Saturday, July 3, 2010

Past Deadline: Sixty-Nine Days and Counting

The kids finished school this week!



I have mixed feelings. For one thing, I am utterly overjoyed about not having to pack lunches every day. I’m quite certain the kids are happy about this, too, as the creativity level on that front had dwindled rather dramatically with the passing months. I won’t overly miss tussles about homework, either. Although these skirmishes were relatively mild, it’s still nice to get a break from it to enjoy uninterrupted gardening time for me or play time for the short people.

I’m also looking forward to not having to navigate the construction zone and busy detour area with large groups of children in tow after school. There’s something vaguely kamikaze about some of the drivers by times, and crossing streets with occasionally absentminded short people has left me slightly frazzled.

Those are the reasons why I’m happy to see the school year end. Now for the main event: Keeping Children Busy for 69 Days. But who’s counting?

I was lamenting the end of school to one mom recently, but she is apparently a Good Mother who looks forward to the summer because she likes to have her kids near her. (I probably smiled weakly and nodded in feigned agreement while backing away slowly.)

Since I am clearly not endowed with the same sort of enthusiasm for the summer holidays as good parents are, it became evident I need a concrete survival plan. I’m Type A, you know, so things have to be Just So.

Groom-boy and I are both currently working predominantly from home, so you’d think Keeping Children Busy for 69 Days wouldn’t be a big deal, right? I mean, we’re both in the building.

Well, let’s just say it’s not always that easy.

Despite the benefits that come with working from home, a few things are a tad more difficult, and navigating summer holidays as working-from-home parents is one of them. For example, despite having a communal work calendar at our disposal, it never seems to fail that when one of us has a one- or two-hour commitment, the other one will have a simultaneous obligation, requiring the involvement of third-party child care.

When both parents work full time away from home, it’s pretty obvious they’ve got to set up some sort of full-time child care in the summer. When you work from home on a freelance basis, you often have the flexibility to juggle your schedule in a way that accommodates summer holidays, but it’s not always possible to know when work will suddenly become busy as stink.

Indeed, even though you’re at home, things need to be done. You know, like work. This means it is not uncommon to find both Responsible Adults with heads bowed over keyboards pecking madly away at something whilst Lord of the Flies-style anarchy ensues somewhere in the abode.

It has taken me a while to realize that despite a hundred or so years of marriage, Groom-boy and I can’t read each other’s minds – at least not when it comes to work. So even though he might say, “No, I don’t really have much on the agenda this morning,” that doesn’t mean the agenda is clear and that I’m free to work uninterrupted (and vice versa).

Hence the need for a plan – a schedule, even – that clearly denotes when one of us is devoted solely to parental duty. This means avoiding e-mail and phone calls and appointments in favour of carting short people to swimming lessons or frolicking happily in the dew with lambs or whatever.

I also see some visits to grandparents in the short people’s future. I haven’t told the grandparents yet, so shhhhhh!

And, lastly, is the glorious “Lost Harbour Summer School and Military Camp” card. Do you know this place? I’ve been telling my kids about it. The camp is located so far away (on a remote lost harbour) that once you go you have to stay for weeks. The program consists of four hours of school each day followed by marching and building walls out of heavy rocks.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch for the delivery truck for my Mother of the Year Award.

Published in The Perth Courier on July 1/10.

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