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!