One of the great things about summertime is the abundance of toddler-friendly programs available in my area. From junior swimming lessons to nature tours to farm outings, these programs offer little kids and their parents a chance to get out, have fun, expand their horizons, and maybe even meet new friends.
Unfortunately, my son and I cannot take part in any of these, because they’re only available during the week. Like many families, both my husband and I work full-time, and our ability to take part in such activities is limited to weekends alone. Yet the vast majority, if not all, of these programs are not offered on Saturdays or Sundays, which leaves families like ours out in the cold.
Back in the spring, I tried signing my 2.5-year-old son up for swim lessons. My efforts, however, were only met with frustration when I learned that there were no local weekend swim classes for children my son’s age. (Actually, there was one program–an expensive one–that consisted of two classes per week on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. When I inquired about the possibility of only coming for the Saturday classes, I was told that I’d still need to pay for the full program, which includes the Wednesday classes. In other words, pay full price and only get half the lessons–no, thank you.)
Even the Mommy & Me program at the temple we just joined for the most part limits its classes to weekdays. This was really surprising to me, because I would’ve expected a temple to be more sympathetic to the needs of working mothers in search of others with similar cultural backgrounds. But with the exception of the very occasional Sunday program, Mommy and Me is apparently only for mommies who work part-time or stay home full-time with their children.
Can you tell that I’m a little frustrated? Look, I’m grateful for the fact that my son attends a fantastic day care where he gets to interact with other children and spend his days doing all sorts of entertaining activities. But our daycare center isn’t going to teach him how to swim. Our daycare center isn’t a forum for us to meet like-minded Jewish families, and for my son to get a taste of Jewish tradition that those who attend the temple’s Mommy and Me program get.
I have a few mom friends who either stay home with their children or work part-time, and sometimes I can’t help but be envious of all the things they’re able to do with their kids during the week. Plus, a big part of me feels guilty that I’m depriving my son of different opportunities simply by being unavailable Monday through Friday.
I’m sure I’m not the only mom–or parent–who feels this way. I’ve spoken to other families where both parents work, and they all seem to share my frustration over the lack of weekend classes and activities for littles.
Is there a solution? I’m not sure. I suppose if enough of us band together to petition some of the local parks, recreation centers, and organizations to be more accommodating to dual working parents, perhaps it’ll open the doors for more weekend programming down the line. Or maybe our requests will be met by the dreaded “this is the price you pay for choosing not to stay home and raise your children” reaction. All I know is that in this day and age, having both parents work is probably more the norm than the exception, so it’s time to start including us in all the kiddie-oriented fun.