Tuesday, October 05, 2010

School year scheduling

We've made several new scheduling transitions for the 2010 school year thus far, to move toward balancing the rocky mountain/valley that is our work-life, especially now that both kids are in public school. The changes all arose from my need to adjust my work hours, because getting home after 6:30 p.m. every night just was draining me, with only 90 minutes to spend with my family before they were all in bed for the night.

What we had been doing:
When Rosie started Kindergarten two years ago we made some big changes to make the timing work, first with Monkeyrotica changing his work schedule, arriving super-early and leaving super-early (and as a result, exhausted and going to bed the same time as the kids). Grandma S came to our house every morning for the past two school years to help Rosie get ready for school while I took Dash to daycare. The first year and a half, Grandma S also came after school to pick up Rosie from the bus stop, but when we moved Dash to a pre-K closer to home this past January, Monkey was able to make the bus in time.

What's the latest twist? 
Monkey still has his early-early workday, but I'm dropping both kids off at morning-care (a.k.a. school-age child-care or SACC). At work, I've shortened my days slightly to arrive home in time for the bus because I've decided that the after-school time between 4-6 pm are golden hours of family engagement time. Even this early in the school year, the kids are bringing home homework, which is best done while they have enough energy to complete it, not after dinner when they're starting to get bleary and surly. Also, many age-specific after-school activities, like sports clubs, scouts, art classes and the like are scheduled right when school ends, so if I want to get them to an activity, I need to be around. Monkey's already said that due to his complete disdain for all things sport-related, he's not schlepping kids to sports training. And the other activity that the kids were missing out on? Playing with the neighborhood kids. Today, after school, Rosalie will have her 2nd ever playdate with one of the little girls who lives one block over. Why weren't these happening earlier? Let's just say, out of sight, out of mind——by not being home earlier and visibly available, my kids just weren't socializing with the neighborhood kids (even though there are a dozens of them in their age groups). Starting this week, I'll be home every afternoon at 4! Yay!

Results: More family time and kids activities (and homework).
The activities are already racking up. Monday is after-school soccer for both and Wednesday is tap class (just Rosie). I want to get them both into an art class when it comes available, and maybe into track club. Neither of them have shown any interest in scouting, which is fine—that's a major time-suck what with all of the parent-volunteer work. On Saturdays we also have back-to-back Japanese calligraphy (Rosie) and karate (Dash), then Dash takes ballet in the afternoon. For each, that's currently 3 activities. Not totally overscheduled yet, right? There are still four free days in the week for family walks, bike rides, and outdoor fun! And, then just maybe I can fit in some crafting or personal activities, huh?

Back to the homework, however. Dash was out of school with a fever for three days last week, and I was completely blindsided by the nine make-up assignments that were sent home with him on Friday. I didn't even notice they were in his backpack until Sunday night after they were in bed! I'm becoming aware that we haven't really established our home as a place of learning, because the children truly struggle with the assignments. Groaning, flopping, distractions, sidetrips, stalling—Dash has been trying the works. This morning, I realized that I had a trick in my back pocket: their morning care. The kids are supervised by licensed childcare professionals for 1.5 hours before their bus arrives and they have a homework table. SCORE! I had no idea that I'd be calling on them so soon, but we were getting nowhere at home. Out of nine assignments, Dash scribbled out one yesterday, fighting it the whole time. Today, sitting down with the staff at SACC, Dash was working away on his homework even before I'd left the room. Warms my stressed-out, stretched-thin-mom's heart.

I'm feeling really good about all these schedule decisions! Which helps a great deal, because our basement flooded AGAIN last week and we have to replace the flooring, with three to four expensive days of repairs and installation ahead of us.


  1. Oi. Good job with the schedule decisions! I'm thrilled it's working out for you.

  2. The scheduling is working out great! I'm also thinking about giving the kids piano lessons once a week, rather that paying for another activity. It's something I wouldn't have to pay for, but would just need to stay disciplined about it.


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