The following depicts a day in the life of a working parent, based loosely on my first week of work once both the kids were at school. The Home Edition will be coming shortly.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WORKING PARENT WITH KIDS FINALLY AT SCHOOL
Finally, both kids are in the same place! No more trying to juggle between different preschool/childcare/vacation care institutions with their work-unfriendly hours and/or exorbitant hourly fees.
Relish the opportunity to wear fancy clothes that have no egg stains on them.
Realise you have completely overdressed. All the cool kids in the office are wearing super casual. Even the CEO is in jeans. Whereas you resemble a 1980s airline stewardess with way too much makeup and power shoulders.
Make yourself some HOT coffee and drink it while it’s still HOT. Your tongue is burning but you don’t care.
A gaggle of colleagues are chatting animatedly in the kitchen. They appear to be letting you into the conversation. You’re so excited for the opportunity to talk to other adults and finally put your years of education to good use.
Someone asks you a question. They’re all looking at you expectantly. Quick, say something. Anything!
Manage to say something. The others nod thoughtfully. OK, so you were pretty sure you were saying something humorous and had expected polite laughter at a minimum. But it’s not a bad start.
Topic moves onto current affairs. Uh oh. How to not expose that you haven’t watched the news properly in about 7 years?
Topic seems to move towards the entertainment world. Good. That should be easier to deal with. Wonder if One Direction is still doing stuff and what clever thing you can say about them.
Wait, what’s that? Some of them have kids? Aren’t they 14?
Speaking of babies, someone starts talking about their own children. Whew. Finally something you can understand. So you chime in. Enthusiastically. For a bit too long. People start to politely exit the kitchen area.
That’s your cue to get back to the desk.
Concentrate. They’re only words on a screen. You can do this. “Mummy brain” is not a real thing, no matter what those scientists said.
Make another HOT coffee even though it’s only been an hour since your last one. Because you can.
Phone rings. Yikes, that looks a bit like it could be the school’s phone number. But you’ve got that important meeting in 10 minutes…
Hit the answer button with trepidation. “Um, hello?”
“Hi there, this is Cathy from the school office [heart skips a beat] and DON’T WORRY IT’S NOTHING SERIOUS.”
Relief washes over you. Clearly, Cathy has rehearsed this line for the sole purpose of preventing parental heart attacks.
She continues. “You forgot to sign a note yesterday, so your daughter’s teacher is just wondering if you give permission for her to watch a PG rated movie with the rest of the class. It’s called…..blah blah.. and it’s about… blah blah blah..”
Relief clouds your hearing. YIPPEE! You don’t have to pick up a sick child or set up a meeting with the principal to discuss your child’s bad behaviour. All that’s required of you is to say yes and continue on with your work day.
Hang up the phone. You realise that you have no idea what you just said yes to. For all you know the teacher is forcing the kids to watch Deer Hunter or that episode of Game of Thrones where someone gets graphically disembowelled and a pair of siblings get it on (oh wait, that’s all of them…).
You need to recover from that heart racing episode. That third cup of HOT coffee will calm you down, surely?
Meeting time. You randomly recall something hilarious your youngest said last night at dinner. Snort. Everyone looks at you. Oops, focus. It’s not good form to look too smiley when discussing the plight of the homeless.
Someone brings their new little baby into the office. OMG so cute! Could you convince the hubby to have another one?
School calls again. No panic. Prepare yourself to actually listen properly this time when the teacher discusses what movie the class is going to watch next. Perhaps you could even provide your own thoughtful and clever mini-review.
At the very least, you could pretend to care about the movie’s suitability for your child’s growing brain.
“Hi, it’s Cathy again and…blah blah…”
It slowly dawns on you that the “DON’T WORRY IT’S NOTHING SERIOUS” line has not been said yet. Should you remind her in case she’s forgotten?
Oops, she’s still talking.
“… and so Child XX has just been sent to sick bay and you’ll need to pick her up.”
Hang on, what did she just say? Ohhhhh…
“Um, OK. Is it serious?” you ask.
“As I just said, she has quite a high fever and could barely walk out of class” Cathy says, slightly huffily (subtext – do you care about your children at all?)
Actually start to feel worried about your child, intermingled with worry about having to leave work early.
Mutter apologies to your boss. Hope you only imagined the look of annoyance on his face and the tut tutting of your childless colleagues.
Head up to the school office. Wow, the drop off zone is so empty.
Given the timing, you realise that it’s easier for you to take your other child home too. He looks pleased to be having a part day off. And only on his second day of school ever. Is that a bad sign?
Give sick daughter some medicine and set her on the couch in front of her favourite movie (not Deer Hunter). She seems a bit listless but not critical.
Right! Time to do the work from home you promised the boss.
Supposed sick child seems to have made a spontaneous recovery and starts fighting with her brother. Justify ignoring them unless bones are broken or blood is drawn.
Uh oh, what was that crashing noise?
Sigh. Turn off laptop.
There goes the new baby idea.
Note: To all parents thinking of returning to the paid workforce, don’t worry. Most days are much calmer than this!