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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know I am the one (along with my DH) who has to make this decision, but it will be good to get some feedback from others here....

I am currently a childcare provider in my home. I have 4 part-time kids in addition to my own 3 kids. My kids are all school-aged, so each school year brings a change to my situation, and it's time to start giving some thought to next year.

If I make no changes, I have the opportunity to have 3 of my p/t kids return - but one will make the jump to full-day school (requiring only VERY p/t care 4 days a week) and one will go to 1/2 day kindergarten. The other will remain before/after school. This would cut my income in HALF from this year; however, it's still more than I made last year. My oldest 2 children will be in fullday school next year, and my youngest will be off the preschool 2 mornings a week. This situation offers me the most flexibility, but the least amount of income.

Hypothetical situation: I get rid of the set of siblings I currently watch, and pick up a full-time child (who will likely be an infant or young toddler, since that's who seems to look for f/t care, right?) or two. I would make my full income then (actually, would make a little more than I do right now with the 4 part-timers), but would tie me down considerably. I doubt I'd be able to take my son to preschool since I would have too many kids to transport. I don't feel like my son NEEDS preschool, but he's been asking to go for 18 months already, and knows it's an option when he's 3-years-old. He WANTS to go.

Hypothetical situation: I go back to work in some form - outside of the home. I would actually like to go back to work (doing childcare has always been a "paythebills" thing and NOT what I want to do full-time - just while my own children are young). But I am not sure I am ready to transition my family into MY full-time job. Part-time would be okay - but I'd have to arrange care for my youngest (3-years-old) and find a job with hours that allow me to be home with the other kids before/after school. Of course, it also means finding a job in a less-than-wonderful economy (I have a BA, and a current resume with a part-time job for the last 4 years, so I shouldn't have too much trouble finding something - it's just a big unknown). And I can't job hunt until mid-to-end summer, since I can't start until the kids are ready to go back to school.

So what would you do? Take less income but have more free time (we wouldn't starve with the income cut - we'd just have to watch the budget closely again - we'd have little "extra")? Look for new daycare kids to keep my income the same (but it's not really what I *want* to do - although I've done it in the past because I had to)? Or look for outside employment - since that's what will eventually need to happen (by the time my youngest goes to school - 3 years from now).

The mom of the brothers I watch has asked me about next school year, and I will have to let her know after the new year what my plans are. Mom is a teacher, so it means having to hold their spots all summer (with no income for me) and then give them the 2 part-time spots for the fall. it's not ideal at all. I would feel bad if I say I will take them, and then I am offered another client that would work better for me. In my mind, finding the "right" part-time job would be the best - but since I can't job search for nearly 9 months, I just don't know what I would find. I risk not finding anything (and then not having the childcare kids to fall back on) or finding something, but already being under contract to watch 3 kids.

Thoughts?
 

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That's a tough one, just because the economy is terrible right now and will almost certainly get worse.

I would not yoke myself to the pt daycare kids...... it's the worst of both worlds, you don't get the income security of FT daycare kids and you don't get what you actually want, a PT WOH job.

I'd probably wait to see if you can find the PT job you want -- but it will be very very very tough -- start your search EARLY and give yourself a time limit. If you don't find anything by (whatever date), open yourself up to FT daycare kids. At-home daycare is kinda recession-proof, at least around here where there are more kids than providers. So there will always be someone you can take in.

That's what I'd do, hypothetically.
 

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I'm don't know what you should do,
but if you do go with the option of keeping the p/t kids who do not come in the summer, I would start looking for f/t kids who need summer care while they are out of school. Plenty of parents need child care coverage just during the summer.
 

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That's a good point. My dd was asked to watch the neighbors kids who go to the school after care program during the school year but the mom found it too pricey for all day in the summer. Then you could be home with your kids in the summer too.

How long would it be before all your kids would be in school full-day?

What I wound up doing those three years that Erin my youngest was in preschool and the older two were full day school aged, was working for the preschool where I made a decent wage and was off in time to pick up the other kids. I could have watched kids after school if I wanted to to make extra $. (Lord knows I watched enough kids for FREE cuz they all ended up after school here anyways!)
I got free tuition for Erin that way and she went to a great preschool I could not have otherwise afforded.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies ladies. I love the idea of working for the preschool. I don't have an education degree at this point; however, my part-time (saturday) job is actually at our community college and I get free tuition there (my DH also works for a liberal arts college and we get free tuition there too). So another option that I haven't fully explored would be to actually go back to school (for little cost) in order to prep for employment.

*sigh* Not sure what I am going to do. I love not being in financial dire straights this year, so the thought of giving up half my income is not fun - BUT I also feel like I am nearly to the end of my road as a SAHM. My oldest will turn 8 this spring, and my youngest turns 3. I have 2 years until he's in half-day kindergarten - 3 years until he's gone full-day. So the thought of getting paid *something* but also having some extra money is nice too...

I love hearing the thoughts from others - you all have actually given me some ideas I had not thought of, as well as a fresh, unbiased perspective. Thanks! DH and I have a lot of thinking to do over the next few weeks.

Oh - one other consideration - I currently have a part-time kindergarten boy in my care - his family may need me this summer. If they do, then I have 2 full-time kids for the summer, and then 3 part-time for the school year. That may just be enough - and have me working only 5 hours a day out of my home (with all kids ages 5 and up). We'll see how it works out.
 
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