Doper parents who work: what the hell do you do with your kids on off days from school?

So we’re entering into the wonderful world of kindergarten with my son this year, which is great but vastly frustrating at the same time.

Schools simply aren’t set up to accommodate families where two parents work. The one our son will go to has aftercare and all, which I love, but no care during professional development days during which there’s no school, no care during spring break, summer break, winter break or other holidays that most people work.

So what the hell do you do with your kids when they’re out of school and you’re working? Does this frustrate you at all? How far in advance do you start looking for their care if you work?

In order:

Older brother stays home with her. - For some days off, this stopped working two years ago because they’re on different school schedules. Rats.

One parent stays home. - This works so much better now that we have four parents in two households!

“Grandma? Guess who misses you!” - Depending on the day, it may or may not work. Grandma is a teacher, so for actually off days, it works. For teacher resource days, not so much.

Group babysitter - three families, four kidlets, one sitter.

Individual babysitter - “You want HOW MUCH?!” :eek:

Some community centers will have day camps set up for over school vacations. Otherwise, you have to find a daycare that will be able to accommodate them. Talk to the school aftercare for recommendations, and talk to all the other parents for their referrals, too.

Our after school has “off days” programs.

I can work from home. My husband can as well.

We use grandma

They went back to their old daycare for a few days.

Now they are old enough where we leave them. (11 and 12) Sometimes Grandma will swing by later or I will work short hours.

Wife stayed home for first few years. Then:

  • Used vacation time, etc.

  • Used community center day cares.

  • Used a neighbour who did home daycare.

  • Hired neighbourhood teenager for a couple of summers to come over and babysit.

  • Spent almost a year at home laid off and looking for work/babysitting.

All of the above in some mixture until last summer when we could start leaving them alone (11 and 12 at the time). Thankfully we’re at this point now. There were many stressful years trying to figure out what to do.
Oh, the 11 year old’s school starts at 8:30 A.M., so I drop him off at a babysitter in the morning still, on my way to work at 7:30. Next year the bus comes at 7:10 for both so that will be the final end of daycare.

Our afterschool care offers programs on P.A. Days, Spring break and Christmas holidays. There is an extra charge, of course.

Sometimes, one of us will take the day off work as vacation and use it for things like taking them to the dentist/doctor/optometrist so they don’t have to miss school for those things.

I am so looking forward to when Grandma retires (still three more years but she is talking about going early <crosses fingers>). Both Grandma and the kids would think it was the best thing EVER.

Outside of that, there are also programs run by our city (through parks and rec). They are kinda pricey but they will get the job done if you have it.

I’ve been lucky (?) enough to work extra most weeks and have time in Lieu up the wazoo so I can usually take the time.

Otherwise, grandparents and other local family, friends (we work out a rota for longer breaks). I was lucky with my folks, mum’s retired now but for the last few years they’ve both worked school terms and the kid still adores them utterly so holidays have been covered.

If I can afford it, there’s often a day program going at the museum, aquarium or library. Check your local council or church group, ours set up various things.

The schools here also offer progams, but they also cost.

We use YMCA for after school care and since they anticipate school closings I don’t have to worry about it - they put a flier up for you to sign up for special days and you sign up (for a fee, of course) if your kid will be there. It’s very nice.

When I was a kid, me and my sister spent time after school at the YMCA. They aren’t restricted to school days, though I think they tend to operate just Monday-Friday. And of course it isn’t free.

I use many of the above options. In addition, it is sometimes possible for my husband to take my daughter to work. She hangs out upstairs, reads, watches movies on his laptop, and plays. In nice weather, they may even throw her bike in the back of the car so she can practice riding around the parking lot.

My last job I could take the kid in with me. We imported toys - I’m amazed she ever wanted to go to school!

I work the night shift, my wife works 8am-4pm. Worst case scenario is I miss some sleep. Offspring has grandparents, great grandparents, and a plethora of aunts and uncles willing to help if it’s an emergency, all living within about 20 minutes of home.

Family support systems are very nice.

We did exactly this when the kids were small.

Vacation time and also my base Rec Centre offers Summer Sports Camp and Spring Break/Inservice Camp…

We have someone that provides childcare in the morning before school, and my boss allows me to leave at 3:00 pm to do my “PT” on my own time - I workout at home on my own time.

I’ve always lived in places that had cheap holiday placements for school-aged kids, but they were still problematic, in that they often didn’t start till 9.30, even though most people start work at 9 or 9.30. I had to rearrange my schedule and take a cut in pay, take vacation time, or arrange for her to stay at a friend’s or her Nan’s who would then be able to drop her off at the holiday club, if they weren’t able to/didn’t want to spend the day with her.

Christmas is the real problem period. One Christmas I had a huge rota of friends who took it in turns to look after my daughter - there were three sets of people in one day! This required me running like mad every breaktime to swap her over between sitters. It was also unsettling for my daughter, but OK because it was just for a few days. It was better than not going in to work, because that meant not getting paid.

On a couple of other jobs, I took her with me. Depending on your work, your employer might be OK with this on the odd occasion. Don’t everyone jump on me now! I know lots of people don’t like having their co-workers’ kids around, and that’s understandable; if it’s going to inconvenience your co-workers in the slightest, then it’s an absolute last resort.

TBh, it never occurred to me for ages that it would be OK at all, but I was surprised by how open employers were to the idea.

Could you work from home at all? Even if it’s just one day a week over the school holidays, it could help the rest of the week be easier.

If there are any other parents in your company, they might have suggestions too.

Oh, and always have a plan B - and plan C, D and E - for if your scheduled childcare falls through. You probably know that, but it’s still worth remembering, since the plan B (etc) doesn’t have to be as good as plan A. Like, for example, your kid might suffer from being left long-term with Aunt Mildred who does nothing but watch TV and smoke all day, but as one-off it’s bearable.

Man, this thread reminds me of how much I used to love to go to work with my dad when I had in-service days. My dad worked in an office in San Francisco, right on the bay, and I would bring a book and sit in the cafeteria and watch the crazy swimmers. Dad would take me to lunch and buy me some chocolate thing at Ghirardelli Square. It was great.


Me. Too. My mom worked in midtown and I would go in with her from time to time. I would get to ride the subway in with her, and choose some gum at the corner newstand, and press the button on the elevator. I would bring a couple of books and some crayons, and hole up in an empty cube or my mom’s office, reading/drawing/making paperclip art. By all reports I was a very easily amused, quiet, personable child.

I was allowed to go to the lunchroom with my mom and get LIPTON’S INSTANT SOUP, which was like a marvel and a wonder to me (we did not have instant anything at home). I looked forward to those soup packets like no-one’s business. Pretty funny thinking back. I wouldn’t call it routine but it probably happened a couple times a year.

I still get nostalgic walking past the Grace Building, the most architecturally memorable of her workplaces.

Thanks for all the suggestions. It looks like our Y aftercare program is going to include most holidays except summer. I guess our real hurdle will be figuring out the summer. Things get more complicated the older these kids get.

Wow that is surprising! The Y here has a wonderful summer program - lots of physical activity, field trips, swim classes and swimming almost every day and movies. In fact, the summer kids are usually there because it’s where they’ve been going after school too. It’s like the anti-school.

Sometimes I feel guilty because it’s like “you go ahead to work, we’ll raise those kids for you” :slight_smile:

My parents left us with a baby-sitter. First it was a mom who had a sort of in-home thing going and then it was the teenage daughter of one of my mom’s friends from work. We loved going to her house. Any odd days were covered with vacation time, summers were full of camps, and my mom’s employer allowed sick days to be used for sick kids, so that was never an issue. By the time I was 11 and my brother was 9, they let us stay home alone with me in charge.

I’m only 23, so this wasn’t that long ago, but it seems like child care has gotten considerably more difficult just in the short amount of time that’s passed since we were of the age to need it. Maybe it wasn’t and my folks were just lucky in knowing available baby-sitters and having the funds to pay for it. Who knows.