Logistical acrobatics is the best way I can describe the daily process families undertake to get moms, dads and kids to the right place – work, daycare, school, play dates and appointments – at the right time. As a working mom in a two-career couple, I know life can feel like a constant negotiation of household and transportation responsibilities.
It’s complicated. The roles of caregiver and breadwinner are shared in a dual career family. Depending on the circumstances of the moment, the demands of each role changes. It is an ongoing tug-of-war and shifting of plans. For example, Tuesday is your night to pick up the children from school, while your partner works late. Saturdays your partner takes the kids to soccer practice while you work out at the gym. The challenge is even when you make plans or have the best of intentions, they almost always change at some point during the course of the day. There are last minute meetings that keep you late and result in a panicked call to your partner to pick up the kids. A child who comes down with the flu on a Wednesday afternoon means an early exit from work. Keeping up with everyone’s schedules can be very stressful.
The fact is all the family members have somewhere to go and need to get there by a certain time. Getting yourself and members of your family where they need to be is not an option; it is a mandatory. But getting stressed out is not.
Let’s look at some ways you can smooth out the duel career battle lines:
Keep Your Communication Lines Open.
Make sure all members talk about who has to be where when. Set Sunday nights aside to review individual commitments and priorities. Ensure you can easily access family members via cell phone, email, pager, etc. If there are any last minute changes to your plans (and invariably there will be) you need to be able to get in touch with each other in a hurry.
Know that by becoming flexible around family scheduling issues you will reduce your stress level enormously. Leave at least five minutes of space around each appointment you schedule, drop off, pick up, etc. This allows space for the unexpected and will enable you to keep your cool. Keep other spaces open in your calendar for changes and spontaneity.
Enjoy The Moment.
An emergency trip to the doctor or dentist may be inconvenient or downright disruptive, but look for the joy in the moment. It is an opportunity for you to spend time with a loved one. Maintain your sense of humor. Sometimes things are just so crazy the best thing to do is laugh. If you think you will laugh about it ten years from now…why not today.