School Activities and Working Parents

school activities and working parents

Recently I had the opportunity to accompany Emma’s class on a field trip.  It was a great time, and it happened on a Wednesday (my regular day off) so there was no “scheduling” required.  The date was announced, I was free, so I said I’d come.  These situations are rare in the case of school activities and working parents.

school activities and working parents

Being a working parent means I miss out on a lot of things that my kids do.  Meaning there are tons of school trips and assemblies, gatherings, etc. at the school (including church services which I frankly don’t mind missing) that happen when I just can’t get there.  

I used to feel badly that I was missing all these opportunities to share these events with my kids.  Now that we’ve been doing school for a while (5 years for Emma and 2 for Rose) they understand that Mom and Dad are busy at work and can’t come by just because everyone is gathering in the gym for something.  

Yes, it’s a bit sad, and I would love to have the luxury of being that mom who is always at the school, but it’s not realistic for us and I have to accept that.  In fact we weren’t even able to make the parent/teacher night that had been scheduled for the fall semester, and we had to connect with the teachers a full week later.  But luckily there is some flexibility in everyone’s schedules.

Here’s something that I realized about my “late” days at work.  On those days (Monday and Thursday – you can read our weekly schedule here) I get my 30 minute lunch break at 2pm.  Five minutes after I finish “lunch” (I usually eat at my 12:00 break time to keep my body on schedule) my kids are dismissed from school.  As in that’s the end of their day.  And I’m barely halfway through mine.  It pretty much blew my mind when I drew that conclusion this past spring.  But now that I’ve accepted that fact, I’ve begun scheduling teacher meetings (or whatever is needed) for right after school and just taking a “late” lunch break.  It worked out for those parent/teacher interviews I mentioned earlier.

Kingston this Summer
This is one of the places I visit on my late lunch breaks in the lovely weather.

I am very lucky that my boss is quite easy going about scheduling.  If I need a day off, I can almost always get it.  Sometimes I can switch shifts with co-workers so I don’t leave them in the lurch.  And sick days (which are unpaid no matter what) are unlimited for everyone at work.  Moving break times around to accommodate appointments usually works out as well.  But I still feel guilty when I can’t be at work when I’m supposed to be.  Just like I feel guilty when I can’t be with my kids when they’re doing something fun.  It’s just a part of my life I have to deal with I guess.

My husband also tries to take some time off once in a while to do field trips or other fun school things as well.  He’s gone with Rose on her first field trip this year, and he went on the one similar to what I just did with Emma last year in grade 2.  It’s really great that we can share these events sometimes with the girls.  It’s also really great that they understand why we can’t always be there.  School activities and working parents can really be a challenge for families!

Sometimes I think being there as the mom volunteer takes away from what my kids would normally do on these school trips.  Emma always asks me to be her partner – which is fine – but what would she do if I wasn’t there?  Who would she partner with?  Would she learn something different?  When she was younger this was more of a concern for me.  Now she goes off with her friends and lets me hang back and just observe (and learn!)  So missing out on some of these school activities isn’t so distressing in that regard.  I want the girls to have their school life separate from their home life.  They need to learn all those important social skills without Mom and Dad always being there.

School Activities and Working Parents
Friends on the Ferry. Emma is the one with the braid.

But having said all that I still wish I could do a better balance of school activities and working parents.  Maybe some day my blog will make me a little money and I can work fewer hours outside the home.  I’m not convinced that will happen, but it’s nice to think about sometimes!

Do you go on field trips with your kids?  Or are you, like me, missing school activities because of work?  If I get some great comments and conversation going under this post I might think of making another crowd-sourced post about school activities and working parents.  So get your say in now, and know I may quote you in future!  (I’ll always ask first.)  Better yet, join my mailing list and never miss a post – I’m trying a monthly newsletter with some tidbits and stories that don’t make it onto my blog.  Don’t miss out – the sign up box is in my sidebar.



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  1. You are truly lucky to have a boss and job that adjusts for you somewhat. I was a teacher and worked about 45 minutes away so if I needed to do anything with the kids I had to burn a precious sick day.

    I ended up quitting. So much for teaching being a family oriented profession,

  2. I’ve lived both roles. It’s definitely hard being a working parent. There are things that just aren’t possible. During those times, I felt I was teaching my children the value of commitment and giving them a good example of being a responsible adult. Like you, I was always lucky to have a boss that pushed work/life balance and wanted us to put family first so getting a day off or adjusting my schedule a bit as needed was supported. That’s not always the case. I also agree that your kids are learning valuable skills when you aren’t there. It’s great that you are OK with them having their school life separate. It’s good for them. I always saw this working mom/not working mom thing as a “the grass is always greener”. You can make a case for both sides. In the end, it sounds like you are making it work.

  3. I work full time. I have never gone to one of my kids parties, breakfasts, or field trips. I have been unlucky in that I work for inflexible places. No such thing as work/life balance. But the alternative is not being able to afford our house, so I guess they will live. I feel that guilt every single day.


  4. I used to work full time for a boss that though that we only life to work for him … taking a day off was the end of the world and as Barrie I never went with my son to any of his school trips or watched him perform on any of his plays. SO sad.
    I left that job when my daughter was born just because I felt so guilty and didn’t want to repeat the history with her.
    I am working part time now, close to home just because she needs time without me too and I don’t want to go crazy all the home. #Alittlebitofeverything

  5. I feel I have the best of both worlds really Jess, as I home school and work from home, so feel very lucky to be involved in pretty much every day of the kids lives. Your boss sounds very reasonable, so i’m sure this is very helpful for you.

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC. Hope to see you tomorrow x

  6. I work part-time too. Funnily enough I have just been on my sons school trip. He is in Group 4 and in the last 4 years I have made 2 trips. As a teacher it is double weird for me attending my kids school trips but they love it when I go so I always make the effort when I can. I gave up feeling guilty when I couldn’t attend as it was such a waste of emotion and I knew they would be OK anyway. Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT 🌟

    1. I always love how excited the kids get when you’re able to accompany a class trip. And yes, that mom guilt when you can’t go really is a waste of emotion isn’t it? Too bad we can’t actually turn it off…
      Thanks for the comment!

  7. You are very lucky to have such a flexible boss. Try not to be so hard on yourself about working when the kids aren’t at school. I’m sure they’d prefer that then to go hungry! #eatsleepblogRT

  8. I’d never even considered this as something that I may do in the future. Little Man has only just started school so this is a whole new ball game to me. I’m learning every day! #FamilyFun

    1. The learning never ends. If you have the chance to take a trip with the class, I highly recommend it! The kids love having their parents around (at least at this young age!) and you get a glimpse of what your child is like at school and with his peers.

  9. I’m a SAHM and to be honest I’ve only ever been on one school trip and my oldest is 8 now. There seem to be a set group of parents who always help out on these things and no one else ever gets asked. I think it’s because after that first trip I was heavily pregnant and then had a young baby to look after so although I’m at home I don’t have anyone to look after the youngest and can’t really take her too. I do manage all the plays and parents evenings though and I imagine it must be really hard when that’s not possible. My husband is in the merchant navy and works away for ten weeks at a time and the timings mean he has only ever made one parents evening and two plays (they do three a year!) and I know he finds that hard.
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky

    1. At my girls school they are always looking for parent volunteers – for everything! It’s nice to know your husband gets to see some of the school plays. (That’s a lot of plays, by the way!)

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