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 craigslist: cl 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?