The deck is stacked against families with two working parents.
For the longest time, I did not realize just how much.
I had the privilege to spend over a decade as a full-time stay-at-home mom with my kids.
Mid-day practice? No problem.
Late morning start? No worries.
Parent meeting directly after school? We’ve got this!
Life looks different now. My life now more closely resembles that of 62% of Americans who live in homes where both parents work.
My daughter has practices that meet from 9-11 and 4-6. I can pick her up on my lunch or after work, but she is on her own for getting there.
My sons recently went to a 2-week activity that began at 8:30. The accompanying paperwork stated, “No children are to be dropped off prior to 8:15.” Hmm…well, if it was one day, my boss would understand. I cannot ask to arrive 30-40 minutes late every day for two weeks!
Youth events for the church are often held from 1-4.
Camp pick-up takes place at 9 am.
The list goes on and on.
I know I am late to the party on this one, and that working parents have been dealing with this issue for much longer than my selfish little brain has been aware of it.
When I was in the position of the parent who could provide transportation to all of these during the day events, I would openly provide transport for others’ children as well.
That is how we make it. We have to ask for help. I am fortunate enough to have two healthy and loving parents who live in the same community. They provide taxi service for my kids to a wide variety of events in their lives.
That two-week program? Yep, grandma to the rescue, picking up the boys every morning and getting them where they need to be.
I am nothing but amazed at parents and families who do not live close to extended family and can still make it work.
I have even gone so far at times to call the organizer of a local youth event to let them know how restrictive their hours of events are. I pointed out that by holding them midday, there is a large majority of the intended populous that is excluded.
Even our local pool closes at 8 pm, which is a pretty respectable time. Until you realize that the staff calls for “All out of the pool” around 7:45. So a working parent who gets off of work at 5 pm, goes home to get ready to take their kids to the pool would arrive around 6/6:15. At that time, the family would be asked to pay full price admission, with the opportunity to swim and participate in the fun for approximately an hour and a half. That is IF the family decided to postpone dinner until after the pool time. If dinner is involved, the family would arrive at the pool around 7, leaving approximately 30-45 minutes of family fun time, at full price, of course.
During the school year, assemblies, presentations, and special events are typically held around 9 am and 2 pm. These times are incredibly difficult for the working parent to accommodate.
I can honestly admit that I took the liberty that I had to attend such events for granted for a very long time.
There is no easy solution to this, as we all would like more hours added to the day.
Employers who are supportive of the family dynamic are a great start. In my current position, I have the ability to attend the 2 pm assembly.
Not all moms (and dads) have that same liberty.
It wears on the parent, in ways that people who are not in that position may not understand.
The perception that the parent absent from the event does not care, or that they are somehow not involved in their child’s lives. This is not the case.
We WANT to be at the events for our kids. That may even be the type of parent we envisioned ourselves being. Life changes though, and it is not always possible.
We are all just doing the best we can, and hoping that when our kids look back on it, they will know it was all in love.