My mother was a teacher, and as far as I can remember summer was what it was “supposed” to be – trips to the beach and long afternoons reading or playing. But when you work in an office, summer vacation is…nothing but a headache. It’s just one more thing to figure out: childcare that won’t break the bank and that makes both me and my kids happy. Plus, now that Mattie is five, I want to give her some summer experiences that are different from her every day routine at her preschool.
Up until now summer child care hasn’t been much of an issue for us. My children’s preschool/daycare is open except for one week in the summer and the week between Christmas and New Year’s (thank goodness). But this year Mattie graduates from their VPK program. Our son can (and will) stay there all summer, minus the one week they are closed. Mattie could have too, had I planned better ahead of time (but, I didn’t). Still, even that one week when the school is closed is a challenge for us. So this year, how to glue together childcare for the weeks she’s not at her preschool, and the week that the preschool is closed?
The first thing I did was sat down with my planner. My honest-to-goodness write in it with a pencil MomAgenda planner (best Mom planner, hands down). I marked off VPK graduation and the start date of kindergarten, and the week the preschool is closed. Then I went through, week by week, to find a camp, babysitter, friend care or combination to make sure we were covered. (Now I’m crossing my fingers nothing falls through!)
What does my kid want?
First off, I looked at the camps Mattie wanted to attend. Did they fit into the schedule of weeks we needed care for her? If not, they were off the list (sorry kiddo, we’ll have to save tennis camp for next year). Things I also considered: Was it a full day camp? How much did it cost? Was it worth paying for a babysitter to watch her the rest of the day? Or could I run out during lunch hour to bring her to a friend’s house for the afternoon?
What do I want?
I also looked at the camps I wanted her to attend, for example, Vacation Bible School, which is a small fee. The VBS at our church has an aftercare program that you can request a spot in, once the students enrolled at the church’s school sign up. I had that form submitted the same day as I got the email about VBS. Since I am not paying much for VBS I don’t mind paying for aftercare that week. Second, swim lessons. She learned to swim last summer and I know we are going to need some refresher courses. Getting her there is going to be pretty complicated and somehow involve a babysitter who can drive, but since it is imperative she know how to swim, I consider that worth the cost.
Other options I am considering are:
- Sharing an afternoon babysitter for the one camp Mattie is attending that is a half day camp.
- Sending her to two camps at my school (makes pick up and drop off easy!).
- Trading child care with a friend who stays home, whose child may attend the same camp we’re considering.
- Taking advantage of my generous friends, one of which has her parents coming for a week so her son can attend a half day camp.
- Enlisting my own mother…(even a plane ticket from Virginia is cheaper than paying a sitter for five straight days!).
I am not sure what I am going to do when Mattie gets older. Some of the school camps near us only go through kindergarten or third grade. Unless I get a summer nanny and keep Spencer home too (so I am not paying for daycare and a nanny), I’m not sure what we are going to do for summer care. And as far as that week when preschool/daycare is closed and they are both home…I might just have to call in sick. For five straight days.
Any thoughts? What do you do for your older kids? I’m open to suggestions!
Jax Moms Blog has published a great list of summer camps! How else do you manage child care in the summer?