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working parents - how do you get to all the daytime school meetings/assemblies etc?

(100 Posts)
chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 09:59:52

my dd is 4 and in reception class, but she has been at the school a year already, (was in nursery last year)its a lovely school ,very caring and nurturing and i love it

the only problem is they keep scheduling everything at times we are unable to attend - yesterday i was handed a letter inviting parents in at 2.45 this thursday to discuss reading methods and how to help your child. i desparately want to go, its so important but i cant just take time off willy nilly

i have already missed a 915 mass, and i have a list of other 9.15 assemblies, school plays, harvest celebrations, and they always finish term an hour earlier on the last friday of term

i desparately try, as does DH to attend as many school events as possible, but we cant do everything, and we both need to work, i really dont want DD looking round to find neither of us could make it into school, its so important to her

DH takes her into school so i can start work at 830 and make up enough hours to pick her up at 320. he has to work later to make up for his later starts

i wd be interested to hear how other working parents manage to attend all these events?

pippel Tue 22-Sep-09 10:01:11

I dont my cm does sad

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 10:24:17

it makes me sad too pippel and angry

elvislives Tue 22-Sep-09 10:25:38

Have to take Leave, or go in later/ leave early

titchy Tue 22-Sep-09 10:26:22

Juggle, juggle, juggle oh and a bit more juggling!

Basically dh and I never go to things together - it's either him or me, and we use annual leave, work from home or work late to make the hours up. Interestingly enough the only parents you see at assemblies, plays etc where both parents are in attendance are those that have seperated! Everyone else is too busy juggling!

As they got older I also explained that we couldn't alway be there for everything, and made the decision to miss church services, 3 a year, unless they had an active role.

Northernlurker Tue 22-Sep-09 10:32:36

You have to accept you aren't going to make it to everything. The VITAL thing is to be honest with your daughter about what you can and can't do. She is big enough to understand that you go to work and that the people at work need you too. It's tricky because we know that in an emergency our child comes first and work comes nowhere but a harvest assembly isn't an emergency.

So - plan your leave so you can go to at least one thing per term and badger the teacher for dates if you don't have them so you can do that. You can make these times special even when you're not there - make sure you give her time to talk all about it, maybe over a cake and a drink out at a cafe after school. If you have a good mate who is going then ask her to look out for dd - and tell dd that x's mummy will tell you all about it. Don't let school get away with anything either - scheduling stuff for 2.45 is just daft. Make sure you ask the teacher to go through it with you after school - you may need to wait for another day - or another teacher if she's got a school run to do - but there's no reason you should miss it altogether. You're a working mum not a monster, you have nothing to fel guilty about. Just do what you can do and make your peace with that.

Bramshott Tue 22-Sep-09 10:45:07

NorthernLurker speaks sense as ever grin.

I think it's also very important to try NOT to feel guilty about not being there, and to remember that it DOESN'T make you a bad parent - that it's just the way things are. I imagine that about 80% of parents (mums AND dads) do work once their kids are in school, so you're certainly not in the minority. If you feel guilty your DD will pick up on that, and think she's missing out, whereas if you say breezily "sorry, I can't make the Harvest Festival today, but I'm really looking forward to hearing all about it later" then she will probably take it all in her stride.

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 10:59:39

sigh i know its me feeling guilty and she probably does understand - thank you all for your words of encouragement, especially "Just do what you can do and make your peace with that." - thank you for those wise words northernlurker, i may make that my mantra as a mum

repeat after me, all mums:

Just do what you can do and make your peace with that.

Just do what you can do and make your peace with that.

Just do what you can do and make your peace with that.

and keep juggling!

i will speak with the teacher about the reading class, and ask for a separate afterschool appointment. i really couldnt miss the Xmas play, so can try desparately to build up some time for that, and the early finish

think i am a bit hormonal!

MollieO Tue 22-Sep-09 11:03:35

I reckon I spend over a week of annual leave attending this sort of stuff. Last year I managed to get ds's teacher to do parents' evening for me at 8am but not sure what will happen this year. If I have to take time off for that it will add up to another 1.5 days annual leave.

I always book leave as soon as we get the term dates for different things. Some things I don't make - like today's coffee morning. I try and make the important stuff - concerts, sports day etc. I spend another chunk of leave on the half day finishes they have at the end of each term and to cover the days where there is no holiday club but it is too near the start of term to go away.

Previously I have always taken two or three weeks unpaid leave in attempt to recover enough days for holidays but now ds is 5 I'm stuffed. 5 weeks sounds a lot to those without school comments but realistically it means I have less than half that once the school commitments are accounted for.

Unfortunately I don't have anyone to share the school attendance either, which makes it harder.

undercoverelephant Tue 22-Sep-09 11:08:22

My DS used to make me feel guilty when I said I couldn't come in to help out on outings that the school announced just days in advance (I mean walking up to the local park/church - not major organised outings to museums etc).
I asked the teacher for a list of upcoming events and made sure that I was able to take time out (half a day every term, say) to attend those specific events. That seemed to satisfy DS.
Could you ask the school if they can give you more notice?

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 11:08:34

mollieO its really tough tying to stretch that leave out isnt it? mine is all booked up till end April, apart from 2 days i have saved in case she is ill

luckily i work for local authority and theres a good scheme where you can buy an extra 5 days annual leave - it costs me £28 a month thou - quite a dint in a part time salary but the extra leave is really useful

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 11:10:39

undercover, they have given me a list up to Christmas which is really useful, but then they spring things on me like the reading class - with a few days notice, its fricking annoying a bit frustrating

ruddynorah Tue 22-Sep-09 11:20:01

dh works early, i work late. he's home by 3 ish so can do evening stuff, i leave at half 4 so am home all day to do the day stuff.

MollieO Tue 22-Sep-09 11:21:18

We had a real moan about an early finish that as sneaked into the weekly newsletter. I think the school was very surprised but, unlike other years, we have a lot of households in our year where both parents work full time.

Last year was our first year at the school so I went through all the previous year's newsletters on the school website so I could plan the amount of days I needed to take off. That worked pretty well. Most of the dates are the same each year.

OrmIrian Tue 22-Sep-09 11:23:02

You don't. You have to decide which are really important and for those arrange leave, start later, or end earlier work from home and sneak out. Or find someone to go and show an enthusiastic face such as GPs.

potplant Tue 22-Sep-09 11:38:04

I work from home so I'm quite lucky that I can sneak out for the odd thing. DH has to take annual leave. I always feel so sad for the kids who are looking for a friendly face and they don't have anyone there, but I completely understand that it just isn't possible.

From my experience and also from reading on MN it seems that schools make practically no allowances for families where both parents work. We were given 2 days notice of end of year parents evening last term. What if you're working shifts, working away?

Do you have any GPs locally who could go to the less important stuff so you can save your leave for the important stuff?

muddleduck Tue 22-Sep-09 11:46:00

I feel your pain.

DS1 has only just started school and I had a hormone-fuelled rant the other nights when we got a letter home from school saying that a home visit from his teacher "would be at x.xxpm on xxxday". Actually, no it wont be at that time (unless she wants to come around to an empty house). I'm really grateful that the school wants to do these visits, but I was angry at the idea that they could pluck a time and day of their choosing and just expect us to be available. It just adds to the guilt that I can't do this.

MintyCane Tue 22-Sep-09 11:46:59

I work from home but it is still hard because they give so little notice and I often have tight deadlines. I feel your pain. sad I cannot imagine how I would do it if I had to come in from an office miles away it would be very hard. Our parents evenings even run from 3 until 6. When most people are still working hmm

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 11:50:55

yes, luckily DHs parents live v near the school, and are involved in church so they went to the mass we missed, but they are 81 and i dont want to put too much on them! my parents live further away, and its too much to ask really

we will carry on juggling things, i may ask to work from home on one of the days.

my stepdaughter is 20 and may be free to go to the harvest thing so DD will have someone there too

DD does understand abut our jobs, i do tell her its how we earn the money to pay for the house, bills, car, presents etc

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 11:54:51

thanks muddleduck and mintycane for sharing my pain! at least we werent subjected to a home visit - very intrusive i think

muddleduck - you can do it, we HAVE to! our kids will respect us for it, i hope?? well most of us have no choice anyway!

LouLovesAeroplaneJelly Tue 22-Sep-09 12:00:40

If it gets to hard then think - were you hard done by by your parents not being at every assembly when you were at school?
As long as you are there for the big things then they will not mind.
It does make if difficult with the ridiculous times they schedule things for but just do your best.

MintyCane Tue 22-Sep-09 12:04:01

Home visits snort thank goodness we didn't have those. Minty shudders at the thought of teachers seeing the crumbs that surround her laptop. grin

Anyway, by year three mine start to beg me not to attend so it does get easier grin

Bramshott Tue 22-Sep-09 12:09:39

Ooh yes, stepdaughter is a good idea. My brother is 12 years younger than me, and I was quite a regular at his primary school sports days / christmas plays etc when I was home from university.

chuffinell Tue 22-Sep-09 12:09:49

ha! i cant ever remember parents being invited to primary school events..ever! but then i am old and it was the 1970s - i think the school was just glad to get rid of us at 330!!

minty - you may well shudder, the parish priest called in here unexpectedly (we are not churchgoers and he refused to marry us in church!) we had just got back off holiday and the house was an utter pigsty - dirty clothes, toys, travel stuff, cases etc EVERYWHERE and we were sitting in the middle of it all drinking wine shock it was so embarrasing

HSMM Tue 22-Sep-09 12:19:16

I am a CM and I can't just ask all the mindees parents to go into work late, so I can go to an assembly, so I always feel really guilty. We do occasionally have a CM outing with the children to watch a Christmas play - this also includes taking all the mindees to their own pre school plays, etc. I managed to co-incide a free morning with a school assembly once and went along, really pleased with myself, and I was the ONLY one of 90 pairs of parents who attended! (and they don't all work full time - and yes, I do appreciate that if you don't work full time, you might have something else to do)

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