School is not in session right now. Did you have difficulty navigating summer childcare? I know I did! and I do every summer, especially as my 13 and seven year old join different groups. The older child is old enough to stay home alone but the younger child is not. I choose to enroll them in summer day camp.
Being a working parent has many challenges, not just child care. But how to cope?
In a Harvard Business Review article, the author shared that a 2015 Pew study found 65% of working parents find work/life demands to be difficult. The core challenges of parenting are that your to-do list is never done. But getting these areas under control might help!
• Transitions– ending maternity leave, a new baby, new step-parent, summer break, new school, leaving for college. I suggest rehearsing. Do a full run-through of getting ready for the first day back at work or school or summer camp or the new sitter. Rehearsals will help you find the tough spots, how long it will reasonably take and prove to yourself that you can do this!
• Practicalities– Make doctor appointments online, automate bills, set up prescriptions well in advance....In short, become a good planner! Sit down with your to-do list and a calendar and spend 30 minutes planning. Stop putting off what you have been putting off, like registering for school or religious ed or park district sports. Get rid of commitments you don't need to keep and that don't make anyone's life better, such as an inessential meeting.
• Communication– Be as transparent as possible when you tell your spouse when and how to pick up at daycare or telling your boss you will be out of town, or telling your children you can't be home tonight. At work, be very transparent. If your daughter has a dance recital, don't sheepishly say, “I’m headed out for a few hours.” Say where you’re going and why, when you’ll be back, what you’ll do then, and your excitement for the work.
• Identity– Will you attend your son’s violin performance or an important meeting at work? are you a busy parent or a busy worker?Reframe and recast your identity as the professional working parent who puts the kids first when (fill in the blank when this fits for you)and puts work first when (fill in the blank for your own job). Don't apologize for the stands you take and be proud of taking those stands!
“A Working Parent’s Survival Guide: The Five Big Challenges – and How to Deal with Them” by Daisy Wademan Dowling in Harvard Business Review, July/August 2019 (Vol. 98, #4, p. 147-151) https://hbr.org/2019/07/a-working-parents-survival-guide
Erin Rae is the Curriculum Coordinator at Lockport 91.
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