Friday miscellany: Back-up slots

Many outdoor events come with a “rain date.” This is an incredibly useful concept if you think about it. The hosts are acknowledging that things can go predictably wrong outside — it’s right there in the “rain date” phrase. But if they do go wrong, there is no question whether the event will be rescheduled. It will be — on the official rain date. People know not to put anything unmovable in the extra spot. Most likely it won’t be needed (it does not always rain) but having a rain date greatly increases the chances that the original event happens, if not at the original time.

In life, we need a lot more rain dates — that’s why one of my Tranquility by Tuesday rules is to “Create a back-up slot.” I was reminded of the necessity of such dates this week as I attempted more of my Mommy Days.

These are the one-on-one days I have with each of my older kids during the summer. This week, my older two boys didn’t have camp, so I’d put their Mommy Days on the calendar for Monday (14-year-old) and Thursday (11-year-old).

Neither day happened as planned. Over the weekend our nanny had a family emergency and needed to take the first few days of the week off. My husband could theoretically have been the back-up for Monday (with the 11-year-old being a father’s helper for calls where he needed to focus) but this happened to be the week that he went on his first business trip in 16 months. So he wasn’t there. The Mommy Day needed to move (in this case to the weekend when he would for sure be home).

As for Thursday, all was good with childcare, but on Wednesday, I looked a little more closely at the weather forecast. My son wanted to go to Hershey, and I’d seen the little thunderstorm icon, but I assumed it was one of those summer afternoon things where it blows in and out. Once the 24-hour forecast was available, I realized that they were actually predicting severe storms with high winds. So we decided to move that one too (and good thing — the eastern part of PA plus NJ wound up with some tornadoes touching down and a watch for the whole area). I moved everything out of a day when he didn’t have camp to accommodate the rescheduling.

Two days, two back-up slots. Life happens. Storms happen. If you really want to do something, it’s not enough to carve out time for it. Sometimes you need to carve out more time for it than it will take. Designate a “rain date,” though, and the odds of something happening go up a lot.

One other thing…The BLS released the American Time Use Survey, this one from the pandemic era (though it is not as complete a study as previous years, because they stopped collecting data from March 19 to May 11, 2020). No surprise that the proportion of people who did some work at home on the days they worked nearly doubled — from 22 percent in 2019 to 42 percent in 2020. People in general spent more time on screens and less time on grooming! Time spent driving around decreased. While primary childcare did not increase, the amount of time spent on secondary childcare — that is, watching kids while doing something else like, oh, working — increased by about an hour a day. This increase was higher for women than for men. Both men and women did more housework, and the increase for men was higher than for women, though women still spend more time on these tasks overall. It’s all quite fascinating, and worth a look! And wow, do we sleep a lot. The average amount slept in 24 hours was…9.01 hours.

4 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Back-up slots

  1. Can you talk more about mommy dates? How do you decide what you do? I have an only child and he often doesn’t want to leave the house. And I go crazy if I don’t get out, especially in the summer. Is it always something they want to do? Do you get a choice too?

    1. @LauraC- I generally do something the kid wants to do, though there is a range of stuff that is acceptable – generally within a 2-hour drive, doable in one day, and I’m not going to absolutely hate it. So it generally winds up being amusement parks or zoos/aquariums that aren’t right in our town, or going to NYC for the American Girl place or something like that. I made a list for the 6-year-old for him to choose from because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t really know the range of options.

  2. Another advantage to holding a rain date/back-up slot is that if it doesn’t rain you now have open time. You could plan a bonus activity to go in that spot if you’re able to stick to plan A.

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