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What do you do for Back-Up??

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but Blogging Baby's "Another Day Off???" reminded me that spring break and other days off are right around the corner!  If only my work vacation schedule could follow the school vacation schedule, then I wouldn't have a minor heart attack each time the two-week winter break or one-week spring break comes up, not to mention the handful of "faculty in-service days" when the school is not open for the children!  Even our small in-home school follows the Portland public school calendar.  Rightfully so.  It still doesn't prevent me from having a hard time digging up temporary care for the girls.  What to do?

* Start early & Scour craigslistcl is always my first stop for finding ideas for our irregular childcare needs.  From cl, we found a family with a nanny who was looking for a full-time share with another family.  That was two summers ago, and we are still close friends with the family.  Not only did we find wonderful, happy, quality care, we found a family of friends, too.  We've also found wonderful in-home schools through craigslist.  We take plenty of precautions, of course, but at least it's a place to start.

* Ask established daycares / schools if they can accept drop-ins: beyond Grandma's Place, there could be room at your nearby child development center during vacation periods, due to absent children travelling or taking extended holidays.  The classrooms will be fully staffed, but children vacationing with their families may leave a spot or two open for some or all of the days.  Most recently, we sent our girls to Growing Seeds (in the Hollywood neighborhood) for almost all of last week.  We paid a flat drop-in rate for each child, and they enjoyed GS's wonderful nurturing environment.  We actually feel lucky that they got to spend some time there.  (See Danielle's great comments on Growing Seeds.)

* Keep a list of back-up care providers: In the past two years, we've tried to assemble a list of people to call.  There's the sitter we once met via criagslist and interviewed to be a potential summer sitter for us.  There's the former substitute teacher at one of our daughter's schools.  There's the teacher of one of my colleague's children.  There's our neighbor's college-age daughter who is home for spring breaks, summers, and winter breaks.

* Pool resources:  In an impromptu cooperative way, we've pooled resources with another family.  On one occasion when our sitter had a medical emergency, three of the four parents finagled work-from-home or used vacation time.  Each parent did a shift with the four kids, and we somehow made it through a week without even having to seek beyond our small circle of parents.  Also in another instance, a friend - with two kids of her own - offered to take in our two girls for a day.  To an extent, it works well.  Kids close in age can occupy one another for good stretches of time!

So, have you ever been put in this situation?  Any tips to share? 

Comments

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Reliable child care is the single most important thing that allows me to keep it together. When it breaks down, every other thing in my life does.

My husband and I are useless if we have our daycare person call in sick, I have to work and we just can't seem to think on our feet about what needs to happen. Thank you for sharing your ideas in a structured way. and please, please, others contribute if you can. It could prevent my next mental breakdown.

It's hard to shell out extra money for backup child care, but it's almost an evil necessity. We found backup care via Craigslist last year for spring break since the child care provider we used had a couple of openings. Pooling resources is great. We have several friends in the neighborhood that have flexible work schedules that would probably take our kids if we are in a bind, and of course we would be willing to return the favor. Make friends with your neighbors! You never know when you'll need an extra hand.

I would like to mention Kids Klubhouse, especially the one near washington square as a great option when you need drop off daycare. they prefer 24 hr advance notice but it's not always needed, have great caregivers there, inexpensive, and my 32 month old son loves it. I only have to take him once in a while but he is happy to go and it really helps me since i dont' need full time daycare.

Hi All -

Washington square is quite a drive for us (we live near Lloyd Center) and while Grandma's Place near Lloyd Center seems decent enough, the one closer to the Broadway bridge made me a little uncomfortable...but they're the only one that takes kids under 24 months. Is there ANY other drop-off child care center in inner Portland that is good?? While I appreciate the above suggestions, my childcare needs are often random and there simply are times I don't want to put out a friend or family member or just can't find one available regardless (I have twins or I wouldn't have such issues about "putting out" people!). Thanks very much...

Hi All -

Washington square is quite a drive for us (we live near Lloyd Center) and while Grandma's Place near Lloyd Center seems decent enough, the one closer to the Broadway bridge made me a little uncomfortable...but they're the only one that takes kids under 24 months. Is there ANY other drop-off child care center in inner Portland that is good?? While I appreciate the above suggestions, my childcare needs are often random and there simply are times I don't want to put out a friend or family member or just can't find one available regardless (I have twins or I wouldn't have such issues about "putting out" people!). Thanks very much...

One thing I've found helpful for that intermittent need is to advertise at one of the local colleges for just that, "as needed" childcare. I've only used UP because it's in the neighborhood and they have an online ability to post, but I'm sure the others do as well. I usually get responses from nursing, education, etc. type students. Students don't often want a regular gig but like it occasionally and they have flexible schedules, aside from their classes of course. Interview a couple who have availability close to when you'll need it most often, and find one or two to call on when necessary. It's worked reasonably well for us. It did cost us a little in childcare money to have them come over a couple times when we were home, just for everyone to get to know one another, and I will occasionally have one come over when I don't necessarily need to just to keep them connected. So far it's working for us.

Mom22 -- how do you post online for UP students? I looked at their website & couldn't see any off campus employment opportunities. We might like to explore this way of getting occasional babysitters.

This is the link I've used in the past for UP. Good luck.

http://appstwo.up.edu/jobdatabase/search.asp

Thanks Mom22!!

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