Extended Family Childcare Help -- what to do about commitments for free childcare that is unreliable? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 02-19-2014, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am in school and up until now we have had great success and are very fortunate to have people in our extended family able to commit to watching our toddler a couple days/week. Trouble is because these favors are free, our care provider sometimes cancels (always for reasonably good reasons) and I don't really have any recourse, yk?

 

Having family provide care is the best solution both because it's free but also because my DC loves it...but I'm taking a full, full load and DH is saving his vacation for a trip so we are left kind of screwed if our family can't do it. I'm not even through week 4 of the semester and I've been canceled on twice. And last semester I used all my flex days for class because of childcare conflicts. Never a day for mama to get sick. :-(  

 

WWYD?  

 

Would you suck it up and find someone paid to do the job who will hopefully not cancel as often?  


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#2 of 14 Old 02-19-2014, 07:01 PM
 
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Do they realize how much it affects your schedule when they cancel? I would make sure that they know how hard it is when they cancel. Are they giving you any notice at all?
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#3 of 14 Old 02-19-2014, 07:57 PM
 
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I agree, make sure they really understand the situation and how important their help is. My dad didn't seem to get it, he acted like our workload was nothing so when he'd come over to watch the baby so we could get work done- would ask us to help and get annoyed that we weren't playing with the baby as well. :irked

 

Also, is there any chance you could arrange back-up as often as possible so if one person falls through there's someone else you can ask so you aren't as likely to be left in the lurch?


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#4 of 14 Old 02-20-2014, 04:37 AM
 
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What do you think about offering to pay the family? Perhaps this would strengthen their resolve? Might be better than having to find someone new. 

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#5 of 14 Old 02-21-2014, 03:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think they probably don't get it. We have a pretty good collection of people who can help so it's actually pretty rare that DH or I would have to miss school/work because we couldn't find childcare. BUT, and this is what folks who committed to a day don't understand -- that it often feels like that last hair off the camel's back to call around and find someone. Also, I am often asking someone who I don't like having to ask. In the case of the most recent cancellation I have run out of options and now need to ask my mom, who I know is busy right now and who I feel like I am always calling for help of late. 

 

Paying the two people who do a regular day (my dad and SIL) is not an option. They don't need or want to be paid...they like doing it but they both are also not quite willing to put aside trips and stuff to watch my DC. I get that, I really do but am now in this weird space where I know they love it, but they are not able to do a consistent enough job and I may need to go over their heads so to speak and acknowledge that their offer with its limits just doesn't fit my needs. 

 

With my SIL I'm afraid that not watching my DC will be a disappointment but she is the one who has canceled twice already this semester. 

 

UNLESS I can find someone I can pay to do it on an occasional basis. Perhaps I'll go that route first. 


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#6 of 14 Old 02-21-2014, 10:25 AM
 
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Eurgh, I hate it when people do that. My dad did that as well- he usually comes over a few times a week to play with the baby so we can get work done, halfway through last semester he started expecting us to help him and complaining that we were "ignoring" our child and heavily implying that we never spent any time with him- even though when dad isn't there, at least one of us is nearly constantly interacting with the baby, which is why we need dad's help to get some @#$@ work done! We finally got it through to him just how much work we have and that we need him to take the baby so we can do it, but we're both severely behind now and if he'd just done what he agreed to in the first place, we wouldn't be.

 

While I can understand them still wanting trips and stuff, which I would hope they plan and warn you of ahead of time- the last minute cancellation stuff is not okay unless it's serious. If it's not something that they would feel comfortable taking a day off work for, they shouldn't be asking you to do so. They made a commitment, their ability to keep up that commitment effects your job, if they can't do it then they shouldn't agree to it.

 

Definitely offer payment, it may even help when you're calling last minute. It may make it less of a "last straw" situation if you can compensate them, especially when you know they're busy. If you already have an agreed amount you pay them, offer double if you have to call last minute (assuming you can afford to, if not offer as much as you can afford).  Since you're getting it for free, it's possible that some of the people feel take advantage of and unappreciated when you call up last minute like that. Even if they aren't willing to take payment, it would be a good idea to find some way to make it clear that you are incredibly grateful for the help you get so they don't feel taken for granted.


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#7 of 14 Old 02-22-2014, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Unfortunately offering payment would just not be appropriate in this case. Neither need the money and it would just feel really odd because it's so not what this is about for the people who are helping me. I can totally see if they could use the extra $ or if they were taking off work to do it but that's not the case.  

 

I do think I need to set some $ aside for paid care though and am in a position to do that with my student loan $. I am in the process of converting some unsubsidized loan $ to subsidized so I can set some money aside to pay for pre-K and babyistters to get me through the rest of my certification program. 

 

I have a lot of friends who use nannies for child care and I've put a call out on FB asking if anyone would like to share their sitter on an occasional basis. I feel like this could look a lot like a paid playdate and could work well. I don't need enough hours to pay anyone who needs to work for a living but I can pay enough to make a nice bonus for someone already being paid to watch kids. 

 

Next year my DC is doing prek-K with extended care 3 days/week so I shouldn't need any family to do a regular routine. When that's the case having 3 family members who like to pitch-in may well feel like a surplus of childcare.  I can dream right? 

 

The following year I will be teaching full-time and my LO will be 4+ and not yet in PS. That'll be interesting....but I plan to just pay out a lot that first year for help. If it feels like I'm spending my entire paycheck for childcare, so be it. 

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#8 of 14 Old 02-22-2014, 06:42 PM
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The exact same situation happened to me. When my "free" help would cancel last minute it was actually devastating, so we hired a great, very part time nanny college student who needed the money and it has been the best money I've ever spent.

If you have outside commitments and really need the child care, I highly recommend spending the money!
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#9 of 14 Old 02-22-2014, 09:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dia View Post

The exact same situation happened to me. When my "free" help would cancel last minute it was actually devastating, so we hired a great, very part time nanny college student who needed the money and it has been the best money I've ever spent.

If you have outside commitments and really need the child care, I highly recommend spending the money!

College/grad students aren't a bad option, either. A few people have advised this on other posts about trying to afford childcare. I'm sure you can find advice about how to find someone pretty good for a reasonable price.


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#10 of 14 Old 02-23-2014, 02:03 AM
 
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If you know any parents who stay home during the day that might be an option. I would jump at the chance to make some extra $ on those terms, esp. since it sounds like you know which days they would need to be "on call" and could plan accordingly to have extra kids with me.
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#11 of 14 Old 03-04-2014, 12:01 PM
 
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I don't know if they have this in your area, but where I live there are "drop in" day care places.  I was using one occasionally and my son liked it so much that when I took on more work, I enrolled him there full time.  So this place has a certain number of full time kids, but they also take drop-ins.  Or if there aren't any places like that around you, maybe you could find a SAHM or someone who runs an in-home day care and would be willing to take your child in case of emergencies.


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#12 of 14 Old 03-08-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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I don't know if they have this in your area, but where I live there are "drop in" day care places.  I was using one occasionally and my son liked it so much that when I took on more work, I enrolled him there full time.  So this place has a certain number of full time kids, but they also take drop-ins.  Or if there aren't any places like that around you, maybe you could find a SAHM or someone who runs an in-home day care and would be willing to take your child in case of emergencies.


 




There are a couple in my area that take drop-ins. They don't really advertise it though.


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#13 of 14 Old 03-16-2014, 06:59 PM
 
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Definitely call around to local child care centers about drop in care or check for SAHMs. I currently watch my nephew for SIL to take classes and she does pay me but that's because I could use the money and she has it. Her grandmother had been planning to pay for her comm coll but she her tuition was entirely covered by scholarships/grants and she had a baby her senior year of high school so her grandmother said stay on track and I'll pay for all childcare while you attend since you don't need the money for tuition. It works great for all involved b/c I make a little extra money and have baby time, she goes to school unstressed because child care is covered, and her grandmother pays less than half the expense to me that day care would cost (and of course NONE of us wanting lil man going to day care here!!). I know what her days/times are and I always expect to have him or possibly have him those times. If I need to do something I plan it around my child care time or I take him along. I've even taken him for the entire day before when I needed to go out of town and just brought him home later in the day/evening when I returned so she didn't have to find someone else. I often just take him along for stuff and she gets free time to study or run errands without him. Honestly since I'm the care provider this is my job.... at my regular jobs when I needed time off I would find a replacement so I do the same now. If something comes up and I don't want/need to have him for the day I find a way to rearrange my schedule or take care of calling other family members like Sis or Mom to cover for me. I feel that it's my responsibility to get someone to cover my job (keeping baby) instead of it being her problem to find emergency child care b/c I took off at the last minute. Honestly my sitter for my kids for my PT job just had to quit temporarily due to OT at her day job and she spoke with a friend about covering for her and came to me with the problem/possible solution to see what I thought when it came up. It's worked great. I guess that's just expected in my area/group but that's how we do it. I'd try talking to the relatives involved about it or maybe find someone else that could be available if needed.

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#14 of 14 Old 03-17-2014, 09:38 AM
 
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:hug

 

I had regular help (from family and free) until one fine day I was told that in 2 weeks I had to stop working as they wouldn't be able to help any more. Just like that. I will never rely on free, family help again although free was not the issue as they are close family and wouldn't accept money.

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