There is no question that parenting a healthy, happy 10 ± 2 year old kid is easier than parenting an infant, but one thing that has surprised me in the past few years is how much more challenging it is to balance work with the school calendar.
When my daughter was in preschool, this aspect of being a working parent was easier because, although the preschool was closed for vacations etc., it typically followed the university calendar pretty well, and it was open from early to late. We seldom needed our daughter to be at preschool for the full, long day, but the option was there if we did need it.
At my daughter's current school, the school-day schedule is excellent, and there are after-school activities 5 days/week. School gets out at 4 pm, and she loves having an extra hour or so after school to play with her friends or participate in a play or musical or dance performance.
The main challenge now is that there are at least 2, and commonly 3 or more, no-school days/month on days when my husband and I have to teach and do the usual essential academic things (meetings, meetings, and meetings). On such days, we try to arrange for our daughter to play at a friend's house for part of the day, but sometimes she has to come to campus with us. She is old enough to entertain herself for long periods of time with a book, a pen and paper, or a computer, and sometimes she comes to a class or meeting with one of us. In fact, attending her dad's large intro-level class last year was a revelation for her. After class, she asked, "Daddy, did you know that no one in the back of the room is listening to you?".
It has been semi-difficult to deal with so many no-school days, especially when there are 3 or more in a month, but it has been manageable. Next year, however, our daughter will be attending a new school. All our options involve a decrease in the amount of time she is or can be at school. She will have the same number of no-school days, and there will only be the option of after-school activities 3 days/week.
Most of the time it won't be a major problem for my husband and me to take turns to leave campus an hour or two early 2/days week, but it will be difficult when one of us is traveling or ill or just generally insanely busy.
Fortunately we both have very flexible jobs that will allow us to manage this new situation somehow, but in general, what are working parents of school-aged kids supposed to do? Work part time? Hire a baby-sitter? I guess I didn't think we would need to hire a baby-sitter for our daughter at this age when we have not needed one up until now.
5 months ago