Posts tagged with: summer childcare

Summer Camping!

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Today was officially my kids’ last day of preschool!!!!!! Starting in the “Fall” (which is August 2nd in these parts), they’ll be KINDERGARTNERS!!! I can’t even believe it! I want to cry from happiness AND sadness all at once! How is it even possible!?

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B and B with their teacher on the last day of school! Instead of a traditional “graduation” ceremony, they had what they call a “Teddy Bear Picnic” where parents got to come have a picnic lunch with the kiddos and their favorite stuffed animals. Nontraditional, but still really cute and fun!

The past couple summers have presented some big challenges in terms of childcare. Full-time summer care for young ones in my area tends to be exorbitant! I’m talking nearly triple what we pay during the academic year. There are some cheaper camp options, but I talked a little last year about how those weren’t the best option for us because it would be one week here, one week there, all over the place and it wasn’t a good fit with our kid’s shy and timid personalities on a full-time basis (plus, many of those camps were only 4-5 hours/day).

This year, we have a much different approach to things. For one, their dad will be around a lot more. For any new readers, their dad recently scaled back his business so he could return to school full-time. Over summer, though, he’ll be picking up a large portion of the childcare. At the same time, it would be great if he can make a little more money, too! So he’ll also be trying to work a bit more while still ultimately maintaining childcare as his #1 “job” for summer. The girls are also going to be taking a couple of camps! Although I still maintain that a different camp every week would NOT be ideal for our kids (every kid is different and I know some kids love trying lots of new camps, but I know our kids and they just would not thrive in that situation), I do think that they’ll benefit from dipping their toes into the camp scene. We’ve got them signed up for one week-long day camp in June and one week-long day camp in July. So they’ll still have a lot of stability (home the majority of summer), but will get to try a couple of fun new things (gymnastics camp in June, karate camp in July).

I’ll still be working all summer, but I also have a bit more flexibility in my schedule, too, so I’ll be more able to be around with the girls if hubs picks up an odd job, etc. So between hubs, myself, and the couple of camps, we should be good to go. The really exciting thing is that we should end up SAVING money since we’ll be using so much LESS childcare than the past couple summers. With hubs at home, we don’t need the full-time care we’ve always required in the past. Only paying for a couple of camps will be a drop in the bucket compared to our normal childcare costs. It’s been awhile since my last full budget post, but on average we pay approximately $1,100/month for childcare (that’s for 2 kids in preschool full-time). In contrast, we’ll be paying under $300 per camp this summer (for both kids). So we’re talking under $600 for childcare costs ALL SUMMER! Wooo! Can’t argue with that! I’m pretty pumped about the savings, particularly given that these summer months are still pretty tight on the income side of things.

For those of you with kiddos, I hope you’re enjoying a smooth and easy entrance into summer!

What do you do with your littles during summer? Stay home with them? Send them to camp? Babysitter? Something else?


Summer Childcare Update

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Hi guys! I hope your Monday is off to a good start!

Remember when I talked about our summer childcare plans? We ended up opting to hire a babysitter whose been coming to our house to watch the kids 3 days per week. I wanted to give a little update on how it’s gone.

First, in case you hadn’t noticed from our recent budget update, our childcare costs have been way down compared to the academic year! Part of this is because we’ve been out of town a bit and we only pay our babysitter when we need her, so we haven’t had to pay for chunks of time when we’ve been gone. The other reason, of course, is because we’ve only been using part-time care instead of full-time care. Overall, we’re paying more per hour, but less overall (since fewer hours, etc.)

I did have some concerns about the route we decided to go. First, I didn’t love that the kids were going to be stuck at home all day every day. Second, our babysitter doesn’t drive (she’s old enough, but just doesn’t have a license) and she lives a solid 45 minutes away, so arranging pick-ups and drop-offs has been really exhausting. Generally we meet her parents somewhere in the middle, but on the rare occasion we have to take her all the way home, we’re talking a solid 1.5 hours in the car for the round-trip. Far from ideal. And, finally, the time has been another big issue. Remember, I work a full-time job + a part-time job. So getting all my work done in 3 days/week (and nights while the kids are sleeping) was a big concern of mine.

Status Update…

I don’t regret our decision with the babysitter for this summer, but I don’t think we’ll do it again next year (or, if we do, we’ll probably do a mix of camps and babysitter). Most of the summer has been fine, but now that we’re nearing the start of the semester (5 weeks left!) I’ve been struggling with tension/stress headaches just about every day over the stress and anxiety of all that I’ve got to get done in such a short period of time. The struggle stress is real.

Also, I miss working at home badly! During the academic year I try to reserve one day per week to work at home. I tried to work from home with the babysitter exactly once and it was just not working. The kids are loud and make concentration difficult. Plus, when I’m home (even if I’m locked in my bedroom), they keep trying to come in and see what I’m doing, bang on the door, yell for me, etc. I also found myself coming out and helping a lot when I heard screaming/crying/fighting. Basically, I was not able to get much done. But we live a good 30-40 minutes from campus so when I physically go IN to work it’s a solid hour round-trip out of the day just for driving. Its a fast drive and doesn’t bother me during the academic year, but paying more per hour makes me realize the cost of that drive on a daily basis. And I’m just able to be more efficient when I’m home! I can start a load of laundry and meal-prep for dinner in-between emails and work stuff. It’s much harder to cram all that stuff into the nighttime hours (or on the babysitter’s off days while the kiddos are home with me).

Hubs has been stepping up, too. He’s stayed home a few days when I’ve had a meeting or something else that I’ve had to get to. But even so, I find that I’m rushing home to try to relieve him or whatever and I’m just not being as productive as I need to be.

This week, only, their school has a week-long camp. I signed them up but it’s only Mon-Fri from 8:30-12:00pm. The plan is to work from home this week (to eliminate the long drive to campus). When I pick them up, we’ll come home and eat lunch, then I lay them down for naps and (fingers crossed) get another couple hours of work done in the afternoon.

I was SO THRILLED to be taking them to camp this week! Like, I CANNOT WAIT for their school to open back up in Fall! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved having more time with them over the past couple months. But I’m sure other parents can relate to the feeling of being OVER summer (especially when its 10 million degrees, options for activities are limited, and I need to freaking WORK!). Here’s a picture I took (while at a stoplight – not moving!) of me taking the girls to camp this morning. To say I was excited is the understatement of the century, lol

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Oh, oh, oh!!!!

Also, we officially got my Dad’s Utah house on the market! It went live in the MLS on Thursday night. It’s had 7 showings since then and we got our first offer late last night. It was an over-list-price offer, but it’s not great because the couple is still “shopping lenders.” We don’t want to accept and tie the house up by going under-contract until we know for sure that the people’s financing will go through.

Our realtor is reaching out to the realtors of the other people who’ve looked at the house to get feedback and let them know there’s an offer on the table (in case others were on the verge and decide to put in an offer, too). We have until tomorrow afternoon to respond to the first offer so hopefully we can drum up a bidding war (though, being cautious of the fact that we don’t want to go too far above list price, as the appraisal might come in lower and ruin financing for anyone offering over-list). We’ll see what happens. Lots of moving parts. None of us siblings have sold real estate before (my bro & sis both own, but they’ve only bought once and have never sold), so it’s all new to us. Luckily, my mom is a real estate broker and although she and my father are divorced, she’s very sensitive to his health issues and has been more than willing to help navigate and guide us (the kids) through the process to make sure we’re taken care of and doing things properly. Our realtor has also been a dream to work with, so I feel lucky in that regard.

Anyway, gotta run and get some work done in the short time I have before I go back to pick up the girls from camp!

Have a great week! I’ll be back soon!


Summer Childcare Blues

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Finding reliable, reputable childcare has consistently been one of the most stressful parts of being a working parent.  So today I want to pose a question to the other working parents out there:  What do you do for summertime childcare?!?

The place we’re currently at operates on an academic year schedule (not surprising, because its preschool through 8th grade so it’s a real school campus, albeit a private religious one). Their last day is May 24th and they don’t reopen again until the second week of August. But here I am, working full-time at my day job plus part-time at my online job and I have NO childcare!? Yikes!

After doing quite a bit of research, here’s what I’ve found. I’ll go ahead and tell you from the get-go:  no good options exist. Especially in the under 5-year-old age range. (Disclaimer: a TON of options open up for school aged kids age 5+, so this problem may be specific to parents with younger kids).

  • Option 1: There are lots of different one-week long summer camps at different places around town. This would be perfect if I was home all summer with the kids and just wanted to send them somewhere educational a couple weeks out of the summer. But I need childcare every week. I know my kids and I know they do not thrive in that kind of instability (a different camp at a different place with different people every single week). This won’t work for us.
  • Option 2:  Half-day camps. There are two places we know and trust that offer half-day camps. Half-day is far from ideal (one is from 8:30-12:30, but the other is only from 9-12. A total of 3-4 hours per day!) They’re pretty pricey for being such a limited amount of care. The three hour camp is $100/week/child and the four hour camp is $175/week/child. For comparison purposes, this amounts to roughly $1500/month for 20 hours per week.
  • Option 3: JCC. We loved the JCC while we were there and only left because they were too far from our home. The commute wasn’t realistic after I started working full-time. But I thought that maybe we could go just for the summer. It’s someplace we love and the girls are familiar with. Wins all around, right? Nope. Turns out as non-members the prices are exorbitant. And there’s not an option for a short-term membership just for the summer. Getting childcare 3 days per week for 7 hours per day would run us OVER $2100 for our two kids!!!! Holy cow, that’s expensive! This would be my favorite option in terms of amount of childcare coverage and the enrichment activities/opportunities for the girls. But at that price, it just seems cost-prohibitive to me! For comparison purposes, this amounts to roughly $2100/month for 21 hours per week.
  • Option 4:  Part-time Babysitter. We’ve got a high school babysitter we really love (and the girls love her, too)! We’re friends with the family and have talked to her parents a bit about whether she’d be a good choice for some summer childcare. What we discussed was  3 days per week (a couple weeks with only 2 days of care), 8 hours per day at a rate of $250/week for 3 day weeks or $175/week for 2 day weeks. This is the most cost-effective option and also the best in terms of actual childcare coverage (looking at number of hours per week), but I don’t love the idea of the girls being home all the time and not interacting with other kids. Also, I worry about babysitter fatigue/burnout and having no reliable back-up if the sitter is sick. For comparison purposes, this amounts to roughly $1100/month for 24 hours per week.

(side note: for comparison purposes, we currently pay roughly $1100/month for full-time childcare, approximately 40 hours per week. So really ALL of the options discussed are nearly double our current rate of pay per hour of childcare coverage).

My Thoughts:

I’m thinking we might hodge-podge care a bit. I like the babysitter option, as it’s the cheapest and largest amount of care. To try to add in some enrichment and other child-interaction for the girls, I think I might also enroll them in a couple of one-week summer camp programs. That way they still have the stability I’m looking for (they’re not going to a new camp every single week; they’ll mostly be in familiar surroundings with a familiar babysitter), but they’ll still get to go out of the house a bit and experience some enrichment with other kids.

Also, I still worry that 3 days per week (even at 8 hours per day), might not be enough time. My jobs over the summer are definitely more flexible than during the academic year. For example, my main job dictates that I teach 3 classes per semester during the academic year. In summer I’ll still be working full-time, but only teaching 1 class (and it’s fully online). The rest of my time is being paid to prep other classes and oversee our grad student teaching. There’s really nothing that requires me to be on campus aside from a sporadic meeting here or there. So it’s possible the 3 day per week childcare scenario could work. But what if I get into it and discover that’s not enough time? We really have no other back-up or alternative arrangements, which is scary to me.

 

What do other working parents do? What suggestions do you have? As of now, we haven’t signed any contracts or put deposits down on any camps. We’re still trying to figure out the best course of action. What do you think?


Summer Child Care

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Sometimes I get a bit blue when I think about my kids growing up so fast–don’t all of us with kids feel that way now and then?  I can say with confidence that one thing I will not miss is figuring out child care!  And please don’t take this the wrong way, but in my experience and in the experience of many of my working mom friends, this is a task that falls to moms.  Yes, I know there are certainly exceptions to that statement but most of the time it is mom that has to think about this and get things set up.  I could have a whole post on what I plan to share with my daughter (and already have in some ways) about motherhood and working outside of the home, but I’ll save that for another day.  :-)

And so here we are just on the other side of Spring Break which is always my trigger for summer care searching.  With my kids at age 13 and 8, it is in some ways easier than when they were younger but in some ways it is more difficult.   I do allow the 13 year old to stay home alone for longer stretches of time now but to leave them both at home just doesn’t sit well just yet.  I have allowed the 13 year old to “watch” the 8 year old for an hour or two on occasion and all has gone well but I don’t want them alone for longer than that just yet.  Add to this that I am moving to an apartment and I’m sure you understand my hesitancy.

Right now I pay $190 per month for after school care for my 3rd grade DD.  I do not split that with her father for a few reasons–I take the child care deduction and now I am using the flex plan at work. He pays other things that balance out what I pay in day care.  Summer care can be MUCH more expensive!  Last year, if you remember, we started with a home child care provider and that went down the tubes over last Spring Break.  So, we did the Girl Scout day camps but DD wasn’t crazy about them.  They were a huge savings and I believe I will still use them for at least part of the summer.  DS has a lot of activities related to boy scouts, band and athletics so it will be a hodge podge for sure. Budgeting for all of this is tough b/c there are so many unknowns but I am an early bird and can start gathering information now.  I would also like to send DD to an overnight camp if possible.  Her dad is on board with that too as we like what summer camp brings to the kids (life and social skills).

What are some unique child care options you’ve used in the past?  And best of luck to those of you who work outside the home and face this same challenge!

 


Childcare Costs

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With summer approaching, I’m once again moved to think about the costs of summer childcare.  This is such an issue for us and while I certainly do not want to rush the kids aging…I will be happy when childcare is something of the past.

For the first time, we are comfortable with the boys staying alone BUT we still aren’t willing to leave them alone for more than 30 minutes at a time–and never with the youngest child at home with them.  We’ve done a couple of 30 minute runs to the store and all has gone well….but longer than that just isn’t in our comfort zone yet.  They’ve done nothing to worry us mind you–this is more our adjustment to the concept I think.  As for the 7-year-old–we definitely need all day care for her throughout the summer.

I’ve done just about every arrangment you can think of and am fortunate to have help from family for at least part of each summer.  For the last three summers I have created an online calendar for my ex and I to access.  We then fill in the weeks with various options–his parents always take one week for Vacation Bible School and my parents take another week…sometimes a sibling of his or a sibling of mine takes another week…we each take a week of vacation…and then the rest is usually filled by summer day camps but those do not come cheap!  So, this year we are trying something new.  We are going to have someone come to the house on the weeks we need care and my ex and I will be splitting the fees.  My friend is actually semi-retired and is not looking to make a lot of money. We will each pay $100 per week.  I know this sounds like a lot but summer camps are running $150 to $250 per week and the lower end is only 9 am to 3 pm–it is about $30-$40 additional per week if we need morning or afternoon care.  By having someone at home, this will allow some indirect supervision of the boys–they’re allowed to ride bikes in our neighborhood and go to the neighborhood pool (lifeguard all summer and over age 12 can go without an adult) and I like the idea of someone being at “home base” for them to check in with throughout the day.  My son also has boy scout camp and will be volunteering at least half days at the nursing home my Aunt resides at.  The youngest one will have various low cost (girl scouts) and free events to attend that the sitter will take her to and from.   That is a HUGE help that I am willing to pay for—to have someone run the kids here and there all summer b/c the time I  lose at the office really adds up by mid-June!  I will supply the vehicle and the gas but everything is nearby and the sitter is fully aware of our budget constraints–so I’m hoping that works.  Looking at 12 weeks of summer–we hope to arrange free childcare for 5, possibly 6, weeks of that timeframe.  It is a logistical challenge but the kids are at least not stuck in one place in front of a television for the entire summer.  The other aspect that ALWAYS impacts is the amount of food that is consumed when they are home…something to think about and start planning for NOW.

We pay $200/month right now for afterschool care for the youngest.  While I am sick of paying even that, I am glad the diaper/preschool days are over…that was running $600/month for just one.  I don’t know how young families are doing that these days.  If there are 2 kids in day care that’s easily $1000 a month in Texas…I’m sure it is more in other parts of the country.  That’s just crazy!