If I had a dollar for every time my kids asked me to get off my phone or laptop, I’d be living in a Kourtney Kardashian-style pad right now. I’m not proud of this, but I’ve also come to the realisation that the job I have (and love) requires me to stay on top of what is going on in the world. I have the ability to work from home and while this affords me many luxuries, like attending all of their school activities and not having to use before and after school care, it also means that I work a lot while they are around me. The balance is something I’m still working on, but all in all, I’m pretty fortunate. Very fortunate, in fact. For many parents, work takes them outside of the home for long hours and on top of that, they’re also required to put in the hard yards in their home time. They work hard – for the careers they are passionate about and/or to set up the best life they can for their families.
Being a working parent is hard. Sometimes, we are forced to do things that aren’t exactly the ‘ideal,” like the endless times I’ve told my kids, “just give me five minutes,” that often stretches through to 10, 20, 30 minutes and beyond. Sometimes, we have to take work calls or respond to emails at times when we’d prefer not to; times like the school or childcare pick-up.
A daycare centre in the US has caused much debate after a sign they posted at the front of their facility has done the rounds on social media. In case you missed it, here it is:
The photograph was shared by Juliana Farris Mazurkewicz, a mother from Texas whose children attend the daycare centre that posted the above sign. Although Juliana didn’t take offence to the sign herself, it has caused quite the stir and has been shared over 1.3 million times with over 10,600 comments both celebrating and condemning the sign.
Being a working parent is hard. Sometimes, we are forced to do things that aren’t exactly the ‘ideal.’
I totally get the idea behind it. If there is any time I like to ignore my phone it’s at school drop-off and pick-up, because I want to look into my kids’ eyes and wish them a happy day. I want them to see that I am just as excited to see them as they are me at pick up; to get lost in a huge hug without any distractions. I love when they pull out their 5000 bits of artwork and handwriting practice to show me, tell me who they played with and what the cheekiest kid in class got up to. So I get it. Kids need attention – our attention – at pick up time.
There are a couple of things that don’t sit right with me about this sign though, and a lot of it lies in the delivery. Why so aggressive, Rose Hill daycare centre? If this sign didn’t come off so judgemental, there’s a good chance that it would be much more palatable, making the heart of the message more digestible. Instead of using language like “appalling,” using bolded caps and exclamation marks to drive their point home, maybe a more tactful and friendly approach would have worked better?
The thing is, no one knows why some parents are on their phone at pick-up. Maybe they’re on an urgent work call, one that could close a financial deal or cement a promotion. Maybe they’re receiving a call from a specialist they’ve been on a waiting list for months to see. Maybe it’s a call from their partner checking in on how the kids are…..or maybe they’re just scrolling through Facebook. The fact of the matter is, no one knows what any of these scenarios are, and while it can be tough to see the disappointment on a child’s face at the feet of their distracted parent, we all know that often, things are not what they seem.
While the idea behind the sign is no doubt well-intentioned and with the children’s best interest at heart, I think there’s certainly a more effective and kinder way to do it. As parents and educators, we need to work together in order to get the best from our children, not against each other – and there’s no quicker way to alienate a parent than make them think you’re judging them. After all, aren’t there already enough people in our lives that have that job covered?
Do you think this sign was a good or bad idea?