The emotional load of parenting is something we hear about a lot, and for good reason! When you're a working parent, keeping on top of all the things is really draining. The sheer amount of organisation required, in addition to the constant thinking, is like having a hive of buzzing bees in your head.
Like every normal human, I don’t really like carrying heavy things, but there is one part of the emotional load that I’ve decided is as much a boon as a burden.
Being a part of school life
When my daughter, Darcy started school, like many working parents my mind boggled at the logistics of her day ending at 3pm. Then came the assemblies, carnivals and assorted parents’ days.
I know that teachers don’t expect us to go to every event, but I also know how much it means to my daughter when one of us shows up in the schoolyard.
My husband and I both work full-time, so finding time to attend events in school hours is difficult. Plus, we grew up in an age where parents came to school events maybe once or twice a year.
How my family divides the emotional load
My husband is a practical man. When something comes up in the school calendar that’s difficult to get to, he doesn't spend too much time worrying about why he can't attend - for him, the reality of life means work comes first.
I, however, see school events differently. And while I don’t get to every activity, I definitely think one of us should make the effort to attend.
And so, because it’s more important to me, school activities fall on my shoulders.
When being involved in school life is a burden
I work a 36 hour week, Monday to Friday. While my workplace is flexible, the demands of my work don’t allow a lot of wriggle room. To organise time to attend a book week parade means moving work commitments and negotiating time out. It means working harder and faster to meet deadlines, and a good deal more stress.
It means going to school events on a Friday night when I really just want to curl up in a ball on my bed and go to sleep, shattered from the week and the relentlessness of double drop-off mornings.
Don’t even start me on finding an orange shirt the night before Harmony Day.
Listen to Karen Seinor talk about school readiness on Kinderling Conversation:
When being involved in school life is a boon
To begin with, it brings a lovely sense of connection with my daughter, an entrée into this new and separate part of her life. There’s nothing quite like seeing her little smiling face when I walk into the classroom, and her shy pride to have a family member in her everyday environment.
I love knowing the names of all her friends, and seeing how they interact with each other. I also like that they know who I am, and are comfortable having a chat with me.
I’ve made good friends among the parents
Most mornings I do drop-off and then fly out to work, so I don’t have a lot of time to chat. But when I have had time, I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I genuinely like a lot of the other parents.
Maybe I shouldn’t have read Big Little Lies before school started, but I wasn’t expecting it to be such a friendly environment. Having children in the same year gives us something to talk about, but they’re nice and fun to be around. It’s a new community, a new chapter to join in the parenting club.
Being a part of how she’s growing
I hate homework. Though to be fair, I don’t know many parents that actually like it. Getting along to school events gives you a connection to the living and breathing experience of learning. Which is also part of how she is growing.
Ultimately, taking on the emotional load of school life is more satisfying than it is draining.
Which is why I’ll continue to take on the ‘burden’ of finding time to get there.
It may make the hive buzz louder, but the reward is as sweet as honey.
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