A woman in her early 20s is asking the people of Reddit, “Am I The A**hole for not covering shifts of coworkers with kids on Christmas?”
While some people can’t even imagine missing Christmas morning with their kids, there are tons of people in the workforce that miss Christmas, birthdays, and other important events and holidays every year.
There is a bit more to this situation, and it sheds some light on the dilemmas of working parents and the expectations of their childless coworkers. @u/Caffeinated_Tragedy, whom we’ll call Kristy, is the original poster that faced some backlash at work. She works in healthcare, and her work’s policy is that employees work every other Christmas.
According to the post, Kristy worked last Christmas (the 23rd-26th) and was really looking forward to the time off to relax with her family. Yet her childless status instantly made her a target of her coworkers.
After Kristy’s work’s holiday schedule came out, she stated she was approached by several coworkers with young children who asked her if she could cover their Christmas shifts. Knowing that these same coworkers would likely not cover her holiday shifts in 2022, and not wanting to work three Christmases in a row, Kristy declined. Apparently this didn’t go over well.
“Seeing the annoyance of coworkers when I declined [to switch] made me feel both bad and frustrated. I understand that everyone obviously wants to be with their kids during Christmas, but I want to be with my family too. So I’m wondering… [Am I in the wrong] for saying no to working Christmas if I don’t have kids?”
The people of Reddit were overwhelmingly in support of the original poster. One commenter stated, “You worked it last year and your vacation plans are just as important as those with kids. You did your part and now it’s someone else’s turn.”
Another poster stated that people with kids figure out how to celebrate holidays and start traditions of their own when work gets in the way. “My mom was a nurse and often had to work Christmas day. And guess what… we survived! We still had our Christmas day celebration, just on another day.”
Another commenter suggested tough love for the coworkers giving Kristy a hard time. “You should remember that it’s not OK for them to guilt you about it. They decided to work the same job you did, they just don’t want the same rules to apply to them because they have kids. If they don’t want to have to work Christmas the only real option is to find a place that doesn’t make them or to convince your company to change its policy.”
The Difficulties Of Working Parents
It’s no secret that working parents and mothers, in particular, have a difficult time balancing work and family life. Even throughout 2020 when people shifted to working from home and many schools were remote, working mothers reported burnout and fatigue. Plus, single mothers and those with little to no support held an even heavier burden.
So, when a mother finds a job that provides necessities for their family (i.e. healthcare, a steady income, and some flexibility), they will likely stay at that job whether or not they are expected to work holidays. So, the idea that they should just find a new job is kind of ridiculous. But, in the long run, it could be an option.
Coworkers Shouldn’t Suffer
Seeing your kiddo’s face light up on Christmas morning is magical. However, learning that you won’t be able to see it this year doesn’t mean that your coworkers should suffer. It also doesn’t mean the coworkers with kids shouldn’t ask (nicely) to switch shifts with others. There’s no harm in trying to switch, it’s the audacity to think that your wants are more important than your coworkers.
When someone acts entitled or annoyed when they don’t get their way, all bets are off. It’s doubtful that a coworker would do you a favor at any other time when you take out your frustrations at them, whether it’s a holiday or not. Keeping in mind that people without kids are still people with families, parents, and lives is important.
One commenter put it well, “They had a whole year to plan accordingly. I don’t have any children, but I value my time with family around the holidays. I also have young kids in my family who I enjoy seeing grow up. A coworker’s choice to have kids doesn’t trump others’ desire to enjoy their free time.”
There will always be jobs that require holiday work. And, there will always be jobs, especially in the human services field and healthcare, that require you to be available at all times of the day and night. Holiday pay is a big perk for working during the holidays and some people might even prefer it to the hustle and bustle of the season.
Overall, Kristy is not an a**hole for keeping her holiday vacation and working parents aren’t necessarily horrible for asking her to switch. Keeping attitudes in check and being gracious is ideal though, especially during the holiday season.
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