Nothing profound in this week’s post. Just an attempt to crowd-source a solution to a child care issue headed my way this summer:
Right now, I drive my kids to two separate schools each morning. I have a toddler in a private daycare, and a preschooler in a public school program supplemented with a paid after-school program. The entire drop-off process probably takes about a half hour to forty minutes, but that doesn’t include the time it takes me in the morning to get them ready and get myself ready. Sometimes I just get them ready and out the door, do the drop-off, then go back home to shower and start my day. Not the most efficient use of time, I know, but sleep has been an issue, especially with a toddler who still night-nurses. We’re working on transitioning her out of our bed and into a cot in our room.
The daycare opens as early as 7:00, but the preschool doesn’t open until 8:00, so ideally, I would leave the house at 7:45 and drop the toddler off first, then get to the preschool just after 8:00. Due to the aforementioned sleep issue, however, we’re usually all waking up late and running late. Some days, I finish up the routine closer to 9:00. The preschool day starts at 8:20, so I feel awful when I’m late, even though at my daughter’s age school is not compulsory and so tardies don’t really count. I still hate the feeling of being late though.
The bigger problem is my workday productivity. If I can be done with the morning routine around 8:10 or 8:15 or so, that’s great, and if I’m working from home, it gives me even more time until I need to get both kids again between 5:00 and 5:30, when both schools close. I have been driving an hour down to Mystic 3-4 days a week, however, to spend my work day. This means I usually get on the road closer to 9:00 (see above re: tardiness) and get to the office around 10:00, sometimes later. And then, unless it’s a rare day when DH gets out early or just takes leave to get the kids for me, I need to be back on the road up to Hartford at 4:00 to make it to both schools before they close.
Ok, so I haven’t even gotten to the summer dilemma yet: My older daughter’s preschool class is part of a public school system, which means there is no school over the summer. We gladly put up with this inconvenience, because during the school year, the preschool program is free, ahem, taxpayer-subsidized. But this means that, for close to 3 full months starting in June, we need to find temporary child care for her so I can work. My toddler’s private preschool program is booked (either that or they don’t want to take my kid temporarily; I’m not sure which, but they certainly didn’t care to engage me in conversation about it). I am thinking about taking her back to her old daycare, which is expensive, but it’s just temporary. Note to self: call that place on Monday and make sure they have a spot open.
Other ideas: take my older kid down to Mystic with me, and place her in a program down there. I am looking into a couple places in that area. The problem is that I would still need to race up to the Hartford area to get my younger kid by 5:30, so all this does is shift around the stops on my usual driving timeframe. Also, I’m only in Mystic 3 or 4 days a week, and the schedule changes in any given week. So if I commit my daughter to child care in that area of the state on Tuesday through Thursday, but I need to go in on a Friday, there’s nothing available to me. Or, if I stay home on a Tuesday, I have no child care lined up for her.
It’s difficult, not only because my office is an hour from where I live, but because my schedule is unpredictable. Unpredictability seems to be a running theme in my life. At least I can’t complain that I’m bored. Some days, I feel like I would really enjoy a boring day.
I thought about hiring a nanny. That would be awesome, actually – nowhere to drive except to work and back, if that’s the plan for the day. And I wouldn’t need to worry about packing lunches and sippies and all that stuff I hate doing that kills my time freedom even more. But then, I would need to pay for a nanny, which I kind of assume is beyond my budget right now. But then, if the nanny freed me up to work even more, I would make more money. But at the same time, what if I still don’t make enough money. But then … aaaaarrrrrghhhhh. My brain hurts.
Another thought is to limit my work schedule to three days a week over the summer, take Mondays and Fridays to spend with my daughter, and seek out occasional child care from my family on the odd days I need to do something child-free for the day. Or even more to that extreme, take her into the office with me on a regular basis, if I even need to be there. I just don’t see this going well though, in terms of my productivity. My parents are retired, but really not up for full-day child care, even on the occasional day, let alone every day. There really is no perfect solution here. Any option I pick is either going to cost me a lot, or cause my productivity to drop over the summer, or be extremely inconvenient, as it has been. The nanny option would be the most convenient but the most expensive, although with that said I also have the opportunity to make a lot more money. Putting limits on when I work this summer, and committing to more time with my daughter, would be awesome, but I would undoubtedly make less money. And no, I haven’t done a budget or cost analysis of any kind. Too busy … working. Poor excuse though, I know.
Anyone have any suggestions? I think I need to do some serious thinking about what I want to accomplish this summer and how much work I can really expect myself to do. My job follows the school year too, somewhat, at least in theory. But the summers never really seem to slow down.
Any helpful advice is greatly appreciated.