With so much complexity around work schedules, school hours, childcare and children’s activities, sharing the load of everyday parenting and working by creating your own ‘home team’ can help to abate unpredictability and chaos. The home team could comprise day to day support as well as back up or contingency support.
Start by identifying what you need help with. Where are the stressors? What are the breakdowns? Is it when a child is sick on a work day, or when you are running later for nursery, or when the washing has piled up, or when you are travelling for work, or when you have a client deadline, or when you need adult company or is it on the weekend when you are shunting children from one place to another?
With the regular stressors in mind identify who you would have on your home team. Partner, co-parent, grandparent, other parents (perhaps from the same school, activity, street), child carers, babysitters, co-workers who have each others backs, line managers , neighbours.
Finally define these relationships in a formal or semi-formal way. Set up a time to have a conversation and ask for what you want and need in certain situations and know what you can offer in return. For another parent it might that on Tuesdays I have late meetings so could pick up my kids and I will return the favour on Thursday, for the line manager it could be an understanding of what will happen on days your child is off school sick, with your neighbour it could be that they keep a spare key in case a teenager gets locked out. An explicit understanding will mean that you will not feel uncomfortable or guilty when calling on your home team for the support they have agreed to and they will feel equally comfortable to call on you.
Often the working parents that we coach will already have a home team of some kind but one that would benefit from further definition and clarity to alleviates stress and uncertainty.
*These words were produced for our Advent Calendar in December 2020.