We Need A Solution For Different School Breaks

They force parents to make choices, reduce work and inevitably upset kids

A lot of firsts are great – first kiss, first dance, first child. And as parents, the joyful firsts keep coming – crawling, steps, school, any number of accomplishments big and small. They’re moments for growth as a father, as a family, as spouses or partners.

But this winter we’ve experienced a first that no one in the family seems to love. Our three kids have different spring breaks. So for four weeks in February, March and April, it’s balancing times for kids in school, kids out of school, and oh, yes, work for both of us.

It presents two sets of problems. The easier one to address is the logistical one. Two parents, three kids, and three months when at least one child is not in school for a week or more. We chose to divide and conquer: my wife took two kids in February while I stayed home with the third. I took that one last week, and my wife is leading the charge with her on her second week off now. I’m on deck for April.

The tougher one is emotional. Whoever is away with some combo of kids has left another combo (plus a spouse, who might have a sick or sleepless kid) behind. The calls I get from my daughters left at home can be tough. I’m having a great time with the daughter I’m away with and want her to know how special this time is. But I feel guilty playing up just how much fun we’re having – lest the others feel left out.

I was talking to Mike Teager this week, a professional musician who is a guest on a forthcoming Company of Dads podcast. He may have it worse. His wife is a teacher in a different county from where they live. Their son has one week off and Mom has the next week off, meaning Mike is straddling two parallel vacation worlds.

I haven’t enjoyed the trade-off this year. What bothers me is I don’t have a solution – at least not yet! It’s like many things being a LeadDad. You have to get used to sitting with the uncomfortable.

Let me know: how do you handle competing school, vacation and work needs? (Surely more on this come summer time!)