Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.
Hands-down the biggest perk of being a stay-at-home mom is being able to volunteer for my son's classroom field trips. My reasons for volunteering are entirely selfish—I get to know his classmates and the school staff better, and the chance to spend more time with my son is something I always jump at the chance to do. I still remember the first class trip I volunteered for during my son's junior kindergarten year; it was a rainy trip to the town's pumpkin patch with my infant daughter strapped to me in her carrier. Other than a whopper of a headache due to the noise of all-day singing and a blasting pumpkin cannon, plus mild embarrassment from attempting to explain breastfeeding to a curious kindergartener who tried peeking under my nursing cover, the field trip went off without a hitch. Over the years I've been lucky enough to volunteer on dozens of class field trips. Some have gone perfectly, others made me question my sanity. Here are five hard-won tips for surviving (and even having fun) while volunteering for class trips.
1. Take it easy on the coffee I know, I know, cutting back on coffee the day of a class trip seems like bad advice—until you remember that coffee is a diuretic. Bumpy bus rides plus the possibility of having to drag your child's classmates into the bathroom should be an incentive to cut back on the caffeine, at least for the day.
2. Bring enough pain killers to share Packing Tylenol or another pain killer is a must. Store it in a child-proof bottle and remember to bring enough to share with any adult who managed to overlook this school trip essential.
3. Bring your own basic first-aid kit A basic first-aid kit containing Band-Aids, gauze pads, alcohol swabs, a triangular bandage, latex gloves, hand sanitizer and an instant ice pack is small enough to tuck into your backpack and is a must-have on class trips. I almost always carry a small first-aid with me and the one time I forgot was the time I needed it most—when my son broke his finger during his class trip last June. The facility we were visiting wouldn't give us an ice pack and it took nearly 45 minutes to connect with another group of students who had an ice pack in their lunch. If you don't have your first-aid certification, now is the perfect time to take a course.
Read more: First-aid kit essentials for family travel>
4. Fully charge your cellphone—and bring a spare battery Most cell phone batteries last up to 10 hours, but snapping photos can drain your battery fast. Make sure your phone is fully charged and bring an extra battery or solar charger. Before you leave for the trip, exchange phone numbers with the staff and other volunteers for the trip. In addition, take photos of the students you will be responsible for. Should one of them become separated from the group, having a picture is the quickest way to give the facility an accurate description of the missing child.
5. Pack triple the snacks Every class trip I pack more vegetables, cubed meats and crackers that I know I can possibly eat, because every class trip one child will drop their snacks or feed them to seagulls, eat all of their food as soon as they get on the bus or just forget their bag on the bus altogether. Extra spoons, forks and large Ziploc bags come in handy too. I always pack extra cash in case I end up giving away all my food and have to buy lunch for myself.
What are your tips for surviving class trips? Tweet me @jenpinarski