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I went back to work recently for the first time since my daughter was born now that she is in Kindergarten. While she was in a co-op preschool I was very involved in her school. I spoke with her teachers everyday. I volunteered in her classroom. I knew what was happening in her “school life.” Now that I am working full-time, I feel really disconnected from her new school. I haven’t even met her teacher in person yet. Do you have any suggestions on how to be more involved with my daughter’s school?
Full-Time Working Mom
Dear Full-Time Working Mom,
The transition to Kindergarten sounds like a big one for your entire family. Not only has your daughter shifted to a “big kid school” but also you have returned to work for the first time since before she was born. Don’t underestimate what a big deal it is for these two changes to be happening simultaneously.
It sounds like you are grieving a loss of your previous life as a full-time parent. Those precious first years are such a gift to creating a strong foundation in the relationship with your daughter and that change from full-time mom to full-time worker and full-time mom is a rough one. I remember how much I cried the first day I returned to work after my maternity leave. It’s a big family milestone. Part of that loss is the lack of connection to your daughter’s “school life.”
Of course you can email her teacher and go to Back to School Night but those fleeting interactions are not the same as being at school everyday for pick-up or drop-off time. My suggestion is to try and make a little space in your work life to be a part of your daughter’s school life. Being a chaperone for a field trip is a great way to foster that connection and get to know her teacher on a different kind of school day. Maybe make a monthly lunch date in the cafeteria with her, if you can escape your workplace during your own lunchtime.
Drop-off and pick-up times are a great way to see how the school functions and see what her class and teacher are like. Even if you only go once a month, it can really help bridge the gap between home life and school life. I recently learned of my son’s empathic streak during a special morning drop-off at his preschool. His teacher had enough time to share with me that he created a “happy dance” to help the other kids feel better when they cry when their moms and dads drop them off at school. I never would have learned about this if I didn’t rearrange my schedule that morning to be able to take him to school. I know it can be hard to ask for extra time in a new job. Many companies understand that the well being of their workers is dependent on the well being of their worker’s families. Being a part of your child’s school community is obviously important to you and I would guess, also important to your child.