If there’s one topic that inevitably gets discussed with my working mom friends, it is childcare. How do you handle it? How do you schedule it? What is the best option? Is there a best option? How much do you pay? How do you handle school breaks? Structured? Unstructured? And good God, how do you spell it (child care or childcare)?
Amongst us, my girlfriends utilize almost every option … daycare center, in-home daycare, wrap-around daycare after preschool, nanny, after-school program, Mom who takes care of the kids. I have had friends who have done the same thing for years (like me) and friends who switch it up based on necessity. And these scenarios seem to work out just fine.
My husband and I made our choice among the myriad of options years ago. We have had our wonderful nanny and dear friend Carolyn with us since my oldest (who is now 7) was 4 months old. This has been optimal for us for a lot of reasons. When Carolyn started, I worked 3 days per week; but then I got laid off from my job and the new one I found had to be full-time (and boy, was I bummed out about that!). When Allison was 2, she was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and she would need intensive, at-home therapy for years. This would be very difficult to achieve without an in-home childcare scenario. Quickly thereafter, Lindsay arrived. Carolyn’s flexibility (and some help from my Mom, as well) was a lifesaver and made the transition back to full-time work a bit smoother.
The childcare thing is tough.
Not that there aren’t drawbacks. And that is the reason for this post. Carolyn just let me know that she was going to need hip replacement surgery, a serious procedure that would put her out of commission for months. We were worried about Carolyn and also worried about what the heck to do.
The kids are older now (5 and 7) and both are doing great. We no longer have in-home therapy visits. Allison is in school all day and Lindsay is in half-day Kindergarten. An after-school program for both of them at a reputable daycare center nearby seemed like the logical choice. A good friend of mine really loves it. They had availability. Seemed like a no-brainer. What a relief!
After a bit of soul-searching, we decided against it. Allison really needs some quiet “downtime” after school. She works hard to keep it together during the school day with great success. However, this exhausts her more than most kids; this is kind of a side effect to the apraxia and a special consideration for us.
Then there was the cost. I was surprised to find out that the center was just as costly as having a nanny. But looking for a short-term nanny seemed daunting. I worried about interviewing strangers. Heck, I was frantic.
This whole experience has made me realize how fortunate that we have been so far in our childcare experiences. It is really an emotional thing. We all want the best for our kids. This is one of the many reasons that we work. But the childcare thing is tough. It’s emotional and personal and definitely not one-size-fits-all. What childcare solution works best for you? Are you happy with it? What would you change? Why?