Three days a week, I work until 5:30pm at my office in order to work with all of my school-aged clients during after school hours. I haven’t worked more than one long day in ages. At the end of last summer, we decided to employ a babysitter at home rather than enroll the boys in an after-school program. The program was a good one, but Lyle was very upset about not coming home after school and I realized that if they went there, I’d have to double-back to pick them up and then head north toward home. Dinner and bedtime would be pushed back about an hour, Baxter wouldn’t have practiced his flute yet, and any projects or homework that they needed my input on would be saved for after dinner. Right now we manage to be homework-free after dinner. I’m able to start making a simple dinner at 6:15; it would be more like 7 if we’d done that program. It’s also a great bonus to have someone who unloads the dishwasher and helps clean up the breakfast dishes in the afternoon like I would do if I were home. And so in the end it was an easy decision to use a sitter.
However, in the fall our one sitter turned into two, because we couldn’t find anyone to do all 3 days. And only one of them had a car to get the boys from school, but luckily she was here two of the three days. However, her class schedule changed. This semester, we find ourselves with three sitters on three different days:
One has a car and can pick the kids up from school. She also gets the dog from day care for me. This is a good evening for me. I can be home at 6.
One has a car but can’t make it to their school on time from her internship; she can, however, meet them at or close to our house when they get this far north and bring them home.
And one does not have a car but lives within walking distance. She meets them at home.
This means that I rely on the kindness of other moms in our neighborhood carpool to bring my kids home or near home twice a week. But they have kids, too. Kids whose schedules change frequently as activities begin and end. And so as soon as it’s working, it’s not working again. Or, put another way, even when it works and continues to work, it can only do so for a maximum of 10 weeks because at least one of the sitters is on a quarter system at any given time.
I should note that Matt isn’t figured into this equation at all. He doesn’t have the option to work from home and he’s downtown all day and most weeks is out of town 1-2 days. I have our only car. He usually gets home at night just after me.
I’ve had friends tell me they couldn’t handle my life just because of this part of it. But, really, if I weren’t dealing with a million logistics of time and place all week at work, this would be doable. I did best on the logic portion of the GRE; those skills are how I make our life work, so I guess that’s lucky for me.
We just got it rolling well for this quarter when there’s been a change to the boys’ ride home one day a week that probably requires me to let one of the sitters go and increase time with another of them. This works, but only until early March, at which point I’d only have one day covered. And what will I do when they are all done with college in late May and the kids have another month of school? Or what about summer childcare when they’re not in camp? I can only cross those bridges when I come to them.
Even if I threw in the towel and switched to after school care, it would only help us for a few months; 5th grade is the oldest grade they take. What would we do next year?
So I guess in my “spare time” over the next couple months, it’s back to the drawing board in an attempt to find someone with a car who can get them from school and stay with the schedule until mid-June. I talked to 8 sitters over winter break, all highly recommended, none of whom could do it.
So tell me: short of quitting your job, which ain’t going to happen, what would you do?