Now that you’ve finally mastered the preschool scene, your child is preparing to enter the big new world of elementary school. While this is an exciting milestone, it provides a fresh set of logistical hurdles for working parents, such as shorter school days, holidays galore, and after-school activities.
Does all this leave you wondering how to stay involved in your big kid’s life while staying employed? Luckily, it's doable. Below are some tips to help you prepare:
- Plan early. Your neighborhood may not offer after-school care, or it may have a great program with a limited number of slots. To be on the safe side, start asking as soon as possible (a year before is best) before your little one hits kindergarten.
- Stay informed. The U.S. Department of Education recommends you request the report card on how well your local school is performing and a copy of your school’s handbook, as well as regularly checking the school Web site.
Volunteer. Now's the perfect time to talk to parents with older children about how you can help once the school year begins. Once classes start, talk to your child’s teacher about pinch hitting. He or she will almost certainly be happy to involve you in events, fundraisers, or class projects in a way that works around your schedule.
- Network. Other working parents can be a great resource for information. Some may also be willing to participate in a car pool or babysitting swap.
- Limit activities. For young grade school kids, one sport or group activity at a time is probably plenty. Rather than give your child unlimited choices, check the costs and schedules on a range of activities, and then offer your child a choice among the ones that work for you.
- Flex time! Working some flex time or telecommuting can help make your life way easier. Now is the time to pitch it to your employer.
Just like when your kids were younger, there will be times when your family is in the groove and other times when you’ve got one too many balls in the air. But that will be half the fun.