by Elizabeth Horn
Getting kids to after school activities can be accomplished when you work, but, sometimes, it's not pretty.
"OK, I'll go by daycare, and, pick up Daniel. You get the others, and, meet me at the soccer field. But, you need to hurry because Jody is waiting with John, and, Luke, but, she has to leave by 4:20 to get Nate to football. I'll meet you there about 4:30. Tommy will probably get there the same time I will, I'll take John, and, Luke to the game, you stay at practice with the little ones, and, he'll take the others to their football practice. He's going to call you if he's running late. If so, you'll need to leave the soccer field by 4:25 at the latest, and, meet him somewhere, and, give him the boys since he's the coach, and, it's best if he's not late.
Now, let's talk about getting everyone home."
Sounds like a parody of working parents, and, their kids' activities, doesn't it?
It's not, it's actually a true account of one afternoon for us a couple of years ago.
Those of you with small children, relax, it's not always like that. That afternoon required precision planning, even by our standards, but, I'm using it to illustrate that when you are a working mother, you can, indeed get your kids to after school activities using a little creativity.
When you work, the prospect of a 4:30 sports practice, or, music lessons at 3:30 is often enough to make you clench your stomach muscles.
Not to get into the whole "over scheduled children" debate, but, sometimes there's an activity or two that is important to the child, or, is just plain fun, and, there may be a way to get them there using a little creativity. For example, one season, the soccer coach volunteered to pick up my daughter at school to go to practice.
I work full time, and, many of my friends do not, so, often I will offer to bring everyone home from practice if they will take them there.
I have a standing agreement to pick up friends' kids on the way to school in the morning if the mother is home with a sick sibling, or, for early band practice in exchange for their help after school.
Sometimes, there are activities held right at the school, even for young children. One year, there was a gymnastics class on site, and, another year there was Tae Kwon Do. It might be worth checking your school or daycare.
Last year, at our school, a working mother sent out a few e-mails, and, built a "working mothers support group" by word of mouth that met in the evening once a month to discuss things like this. Some people who didn't know each other before, were able to match up their schedules, and, create solutions to the after school activities dilemma.
You're right, occasionally, after school activities are planned by people who don't have the same types of commitments as you do. But, sometimes you can't change it, and, you just have to cope with the seeming unfairness of it all.
Sometimes, you can work it out, and, it ends up being a lot of extra work for you. That’s life with kids. Sometimes, you can’t work it out at all, and, you feel bad. But, I hate to hear people say, "We just don't sign them up for anything because I work", before they even examine the possibilities.
After school activities can be tough on working mothers, there's no doubt. But, often, with a little creativity, there is a solution, even if it puts more than a mile or two on your car.
Soon enough, they’ll be getting themselves to activities, anyway, and, it won’t be a problem.. It’ll probably still be with your car, though.