Just In Time Parenting (“JIT Parenting”)

May. It’s almost over. Thank goodness.

May is ridiculous. I have found myself questioning, pondering and really searching for the answers more this year than ever before. Maybe because I am between jobs – and I am anxiously researching my next steps, taking a class, loving Chicago’s tech scene, exploring digital start-ups, etc. Whatever the reason, though, I feel particularly overwhelmed this year. In fact, I have used this time to ask mom friends the following question: “How is your May?” “How are you leveraging technology to make your role as household manager more efficient?” “What technology tools are you using to stay organized?” “How are you using mobile to better manage the constant change within your home and home schedule?” I am asking full-time highly paid professional working moms; part-time moms and stay at home moms. The answer is always the same: “I’m NOT.” Correct: I am not. Most moms I talk to feel wonderfully empowered yet totally overloaded by the email and online schedules and requests filling up their inboxes – ironically, all in the name of “efficiency.” The worst part to me, is that even the CEO mom (translation: has assistant in office helping!) feels fairly overwhelmed  – and May is the worst.

What is going on?! I like to call it “Just in Time Parenting” (“JIT Parenting”). Here’s an example: the mom has the schedule set for let’s say a Friday. The skies open up. JIT parenting. The email arrives: lacrosse practice cancelled. The next email arrives: the birthday party that was scheduled for 6:00pm has been moved forward to 4:00, since lacrosse practice was cancelled and the party may now last longer by starting earlier. The next email arrives: please bring your son over at 4:00; attached is the waiver that needs to be printed out and signed and brought over at 4:00. This is a true story. I happened to be lucky when that happened in that I was nearby and able to help, but given that I am managing a household of seven, I simply shake my head and ask myself, “How can I better manage my inbox such that I do not need to JIT parent?”  Worse? JIT Parenting is on the rise, probably because kids are more and more programmed at younger and younger ages. It doesn’t matter that I’ve explored everything from Cozi to 2Do to shared ical to old fashioned post-it notes: they simply cannot solve the consummate mom problem of JIT parenting. It is not a good system. But then again, it is May. This too shall pass.

Which brings me to Mother’s Day – the “outward” symbol of May. The truth is: Mother’s Day seems to be the great American joke..and we moms are all suckered into it. Basically, the flowers and chocolate for moms come just in the nick of timeotherwise the moms would quit and dads would throw in the towel!

So, we question JIT parenting and wait for summer to take its hold. Maybe the sweet sound of nothingness on a Sunday night in August is that much sweeter a smell after the crazy May days of motherhood subside. Simple pleasures.

At the end of the day – that’s what parenting still is (JIT parenting or not):  a pleasure.

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