I’m teetering 2 millimeters from falling over the edge…I’m driving myself bonkers.
If you recall, one of my big decisions last year was whether I was going to hold my kids back from kindergarten. I hemmed and hawed about it, and long story short, I held them back for a variety of good reasons. One of the benefits of doing so, among many other benefits, was that I gave myself another year to “figure it all out.” I even wrote a post last year, in which articulated how much I was dreading the eventual reality of being a working mom with school-aged kids. And now, here we are now in May and I am here at that very spot I was dreading. I am now forced to make some big decisions, specifically:
1) Where will my kids go after school? (I have these pictures in my head of my kids getting on the WRONG BUS and ending up who-knows-where…)
2) What activities are my kids going to take part in next year?
3) Can I handle it logistically? (AACK!!!!!)
The answer to number 1 is easy, sort of. I’ve already put a deposit down on an afterschool care program at the Y, but all this does is give me the peace of mind that if I don’t get my act together with all the other extracurricular activities, that they have a place to go after school. The answer to numbers 2 and 3 are not quite as straightforward.
My kids have already expressed interest in participating in soccer – they’re doing it now for fun on Fridays at Parks and Rec, but starting in kindergarten, it goes from being a Parks and Rec activity to a legitimate soccer league activity. I looked into our local league’s schedule, and practice is on Mondays at 4:15 (with games at 10:45 (Girls) and noon (Boys) on Saturdays).
Even if I could figure out how to juggle the 4:15 practice schedule, because my daughter takes ballet on Saturdays (which she LOVES), we will no longer be able to do ballet on Saturdays. So I looked at the schedules at our local ballet schools: 4:00 Mondays or Wednesdays at one school; and 4:45 on Tuesdays or 10:30 on Saturdays at another school (much better but still a little challenging).
My daughter is BEGGING to do kindergarten-level cheerleading, as she is the ultimate girly girl (in her mind, cheerleading and ballet go together). Practices there are at 4:30 on Fridays, games are usually in the afternoon on Saturdays.
Even if I could figure out the proper schedule, transportation to and from the activity is a problem. Some of the activities here do have school buses that go from the school to the various fields, but at the younger ages, a parent needs to meet the bus. So even if I could arrange for my kids to be on the bus, someone will need to meet them on the other end.
Basically as a regular office-worker, where a 5PM departure is considered EARLY, I am S-O-L…
In order to maintain my sanity, I have decided the following:
1. Only 2 “official” activities per kid. For my son, it will be soccer and TBD (some sort of music or science). For my daughter, it will be ballet and cheerleading. We will also do some non-official activities – enrichment clubs that are part of our extended care program, and likely some basic music lessons with our next door neighbor who is an amazing singer and voice instructor.
2. I will just BITE THE BULLET and just enroll them, and figure it all out later. If I wait, it will never happen, and if I don’t just enroll them now, I will not only be charged the late enrollment fee, I will miss some important dates like uniform fittings, etc.
3. I am asking that my hours be shifted so that I “officially” leave at 4PM. As an exempt employee and since I work more than a 40 hour workweek anyhow, the only thing it will do is enable me to say “I have to go…” when I really have to go. It means that my husband will have to wake the kids, get them ready for school (I will have to teach both hubby and girlie how to pull my girlie’s hair back) and put them on the bus, as I will be out the door earlier than their day gets started. It also means that the balance of my work day will be spent on the phone after 4PM or catching up at night – can you imagine the looks I will get from the other parents when I’m on a conference call while on the soccer fields??
This whole juggling act is both difficult and frustrating. I understand that schedules cannot be catered to all working parents and that although my situation is becoming more common in town, I still represent a minority. Although I know I can’t expect all activities to be geared towards my schedule, it would be nice if there were at least one or two activities in town that occurred after 5PM so that we working parents had at least a few options. I know that many parents have had to resort to nannies, au pairs or babysitters to address the scheduling issue but for us, that’s just not an option. So in the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for me that the 4PM arrangement works and that I don’t in fact accidentally teeter over the edge…
As an aside, any recommendations that ANYONE has are welcomed…I need all the ideas that I can get.