My decision to leave work has had a knock-on effect on other people, which I hadn’t really considered until it happened. For me, being able to take my kids to school every day and pick them up again, as well as be there to help them with their homework, was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to make life easier and better for all of us and this seemed like a good way to do it.
But as I spend more time with my kids, everybody else spends less – and both the kids and the other members of the family have realised they’re going to miss this.
For nearly nine years, my husband has taken the kids to school on a Monday morning – the only part of the school run he’s ever been involved in. He stuck to his Mondays religiously, despite the pressures of his own work and he enjoyed this bit of time with the kids.
Last Monday morning he realised he wouldn’t be doing this any more. He set his alarm for 6, got up and went to work (something he hardly ever manages, Monday or otherwise). Then the kids realised Daddy would never take them again and they felt a bit sad.
Tuesdays were always my worst nightmare – the one day of the week I had to get the kids up early to take them out of the house with me and drop them at my mum’s. They got to see their baby cousin, my parents walked them to school and picked them up again. Then my mum made them tea at her house. They hated getting up early, but they liked their time with Grandma and Grandpa and their cousin. They are already making plans to have regular meals there anyway on Tuesdays. My mum and dad will miss them – they’ve been looking after the kids for more than 12 years, since my eldest was six months old.
On Wednesdays my mum and dad had the kids at my house. Again, they walked them to and from school. My mum chatted to people in the playground. She will miss that interaction and some of the other grandparents will miss seeing her. My daughter’s best friend will miss laughing at my niece being funny in her buggy.
For my part, I will love the walk to school, love having the extra time with the kids. I will like being in control of their homework and knowing that it’s really being done – and done properly.
But there are downsides too. I hate cooking, I hate cleaning up from cooking and I hate the endless battles over food. Now I’m not going to get my two days a week off from this. Nor will my husband make the packed lunches two days a week to help me out. Packed lunches will be my responsibility five days a week. And I hate doing packed lunches.
And my daughter has taught me a fair few new ‘rules’ I hadn’t even realised existed. Apparently we are supposed to set off for school at 8.25 (personally, I favour 8.35). After school and before dancing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays she has toast and orange juice. She sets off for dancing at 4.23pm precisely and has a sweet in the car (there are no sweets in my car). On Wednesdays she takes two custard creams in a piece of foil to dancing (in my book it’s EITHER custard creams or toast). I suspect she’s going to be disappointed with my less precise parenting.
It’s only a few days in, who knows what other changes we are yet to encounter as we all adjust to our new way of life.