My phone just dinged, again, with another text from my carpool group. I love my carpool group. If it weren’t for them, with my two kids in two different sports on different teams, on opposite ends of the city, I would be in the car three hours a day just getting my kids to and from their extra-curricular activities.
If not for my carpool, I would be in the car nineteen hours per week. That is, quite literally, a part-time job…and I have only two babies. I try to imagine managing this with three or four children and it gives me real-life heart palpitations. I bow to all of you mamas of many. Bless you and your busy schedules.
Working mothers often have a double duty. They run their businesses or work their shifts, and then they get home and have to take care of things there. For many working moms this means taxiing their children to various activities.
My carpool saves me from all of those hours in the car. (I love you guys. Please don’t ever leave me.) We do, however, spend hours each week coordinating who is driving whom. When it is my turn to drive, I always worry I will forget someone’s kid (or my own).
One time, one of our other parents actually did forget my kid. The other parent was mortified, and I couldn’t even be upset because any day now that is going to be me. Let’s be honest, it’s all just a circus act where we are performing with hundreds of balls in the air, and there’s no rehearsing, and we don’t get paid.
So, if you feel like you are running a taxi service for your kids, whether you are actually driving or you are coordinating, YOU ARE. It also is no surprise that working parents are especially burdened because of the need to disrupt work hours, oftentimes weekly and sometimes even daily.
You may find it difficult to keep up with everything your children do as well as getting things done. From one mom to another, here are a few recommendations I have after working in this role for over a decade.
Decide as a family what is most important. Does your family want to eat meals together, or will your child’s activities keep you from doing this? Will it put a strain on the family’s budget for your child to play a sport or take part in an afterschool activity? Get together with your people and consider what is the best thing for you and your sweet family.
Limit your children to one afterschool activity per season. It’s easy for children to want to do everything. I have a child who wants to do EVERYTHING her time will allow. If you also have one of these babies, help them realize that some practices or activities may overlap. They’ll be less likely to have conflicts (and so will you) if you limit the activities they can join.
Think about the time required for each activity. Ever had a child play a competitive sport? As they get older, it is easy to commit to such a team without considering the time required to participate.
Get a calendar and combine the schedules for each family member’s activities. We love the Cozi app! We assign each person a color so you can see who has activities on a given day. There are some really cute paper planners/calendars with adorable stickers to liven up your kitchen counters.
Pay attention to your child’s grades. While I strongly feel each child has the individual responsibility to monitor his or her performance in school, we as parents must check to be certain grades don’t drop. Stand firm that schoolwork comes first.
Be ready for unexpected medical expenses. Sometimes you can injure yourself when you play sports. Treatment for broken bones, sprains, strains, shin pain, or dislocations is rarely inexpensive. Your primary health insurance plan probably already pays a good majority of them, but an emergency room visit tends to generate unexpected expenses. This is where a supplemental insurance policy can help. The benefits are paid directly to you as the policy owner, so you can spend them on anything you like.
Examples of how you could spend your policy benefits would be for deductibles or coinsurance not covered by your primary plan, meals out, your rent or mortgage payment, childcare, pet care, and lawn or home maintenance. With supplemental health insurance, you can focus on your child’s recovery and not worry about your finances. Choosing the right supplemental insurance is an important decision and can be tricky. So, for more guidance and details about this coverage, please be sure to ask your insurance agent.
Juggling a job, home life and your child’s afterschool activities can be stressful. Let’s stay strong and remember this wonderful enrichment time outside of school often only lasts eight to ten weeks. Enjoy cheering them on and watching them grow.
PS. Keeping it together is just an illusion.