It seemed so logical and easy – schedule our work vacations to coincide with school vacations so that child care would not be an issue. I had charted everything in Google Calendar and between school, camp and our vacation schedules, we were covered for all but two weeks of the school year. We went forward with fingers crossed that illness or school days didn’t kill that plan.

But something other than illness or school days killed the plan. We are in our two week spring break at school and the original plan was for hubby to cover one week and I would cover the other – work schedules changed that so that I had to straddle the two weeks (2 days one week, 3 the other). Hubby planned his entire work schedule around this plan. Going up to spring break, we told the kids that they’d be home with us separately, and we’d do lots of fun stuff with them. They were SUPER excited. My son, a true Momma’s boy, was especially excited to spend time with me and he told his friends all about the fun stuff he wanted to do “when Mommy is home.”

…but work got in the way…

We are in the midst of a big, impromptu project – I can’t explain much other than to say that it came up last minute, it is BIG visibility, and I was asked to take a pretty visible role in it. It was one of those things that I really could not say no to.

Because hubby had planned to be at work during the times I was slated to cover, he had stacked all of his meetings on the days I was supposed to be home. Several of his meetings were also non-negotiable. So we were “screwed,” so to speak, with regard to child care coverage.

It took a lot of stress and a lot of scrambling. Vacation camp is great if and WHEN you plan ahead. Most of the camps fill up quickly once registration opens and they are not cheap; not to mention that our school is not synched up with the public school calendars, so ZERO other vacation camps are available. Finding ourselves at the eleventh hour without childcare = PANIC ATTACK. We begged our school’s vacation camp to let us in – and by sheer luck, they had two last minute spots (cancellations) the first week. This week, we were not so lucky. Out of desperation, I asked my mom come watch the kids but I came to find out that she was due for outpatient surgery. After much creative searching, I managed to find an enrichment center/preschool that offers after school programs – they are licensed for drop in care only because they do have after school programs, and they are able to accommodate me. All of this does not come cheap – at the end of it all, for a week’s (5 days) worth of coverage for two kids, I will be $1,000 out of pocket…a price we have to pay to have last minute care.

I understand that juggling work and kids is difficult – I just wish there were ways to make it a little bit easier on working parents. Yes, my school was able to thankfully squeeze us into vacation camp when they really didn’t have to. But the scramble doesn’t need to exist – one week off from school, as opposed to two, would have been easier to juggle (after all, it’s freaking PRESCHOOL, not prep school!)…hubby probably would have gladly taken the full week off, but there is no way he could cover two full weeks. Coordination with public school calendars would have also been nice, because it would have enabled us to find a teenager to watch my kids for a few hours, or have availability at other local school vacation camps. Instead, we did the working parent mambo in order to ensure our kids were safe, happy and cared for.

The worst part about all of this is not the stress and the juggling that we have had to do…it’s the disappointment that I know that my kids feel. Last night, I talked to my kids on the phone before my husband tucked them into bed.

“Mommy…are we going to the zoo tomorrow?”

“No, Bubba – you are going to camp.”

“But, Mommy…you promised we’d go to the zoo on Friday.”

“I know, Bubba, but Mommy has to work.”

“Camp is boring, Mommy. I want to go to the zoo…”

All of this will eventually pass and my kids will probably never remember that I promised to take them to the zoo but had to cancel at the last minute; at least I hope not. In the meantime, we try to get through this one day at a time. I will just say…I will be glad when the two weeks is over and the kids go back to school.