As most working parents know, it’s not always easy to find good after-school care for kids. I have recently been trying to secure after-camp care for my boys for the summer. I received a quick response from someone, but then they had ridiculous monetary expectations for what would be more of a play date for their own kids than much actual babysitting. I tried to negotiate after doing some research to make sure I was being fair, too. However, my reasonable price offer was not enough for them, and they bailed. Now I’m back at square one for what feels like the billionth time this year.
When I first accepted my full-time job, I had to make sure my older son would have proper after-care when he came home from school. My younger son was in a program at his school, so I just needed to pick him up at the end of the day. I was given a recommendation from a friend nearby, and it worked out perfectly at the time. Then the sitter revealed way late in the game that she was pregnant and expecting relatively soon. Thankfully, my neighbor was able to help for a few months. Then things went back to normal until the following fall, when the same sitter ended up being hospitalized with pneumonia. I worked out a plan and got some help from friends. I thought the sitter would be back after she recovered, but then she pulled the rug out from under my feet and bailed altogether. Luckily, another woman offered to babysit. At first, it was three days a week but then it went down to two. I was having the worst luck covering the other two days (one woman was charging a ridiculous amount of money, another made it out to be more trouble than it was worth. An after-care program at school would have made it pointless for me to work in the first place, given that it would eat anything I was bringing in). I started crying when one person who had been available in the past told me she wasn’t babysitting anymore. It wasn’t even her fault that I was crying, but I just couldn’t get over the frustration in finding a good after-care solution! (Thankfully, one of my closest friends here agreed to having my older son dropped off at her place from the bus.)
Now that summer is almost here, I’d given our — now regular — sitter a heads-up to check availability. Unfortunately, her schedule seems to clash with mine most of the time, as she has other kids she takes care of, too. She’s great with the kids, so I wish things would fall into place easier. With this current sitter search, I sometimes feel tempted to quit my job, even though I can’t fathom ever doing that. It’s just extremely frustrating. I can’t always expect my friends to be available, nor do I want them to think I’m taking them for granted. The friend who helps out currently may be moving away this fall, which would put me back at square one for after- care when my son goes back to school. Not to mention that I’m going to miss my friend like crazy when she does actually move.
What solutions have you used when you were in an after-care bind? Did you worry about people taking advantage of you financially?
About Melissa A
Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.