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Columbus Day: Joy for school kids, pain for working parents

Thank you, Christopher Columbus. You "discovered" America. Now could you discover me some back-up child care?

As parents know, Columbus Day is a holiday observed by schools, day cares... and not much else. Sure, if you work for the post office or a bank you might have the day off, but most working parents are expected to work today.

As Veronica Arreola writes on the Work It, Mom blog, what used to be the highlight of her year is now the bane of her existance: school holidays. She writes:

My plan was to rely on our babysitter to take the kid for at least half of the day; alas life interrupted that plan with a family emergency on her end. Instead the kid is coming with me to work and her backpack filled with her homework, pencils, and crayons. And I am serious when I say that I’m lucky. I mentioned that she was coming with me at staff meeting and half the table sat up straighter and smiled. I’ll have to trust her big time though…I have to sit in on an interview for at least 30 minutes. Hmmm…maybe I’ll have to bring a DVD as well. I hate to use media as a babysitter, but sometimes you just gotta suck it up.

In response to her post, Karla E. writes in with a good suggestion -- team up with other working parents.

The best solution is to make friends with other parents in the same school district. We trade off kids. Either I take a day off and take extra kids, or I let my kids visit one of their friends for the day. Some of the other Moms work, some have more flexible schedules, and some stay at home…Dads too, but it seems that lately it’s mostly been Moms. My kids get to enjoy their day off - and sometimes I do too.

This is my first Columbus Day as a working mom, so I admit the day care holiday took me by surprise. Lucky for me, Nanny and Papa graciously offered to babysit, and are at this moment probably trying to persuade my 2-year-old son to leave the playground for lunch. Good luck with that! (And thanks!)

So, what do you do to celebrate the explorer's special day? Do you take the day off work, arrange for back-up child care (and pay top dollar), rely on family or friends, or call in sick (with the Columbus Day flu)?

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