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Challenge: Parents On The Go: What's Your Strategy?

Plan Ahead - Then Make New Plans...

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Like many families, both my wife and I work full-time. And as many families know, the work week often becomes a blur of against-the-clock scrambling that can leave far too many hurried moments with the people we love most.

At my house we often find ourselves in a crunch for time. It seems no matter how early we get up, I’m still racing out the door only a few red lights away from tumbling off schedule.

As far as childcare goes, I’m the drop off man. My wife does pick-up. When something comes up, one of us has to bite the bullet and do both. It’s not a perfect system but it works for us. And it takes timing, patience, and flat-out luck to pull it off.

For instance, last week, we were both racing around, buttoning shirts, combing hair, and wiping our son’s face. We try not to rush him, but at the same time he doesn't exactly "get" the whole notion of punching a clock.

This day was just like most, meaning that we were pressed for time. My wife is a teacher, and she was a little stressed about getting to school early for field day. Maybe not stressed, because what could be stressful about letting a couple hundred elementary school kids run amuck in a field in 90 degree weather? Okay maybe a little stressed. And by a little I mean mumbling in long lost language while shuffling down the hall in mismatched shoes.

I on the other hand, was a beacon of organization. I was two belt loops short of being indecent and couldn’t for the life of me locate my son’s shoes, or the dog’s collar. I did find a clock in every room, taunting me with its vanishing time trick.

We got dressed. We got breakfast. We even managed a quick playtime before I filled up my son’s water and tossed some extra Cheerios in a bag for the ride. Oops, that was the dog bowl. On the second try I got it right and we were on our way…because we have a system here.

We kissed mom goodbye, wishing her luck. I tucked away questions of her current sanity and headed out to the car. Buckled up and ready to go, we had water, snacks, and oh good, there's gas. No time for that stuff.

A quick stop at the bank was to be our only detour. It was Friday and my wife did manage to remind me that I had to pay daycare. Got it. Arriving at the bank I pointed out a school bus, when, I noticed my kid had no shoes on. He hadn’t taken them off, I just hadn’t put them on his feet. Still sitting in the ATM line, I punched my wife’s number.

“I forgot his shoes.”

“Oh, well I have a pair in my car.”

“Does he really need shoes?”


“Okay, have you already left?”

“Yeah, just grab a spare.”

I sighed, realizing that swinging back to the house to pick up a pair of shoes would mean losing time. But really, in the grand scheme, it wasn’t the end of the world. I could be ten minutes late. So back I went.

We left the bank and headed back towards the house, taking a slightly different way just to shake things up. I put my signal on, to cut through a side street, and that’s when I spotted a car that looked familiar—my wife’s car! Getting ready to pull out. Between the drifting traffic we made eye contact. That was all it took. I turned in and swung the car close, lowering the window. Through parental telekinesis, she did the same and held out the tiny pair of shoes. I snatched them and smiled.


It felt like a well-executed trick play. I tossed the shoes onto the passenger seat, and saw a guy in the car behind my wife nodding, like, nice one. He must have been a dad, and the must have thought we were pretty cool too. I spun the car around and we got back on schedule.

Are we cool? Not really, we’re a couple of dorks. But we make a darn good team. And that’s what makes it all work—teamwork. And luck. Lots of luck. Because even the most well thought out days have surprises, and whether you’re handing off kid shoes through cars in traffic, or just short one emergency diaper in a public bathroom, it’s all part of the adventure. Just enjoy the ride.


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