When Gabe was two months old, I started back to work. (I’d actually quit my job and started back to a new job). For the past 3.5ish years, child care has been the key factor in my ability to work. Affordable, dependable child care is hard to find. As I look to the rest of the year and summer and the second child we’re hopefully adding to the mix, one of the biggest worries I have is child care.
How We’ve Figured Out Child Care
So far, we’ve used a patchwork of child care solutions:
– I first worked at Starbucks, where I could set my hours around Mike’s class/work schedule completely. This generally involved getting up at 4:30 am, being at work by 5:30 and getting home before lunch.
– My mom watched Gabe one day a week when I started my job at the school and planned the rest of my schedule around Mike’s.
– After a few months of that, Mike and I were able to plan our schedules together to be a child care jigsaw puzzle where we’d trade off working and watching Gabe and our one car in a mostly seamless, if not precarious, daily schedule.
– When we both work from home, we set up another elaborate childcare jigsaw puzzle where the who’s-in-charge-of-Gabe boundaries are clearly stated.
– Now that I’m exclusively working from home, I do the bulk of my work while Gabe is at preschool and aftercare for 15 hours a week. The last few hours (I aim to work about 20 a week) are done on weekends and evenings and nap or screen time. I do nothing but work when I’m home alone working. I save cleaning and working out for when Gabe is home. I don’t try to get much work done when he’s home and awake – it’s a futile effort and I end up not successfully focusing on work or him.
There have been a lot of benefits to Mike sharing in child care, most notably: he feels competent and things feel rather balanced when it comes to child rearing. I think him getting a lot of one-on-one time at home with Gabe with me out of the house has been essential for us as a couple and for co-parenting.
This is absolutely a benefit to Mike having been in grad school for the first 3 years of Gabe’s life. There have been a lot of sacrifices, but having him play such an active role in childcare has been nothing short of wonderful.
With the arrival of our second baby this summer, things get tricky. Mike will be doing a full-time internship with inflexible hours and we’ll, um, have a baby.
The options are:
– Send both kids to a daycare for 2-3 days a week. Have Mike drop them off and pick them up. (Might be expensive and kids will probably get sick more often. Nice to not have to deal with drop off/pick up, but still makes for hectic mornings.)
– Keep Gabe at his preschool and hope this baby lets me work from home during those hours. (Most affordable and Gabe loves his school. But risky if the baby is more needy. Plus, juggling drop off and pick up with one car.)
– Hire someone to come over and watch both kids while I work in my bedroom. (More expensive, but also less logistically difficult with cars and getting kids ready. And I wouldn’t have to pump! But perhaps crazy in a 1200 sq ft 2 bedroom apartment?)
– Do all of my work on nights and weekends when Mike is home. (Not so good for family time, likely to get compromised often. But free!)
Working from home and working part-time is my ideal, but it hasn’t come without tricky child care solutions.
I love talking to other working moms about child care and how they make it work! What works for you?