Working Moms and School Field Trips
With my previous jobs, I missed a ton of my kids’ field trips because I couldn’t take time off. This year, I have a much better job, with an awesome company. It’s been so much fun to visit Homosassa Springs with my Kindergartener, and Wonderworks with my 3rd Grader.
Working moms have special challenges with scheduling time to attend field trips.
We need to make sure we have the vacation time accrued to get paid for the day off, and approve the time with management. Hopefully, you are as fortunate as I am to have an awesome boss, but you still need to prioritize your workload to finish all urgent matters before you leave.
Furthermore, you need to arrange for backup on the day you will be gone. Who will handle your urgent matters, walk-ins, phone calls, etc. Does your company have a temp agency they use, or do other employees cover each other?
Finally, do you need to personally let any customers know you will be out? Will you be available throughout the day via email, texts, or phone calls (I highly suggest you not be available if you are attending a field trip with two busloads of 3rd graders…just from our school alone).
Life Just Got Crazy
A few months ago, my boss (the awesome one I’m always telling you about) was pulled to cover another office. Then, a few weeks ago my co-worker gave her two weeks’ notice. Upper management has hired two employees…who won’t be starting for at least a month.
So, for now, I spend every day trying to get as much done as possible…while trying not to have a panic attack because of the stuff I can’t get to. I’m a slightly OCD, Type-A personality. If I didn’t have children to pick up at a certain time (and a husband who would go ballistic), I would SO be a workaholic.
I’m also a perfectionist who seriously freaks out when I can’t get everything done. Fortunately, my boss knows me super well and calls throughout the day to talk me down from my panic attacks. Have I mentioned how awesome she is?
Work-Guilt Versus Mom-Guilt
Normally, with these circumstances, I would have cancelled the field trip but (1) I couldn’t let my son down, he’s really been looking forward to this, (2) I already volunteered to chaperone and didn’t want to leave the teacher hanging, and (3) I’d already spent $64 for us both to attend.
I shoved my OCD and Type-A workaholic tendencies to the bottom of my psyche and took the day off!
The night before, I constantly worried about what I would face when I returned. We had a Funeral Director covering from another office. She’s awesome and super funny…but she doesn’t know our office, our families, or our procedures. I attached sticky-note instructions to EVERYTHING!
I second-guessed my decision on the morning of the field trip. Was I doing the right thing? Would I come back in the morning to mass chaos? Would Gage REALLY be that upset if I didn’t go? I had work-guilt and mom-guilt fighting a raging battle! Man, it was exhausting!
Finally, I just said “screw it!” Yeah, I know…not very lady-like. But, Gage won’t remember that I sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears for my job. I wasn’t in danger of losing my job since the managers were encouraging me to go. No one would think “Oh, she’s such a team player!” Gage will just remember I was there!
Bring on a Day of 3rd Grade Boys
After getting Michael on the bus, I drove Gage to chorus practice and then hauled butt to the office to check my emails and make sure I’d written notes on everything…plus, I’d forgotten to turn my “Out of Office” message on.
I only had 30 minutes, and 20 minutes of that was driving there and back. I ran into the office (fortunately remembering to turn off the security alarm first), and raced to my desk to turn my computer on. I spent the next 10 minutes sprinting through my emails, answering what I could. Then, I raced out to the car to speed back to the school (Uhm, I mean, totally driving the speed limit).
The next six hours was spent having a blast with my little man and his friends. I ran around Wonderworks with three 9-year old boys. I was EXTREMELY fortunate to have three of the sweetest, well-behaved kids. OMG, I was overjoyed. They definitely made the day worth it.
Hey! You Forgot Me!
The only tense time of the day was when the boys asked to play laser tag. We got in line and waited our turn. The employee put the vests on everyone…except me. Uhm, awkward! I really wanted to play, but was SO not going to yell “HEY! YOU FORGOT ME!!” A girl has her pride. I just went in and stood there like a dork.
The entire day I’d run around the very confusing maze of this place repeating “Two red shirts, one blue shirt…two red shirts, one blue shirt…etc.
We enter the laser tag area and everything goes black (highlighted with black lights)! I’m literally standing in the middle of the laser tag arena…. with kids with blank faces and dark shirts running around me…I have NO idea where my group is in this chaos. Ok, Mom…turn down the control freak and let them have fun!
At the end of the day, all of the parents bought the kids in their groups these huge tubes of something looking like colored sugar. They were happy kids! (I apologize to all of the parents of these hyped-up-on-sugar kids we sent home to you). #youonlyliveonce
When I returned the next day, I walked into mass chaos.
Despite that, it was definitely an awesome experience. I’d wanted to go to Wonderworks since my older kids were little. I finally got to cross it off of my bucket list.
I’m so glad I didn’t listen to the voices in my head telling me I didn’t have time to take time off from work, or that there was too much to do. It wasn’t THAT bad when I got back, but I realized I did some things right, and some things I could have done better.
Working Mom Tips for Attending School Field Trips
Give Your Supervisor/Co-Workers Plenty of Notice Before the Trip
Don’t wait until the day before and throw it on them. My guess is they won’t be pleased. They have to plan around you just as much as you have to plan around your work.
Leave Detailed Notes
Send an email to your supervisor with as many details as possible on all open jobs. They may have to address an issue with a job, and it will help if they have some kind of knowledge about it. In addition, attach post-it notes to all files with the current status.<\span>
DON’T FORGET TO TURN YOUR “OUT OF OFFICE” ON!
I don’t mean to yell, but that was just as much a reminder to me, as it was a tip for you. I woke up in the middle of the night and realized I’d forgotten. I stressed about it so much that I couldn’t go back to sleep. When facing a day running after (3) 9-year old boys, you can’t be running on empty.
Make sure you have everything in order before you leave. This prevents the need to race from the school to your office to take care of menial issues, and then have to race back.
Police officers won’t care that you might miss the bus. No, this didn’t happen to me (I got lucky) …I’m just sayin’
Focus on Having Fun on Field Trips
I noticed plenty of times that I was off in la-la land worrying about something I’d forgotten to do, or wondering how many emails I would have to sort through, or OMG, what if…I couldn’t STOP stressing. Then, I’d look around and realize I was missing a kid. Crap!
JUST RELAX AND ENJOY THE DAY. You can stress out when you get back to the office. Worrying about your job isn’t going to make anything easier when you get back…trust me!
Plus, giving your brain a break will make it easier to tackle the overflowing mountain that grew on your desk overnight.