Katieโ€™s blog: Anyone else with children starting Reception this week?

I have been chuckling at the assumption that life gets ‘easier’ when children start school and that juggling home and work becomes simpler. My juggling skills seem to have reached another level over the summer in preparation for this week!

Since my son was 5 months old, I have dropped him off to his childminder at the same time every morning and picked him back up at the same time every evening. She has taken him to nursery, fed him three meals a day and has been incredibly flexible which has allowed me to continue my career in the city. And I am losing her next week when he starts school. I feel bereft!

‘What about breakfast clubs and after school clubs?’ people ask. Sadly they only run from 8am and until 6pm, which is not early enough or late enough if you have to commute to London in between.

As of this week I will be using a combination of:

- Breakfast and after school club one day a week (and reducing my hours)

- A nanny before and after school three days a week

- A friend or my old childminder one day a week (alternate weeks)

Add to that the fact that for the first two and half weeks they only attend school for half a day and I found myself having to create a spreadsheet – I am already terrified he will be the child waiting at the school gates because I have forgotten who should be picking him up. And then you need to attend (at relatively short notice) a phonics lesson or a language assessment or a home visit!

At my previous company we carried out some research and found that ‘most’ women returned to work after having their first baby but we lost them (not just from the company but from the industry as a whole) when the first child started school. By that point many had gone on to have a second child and trying to juggle two children in different settings along with working became too much.

I am lucky that my line manager has given me some flexibility about working from home for the next three weeks and I have saved some holiday to use. Otherwise I am not sure what the answer is – a sabbatical or parental leave for the month children start school?  Any other suggestions gratefully received!

Katie is a single parent to a 4 year old who starts Reception next week and works full time in a senior position in the insurance industry in London.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

Comments
Heather McKay - 03/09/2019 - 11:26

I have a similarly complex childcare arrangement and I sympathise with you entirely.

There is an interesting debate to be had and that is the extent to which you let on the challenges of juggling childcare with your manager.  On the one hand its helpful if they can understand the complexities and stress of managing complex childcare arrangements versus keeping your private life, well, private.  I tend towards keeping quiet, but wonder to what extent my stress levels would be reduced by being more open and asking for support at this busy time…

The only tip I can give you is using the calendar app on your phone and sharing the calendar childcare pickup/ drop off routine with those involved.  So far my LO has not been left at the school gate.

Good luck!

Uchenna Izundu - 03/09/2019 - 12:01
Thanks for sharing; this has really resonated with me! I too thought it gets easier as they get older, but the childcare challenge just takes a different form! With one in reception and another in Year 1 in the same school starting on different days, I have also marked calendars and raced across London doing drop off and pick up. It’s how I justify the biscuits to keep me going ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

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