Friday, June 9, 2017

I live and die by my Google Calendar - even in the summer

Ah, the halcyon days of summer.  (Yes, I had to look that up in the dictionary.)  Lazy days in the park, at the beach, by the pool.  Impromptu trips to get fro-yo.  Setting up the sprinkler in the back yard.  Blowing bubbles, coloring, playing catch.  Running through the woods, only going inside for lunch.

If you think that I'm describing my summers as an adult, I have a bridge to sell you.  It's not far off from my summers as a kid though.  No beach, but the occasional pool.  And lots of time in the woods. Those were the days before Lyme disease.

Now, as a full-time working mom of 2 kids, I live and die by my schedule, which is kept on my Google calendar.  I've got two - one at work, and one at home.  During the school year, it's always a delicate balance.  Thanks to full time preschool for the young one, and after school care for the elementary kid - it's not terribly bad.  Until you add in:

- Sports
- Music
- In service days
- School holidays
- Norovirus

Then what is a difficult, but do-able schedule goes south and all hell breaks loose.

The good thing about having two engaged parents with reasonably flexible jobs, and the ability to work at home occasionally for a few hours (when the kids permit) is that we share drop-off and pick-up, and we work those around our schedules.  I have late meetings with Asia 2x a week or more, husband has early meetings on some days. So those days he goes in early and I got in late.  I do drop off and he does pick up.  On other days, we switch. We make it work.  Until.  That day when it all falls on the same day:

4:10 meeting
4:00 - 7:00 big kid has to be at baseball for a game
4:15 to 5, little kid has soccer, and parent must be present
5:15 pick up for kid #3, who is not our kid, at music practice.  Because we each take a day and that's our day and they don't get out of work until 6:15.

It probably goes without saying that *most* of our (relatively generous, because we are old and have seniority) vacation time goes to sick kids, or in-service days, or school holidays.

With all of that, I have to admit we all look forward to summer. But really, summer is no different when it comes to the schedule.  Summer is full of "summer camp Tetris". I have a spreadsheet.  Because: of course I do.

The weeks are laid out from week 1 to week 10.
The columns are laid out with 
- kid name
- camp name
- camp start and end times
- camp location
- cost

And of course, I have two kids.  The camps are first listed as "ideas" on the side.  When we've booked and paid for it, I highlight them in green.  Then, I have to put the camps into my all important calendar.

The calendar is important because for *some* reason, the vast majority of summer camps consider "full time" to be 9 to 2.  I'm not sure who YOUR boss is, but MY boss doesn't consider 5 hours a day to be "full time".  Sure, some offer extended care for a fee, generally $30-35 a day extra.  That can easily take a $200 or $250 camp to $350 for the week.  Times two.

When you overlay these crazy hours with your own work schedules, you can see why the calendar is so important.  An example:

Week 2: Baseball
8:30 am, Parent A leaves home with kids.  Make sure both kids have lunches packed.  Baseball kid must have his baseball gear and lunch and snack and water.
9:00 am drop off kid #1 at baseball camp
9:20 am drop off kid #2 at preschool
1:30 pm Parent B leaves work to pick up kid #1 from baseball.  And then goes home with said kid and works from home a few hours before picking up kid #2.

Which parent is Parent A and which parent is Parent B varies by the day.  Fun times.

Week 4: Morning sailing camp and after noon lego camp
Sailing camp is 9 to 12
Lego camp is 1 to 4
Shoot me now

Week 5: Chess
Chess camp is from 10 to 2 pm.  WTF

Week 7: Full day camp at the university.  7:30 to 5:30 baby!  Lather them up in sunscreen, pack lunch, water, and swim gear.  Whee!

All in all , we have 9 weeks of camp for a 10 week summer.
Big kid:
Full day camps (or at least close - 9 to 4 is what I consider "close enough") - 5
Fun but PITA partial day camps - 4

Little kid:
Half the summer in preschool, 3 weeks of camp, everything is full day.

Now, I do realize that the reason a lot of summer camps are short is two-fold:
1.  It mimics the school day
2.  Not enough "stuff" to do for more than a few hours.  I mean, who besides my kid wants to play chess for 8 hours?

I'd like to argue that the typical school day and school year is antiquated.  I mean, it was created decades ago when most people lived on farms.  The kids had morning and afternoon chores, and they never went to school in the summer because they were busy in the fields and at harvest.  Mom AND Dad were usually at home.

Now that it's 2017, I wonder if we might want to -ahem- adjust the school schedule to make more sense with how society lives TODAY.  More than 70% of kids live in homes with 2 working parents.  Companies are not often understanding of the need for flexible schedules.  I'm not suggesting we have our kids in school for 40 to 50 hours a week (shoot, I don't like working those hours either!)  But maybe a large-scale review is in order.

Who else lives and dies by their schedule?