School Aged Parenting

I am suuuuper lucky to live next door to an awesome licensed daycare, run by a woman who has an enormous heart. We moved into our house almost a year before The Boy was born, so we had some time living next door to the daycare before The Boy started there, which meant we had time to observe how awesome our neighbor is with kids. She’s like the Toddler Whisperer. If I had to deal with 8 kids ages 18 months to 5 years old, I would shoot myself. This woman says it’s her calling, she’s amazing. If you live in Seattle and you need childcare, drop me an email and I’ll send you her info.

An awesome daycare means you don’t have to worry about your kids’ safety. It also means you don’t have to worry about making them a healthy breakfast or lunch. And if you need a babysitter on a Friday night, you know someone awesome. Your life as a parent is made immeasurably better by a quality child care provider.

The only problem with finding an awesome daycare is, when your kid starts elementary school, it’s like being thrown into a tornado. Holy cow, there is so much crap we have to deal with for The Boy from his school. There are events all the damn time. There’s picture day, there’s show and tell, there’s projects, there’s fundraisers…it’s just a lot. Last year, the last week of school, we as parents were invited to attend 4 different events on four different days during working hours. FOUR. I mean, I love The Boy’s school and the staff are amazing and he is happy and learning…but really, four events that working parents would need to skip work to attend? In one week?

Not to mention, now you’re making breakfast and lunch again (because, that school lunch is terrifying, have you seen it? Yikes). And because our daycare was next door, transportation to elementary school is way more complicated than it was for daycare. We also don’t get to check in with his teacher every day about how things are going, like we did with daycare. And, it’s not like we’re saving that much money, because we have to pay for before and after care, since school days are shorter than work days. Plus, there’s the whole summer thing, and winter break, and spring break, and the zillions of teacher in-service days and early dismissal days.

I feel like elementary school is still set up to work for families that have a stay at home parent who has time to come to school on a Wednesday at 3PM for some event, and volunteer in the classroom, and watch the kids during mid-winter break (why do we need one of these? The semester JUST started two weeks ago and we need a week off already?). And, 3/4 of families in America don’t have a stay at home parent now. I have a super flexible job, but I can’t always come to events that happen during the work day. Imagine if you’ve got a job that doesn’t offer the flexibility to take time off like mine does–like you’re a single low-income parent who doesn’t get vacation and sick days. It’s not really a feasible choice for that parent to miss work for a school event, is it? I wish schools would do a better job of thinking about what works for all families, and making it easier on us. Because, kids learn better when their families aren’t over-stressed.

I’m coping with being a parent of a school-aged kid by remembering that what makes me a good mom isn’t how much I volunteer at The Boy’s school. It’s that I love my kids and I am helping them grow up strong and smart and kind. And that I have also found them wonderful adults who love them and want the best for them and are willing to help out. Because, there is no way in hell I could do this alone.

3 thoughts on “School Aged Parenting

  1. I had no idea how hard having a kid in kindergarten was going to be. I accidentally volunteered to be a room parent when my boss hates for me to miss work. It is a bit of a culture shock. My one brilliant move was choosing to transfer my son to the same school my daycare lady’s son attends. she gets him to & from school with no extra charge & she does not charge extra to watch him on non school days like today. Man, I better get her a NICE Xmas gift.

  2. Thank you! I find now that my oldest is in Kindergarten my schedule has become ridiculous. Just drop-off and pick ups mean that I need to take off time from work and then stay late to make it up. I get so frustrated trying to coordinate just those things, that any further involvement is near impossible. I certainly feel that school was never meant for a working parent to try to navigate. When I was young we had extended family available to help my parents with child care, and we lived far enough away that there were school busses. I don’t live by any family, my husband and I both work full time, and we don’t live far enough away to be bussed, but WAY too far away for me to just wave my Kindergartener to walk to school. It’s been a nightmare of logistics and I’m just really lucky I have a relatively understanding boss. I don’t know how other parents manage, and it seems ridiculous that schools are still seemingly oblivious to how difficult it is for parents to deal with their unrealistic schedules, days off, off-track days (we’re stuck with a year round schedule), and half or short days. With so many families now having two full-time working parents, it seems we could find something that works better thank this.

  3. I understand feeling pressure to be at the school for every thing, but just know that it’s not really expected. Having been both a stay at home mom and working mom (whatever is the right way to say that … seems people get mad at every possible expression), I’ve seen all kinds of involvement. And, to be honest, being a SAHM didn’t mean I went to every single thing either. You’ve just got to pick what works and do what you can.

    I was even the PTA president one year … and I didn’t go to every. single. thing. You just can’t. It’s not possible with all the other demands of life and family.

    Just keep doing what works for you. The Boy will be excited when you’re there, but I’m guessing that he’ll understand when you’re not.
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