No, I am not talking about the dance you do while you are shoveling snow and hit a patch of ice. I’m actually talking about the “dance” you do to figure out child care for your children on the days they have school break.
Some people are lucky enough to have family or friends who can take them. Others have offices that completely close down during the winter break. (I really had no idea how lucky I was when I worked at a business like this.)
For the rest of us, we may have to get a bit creative for our child care options.
When my children were younger, it was a bit easier choice. I knew they could not stay home alone, so they went to the winter break child care at our local YMCA. Of course, I had to pay for that, but it was worth it for a full day of care and entertained children.
Now that my children are a bit older and don’t need as much supervision, I have had to start my winter break planning before Thanksgiving even arrives. Some of the options I have used include:
- Working out full day play dates for each of the 3 children to go to a different friend for a day.
- Sharing child care with friends and family to share the cost. Our children are old enough that they really just need someone to make sure they stay out of trouble and eat something decent. This means we can share the cost of having someone there to just keep an eye on everyone.
- Taking turns with friends so we each only have to take one day off of work but all the days are covered.
- Scheduling all my meetings in the morning and making arrangements to work from home for the afternoon/evening.
Whether it is winter break, summer break, or anytime school is off, the shuffling and arranging we do in order to make sure our children are safe and cared for can cause even more stress.
How many days will they have off? Can I afford the cost? Do I have any vacation days left that are not already accounted for? What is my back-up if these plans fall through.
It’s not just about the stress of making those arrangements. It’s also the stress of whether they fall through or not. And if your child gets sick, all bets are off. Or maybe someone else’s child gets sick – it’s still your problem to deal with.
Don’t get me wrong here. Arranging child care is part of being a parent. If you have children, the child care dance is one that is repeated often.
The point I make is that it is just one more thing on our long list of things to do. One more thing to worry about. One more thing in our mental load.
What creative child care arrangements have you made for your children on their breaks from school?