The Daily Daycare Dash

You’re stuck in traffic running way behind schedule.  Your palms start to sweat, your heart is pounding.  Is it because:

  • (a) You’re late for your best friend’s surprise birthday party—the surprise will be long over by the time you get there?
  • (b) You’re late for a flight at a busy international airport with massive security lines?
  • (c) You’re late for an important court hearing (you’re the lawyer or the litigant)? or
  • (d) You’re late for daycare pickup?

For most working parents, the correct answer is (d).  

  • Your best friend will forgive you; you’ll laugh about it together one day.  
  • I’ve cajoled my way to the front of TSA lines at airports—most fellow travelers and TSA agents will take pity on you in those circumstances.  
  • And, despite the formidable black robes, most judges will exercise leniency so long as you have a decent excuse and don’t make a habit of it.  

But daycare providers?  Forget it. They are merciless.  Many daycare contracts state that you will be charged $5 to $10 per minute  for late pickups, no exceptions.  And then there’s the guilt factor.  You walk in to find your sweetie-pie sitting in the director’s office looking forlorn.  “Mommy, did you forget me?”  

And, joy of joys, there’s an opportunity for working parents to experience this road-rage-and-parental-guilt-inducing stress Monday through Friday most weeks of the year. 

What’s a frazzled working parent to do?

For parents with long commutes, try finding a daycare close to your workplace.  That removes the traffic/commuting-time variable, although you may be forced to listen to the Paw Patrol theme song repeatedly while driving in traffic, which is its own form of torture.  

You can also hire one of your child’s daycare teachers, put her on the sign out list, and pay her to sign out your kid and play with him outside on days when you’re running late.  It will cost much less than $5 to $10 per minute.  

If you have family members near your daycare who are willing to help in a pinch, you truly are blessed—thank them profusely.  

And when, despite your best efforts and a few creative interpretations of how long that light was yellow, you arrive ten minutes late, do what your child does when she’s in trouble.  The sad eyes. The apology and explanation. The promise, “I’m usually so good about picking her up on time. This won’t keep happening.”   

Sometimes even daycare providers will relent.

Like a Kid in a . . . Shoe Store (?)

It’s that crazy holiday season, when we’re all busy shopping for gifts, attending/hosting holiday parties, decorating, baking, and sending out cards . . . Phew!  I’ll keep this one short because who has time to read long blog entries (and, frankly, I don’t have time to write long blog entries).

My kids’ size Ugg slippers are still going strong after three years

If you’re looking to treat yourself (or to treat that woman who does it all) to a cozy pair of Uggs, here’s a great money saving tip that I learned from my friend Analis.  Buy the kid’s size equivalent.  For example, on Zappos, the Ugg Dakota slipper costs $70 for the kids’ version and $100 for the women’s version of the exact same shoe.  Just Google a kids’/women’s shoe conversion chart to figure out the kids’ equivalent of the adult shoe size.

This trick works for many of the high-end casual shoes, winter boots, and outdoors and hiking brands.  Just don’t buy her pink light-up Elsa sneakers, or you’ll end up sleeping under the tree.  Happy holidays, everyone!

Money Saver: Split a Sitter

Working parents know that childcare gets pricey.  Between all-day preschool and afterschool babysitting for my older daughter, I could easily spend $500 or more per week on childcare.  And that doesn’t even include money spent on dance classes, swim lessons, and other activities.  My yearly childcare expenses far exceed what I paid in annual tuition when I attended law school in-state at UConn.  My four-year old won’t be able to write a legal brief when she graduates, though, trust me, her negotiation and oral argument skills are top notch.

To save money on afterschool care, we and another family in our district jointly hired a babysitter.  Both of our kids get off the bus at one of the two families’ houses, where our babysitter is waiting.  Our sitter is happy because she earns a few more dollars per hour than she would have earned to care for one family’s child, and each family pays far less than we would have if we had each hired our own sitters.