Also an unapologetic song of praise for parents running point at home.
There was a time when I thought “working parents” were a depressing subclass of professional people who were barely keeping it together at work, always in less fashionable suits.
HA! Sentences like that make me optimistic about the developing wisdom of age.
Twenty years later, I’m somewhat less clueless.
I view a “working parent” as a human being doing the most important job in our society (you guys, it’s parenting), while also maintaining their place in professional line.
Of course, some are moving up in the line, but let’s be honest, mostly we’re maintaining our place. It’s the best we can do, because workplaces are not designed for (primary) parents and never have been.
At back to school time, parents are so distracted and twenty-five year old me is thinking, why?
Back to school is a job change for a kid
Imagine working onsite five days a week, never leaving the premises, and bringing all your own snacks.
That’s your elementary school kid’s job.
Every September, they get a new team (classmates), new bosses (teachers), and sometimes, they change companies (schools) altogether.
Transitions demand more support
Different people have different support needs, but transitions drive everyone’s support needs up.
I can tell you a typical grownup coaching client spends a good chunk of session time preparing for and discussing job changes, up and including team changes, boss changes, and company changes.
Your kid’s frame of reference may be different, but it’s a somewhat similar emotional and social experience to your last job change. Plus, they’re learning critical coping skills for the first time (you my friend are teaching those, good luck 🙂 )
So, if you’re wondering why the working parents seem low energy these last few weeks, it’s because they’re the primary support person for their kids.
- I’m talking about the hour-long chat at bedtime when they walk you through every kid in their class, where they sit, and which class they were in last year.
- I’m talking about hysterical tears because missing their teacher from last year hurts so much.
- I’m talking about challenging behaviour because they’re getting used to a new routine and they’re hungry and tired and overstimulated and terrified that they’re not as smart as their classmates.
While folks without school-aged children are chilling or working out or seeing friends after work, these unsung heroes are literally teaching the next generation the adjustment skills they will use for their whole lives.
Rewards are waiting on the other side
It’s demanding, yes. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that watching them change and grow through each September transition is spectacular. And that growth goes each way – for the kid, and for the parent.
So… if learning to deal with new colleagues and a new boss and maybe even a new company is that good for them, do you think it could be good for you too?
The message here is two-fold: first, if you’re a parent supporting a kid through a transition (and that can feel constant at times), the work you are doing is REALLY IMPORTANT (even if the culture would prefer you were answering emails).
Second: is it time you gave yourself that same gift of growth, by going through a transition of your own?
What feels tired, boring, done? What if you were to start with one small change, and build from there?
What will you do? Comment below or DM me over here and let me know.
I’m cheering you on.