The Working Mom’s Guide to Childless Coworkers During the Holidays

It is that time of year, when working moms are panicking about how to prepare a Thanksgiving feast, ensure your home is a tribute to all that is holiday, manage a multitude of school programs, shop for the perfect presents, get your Christmas cards out, and somewhere amidst all of this we are supposed to work full-time (many of us as the breadwinner), too.

In this season of inclusiveness, however, what we may easily forget is the coworker that is covering work-related as we got stuck in traffic at the mall on our lunch break or dashing out for the school program. These are the people who are gracious enough to work during the holidays at times we need to be with our family.  Here are some tips for making this season better for them.

Time Off  Make sure you are giving them equal time off.  For example, I used to take administrative call duty the week of Christmas, and in turn I was given the week of New Years off.  And they gave me a bonus for working Christmas.  Another suggestion is in September to have people rank the days off around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years by their priority to ensure you have adequate coverage and that we try to give everyone at least some access to the days that are their priority. I find by using a joint spreadsheet that people are more considerate of each other and this allows managers to be as fair as possible during an already stressful holiday season.

Thank You A good friend of mine works for an IT startup holds an appreciation day for.  Here’s how it works: You nominate someone who helped cover for you during the holidays and they get a day at a hotel with golf and a spa.  One year, my kids drew pictures for the young manager who covered for me.  I tucked a gift card in with the pictures so she could splurge on herself. The theme here: sincerity and a heartfelt note. Even in modern times, Emily Post has a good point.

Be Mindful This is still your job.  Be mindful of the time you are putting in or not putting in.  I usually go in at least one weekend to catch up this time of year to make up for all the other distractions that exist.  I also take work home, and which is a sacrifice of sleep and zaps the creativity that drives our Elf on the Shelf scenarios, but it is the right way to help carry the load.

Your team player who does not have children may be someone who is struggling with infertility or simply chose a different path from the moms in the office.   Either way, the rules that guide the way you interact at the office every day should stay in effect during the holiday season:  keep your conversations during this blessed season professional, merry and bright, but remember that not everyone wants to hear what your kids did last night.

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