Where Did My 3:00 to 6:00 Go?

Okay, this is one of those posts where I just gripe and moan.

I try not to complain in this blog very much.  But griping may be more interesting than all the nice, fun stuff anyways.  I adore the kids and don’t want to complain.  But really, this post is about me more than the kids.  I want to capture this moment so I can remember later just how difficult this period could be.  But it is only tough in a slow, grinding, unrelenting kind of way, not a “You’re pants are on fire!” kind of way.

This post covers the most horrifying part of the day: the late afternoon / early evening.  Below is my late afternoon schedule.  Notice how actual working time magically shrinks to nearly nothing before your eyes.

  • I leave the house to meet Claire at the bus at 2:55 pm, no matter what was going on at work.
    • This is a nice part of the day, and I always look forward to it.  But it is tough on the work schedule.  I avoid 3:00 meetings and sometimes have to take them on the cell phone at the bus stop.
  • After walking back with Claire and setting her up with a snack, I return to work around 3:30.
    • Another great part of the day — probably the best — but again tough on the work schedule.
  • I re-settle into work.  Usually it takes about 15 minutes to really get back fully engaged in work, so now it’s 3:45.  Wow, it’s been nearly an hour since I went to get Claire.
  • Claire needs some help focusing on her homework.  Some days are good, but many are not.  We have to start on homework by 4:15 to make sure we get it done in time to pick up Molly.  Usually that is tight, and sometimes we run over.
  • By 5:15 or 5:30, Claire and I head off to pick up Molly.
  • We are back by 6:00, thanks to the close proximity of Molly’s new school.
    • This is a major improvement over Molly’s old school, which often took nearly an hour round trip despite being only two miles away — freakin’ traffic!
  • Did you notice how much work time there was after 2:55 this afternoon?  Yes, 30 minutes.  How did that happen again?

This leaves me behind at work, automatically, every day.  I have to make up for it at night, every night.

Just to complete the exercise, the day rounds out like this:

  • Dinner, additional homework, and the kids’ bath and bedtime puts us at 8:30 or 9:00, always a little frazzled at this point.
  • Wake up time for school is 6:30 am for school, so there are only a couple of hours left tonight to finish what was left behind when I went to Claire’s bus stop earlier this afternoon.
  • This is also the time to go to the grocery store, handle the mail, do the laundry, plan a birthday party, and so on.  Exercise is also a good idea, and often worth trading for some sleep.
  • The 9:00 to 11:00 “golden hour” is so critical that I just can’t absorb any bedtime problems from the kids.

We tried an after-school nanny, but she did not work out.  She only showed up half the time and wasn’t very engaged when she was here.

We could leave Claire in Extend-a-Care after school.  Maybe that would be fine, but she would only have about an hour a day at home, if even that, aside from going to bed or getting up.

I could let Claire walk home from the bus stop by herself and ignore her once she got here.  But the bus driver made it clear that Claire should not be walking home alone.  In fact, he won’t drop her off if I’m not there.  Besides, I can’t just ignore Claire — sweet, funny Claire.  But she can do her homework alone as far as I am concerned.  🙂

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