What the...? A bar?
I know. I'm an assistant principal. What am I doing? Bear with me...let's begin where this really started: I started a new job with a 5 month old and a 2.5 year old. And not just a new job, a new job as the Assistant Principal of an inner city middle school. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it put a lot of things in perspective. A lot of people think working in schools is the dream job for a parent - but I leave the house before my daughter is awake at 6:15 every morning, I leave work “early” compared to my colleagues to pick my kids up at daycare by 5. We get home at 5:20 and my son goes to bed at 6, then at 6:20 I come downstairs once he’s in bed and get a precious 40 minutes before it’s my daughter's bedtime. It’s hard, and I’m not alone, at all. Less than an hour a day with each kid - it’s just not right.
I thought nothing could be harder then feeling obligated to show up at work when I had a sick baby staying home with Liz or my dad, but it only gets harder leaving a three year old who’s begging and saying “but I only want YOU mama!” What will it be like when they're older and really resent that I feel I HAVE to be at work even when I'd give my right arm to stay home and take care of them?
Given the cost of housing in the Boston area, more and more families have two parents that work outside the home, and smaller homes to show for it. Our kids are with other adults all day and all week, and we get to pay thousands of dollars a month for the pleasure of missing our kids like crazy. I’m really selling it, right?
Then imagine trying to cram into a short weekend; errands, chores, house projects, personal projects, quality time with the kids you missed all week, enrichment activities, naps, catching up with friends and family, oh and time to relax. Then the weekend rolls around and it’s raining, or cold, or too hot to play outside and your kids woke up at 5:30 so you hit the grocery store when it opened at 6 but they’re already bouncing off the walls by 8. Do you take them to an indoor playground where you have to sit on a carpet that’s been peed and puked on for sure and the kids are running around like maniacs? Do you take them to the science museum for a cool $27 per person, plus parking? A cafe where you won’t be able to get them to sit at the table for more then 2 minutes?
Lots of families take their little kids to brewery taprooms because they’re relaxed, you can bring your own food and they have a kid friendly lack of formality. But my experience is that we sit down and my kids instant want to walk around, so we get up and walk with them, away from the friends we’re trying to catch up with, away from the drinks we ordered. For the last few years now, my mom tribe and I lamented that there was nowhere to go with kids that was easy and fun.
It wouldn’t be too much ask, would it? A place were we can hang out and have sight lines of our meandering toddlers, exploring as they do, and a relatively safe place for them to do so without us having to hover? Apparently it is. Because it doesn’t exist! I saw countless facebook posts of desperate parents asking if there is anywhere to go as a family that wasn’t miserable or constraining for some if not all of the family. So my friends and I started to jokingly make plans. We created a cocktail menu of drinks for parents with names like “the no nap day” (kahlua based), “the ferberizer” (VERY strong), “the blowout” (a mudslide), and “the bitten nipple (buttery nipple). It was cathartic, but also frustrating that nothing like this really existed.
And then, honestly, three quick, untimely, and unexpected deaths happened in our chosen family in rapid succession. And I wondered why I was putting all my time into a job that denied me the time with my family I desperately wanted. What if this space for families to be together could happen? If I couldn’t change parental leave policy or subsidize childcare, maybe, at the very least, I could take care of my own family by creating a space for families?
So then I started talking about it and it was like a gust of wind took hold of a sail - the momentum, enthusiasm and support was instantaneous and took on a life of it’s own. I’ve not felt so energized and excited in ages. This, people keep telling me - is what happens with a really good idea.
I'm all in. I've got a one track mind lately, and I'm having a blast learning and planning and getting feedback.
I've added this blog section to capture some of the explanations that are coming out in conversations, to answer questions and tell you a little more about Kin. If there's something you want to know, just ask!