Today, all three of my kids were off to school by 7:30 a.m. This is huge for me! My work day can start much earlier. Of course, my afternoons are going to be much crazier. I spent last night writing down an hour-by-hour work schedule.
New schedules, new activities, new teacher demands not only affect our kids, they affect us, too. I have a friend who had to ask her boss to leave work earlier because the after care program at her child's new school ends an hour earlier than at his previous school. She was terrified to ask. I spent about a hour prepping her for the conversation.
With all the talk about "work life balance", to me having that conversation with the boss is what that term is all about. Adapting to new school schedules, new drop offs and pick ups, often means testing the flexibility of your employer and being careful not to risk your job security. A boss's response is what separates the loyal, engaged employee from the frustrated worker who plots ways to bolt when the first opportunity comes along, or does the job with minimal effort.
Here are my five best suggestions for coping with back-to-school change:
1. Don't over-schedule your kid. Remember, whatever you commit your kid to will affect your work life. You will have to organize your schedule to assure all runs smoothly.
2. Be honest. If you have a new school year routine that requires you leave the office earlier, let your boss know and suggest options -- coming in earlier, working from home at night, etc.
3. Start calendering. Get a copy of the school schedule for the new year and write it on your work calendar -- now. Having a heads up on days off is critical for your sanity.
4. Build your village. The old saying, it takes a village to raise a family is true. Reach out to other working parents. Look into carpools, study groups and back up childcare. Offer to help other working parents when you can and ask for help when you need it.
5. Plan to re-adapt, over and over. If you have a new schedule and things aren't going as smoothly at work or home as you hoped, don't fret, change it up. Get your spouse to do one of the morning drop-offs or move an after-school activity to the weekend.
Remember, if you're adapting to change this week, you've got lots of company. And also remember, not all bosses understand the needs of working parents. Readers, how do you cope with a boss who's not flexible when your new schedule requires it?