The Simple Pleasures of Kindergarten Drop-off
January 24th, 2013, posted by AimeeIs there anything more blissfully sweet and joyful than holding your five year-old’s hand as you walk him to his kindergarten class in the morning, listening to the chirp of other children swirling onto the playground and smiling at all the other parents wrangling their offspring onto campus?
Honestly, there are few things that put me in an instantly better mood than making that short little trek to the door of my child’s elementary class and watching his scruffy little head pop in past the teacher. And I know I’m not alone. I see the same type of joy in the faces of all the other moms and dads doing “the drop-off” and pick-ups on the two days I work from home.
The ability to have these little moments with my child and breathe in his elementary school world is exactly why I chose to press pause on my career aspirations and take a hefty pay cut last year to scale my schedule back to three days a week. Believe me, I still make up many of the remaining hours working late into the night and while he’s at school, but for me just being able to be there for even a short time before and after school with him was worth thousands of dollars from monthly budget. And I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have had the ability to do that – stay in my job at a reduced capacity and to withstand the pay cut. I know so many, many women do not have this incredible privilege and I’m so grateful.
It’s funny because, working in start-up obsessed San Francisco, all you ever read about is how companies are struggling to attract and retain people with fun perks like catered lunches, gym memberships, hip loft-like offices and sky high salaries. But if you ask any woman with a child what she wants more than any one of those things, it’s simple – flexible hours and the ability to telecommute at least some of the time to be able to get these small moments before and after school.
And let’s get this straight: It’s not like we are all clambering to be true “stay at home moms” either, or at least that’s the case for me and the dozen or so friends I know who’ve recently left more corporate jobs for consulting or other entrepreneurial gigs (read: where they make their own schedules and don’t commute or travel for work). I cannot imagine filling an entire day, every day, with traditional crafts and activities to keep my child occupied without losing my mind. And I don’t think any of my friends are cut out for that stuff either.
But I just can’t figure out why employers even in the current digital age still insist on face-time in an office on a daily basis and cannot figure out an alternate, flex-time scheduling solution that might enable them to stop the brain drain of talented, driven and diligent women from top posts and keep more of us around? Obviously, I’m not the first to ponder this question at all. Anne Marie Slaughter’s famous essay for The Atlantic addressed largely the same issue on a much broader scale (in a much more eloquent way, too). But for me, I like to just bite off small chunks rather than the whole pie. Figuring out a way for us working moms to get more of these morning moments without losing our career goals or our minds has got to be achievable. Would love to know how other people out there are achieving this. Please share.