Some days my husband has to pick my daughter up. Some days she goes to after school care. She doesn’t know I’m coming today so she’s not looking for me. She’s laughing and talking to her friends, looking around for the appropriate line to join to be ushered to her afternoon care. She looks up and sees me and her face splits in two with a giant smile. She runs and throws her arms around me.
She’s hot and sweaty from the summer day and her sticky cuddle is sweet. I savour that moment and reflect on how hard it is for parents who don’t have the luxury of being available to collect their child after school. Or even to drop them at the school gate. Many working parents rely on before and after school programs to help them manage their work routines and that means many families have longer and more complex days than most.
When you are a working parent, nothing happens by accident. Everything is planned. There are some things all parents of kids in after school care understand:
1. You have to be organised.
You can’t wake up and wonder what to make the kids for lunch. You have to have that routine down to a 10 minute lunch box slam or better still – do it the night before! There’s nothing more gratifying than waking to a freshly packed lunchbox. (You can enjoy this knowing that parents with those extra few hours to kill every morning will still be hunting the lunchbox from the day before when you’re enjoying your drive through latte).
2. No one really knows you.
You don’t know the parents of your child’s classmates. When your child attends weekend birthday parties and the parents are laughing and chatting about what happened at canteen last week, you will stand awkwardly to the side waiting for another parent just like you to turn up. They eventually do, so you can laugh together about how good it is not to have to do ‘canteen’. Or you can drop and run and enjoy some downtime checking your Facebook waiting outside in the car.