I have fully embraced my life as a working parent, but every once in a while I am reminded of the challenges my decision has on my kids. Sometimes, it’s small things—like a missed school performance—while other times, it’s big things—such as sad kids who want more of me. Lately, one of those small-turning-into-big things is perplexing me.
My kids spend so much time with their peer group: school, after school, dance, soccer, ballet, Tiger Scouts, Sunday School, and birthday parties. They have lots of time to connect with their friends and reach out to new kids they’d like to get to know better. But I know that the real way kids cultivate friendships is through the playdate, as that one-on-one time solidifies new relationships and helps the kids understand one another independent of other kids.
But the playdate is hard to manage when you are a working parent. Do you take off an afternoon off to pick your kid and his friend up from school? Do you squeeze playdates into the only precious weekend hours you have for your family to be together? Do you say, “Sorry, love” and try to make it up to your kid another way?
I’m working on shaking off the mommy guilt, fitting in playdates where I can, and realizing it’s a good challenge for me that my kids have friends!
In fact, a few weeks ago, my son went on an epic playdate: one mom hosted four or five kids at her house for a playdate that was so much fun (think water guns and empty cardboard boxes to make into forts), my son fell asleep at 5 PM when he got home. He is still talking about it.
My daughter went to a birthday party this weekend that was populated largely by kindergarten girls. A few brave boys were there but the girls dominated. My daughter was the first guest to arrive. She and the birthday girl ran around the play space before the other friends arrived, hyping themselves up for the celebration. When the other girls showed up, it was as if a bomb of kindergarten cute exploded in the room. Squealing. Hugging. Shrieks of “You look so cute!” and “I’m so excited you’re here!” And more hugging. And lots of pink. I found myself wishing for empty cardboard boxes and water guns.
Just as Important as Sleep
I recently shared messages with another working mom on the subject of “having it all.” She was asking how I balanced career, family, life, and still found time for blogging. My answer was something like, “Well, I don’t sleep enough. I don’t exercise enough. And, I definitely don’t have enough time for my friends.” It wasn’t the work-life balance question that stayed with me: it was the fact that I defined friendship as important as sleep and exercise. It is, after all. For all of us.