A lot of mums have said that as soon as you wave goodbye to your precious little one on his or her first day of school, you’ll turn into a blubbering mess right away, because who doesn’t? The kids have always been around you or waiting for you to come home from an exhausting day at work, or like for many COVID-19 parents been simply around you All The Time, and now your baby is about to navigate the world on their own. That’s a huge transition! But aside from getting yourself ready emotionally, there are other things you also have to worry about.
One pain point for all working-mums is the challenge of catering to both work and school drop-offs. Modern work arrangements are not aligned with school hours or as one of my fellow mums said. The childcare/school system world is yet to catch up with a modern woman’s work-life requirements.
How can you make it work if you have a 9-5 job (more like always on), are a single parent, or if both parents work full time? You are now going from your kids casually stomping into your zoom meeting every 3 minutes and 24 seconds (according to a Washington post published study) to demand chocolates, screentime, or other things you would usually not approve of) to having to plan school lunches, labeling school uniforms, and every single item and the school runs.
1. Ask for Flexible Work Arrangements
If your employer is fine with you having to work shorter hours on some days so you can drop off and pick up your child, then that would be a perfect way to manage your time. On other days you can work longer hours so you can finish the tasks you weren’t able to do during those times that you picked up your child. During your long hour working days, you can do daycare before and after school pickups. The school usually offers pick-up at a cheaper cost. Flexible hours at work will save you money and give you some quality time to spend with your little one.
2. Make Friends with Fellow Mums at School
If you can swing it, you may want to take a week off from work so you can take your time getting to know fellow working mums and make real connections. Trust us, it will be worth it. I have personally not been able to do it as a corporate working mum, but it was recommended by many others. You will usually find a fellow mum who either lives right across the street from your house or on your block. You can then arrange a pick and drop off schedule – volunteer on picking or dropping off your friend’s kids on some days that you have the time to do so and your friend can do the same thing for your kids when you’re at work. The secret to making this work is to make sure your kids and your friend’s kids get along to keep the relationship going. Try to arrange picnics, invite them during birthday parties, schedule play dates – invite them to any special occasion to strengthen the kids’ bond.
3. Prep Food for the First Week or Two
You’d be surprised at the great benefits preparing food for the whole week can give to you as a working-mum. There are tons of resources over the internet to guide you on how to properly prep food for the week. The basic benefits of doing this include being able to save money and time, reducing your stress on what to cook for the family and the kids, and it will also helping the family eat healthier. Keep it simple if you don’t have that much experience with food prep, schedule and write all the ingredients needed, and use recipes you’ve already cooked before. Meal prep is to help you save time so try to avoid over-complicated recipes.
4. Join a Group Chat or Facebook Group for Mums with Prep Kids
You will naturally gravitate to each other once prep school starts, so finding a group of mums who can relate to what you’re going through and can give tips on how to make it work shouldn’t be hard. Making friends with the mums in your child’s class will also help you get included in an exclusive group chat for working mums – if you can’t find one, create one yourself. As we mentioned earlier, you can share pick-ups or drop-offs once you are able to make friends with mums at the class. If you can find a holiday program in your area, you can also send your child with a friend on days that you won’t be able to pick him or her up early.
5. Get Support From Your Parents or Host an Au Pair or Demi Pair
Grandma and Grandad, if they’re strong enough to drive, surely wouldn’t mind every so often dropping off and picking up their grandkids from school. But for those who don’t have family around to help, hosting a Demi Pair might work.
Demi Pairs are allowed to help you out 20 hours per week – 15 hours is covered by food and board and you can give them some pocket money for the other 5 hours. How can they help you, you may ask? The little things they do to help a working mum like you are actually a huge time saver and your mental load can go down tremendously. They can help you with packing lunches, dropping and picking up kids from school, preparing snacks for kids, helping with homework, cooking dinner, getting the kids to bed, doing the grocery shopping, and doing some light household cleaning for you.
On top of that, you’ll feel much better when you know you have someone trustworthy and experienced to watch over your kids when you’re not around or when you have to come home late from work.
These tips we shared with you might seem a bit tricky but in reality, once you establish a routine it actually gets easier. You just have to find what works for you and your family so you can finally focus on the very first milestone your precious little one is about to take.