mom with backpack holding hands with school-aged child (kindergarten and working mom)September 1, 2023. That was the day my life was supposed to change. I would graduate from being the mom of young children whose days revolved around wildly inconvenient preschool pick-up times. And I could move on to being the mother of big kids with standard 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. school schedules. My work days would open up, and I could reclaim the professional part of myself that left the full-time workforce to be home with her children. Yes, the start of kindergarten would mean this working mom would finally find her footing.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

Contrary to what I expected — and was fully planning on — the nature of my role as primary caregiver to my children didn’t change with kindergarten registration. In a very unwelcome plot twist, my days somehow became even more unpredictable.

See, when my children were younger I knew there would always be a toddler walking in on my Zoom calls or asking for a snack 13 times while I tried to spend five minutes reading an important document. I planned around it because it was the expectation. For the first few months of my supposed newfound freedom when my youngest started full-day kindergarten, I had the audacity to assume I would be able to attend meetings or read emails without interruption.

But you know what full-day school schedules also entail? Randomly scheduled half days. Snow days where no actual snow has fallen but the kids are kept home to err on the side of caution. And let us not forget the germs. So. Many. Germs. 

My assumption that the start of kindergarten would mean the beginning of wide-open workdays for me led to me feeling more stressed every time “life” happened. Like so many American mothers, I had falsely believed I could work like I didn’t have kids and parent like I didn’t have a job as long as the kids were in school during the workday.

But it’s simply not realistic, and society needs to stop feeding primary caregivers the lie that it is. Kids are going to get sick. School is going to get canceled. And it shouldn’t feel like an impending panic attack anytime the school nurse’s phone number appears on caller ID.

It is not lost on me that I have the privilege of being able to work part time, from home. Our family’s financial health does not rely on my income. I want to work. I want to contribute to our family financially. But more than that, I want to reclaim that professional bit of myself that had to be tucked away to make room for playgroups and Daniel Tiger songs.

I do not regret my choice to give up my career to be home with my children. I am grateful I had the choice at all. I just wish someone had warned me that kindergarten wouldn’t change everything.

Brittany Kooienga
This writer has been brought to you today by copious amounts of caffeine and dry shampoo. Between raising two very active kiddos and two even more active beagles with her husband in Kingston, MA; Brittany has learned to take each hour as it comes. Not easy for a self-confessed Type A over planner. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Suffolk University, she spent a few years in the marketing world before returning to school to earn a post-baccalaureate degree in Health Education. One month after completing her coursework, she and her husband welcomed their first child and she has been the primary caregiver for her children ever since. When she isn’t chasing kids or dogs, Brittany can be found in her home office where she works as an Operational Management Consultant, or in the kitchen coming up with new recipes her kids will actually want to eat. You can follow her kitchen adventures on Instagram at @thekidsateittoo.


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