Why parents leaving work early is not all it's cracked up to be

The truth behind parents leaving work early.
I have definitely been guilty of thinking- “I can’t wait to have children so I can leave work early”
Back in my prime when I was in my 20’s, loving life, working hard, playing hard I would often think how nice it is for parents to knock off at 3pm. I felt so envious that they could finish early, I was tired come 3pm because I probably stayed out too late the night before and really wanted a nap.
I used to think how nice it must be to pick your children up, spend some quality time with them playing in the garden and having a nice family meal together, you know those images from the movies of the perfect family playing football together in the garden. It was very naïve.
The reality is…
I finish work at 4pm. I anxiously look at the clock until it hits 4 as the difference in traffic is huge when you leave at 4.02 rather than 4.07. I pack up around 3.55 try to say my goodbyes as swiftly as I can so I can race out the door.
I have this uncontrollable need to pick my children up around 4.30/5, and when I am running late I get these huge pangs of guilt. My parents were both always home at 4.30 and I love that I got that much time with them- my belief system is totally wired that way and I want my children to look back at those precious times and feel the same as I do.
So, there I am racing out of the office ideally at 4.02 and I may get a semi clear run until I hit the freeway. It’ll then take me around 30 mins bumper to bumper until I make it to Daycare.
I park, jump out and am greeting by big girl usually playing outside “mummmyyyy, my mummy is hereee” full of love I always give her a big kiss through the fence and tell her to meet me at the door. I get the eldest and then go to the twins, they both run up SO excited that mummy is there squealing with excitement and pushing each other out the way trying to get to me first. Is there any better feeling than picking up your children when they are just so happy to see you. I’m full of love and so grateful I get the next hour or so with them before it’s time for bed.
I try to get from the tiny tot room to the front door- nightmare number one begins. The twins run off and start getting all the toys out. My boy twin insists on waving goodbye to the entire Daycare centre and is in every room, Girl twin is running somewhere else usually doing impressions of the fishes in front of the fish tank and the eldest is usually climbing up the gate while some other poor parent is trying to get in.
When I finally rally them all up and get to the car and the planking begins. I try to get the twins strapped into the car seats and they both plank as I try to get them in, I’m trying to forcefully ask the twins to “ please just bend and get in your seat” through gritted teeth smiling as other parents pass me by. Once one is in, I tackle getting the other twin in and off we go.
We get home, I get them in the house. Everyone starts crying. The twins are lying on the floor having a tantrum, my eldest is crying because she has a sore foot that she just remembered about. Great.
I try to pick up one twin and the other one loses it, so I try and pick the other one up and decide just sitting on the ground is probably the easiest option. Girl twin is always quick to get on my lap and gets very jealous of anyone else that tries to come near. So she is swatting her big sister away at her every attempt to cuddle me, boy twin is hanging off my neck from behind and I am sat on the floor in my work clothes, a pair of high heals with 3 snotty, crying children hanging off me.
I am dripping in sweat. It is so hot and I have three children clambering all over me.
I eventually managed to distract them all with books and escape to get changed and make their dinner. The twins realise I am making their dinner and start screaming at the gate of the kitchen for me to cook faster. I am flustered running as quick as I can to heat up some pasta and left over bolognaise sauce.
Dinner is lovely, they eat- hurray!! Minimal throwing (for a change) and I manage to have a drink of water and attempt to cool down for 5 minutes. Clean up children, clear up dishes and do 15 mins of dancing and singing to rhymes before bath time.
Bath time is HORRENDOUS, my husband is out, I am solo. The twins sit on their potty’s, boy does a wee- girl tips it all over the floor. Big girl starts screaming- She has a very very small scratch on her foot and can’t put it in the water. I am trying to clean up wee, stop girl twin from splashing her hands in her brothers wee and get boy twin to sit in the bath. I wash the eldest while she is balancing on one foot in the bath- whilst boy twin is trying to climb out of the bath and girl twin is trying to help him out by pushing his bum. We survive bath with no injuries and I just about manage to get them dressed and into bed- Phew.
It’s 6.50 when the three of them are in bed, and I can start to make myself some dinner and tidy up before I get to sit down about 7.30.
Turns out I don’t envy those parents leaving work early at all. Sitting in work for another 2 hours is a much more relaxing option than running around like a maniac trying to get everyone sorted after a busy day. The idyllic picture of playing football in the garden and having a lovely meal all together is so far from the truth I laugh at the very thought of it- maybe it’ll happen one day. It’s mayhem, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So if you are one of “those” people that hasn’t quite amended your mindset to the flexibility needed for parents in the workplace I hope this gives you an understanding as to why it is so important, and why it is 100% not a parent slacking off. They are leaving one job to get to their next job and then will probably log back on to job number 1 when they knock off from job number 2 when the kids are all in bed. Parents are amazing and the truth behind parents leaving work early is that they sometimes wish they didn’t have too, but those little people at home need them.

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