Non-overlapping spring breaks

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Does your spring break overlap with your kids’ spring break? If you’re like me, the answer is usually “no.” Which is annoying and a pain in the butt.

Things get harder for academic parents when kids transition from preschool to K-12 school. While one of the perceived functions of preschools is to care for children while parents are working, that’s not seen as much of a priority for elementary schools.

(And then there’s summer. If your community is like mine, you better get on the ball for summer camp ASAP if you haven’t already!)

Not only does K-12 get out hours before before parents are done with work, there are so many holidays and vacation days for kids that are not enjoyed by the parents. Which creates a huge parenting juggle. (And the way this plays out in many families often involves gender inequities.)

The spectacular part of being an academic is that our schedules have so much flexibility, that we can cook our schedules, to some extent, around the spring breaks of our kids. Compared to other professions, we have little genuine reason to complain. Though I think all working parents are placed in tight situations where they’re expected to work and their kids are expected to not be in school, and often childcare options are slim to none. Our educational and childcare system in the US is built on decades-old assumptions about single-career families that just don’t work nowadays.

How much of your kids’ spring break are you managing to spend with them? Did you plan this when you built your syllabus?

4 thoughts on “Non-overlapping spring breaks

  1. This is another excellent essay. But what kind of concerted action might work?

  2. Same here, never works out. some years wife, kids and me on 3 weeks staggered. As R1 prof, I work aound it with guest lectures and tests… works, just need to prepare…. Easier to cope with than the early releases that pop up randomly.
    I am largely prof because of the schedule freedom and the resulting flexibility to be a parent who participates in everything. Hard to find that in any other job.

  3. I usually work during the university spring break and take a few days off when my kids are off. I have a research position with no teaching, which makes things even more flexible.

  4. Perhaps this is institution specific (another R1 prof here), but I’ve never had the opportunity to arrange my teaching schedule in this way. I have some say in which days I teach, although that is typically decided 12 to 18 months in advance and is not flexible to last minute or even 3- or 6-month lead time changes in schedule. It is considered perfectly reasonable to arrange guest lectures, exams, etc. to cover work-related absences, but outside of FMLA, it would not be considered appropriate to do so for any personal reason, including child care or illness that doesn’t require hospitalization. Obviously, individual meetings and research obligations can be rearranged.

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