among my friends is that we don’t need a break from the kids as much as we need a break from the paperwork. I do love what I do – the actual TEACHING part that is, but if you want to do this for the “easy” well-paid job with summers-off – then run, far away, as fast as you can.

deidre_NC

April 7th, 2009
6:17 am

yes its harry chapin..my bad lol

motherjanegoose

April 7th, 2009
6:57 am

THANKS LUVS2TEACH….EXCELLENT POINTS. You have stepped out of your hula hoop, as you have been on both sides of the fence! Off to NYC!

Kathy

April 7th, 2009
8:45 am

WHOA! Down girls! MJG….aren’t you supposed to be on vacation with your darling daughter?! You know I love you, but GO HAVE FUN…..stay off the blog for the rest of the week! hahaha!

For the record FCM, I babysat for lots of “Dunwoody Housewives” back in the day that were wonderful moms and didn’t do any of the things that you said they did. Oh and I watch my soap (General Hospital) on SoapNet!!

luvs2teach….your comments were spot on. Very well said.

Now back to topic….this is Little E’s first spring break. We visited her cousins in Athens yesterday and today we will color easter eggs. I have a visit to Yellow River Game Ranch planned for Thursday. Her Daddy has Good Friday off so we are taking her bowling for the first time. Nothing major, but big fun for a 3 year old I suppose. We take our beach trip at the end of this month when it is cheap and uncrowded. Happy Easter everybody!

gateacher

April 7th, 2009
10:21 am

Schools are not babysitters. Students and teachers both need a break before the end of the schoolyear. Perhaps parents, especially those who’ve never set foot in a classroom as a teacher, should consider what’s best for everyone.

JJ

April 7th, 2009
11:03 am

I used to take afternoons off during spring break. I worked 1/2 days, and was home in the afternoons with my daughter. She would stay with the neighbor.

But those days are now over for me. My daughter chose to work this year, and make money this spring break, instead of going on vacation with her friends. I kind of talked her out of it. Why spend $500, when you can stay home and make a couple hundred dollars. She is babysitting for a friend of mine, and they pay her VERY well….she also has the car, so they can go and do fun activities. She is babysitting a 7 year old boy for the week.

I chose not to take spring break off either, as we have graduation coming up and I need vacation days for that, and when I take her to college, I want a few days off too, to spend with her shopping and getting ready for college.

cofthenight

April 7th, 2009
11:23 am

I’d be enjoying this spring break with my preschooler much more if the weather would cooperate! Raining, then freezing cold, then warm again… and the pollen is killing us! It’s no fun for me to be outside with him every day… and that’s what he wants, outside play. :(

catlady

April 7th, 2009
2:51 pm

I always loved sp break for the chance to spend some real time with my children. We did all kinds of things TOGETHER–none of them fancy or expensive. My children were also expected to do volunteer work (yard stuff at church, cleaning and mowing for elderly/infirm neighbors, and helping deliver meals on wheels.) I think we went on two spring break trips in the 27 years I had kids at home. What are your priorities, long-term?

catlady

April 7th, 2009
2:58 pm

Luvs, on the “teachers will work anyway”: Not me. I got tired of unfunded mandates a long time ago. I will do the best I can on the days I am paid to work. If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. I think the muckety mucks are COUNTING on teacher to work anyway without pay. I won’t play. My time and ever-dwindling years are worth something. I am tired of being browbeatend with “for the good of the children.” Someone else besides teachers need to be looking out for the children.

nurse&mother

April 7th, 2009
3:03 pm

Sorry Luvs2teach if I ruffled your feathers. Try working 12 months out of the year with only 2-3 weeks vacation for the SAME pay. And you are expected to work either Christmas or Thanksgiving each year and every 4th weekend and your usual rotation of mother’s day, Easter, memorial day, labor day etc. I am certainly not complaining. I knew this when I went into the field. My ONLY reason for pointing this out is for educators to be thankful for their pay and their PAID time off.

I have been told recently to stay at home when the census is so low. Because I am part time, I can only accumulate a max of 40 hours of Paid time off per year. Once again my choice to be part time. This last time I was asked to not come to work, I only had 5 hours of paid time off that I had to use. So, I am all out of PTO. The next time I am asked to stay home, I just don’t get paid. SO PLEASE TRY TO BE THANKFUL FOR YOUR WONDERFUL SALARY!!!!!!! My opinion is nothing personal. As I said earlier, I have a few friends who are educators. One of my teacher friends was a nurse first. She thought it was so bad, she completely left the medical field and went into education. She left and hasn’t looked back since. Take that as you will.

nurse&mother

April 7th, 2009
3:12 pm

One more thing. About the paperwork?? I certainly see my share of paperwork in labor and delivery. Between medication reconciliation sheets, nurses notes, pharmacy sheets, verbal order physicians orders delivery records, education sheets (yes, even nurses educate their patients on plan of care, what to expect, procedures etc) etc etc etc. So yes, I know exactly what you are talking about! If I didn’t have to fill out so many papers on each patient I might be able to do some nursing care.

FCM

April 7th, 2009
4:26 pm

N & M if you are anything like the labor/delivery nurse I had you are worth you weight in GOLD! Bless you, those new mom’s do.

nurse&mother

April 7th, 2009
4:49 pm

Thanks FCM. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I have had several folks over the years tell me so. I do pour my heart and soul into my work. I can always say that I do the best that I possibly can. What more can anyone ask for? I think it helps that I love what I do. You’d have to, to put up with some of the treatment I received from a few patients and their families over the years. Also the work schedule usually stinks around holidays. Oh well, I love my job so much that I am willing to put up with the holidays and call schedule. Like teaching, one must really love the job to do it. :-)

I’m glad you had a positive L&D experience.

luvs2teach

April 7th, 2009
7:46 pm

Nurse & Mother – Did I ever say I wasn’t thankful for my salary? Au contraire – I am quite thankful…and happy to have a job in these stressful times, even with furlough days and pay cuts. But I take issue with people who want to bash teachers for getting paid for doing their job – ah, the humanity! To be paid for working – silly me!! To what is this world coming?

You said: “Try working 12 months out of the year with only 2-3 weeks vacation for the SAME pay…Christmas or Thanksgiving…labor day etc.” uhm…sorry, but been there, done that, too. Before I went to school for my science degree, I spent four years in the United States Marine Corps. I know all about working holidays, working extended tours without time off – and I was lucky – there was no war going on when I was in – but it was no cushy 40 hour a week job either.

So, as MJG says, I’ve been in and out of several hoola-hoops – military, college, private sector large corporation, private sector family-owned business, and education. Every job I’ve had has its pros and cons, but only teaching seems to bring out the envy, bias, and ignorance in many people (not necessarily you – I just see it daily). My personal philosophy is that it stems from their childhood and some internalized resentment of their teachers. I told you, I’m not complaining – I am merely enlightening.

And in that spirit of enlightenment, let me take issue with your statement: “My ONLY reason for pointing this out is for educators to be thankful for their pay and their PAID time off.” The days that there is no school are not PAID days off for us. Depending on your system you may get 3 personal days (4 after 15 years in mine) as well as sick leave – all earned, much like any other job. It is a great fallacy that we are paid for breaks. We are paid for 190 days. That pay is then divided by 10 or 12, depending on your system, and you get monthly (or bimonthly, but that’s rare here) paychecks. That’s how it works.

I had my ideas about what it was like on the other side of the chalk – I thought I knew what I was getting into because I had subbed and volunteered in my kids’ school. I remained shocked by something on a weekly – sometimes DAILY – basis. And I’ll add, I get mighty prickly at folks who like to bash teachers for a) things that are beyond their control and b) misconceptions that aren’t true.

You also wrote: “She thought it was so bad, she completely left the medical field and went into education. She left and hasn’t looked back since. Take that as you will.” Hey, win one for the team, good for her. Maybe she worked at a terrible hospital and now works for a great school – maybe nursing was never her calling and teaching was – who knows? I’ve also seen many folks from the business world (and science labs) come into education wanting to “reach the children of tomorrow” leave before the first month was up. As a science major, I gave medicine serious consideration – I even worked at a hospital for awhile – so who knows.

luvs2teach

April 7th, 2009
8:13 pm

nurse & mother – I wrote a longer post, which disappeared, and I don’t care to type again – maybe it will mysteriously show back up. Anyway, the gist of my post was a) I am thankful for both my job and my paycheck – who isn’t in this crazy economy, b) teachers are only paid for the 190 days they work; we are not paid for breaks, and c) I was in the military for 4 years – I know what it’s like to be on duty on holidays.

As for your friend, well, good for her – maybe nursing wasn’t for her, and teaching is her true calling. It happens. I’ve also seen people from business come into to teaching with stars in their eyes about touching the future not make it through the first month. In addition to the Marine Corps, I’ve worked for large private companies and small family-owned private companies; I’ve done retail, food service, education – even a hospital at one point. I’m a realist and a pragmatist – no job is for everyone – all jobs have their pros and cons, but only teaching seem to be open to non-stop (and often incorrect) public scrutiny. My persoanl theory is that it is left-over resentment from people’s childhood.

finally, I wanted to add that you and I should be on the same side of this argument – as women in traditionally female jobs, we have had a history of the “short end of the stick” so to speak – pay, hours, repsect, and responsibilty. both jobs are improving, but both have a long way to go – ask your teacher friend if she concurs there – I’ll be she will.

luvs2teach

April 7th, 2009
8:14 pm

so now my other post shows up – who knows – I’m not fond of the new platform.

nurse&mother

April 7th, 2009
10:53 pm

Luvs2teach, I think you missed the boat on resentment leftover from childhood. Where did that come from??? I was a straight A student who never got into trouble. I graduated HS with honors. Sorry to shoot your theory.

I was merely commenting on why the teachers are belly aching about a 6 day furlough. I still don’t see this as the big deal that others make it out to be. We all make accomodations in this stinking economy.

I’m glad you like your job. I am seriously considering it with all the perks. I think my friend left nursing to have all the benefits of teaching (pay, paid time off, and schedule). We actually worked at the same hospital (she worked nursery and I L&D). Actually, she doesn’t care for the principal where she is at, but she still thinks it is better than nursing. We actually had a conversation about 6 months ago.

I realize that you and I disagree and that is not likely to change. I will agree to disagree with you on this one. While you “technically” don’t get paid for your time off, you have one hell of a salary for only working 190 days per year. and that’s the facts, maam.

BTW, I certainly admire some of the wonderful teachers that I worked with when I was a school nurse as well as some of the great teachers that have taught my daughter. BUT if any one of them were to complain about not getting enough money, not getting a big enough raise, or possibly having a 6 day furlough, I would argue with them as well.

I hope you have a wonderful evening. I will make this my last post on this subject.

luvs2teach

April 8th, 2009
10:46 am

nurse & mother – regarding the resentment theory – I wasn’t addressing you (or anyone on this particular blog) specifically. It’s not only something I see (in blog comments and in conversations), but it’s similar to something that has been born out in some research, particularly with students from generational poverty. So you didn’t shoot anything – you don’t fit the bill.

We’re not bellyaching – we’re just explaining our point of view – this happens to people who get bombarded day after day with “well let’s get them; they’re just teachers” and “teachers should be happy for whatever crumbs we throw their way – after all MY taxpayer money pays their salary.” Please don’t deny that you’ve seen this mentality – I’m not saying you expressed it, but surely you’ve seen it. And as I said, many of us will probably work anyway, UNPAID, and that’s what the state is counting on – that we will be professional enough to get the job done, money or no money. Why do you hear from us? Because papers like the AJC know they’ll get lots of hits on anything dealing with teachers, and some of us feel some crazy need to let people know what’s really going on – especially when attacked.

If you think you’ll like teaching, then go for it, but I caution you, don’t do it for the benefits of pay, time off, and schedule. Do it because you want to teach (and be realistic about what that means – the rewards don’t come fast or easy there). You won’t last otherwise. Just remember: Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver, and The Ron Clark Story are all “based” on real events – that’s not what teaching is really like. And you’re right, we will never see eye to eye on the salary thing – I feel I’m adequately compensated for what I do, but I don’t work only 190 days – no good teacher does. I don’t get paid extra for doing a better job than the teacher in the next room or for teaching more students than the teacher down the hall – that frustrates me more than the base salary – no chance for merit pay. I also know I could make significantly more in the private sector, because I did. However, I didn’t feel like those jobs had any meaning, and that it a good thing about teaching – and nursing, too.

As far as complaining about jobs – be fair – complaining about jobs is practically a national pasttime – we all think the grass is greener somewhere else. There’s probaly a CNA somewhere thinking that you should be happy with yours, lol.

Peace out!

nurse&mother

April 8th, 2009
4:08 pm

Peace to you too Luvs2teach.

motherjanegoose

April 9th, 2009
9:54 am

Kathy….I am HAVING FUN! I left Tuesday afternoon! My daughter’s friend and her mother are with us, so it is not just us. The other Mother told me that she was in the corporate world and thought it would be glorius to have the life of a teacher. Went back to get certified and lasted ONE year. I did not tell her about this discussion before she told me her story but only afterwards. She laughed and said that those who are not teachers have NO idea what it is like.

The girls are getting ready and we are off to Ellis Island….can’t wait to get home to my quiet back yard to hear the birds and see real grass….LOL.

nurse&mother

April 9th, 2009
1:53 pm

MJG same thing with nursing. :-)

motherjanegoose

April 12th, 2009
9:52 pm

Nurse and Mother….it may be true about nursing but I have never heard anyone mention what a breeze nursing is but often hear how easy it would be to teach…some may need to walk a mile in our moccasins, as it were. I respect nurses enormously but not many respect teachers.