Archive for the ‘Working Parents’ Category
Since the birth of Olivia (close to 9 now), there has always been one whole day during the week that I carve out of my work schedule to spend with the kids. This day is what my family calls “daddy day”.
In the past, we would plan the daddy day in advance. A special craft or new adventurous park or kiddie events around town or whatever fun activities we could dream up. One time a week, this was easy to prepare for, but now, every single weekday for two year old Sophie and three days a week for four year old Elizabeth are “daddy days.”
Officially, for the past six months, I am, “Work At Home Dad,” although ninety nine percent of the work I do is of the domestic variety. Originally, I figured on spending a few hours every afternoon working via computer doing viral marketing. (Imagine a sunny image of me, hacking on my laptop by a widow, steam from a freshly poured cup of tea rises and drifts as the afternoon passes and all my projects are completed ahead of schedule). The reality is, an extra forty five minutes at the most while the little ones are napping is all that I can scrape together for building a “work at home” business empire.
Pay Attention: Staying home with the children is not easy! (Every working parent who has a “stay at home” partner must know this). We have a basic daily/weekly routine which is a good game plan but there is a tinge of monotony even with all the many little surprises that occur while tailing little people from dawn to dusk. This observation and confession may be a bit to digest, I’ll break it down.
The “stay at home” routine (in a nutshell): Wake up, make coffee and prepare breakfast for all the kids. (Kim departs for work before anyone else wakes up). After a quick meal, I assist all four girls in preparing themselves for the day. Teeth, hair, face, clothes, fill backpacks and whatever myriad of preparations may surface. My two oldest can handle this all on their own, however occasionally a spot check is necessary and I will have to remind them to spend more time on personal hygiene or sometimes I’ll have to make a wardrobe adjustment which usually will hurt someone’s feelings. “Sweetie, you need leggings under ‘that’ skirt.” Or “We handed ‘that’ down to your little sister because it doesn’t fit you anymore. Please find something from your closet.” I’m positive my kids think the definition of “inappropriate” means “daddy says I look horrible in this!” If this makes me a bad dad, (in my childrens opinion). So be it.
Weather permitting, we all walk Olivia and Hailey to the elementary school. Our home is seven or eight lots down the street and they only complain about the short jaunt when the temperature is near freezing (any colder and we drive) but it is a perfect little warm up for the kids to get their bodies and minds ready for the day.
After we get Olivia and Hailey to school, then Elizabeth, Sophie and I soldier at a good pace to get to our next destination. What that destination may be depends on what day it is.
Stay with me reader, my points will be made regarding the difficulties in staying at home with kids. Read on.
Monday: Sophie and I will take Elizabeth to preschool. Her school is at a community center which we have a family membership to and perfect because I can drop Elizabeth off for PreSchool and then take Sophie to the staffed Play-Room while I get an hour of gym time. Afterwards, Sophie and I return home for snack, play, lunch, more play, a story time and nap. During nap time, (M-F), I normally prepare food for upcoming meals, fold a load of laundry, clean the kitchen (using the word clean loosely), make phone calls, check emails, look at anything work related and slack on that while I play an online game for thirty minutes. If I hustle the entire morning/afternoon, fighting for every extra second, I end up with a forty-five minute recess before the rest of the crew starts arriving home from school and work.
Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: Both Elizabeth and Sophie are with me all day. After taking Olivia and Hailey to school our “daddy day” adventures begin. Tuesday is usually the day we go on “field trips,” (zoo, museums, butterfly house or wherever that has a hint of educational value). Thursday is typically errand day if needed (markets or shops) and Friday is “whatever” day, (indoor pool, parks or play dates).
Wednesday: Sophie and I are together all day. We have comfortably gotten into the habit of frequenting the public library for a fun morning story time consisting of a few short readings, mixed in with a craft, some singing, some dancing and… it’s free. We also restock a steady supply of fresh books for everyone’s perusal. Then we head home for snack, play, lunch, more play another quick book reading and then nap.
Of course this is template of what a typical week looks like and things do mix it up a bit depending on the weather and or other factors (illness or whatever). We have a routine but keep it loose and it seems to work.
If you have meticulously read through this post up to this point then you can begin to understand and digest how staying at home with the kids may get a tiny bit repetitive and tiresome. So, why? Why is staying at home with the kids monotonous? We do plenty of activities. We get out. We have fun. So why all the ho-hum humdrum? Couple reasons. One difficulty is… It is… a bit… socially isolating. Life becomes solitary with no work friends or peers to chat with and mostly talking to children all day everyday. Loneliness? Not exactly, however the lack of adult conversation and contact is desolate. Yes, I do get out sans-kids a few evenings during the week, I play hockey, I do yoga classes and I get to the gym routinely which helps a bit to break the tedium of endless nonstop kidspeak.
One more conflicting observation and a big hurdle to get over while staying at home with the kids; it is a difficult job and it is stressful work. As much as I would like to claim to the contrary, stay at home parenting is a wearisome, non-stop, wage-less job but the ultimate payoff is not monetary rather a vast wealth in strong family ties and a deep transparent connection to my children which is something that money can’t buy and more then enough to make my life enjoyable.
Kim cried the night before reclaiming her status of working mom. She wept for Elizabeth Rose; not leaving the baby for more than an hour in two months, the anticipation of a severed attachment caused deep emotional and physical pain. One may have thought by the amount of tear fall that it was more wrenching than Elizabeth’s forced removal via cesarean section.
Kim bellowed at the thought of going back to work after six months. A consistent employment she has maintained for over thirteen years. The company is one of the few fortune 500 companies in our city and there are many benefits for full time employees. The corporation itself is great however her old boss was someone that Kim could no longer work with. Luckily while Kim was away on her extended maternity leave the department she worked in jostled a few positions around and Kim was on the receiving end of a promotion and would be under new management. Had the position change not occurred this journal entry may have been about a new stay at home mom.
There were many other concerns Kim mulled over the night before returning to work. One of which, for monetary reasons, we had to adjust the amount of preschool our girls attend, from three full days and one half day to four half days, 9am to 3pm. This meant that on two of those days Kim would have to wake up at 4:30am so she could work an eight hour shift and then pick-up the children at two different preschools. Kim also worried that I would have problems juggling the morning routine solo and getting the kiddos at preschool on time. Rightfully so, as the first week’s adaptation to mommy morning absence resulted in missing the curb side drop off every single day. The following week I made the necessary modifications to get everyone to school on time; got out of bed a bit earlier, had breakfast waiting for the kiddos, had a bottle warmed for baby, woke the kiddos earlier and had their backpacks stocked and parked by the back door awaiting our departure.
Two weeks later, two working parents later, Kim’s tears have subsided, the bank account replenished (three of the six months that Kim was on maternity leave was unpaid) and the kiddos may even be happier spending less time at school and more time with mom and dad. Although I can’t speak for Elizabeth Rose. She seems to be doing well at day care. She eats the same, sleeps the same and poops the same, so it is hard to tell at this point whether she is innocuous to the change.
Elizabeth Rose is doing great. She consistently sleeps through the night. Smiles when she sees familiar faces. Makes bubbles with her tongue and lips. Kicks and swings for dangling objects. The tumultuous four hour of colic a day has subsided to a mere fifteen minute 9pm fussy phase. She has added 2 pounds and 3 inches of size. Her back is strong and she holds her head high at great lengths while sitting up watching her big sisters or possibly watching out for them.
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