It is a fact that most parents work, some of us work full time, others part time and some are lucky enough to be able to work flexible hours at home around our children and their school days. However, bringing up children is a full time, permanent job with no sick pay, holiday pay and definitely NO option for flexible hours! It is important therefore, that all working parents have a system in place to support their working week and their children.
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The School run
At any school gate on any day of the week you will find an increasing number of parents who are literally dropping and running because they have to get to work. The school run is the beginning of a hectic, busy day for working parents that usually means working through breaks and lunchtimes so that you can finish early enough to pick up from school at 3pm! Parents who don’t have that option will despatch nannies, childminders or friends to do the pick up and then hope to be home by tea time.
Tired parents + tired children = stress!
As an experienced working parent of about ten years, I know only too well that the twilight zone (3.30-6) can be a make or break time in the family home. Children arrive home from school tired and hungry, often in a bad mood if they haven’t had a great day, and I arrive home from work in a similar state of mind! There is little point trying to do anything ambitious at this time, particularly if your children are very young. Instead just snuggle up on the sofa, have a drink, a chat and watch some children’s telly with them. Trying to finish off work, clean the house or, god forbid, go grocery shopping, are really not a great idea.
The dreaded homework…!
Most children will have some homework or reading to do every night so it’s best to be aware of this early on in the evening and plan around it if possible. Some children respond well to doing their homework when they get in from school because this leaves them the rest of the evening to do other things. You may find that your children need your help with their school work so clear the kitchen table and settle them down with all the equipment they need. Stick the kettle on and give them a hand. This will avoid stressed out children and it means that you are then free afterwards to get dinner and relax until bedtime.
As your children get older you will find after school time a lot easier. Even if you do decide to work longer hours your children will be used to the routine and know that as they grow up they will be expected to help a lot more around the house. Try to keep those precious hours just after school as stress free as possible by setting realistic goals and targets and avoid over ambitious plans. Too many children are engaged in too many after school activities because it suits their working parents. To have to participate in a different activity every evening really is too much and is not an answer to balancing your lives at all. It often ends with tired, fractious children who are simply exhausted. If you work, it’s hard and you will need a level of childcare but try to keep it simple and something that really suits your children, as well as you.