Our children had an unexpected day off school last week.
No sooner had I dropped my twosome off at breakfast club, battled through traffic to work and settled down to wade my way through my tasks, my mobile phone pinged with a text.
It informed me school would be closed that day due to a broken boiler and no hot water and heating.
I’m sure that ‘ping’ kickstarted a feeling of panic for some parents – especially those who worked further afield and had already arrived to work at Manchester or were sitting in motorway traffic on their daily commute.
No doubt those with helpful family members living nearby were instantly on their mobiles begging for emergency childcare help to save them juggling their workload.
Luckily for me, I don’t work too far a drive from where I live and my boss kindly suggested I go and collect my children and do my work from home.
So homewards I went and when I arrived at the school, I discovered the children sitting in the school hall buoyant with excitement at this sudden adventure.
It did seem a real wartime pulling together type of atmosphere with everyone huddled there in their coats merrily chatting and looking thrilled at missing their usual lessons.
In fact, the faces of my children actually looked slightly disappointed when they saw me, as apparently the teachers were just about to bring out the emergency rations of hot chocolate!
They seemed happy when they got home and settled down to watch a DVD while I switched on my laptop and got on with my work.
In fact, the two of them were incredibly good all day at keeping themselves entertained and apart from feeding them, I didn’t have to do much to keep the boredom at bay as they contentedly played games, did craft activities and spent time with their pet guinea pigs.
Although both my children love school, I’m sure they felt the unforeseen day of closure was a bit of a treat.
It got me thinking back to my own school days and the unexpected thrill you would get on those rare days when it was announced school was closed because of heating problems or bad weather.
Mind you, in those days, it had to be a full on blizzard with risk of perilous avalanches before the weather was deemed severe enough to close the school.
Nowadays, with all the health and safety rules and fears of being sued, a smattering of snow and ice sends the whole country into panic.
The other thing we didn’t have in ‘my day’ was mobile phones to send text messages to parents to tell them about the school being closed.
Nor did we have websites where you could get the most up-to-date information,
Instead, we had an alphabetical ‘chain system’ where in the event of a school closure, someone from the school office would call the home of the child whose name came first alphabetically and it would be their duty to call the next person and so on.
The flaw in this plan was that it relied on people keeping hold of the number of the person they were supposed to be ringing and actually doing it.
If you didn’t like the person whose name came next in the alphabet to you, you could always play the hilarious prank of ‘forgetting’ to call them and think about them obliviously turning up to school.
However, this would also mean the rest of the class after that would also be unaware of the closure, which wouldn’t make you very popular.
The unexpected school closure got me thinking – why don’t adults get unexpected days off work?
In my working life, I have had days when we’ve sat in a freezing cold office when the heating has been faulty or hot days when we’ve been left sweltering because of broken air conditioning.
But not once have I been sent home from work which seems deeply unfair.
Do they think grown-ups don’t feel the cold? Or that they aren’t capable of getting too hot?
Considering my children never seem to feel the cold and often willingly go without jumpers and coats while I am there shivering in my woolly jumper, I think there is a strong case for bonus days off for parents too.
I guess that’s why the concept of ‘Duvet Days’ was introduced – which work a bit like an extended snooze button.
Duvet Days are meant to allow workers a day off at short notice and were introduced to stop people from “throwing a sickie”.
The idea is that if you are nursing a hangover or just can’t face getting out of your snuggly bed on a cold January morning, you can legitimately take the day off.
As someone who’s never had the inclination (or the courage) to pull a sickie, I think Duvet Days sound a great idea.
The only problem is, I’d want one every Monday.