Working during Back to School time—I so remember those days. Scurrying around on my lunch hour, trying to do as much prepping as I could before and after work. Each year, it seemed like the to-do and to-buy list kept getting bigger and bigger, and along with it, everything that I needed to do did too. And forget about the weekends, BTS swallowed those whole, too.
Once school did officially start, there were the Open Houses, Coffee with the Principal, and other events that sometimes didn’t always go well with my working schedule. I wanted to participate in everything I could, but couldn’t always do so. I often felt that Working Parent Guilt thing during these moments. There was only so much of me to go around and something had to give.
This time of year is synonymous with Working Parent Guilt and Back to School Blues. During the summer months, we have it easy for the most part. The kids are in camp or with the babysitter, and there aren’t any school activities or events to go to. But the minute August or September hits, you are confronted with the fact that while you are doing the everything you can for your family, it doesn’t feel like it is enough.
But I say this—don’t fall victim to the guilt. Do what you can to the best of your ability. Don’t quell or hang onto the items that you aren’t able to do.
Last August, I wrote a piece called 6 Things Working Parents Can Do to Stay Active During the School Year. In it, I listed tips that can help working parents participate as much as they can in their child’s education. I feel that the tips are tried and true (and tested on ME for over 15 years) and it helped me get through my son’s school years while I was working (he’s now 20, and he survived. I did too!).
But before you can actually do the tips, you have to rid yourself of the negativity that comes with being a Working Parent and perhaps missing school events and activities.
Let me put it to you like this: I don’t know any parent or guardian, working inside the home, working outside of the home, or staying at home who hasn’t missed a school event or activity of some sort. Why? Because we are human. We get sick. We have other kids who, perhaps we can’t find a sitter for and can’t attend, or maybe there’s another appointment or something that we cannot get out of. Don’t let the notion that because you are a working parent that you are lesser than. There is no perfect parent, period. Once you realize this, you can stop competing with this fake idea of parenting that means you are a bad one if you don’t attend every event listed at your child’s school.
Being a Working Parent means you have to be creative. You’ve got to come up with ways proactively to be a participant in your child’s education. In my post about 6 Things Working Parents Can Do, I give you realistic tips on how you can be present and accounted for when it counts.
You can do things like, spend your lunch hour at the school, do a drive by or drop-in (surprise visit) at the school which would make your kid smile. The most important thing you can do is to show up when it is necessary to do so. Parent Teacher Conferences are an example of a time where you need to be present for. In instances like this, your working schedule takes a backseat. Schedule accordingly.
If you are late to work on the first day of school because you want to snap a photo or ride the bus with your kid, do it. When it comes to these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, they are not to be missed.
Now that I am a Work at Home Mom (or WAHM), I appreciate the ability to be able to make my schedule around my daughter’s activities and school events. But even I miss things every once in awhile due to my traveling schedule. When this happens, I don’t feel guilty. I communicate with her and the teacher so there are no surprises, and her dad will attend if he can. We both like to be there, but when we can’t, we have the divide and conquer parenting plan.
You don’t have to suffer with Working Parent Guilt or the Back to School Blues.
Do the best you can, and be there in person to support your kids whenever possible and as often as you can. They will survive. And so will you.
Need some more Back to School tips and tools? Check out The Cubicle Chick 2014 Back to School Guide.
It feels to me that our school system is set up for helicopter parents where there are two parents and one or two children and everyone is gung-ho and keeping a calendar and forsaking all else. I haven’t found a way – in over 20 years – to be present for everything school and successfully run a household at the same time, let alone work. I cannot imagine being a single parent on top of it. We have eight kids, six in school. I work at home just a few hours a week. Even with my time spent primarily on raising kids,. I get a little mental when school starts and again when it ends, trying to keep up. And that’s WITHOUT needing to work full time. We all just do our best 🙂 Still, I feel a lot of guilt, which adds to the burden and sucks energy, so I *try* not to dwell on what I can’t do.