60 posts categorized "Childcare"

A balancing act: A guest post from a performing artist parent

May 10, 2014

Guest post from Camellia Nieh, who will be performing with TEMPOS Tuesday and Wednesday.

Inline image 5

photo © Dan Kim

A year ago, my husband I joined a performance group called TEMPOS, blending acrobatics, dance, and physical theater with live music. My husband writes and performs music for the group, and I perform acrobatics. Acrobatics is my passion…it makes me feel strong and alive. Music is my husband’s. We feel so lucky to have found an outlet that enables us both to work creatively together.

Our six-year-old son, Uzi, is less thrilled about our artistic projects. TEMPOS takes up a lot of our time. Friends and family support us a lot with childcare, and we have a fantastic babysitter whom he loves. But Uzi still wishes we would just stay home with him every night. Sometimes he cries when I have to leave for a rehearsal.

Inline image 6

photo © Ty Chance

I feel conflicted about the time I invest in creative pursuits. My husband is less conflicted. He assures me that it’s better for Uzi to see us dedicating ourselves to what we love. That it makes us happier, more balanced parents, and that it sets a good example, too. Fundamentally, I think he’s right. My hope is that when Uzi is older, he’ll look back and be proud of us for being performers. He’ll feel enriched by the evenings he spent hanging out backstage, tumbling with a crew of playful acrobats, or in the music studio in our basement, learning drumbeats and experimenting with the mixing board. Also, my mother sacrificed her personal aspirations to raise our family, and while we’re deeply grateful to her for devoting so much of herself to us, it was also hard always knowing that she felt so unfulfilled.

How do you balance what you love to do with the needs of your children? Do you feel conflicted about the time and resources you invest in doing things you love? Do you wish your own parents had invested more in their own passions, or less?

Suggestions for Vegan/Vegan-Friendly Infant Childcare?

November 26, 2013

The mamas and I are well beyond the infant daycare stages so we don't even have suggestions for Marianna in her search for vegan/vegan-friendly childcare. She writes: "Do you have a list or know of a list of vegan/vegan friendly daycares that will take infants as young as six weeks old?Unfortunately I just moved up here and will more than likely only get that six weeks off that is required by law. An from my research most daycares that are vegan friendly only take babies that are 6 months/toddler ages. I really don't want to send my son to a commercial type daycare, because I've heard a lot of them won't let you bring your own food and I don't want to bounce him around all over the place once we start him on solids (I'm making his baby food). I'm not due until April but I've heard its very hard to find childcare for an infant and wanted to start sooner rather than later. I apologize I'm a first time mom and not sure where to start but your site is the only place where I've seen listings for alternative childcare. If you could give me any advice I would greatly appreciate it." Any suggestions?

Childcare for apprentices in highway trades

April 04, 2013

Around this time every year, I receive a notice from my youngest's childcare center for a tuition increase. And every time, I am a bit outraged that it has increased by about $75/month. Though the cost is high, I am grateful both my husband and I have stable jobs and reliable childcare. But, what about parents who work in highway trades or similar lines of work that do not have the same level of flexibility or stability? Larry who works for a state transportation department has this question:

I manage a program that provides a variety of supportive services, including child care support, for apprentices working in certain construction trades (carpenters, cement masons, ironworkers, laborers, and operating engineers) that participate in building highways and bridges. I am in the process of considering how we can supplement our current services with some kind of provision for drop-in or as-needed after-hours child care and came across a discussion on your web site. I wonder if you may have some suggestions to share on how we might approach providing this type of service to working parents?

I am attaching a report describing our program as background. We also had a video produced featuring some of the apprentices who have received assistance, which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/2sNS5xV9Pa8

I know that many of our readers are also childcare providers. Any insight to help him shape this program?

 

Grandparents as Caretakers: has it worked for you?

April 25, 2012

As I was heading to drop off one of the kids at school this morning, I passed a mom and child pulled into a driveway.  She was handing off her son, pre-kinder age, to her parents.  "Mom, don't worry about it," she said.  It seemed like a regular arrangement for grandma to be watching the tot, just about as regular as another family I pass often, where mom pulls over, many times double parked, to lug her infant-in-carseat up several front steps to her dad, always waiting for her atop the stairs.

Grandparents can play a crucial role in rearing our little ones.  I, myself, spent a lot of time with all of my living grandparents - my mom's parents and my dad's mom took turns taking care of me from the time I was born.  I was even sent back to my parents' native country, the Philippines, for a while when I was around a year old, so that my parents could work odd hours and study to pass licensing exams.

Rearing my own children, I didn't have the support network of nearby family where they could play a daily role in helping with childcare.  

Having loved growing up with my grandparents, and now watchiing how adoring my own kids are of their own grandparents, I love to hear stories of grandparents developing a routine with their grandkids, a special, regular relationship and intimacy with one another.  Have you had your children's grandparents involved, on a regular basis, with childcare?  How has that been?

Mama vs. Papa: How our standards differ on volunteerism

September 27, 2011

I had already decided what to do when I posted my (I hoped) thought-provoking piece on "neglecting" my children to coach cross country -- for free! I've been volunteer coaching for several years, and even though my husband has just left for his second tour overseas, I spend all of my waking and sleeping hours with the boys save about 10 a week for cross country and Thursday night writer's group. I am comfortable with my decision; though some commenters pointed out that, with only one parent on the ground, I was depriving my boys, I have to disagree. The boys enjoy time with their babysitters, who frankly have lots more focus to give than I do. I struggle with being on duty 24/7; I end up so, so tired by Sunday evening that I can rarely stay up long enough to finish packing school lunch; the time away from the boys is life-giving. After a few charged discussions about it and chatting with some of the officers with whom he deployed, my husband agreed that my cross country time and babysitting expense was something we could afford.

OK: so that's my personal story. Let's chat about the universal. Today, a commenter chimed in about her experiences feeling resentful when her husband volunteered for basketball coaching. Another commenter said she, too, had felt frustrated at other dads doing similar things -- those that benefited other people's kids. While no one said quite this, the message is very much that dads don't have the time to spare. Any free time, the sentiment seems to be (and I can think of times I've thought this, from an outsider's perspective and not in my own family): dads need to give all available free time to their own children. Why should moms get a break?

I wonder if this sentiment stems from those 80's-sitcom-style family makeup: dad working 60-hour weeks, mom doing lots of volunteering at school and keeping the home spic-and-span and oven full of casseroles. This dad should not be leaving work early to coach middle school sports across town when he has grade schoolers watching He-man, neglected, at home.

I know a bunch of dads who volunteer, but I know way more moms and childless uncles who keep the youth sports machine churning and staff the fundraisers and political phone banks and non-profit events. Do we not give dads a break to follow their volunteer passions because we see them -- collectively -- as already spending enough time away from home? Is this a classic Freudian issue; those of us whose own dads were absent are the quickest to judge? Or is this just "the truth": dads should not, no how no way, be spending precious hours coaching or coding websites or organizing conferences or building bikes unless their own kids are being directly benefited? What do you think? Are dads and moms judged alike in their use/abuse of me time? Should they be?

Late Arrival: How do YOU manage?

September 21, 2011

Urbanmamas_school_arrival
Today is the first late Wednesday arrival of the school year, and I -- a freelancing at-home mama who struggles mightily with early mornings -- am taking a deep happy morning breath. Today, my first-grader was up before me at 6:45, and got to play quietly by himself before his brothers awoke, a rare treat for the middle kid who loves occasional solitude. Now we've all had breakfast, and I have my coffee, and the boys are watching Pokemon while I typity-type-type. I even got Truman to do a little homework. When we leave, more than an hour from now, we'll probably even be a few minutes early, and I'll have a jumpstart on my writing day. No rushing required. Perfect.

I know that it's not all sunshine and deep breaths for many parents. My school doesn't even open until 9:50 (when the first bell rings), and there's no breakfast on late arrival days -- something I know many families count on. I was surprised to see the notice in my child's folder yesterday about Y morning care; it may not be the very first time anyone had heard of it, but it was the first time I knew about the 9:50 building opening. And for parents to sign up for the Y, it's not just a matter of paying $20 per late morning; there's a sign-up process and a registration fee, not the sort of thing I could manage in the midst of a week's coordination if I was working in an office. I'm sure most parents have figured it out ahead of time, but still: there have got to be parents who forget, or miss the first flyer, and struggle to pull it together.

How do you manage? Is late arrival a blessing for you, or a major coordination nightmare? If you've signed your child up for early care, do you like it? Is it a challenge to find the funds? If you could be in charge of Portland Public Schools, would you have ever instituted late arrival -- or would you have one a week?

Benign 'Neglect' of Our Children?

September 19, 2011

Urbanmamas_chs_trackteam
For six years now, I've been volunteering as a high school coach at Cleveland High School. For the first two years, the head track coach coordinated some sort of honorarium for me -- a lot less than the salaried assistant coaches make (somewhere around $1,000 a month for roughly 20 hours a week of work, plus more for some weekend meets), but it was something! In the past few years, I've been coaching cross country, and the booster club hasn't seen it in their mission to bestow funds upon we running volunteers. I don't go every day -- last year it was only two or three days a week, because I was parenting my three boys solo and often didn't get home from school pickup until it was almost too late to catch the kids before they were off on their run.

My husband just left again last week for more overseas Army duty, and I have somehow wangled a great babysitter who can watch the boys for me -- I'll be able to go almost every day and meets too, and since the season only has six weeks left in it, I estimate it will cost me $500 or $600 in child care. Yes, to volunteer, for no pay whatsoever.

This has been a big point of contention for my husband. He has never been very supportive of my coaching; as an abstract thing, it seems great, but in reality he sees it as "ignoring my family" "for strangers." If I have to pay for the privilege? All the worse! We're locked in an unwinnable battle of wills. The way I see it: I'm giving back to the community that brought me into the running world (I ran track for Cleveland in the early 90s, and was nurtured by a wonderful woman, a mother herself, who even bought shoes for me when my cheerleading shoes gave me shin splints -- her son is a lead designer for Nike, so it was a bargain, but still!). I'm doing something I love -- working with high schoolers -- that I don't have the patience to do for a career (I would have gone into teaching if investment banking hadn't come along and stolen me; I have little patience, though, with school bureaucracy, and would likely have lasted this long as a public school teacher). I get to run four or five days a week; something I never do without the support of daily practice, and makes me happy, fit, and healthy. Most of all, I feel that I'm making a difference for these kids. Most of the coaches are men, and it's a co-ed sport; the girls tell me often that they appreciate my support and my conversation. It feels like the right thing to do and I always come home from practice and meets in a glow.

That glow does not extend to my husband's point of view on the matter: in his perspective, I'm leaving my children with a babysitter, spending family money unwisely, and neglecting my duty as their primary caregiver to do something that's benefiting other people's kids. Of course, I'm the parent on the ground, to use a militarism, and I get my way. But leaving aside the personal details of our argument, how do you negotiate this sort of balancing act? Is it ok (in your opinion and situation) to "neglect" your children if you're doing good work for the community -- volunteering for the neighborhood organization, the PTA, a blog that supports a needy community that perhaps doesn't directly help your children? How about support groups and church outreach? Political causes and extremely low-paid non-profit work? Co-operative projects and buying clubs and knitting circles? When you're doing something that doesn't directly, immediately benefit your own children, how do you suss out the justification for this benign "neglect"?

The first goodbye: drop off at "big-boy" school

September 06, 2011

I've done it twice before now (with his two older sisters), dropping off for the very first time in a larger big-kid school-type setting.  And, even since their respective "firsts" at school, I have we have had first drop-offs at other new schools, camps, classes.  I seemed to get easier with each progressive "goodbye".

But, the very first time?  It's hard.

My boy started at his new preschool today.  Until this point, he's been in small scale settings, mostly in-home care, with close family friends.  Today, he went to a place - a big (pre-)"school" - where not only he knew no one: I also knew no one.  We entered and did not know where to sign in.  We didn't know where to go: whether to go somewhere to wait for circle time or outside to play.  We didn't know where to put blankets, dipes, lunches, jackets.  And what about the papers, permission slips, authorization forms?  I realize now that they all came back with me.  We stumbled around, asked, found our way.  All the while, the boy gripped my finger so, so hard, observing everything with big quiet eyes.

I was getting impatient with this whole drop-off exercise that I hurriedly put things away, swerved through other children, many of whom seemed to be coming back to the school they left a summer, and gave a hasty goodbye instead of a firm handoff to a new caretaker.  In the back of my head, I knew it would all be fine, though I wished, wished, wished for a more fairytale send-off where there were no tears, no confusion, no sinking feelings.  On the other side of the school gate, I crouched and listened to my boy cry.  I strained to hear what his teacher was saying.  She was singing to my boy, while also guiding other children with their activity.  Indeed, this was what we signed up for.  There were no promises of one-on-one attention.  My boy became silent, and, when I peered through the gate slats, I saw him standing, watching the other children play.

I feel sad.  I felt so sad when I got home that I cried.  I did not expect this, he being my third child and all.  It was so hard.

Did you have a first "goodbye" and drop-off today?  Or, maybe it felt like one?

Beets for preschoolers and other good vegetable-y things

July 07, 2011

Urbanmamas_kids_cook_tomatoes
It was Citymama herself who cooked up the fresh goodies at the preschool where Everett began his tenure (until she, sadly, moved away to California). Watching small children eat pasta with eggplant tomato sauce or steamed green beans or little hummus cucumber sandwiches is so affirming it made tears come to my eyes. ("They like it. They really LIKE it!") Later, I would birth a baby who would eat carrot greens out of my farmer's market bag, raspberries right off the bushes outside, and salmon salad sandwiches with fresh onions and yogurt-chive dressing (that was today).

Last month, I went to a culinary conference in Austin. There, my friend Michelle (this friend!) organized a visit to a charter school at the University of Texas where grade school-aged kids had grown and learned to cook vegetables from a garden right behind the school. The presenters asked the kids what they had learned to love that they never would have tried before. "Sorrel," said one (!!). The next four kids picked "brussels sprouts."

So when I saw the FOODday piece by Leslie Cole in this week's Oregonian, "Taking a Fresh Approach to Daycare Meals That Kids Will Actually Eat," I squealed a bit. One-year-olds at ChildRoots eating beets, black beans, and steamed grains. Preschoolers at Maryam's Preschool eating Persian rice and vegetables. Parents thrilled... but not really doing anything nearly like this at home.

After having made some mistakes and some total victories with my own kids (and having the sort of child who has a totally unique set of likes and dislikes -- my middle son, Truman, will only eat dried fruit, and only carrots if he can see the vegetable, though he will happily eat grilled fish or sardines or pate, straight), I can say that it's not just exposing kids to a variety of freshly-prepared healthy foods that aren't hidden in other things that is important in developing healthy eating habits; but also maintaining, as much as possible, a food environment in which unhealthy choices are severely limited. It's just a fact: if there is soda in the house, my kids will drink it (same for energy drinks and prepared chocolate milk etc. etc.). If candy is offered right before lunchtime, they'll eat that and skip the salmon-salad sandwiches. If even such a mildly unhealthy choice as Trader Joe's breakfast bars or those sugary yogurt tubes (even the organic ones are pretty high-sugar and TJ's bars have less whole grains and more sugar than I prefer for the kids to have), they'll disappear before the whole-grain scones I made are even touched.

This piece is fantastic inspiration to keep me offering fresh peas and cherries instead of Starbucks treats and yogurt squeezers. I love that more preschools and elementary schools are offering kids whole grains and fresh vegetables prepared in delicious and visible ways (no wink-wink hiding black beans in brownies). I think parents (and here I include my own thoroughly fallible self) could do a better job of supporting these institutional chefs by putting a variety of recognizable vegetables and fruits and whole grains in front of our kids and keep the packaged snack food and sugary treats and breakfast food out of our cupboards. Not every child is going to become a brussels sprout and quinoa lover. But we should give them lots, and lots, and lots of chances -- and they just might end up surprising us.

Solo parenting: Squandering child care

April 13, 2011

On Sunday, I arranged for my sister to come watch the boys as I rode up to the prettiest and hilliest part of NW Portland for an interview for a job writing a book. I was breathing hard as I locked my bike, and the interviewer met me there. By 15 minutes into the chat I had so little hope of getting the position that I almost stopped worrying about it; it was one of those situations where, despite the likeability of the people on the other side of the table and our obvious shared interests, I knew we just didn't mesh.

Urbanmamas_bikeride
When I got the email message on Tuesday -- I hadn't gotten the gig -- I wasn't upset about anything but this: I'd squandered my child care! With my sister pregnant and in possession of a day job, we have our regular Tuesday/Thursday gigs (errands and writing group) and sometimes one other day. I'd used up my share and knew it would be too much to ask her to babysit Wednesday... when I had rare dinner plans with the other urbanMamas. Emails and phone calls to my regular backup caregivers were fruitless.

In the end, I was happy how the situation had turned out; the gig would have been a lot of work for a payoff that wasn't quite enough to give up some other opportunities (and not enough to afford a new regular caregiver). Except I felt so cheated that I'd "used up" my small tender of loving care for my children. As a solo parent while my husband is in Kuwait for the Army, this is one of the most valuable resources I have, and I'd thrown it away!

I'm wondering if other parents who spend lots of their time solo, whether for a travelling spouse, an absent partner, or a very busy one -- or who are doing the job on their own full-time -- feel similarly. How do you use your precious commodity? How badly do you mourn when you've wasted it? Do you, too, feel as if you have to pack a million things into those few hours each week?

At Risk: the Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) Program

February 07, 2011

Many of us use daycare outside the home for our children.  Some of us need assistance to be able to afford that care.  The Employment Related Day Care (ERDC) program helps low-income families pay for daycare so that they can continue to work. 

ERDC helps approximately 20,000 Oregon families every year pay for child care for approximately 35,000 children each year.

(Here's a great policy paper (*pdf) with some stories about mamas & papas who need this program.) 

Our state is facing a $3.5 billion shortfall, and legislators have to choose where funding cuts will be made.  This program has already been cut; participation is limited to 10,000 families.  The program could be cut even further or - even worse! - cut completely.  Families rely on this assistance.  Without help to pay for daycare, some of us working mamas and papas may no longer be able to afford daycare.  Cutting the program will mean lost jobs for those who work at these daycares.

To let legislators know just how important this program is for the state, there is a rally planned for Wednesday, 12 noon, outside the Capitol Steps.  Details here.  Consider joining in or even sending in a letter of support would help.

Emergency Childcare: What is an affordable back-up childcare solution?

May 10, 2010

We have all been there, in that pinch where we need the childcare but just cannot find what we need.  The imperative word in this recent request is "affordable".  An urbanMama Becca recently emailed:

I am a single mom who works full time, no child-support. I make a good income, but I can't afford traditional childcare, so my son (4 months) is staying with the neighbor, who is a stay-at-home dad, until I can find childcare that fits my budget. They are great and its been really helpful, my only problem is when their baby gets sick, then my son can't go over to their house and I am stuck home. I went 4 days in the hole on sick time for my unpaid maternity leave just a few months ago, have stayed home with my son a couple days when he was sick, and now their son has been sick a few days as well; I have gone WAY over my limit on staying home and I cannot find a single drop-in center for infant childcare in the whole city of Portland (close-in). Kindercare says they will take a drop-in IF one of their normal babies is out sick, but that is rare. I can't anticipate a child getting sick, so it isn't something I can plan for.  So what is a single parent supposed to do in a situation like this? Thanks for any advice.

Self-directed play and siblings

March 09, 2010

Monroe_phone_call
I was alone for several hours yesterday at home with Monroe, who's two-and-a-half, and contemplating my plans for next year in the backdrop of a book I have been reading, the fascinating and inspiriting Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture by Shannon Hayes. Truman was out on an errand with daddy and I was finding it impossible (as usual) to do any writing. Monroe, needing attention in the absence of his brotherly playmate, wanted to sit on my lap and punch keys on my keyboard. My choices: give him the iPod touch with its monkey games, put on a TV show, or do something with him.

I've made it my personal mission not to use screen time unless I'm truly desperate, and I wasn't, so we went outside and planted more peas and some lettuce and kohlrabi. He dug in the dirt and helped me sprinkle kelp meal until he got bored of it and decided it was time to go for a walk. As close to traffic as possible. Inside again then! I spent the rest of my "free" time making us a snack, wondering, how will I ever manage to entertain this child and get just a little bit of writing in each day, next year with Truman in kindergarten? And the next? Truman has always been the sort of child who can play by himself for hours, without heading for the street, and this littlest man in our family is demanding enormous levels of interaction.

Enter the radical homemakers, those who, according to Hayes, "are pursuing homemaking as a vocation for saving family, community, and the planet." I'd just been in the part in Chapter Five where Hayes describes the way these radical homemakers "redefine wealth and poverty," in her section beginning, "Child care is not a fixed cost." In other words, how can you redefine the way your home economy works so that you do not need to pay another person to care for your child? I was tracking -- this is exactly what I've tried to do with my own family, freelance writing from home when it became clear that, more than anything else, my kids needed me, a lot. One of her interviewees had her daughter in day care for a while and she says, "I noticed that in day care, what she learned was to be entertained. Out of day care, she had boredom. And when she had boredom, she got creative and she thought of things to do, and went outside and climbed the tree..." In contrast, all the activities and scheduling at day care had her wired on the expectation that someone else was supposed to give her that play structure she needed. "I don't think that's necessarily a good thing," the mother concludes.

This gives me hope: it occurred to me that the expectation of a sibling to play with could be a balm that, once it was less of a sure thing, Monroe could learn to work around. I'd love to hear stories from those of you who aspire to a simple and less structured life: once all the older siblings were in school, did your youngest adapt to life just with you -- and let you get a little bit of time to focus on whatever else you and your household needed?

Childcare issues beyond the pale: Army mom arrested

November 19, 2009

I heard this morning on NPR about Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, an Army cook who joined the service in 2007. When she had Kamani 10 months ago, the little boy's father chose not to help raise him. Shortly after her baby was born, her unit in Savannah, Georgia got deployment orders to Afghanistan.

Soldiers with children are required to submit a dependent care plan before they can be deployed; Alexis had done so. Her mother, who lives in Oakland, California, agreed to take care of the boy; but she has in her home an ailing mother and sister, as well as a special-needs daughter and, during the day, up to 14 children in an in-home daycare. After two weeks of watching Kamani, Alexis' mom threw up her hands and sent the little boy back to his mother.

Alexis told her commanding officer her problem, and says she was given 30 days to develop a new plan; but then the deployment date was moved up and she panicked, without options. What looks like the miscommunication of a young, freaked-out mom occurred; she thought she'd lose her baby if she showed up for the airplane to Afghanistan with her child, so she hid.

Within a day, she'd turned herself in, and was arrested for failing to deploy. Her little boy was taken from her for the night, and the next day her mom arrived to take him back to California. Now Alexis is facing prison time; she may be court-martialed, although for now the deployment is on hold until the military sorts it out.

According to the Army, if Alexis had arrived at the airfield with her little boy on schedule, she wouldn't have been deployed. She says her commander told her that, if she didn't find care, her little boy would be placed in foster care. Even putting aside the he-said, she-said, it's a terrifying story (especially given my own possession of a husband scheduled for deployment, now, in the early spring) and shows just how great a toll the Army takes from young families and, most especially, their children.

Because by any indication the alternatives for Kamani all fall short. Where the boy is now, in his grandmother's home, is obviously too busy and demanding; can the primary caregiver devote even a tenth of the attention and energy an infant requires? As a young single mom far from home and with only a few years' experience in the Army, it's likely that Alexis has no friends with enough space in their lives and homes to care for such a small child. And if she were to find an acquaintance to take the boy? Would the burden mean the little boy would be resented, not necessarily neglected but most definitely not loved sufficiently? Would you take the 10-month-old of even a moderately good friend, for a year?

It's too much, I think. Too much for babies to have their only parent deployed for a year. Too much for babies to live without their mothers to fight unwinnable wars for so long. It's just too much.

Art and motherhood: A difficult combination?

November 16, 2009

Everett_and_art
At Wordstock last month, I sat in on several readings and discussions by writer mamas, and recently I've been very closely following other mothers and writers on Twitter and Facebook. I'll admit to a fascination that's part curiosity and part ... jealousy? longing? ... as I watch them juggle motherhood and their art. From a distance, it seems they're doing it better than me.

I've finally gotten to the point where I believe I could finish my book proposal any day (really!) and I'm finally having a essay published in print this month. After years writing online, I'm coming into this artist-writer bit, slowly, with lots of squeaking and complaints from my family. It's been hard, especially on those nights where my oldest has decided to go off melatonin, a gentle sleep aid we'd been using to good effect, and I must restart the process of coaching him on calming himself. For three hours.

A friend Tweeted she was locked in her bedroom this weekend, finishing a few last chapters of her book as her husband wrangled her boys. Another acquaintance, a writer dad, seems as if he's frequently out of town on book readings and fabulous events, trading off childcare duty and glamorous writer things with his poet wife. I asked an author I admired at Wordstock how she managed to write with children -- and she's a single mother, having adopted a little girl internationally. "Very expensive childcare," she answered.

Then yesterday, I read in the Oregonian about this fabulous couple here in Portland. They're both visual artists and she's an accomplished writer. They're gorgeous and cute and funny and successful. They have a three-month-old baby. I'm so jealous! (On the same page: a story about the Decemberists' guitarist and his lovely girlfriend, Seann McKeel, who've started a series of concerts for children and parents to help entertain their three-year-old child. She's also an artist. Oh!)

In my house, juggling art and motherhood don't go that well. A two-year-old literally hangs from my arm when I'm in the middle of typing an especially inspired sentence. I go to a coffee shop to write for three hours, and when I come home, the slow cooked meal I'd begun has burnt and homework hasn't been done -- my husband was focused on the littlest and his nap, the laundry...

Are you, too, trying to combine some passion -- whether it's writing, art, a political or non-profit endeavor, or a really rewarding job -- and motherhood? How have you managed? Do you sometimes feel that everyone but you is doing great? Or do you have secrets, tricks of the trade, that make it all come together?

Back to School: When you don't have before-/after-care

September 02, 2009

Operating hours at our public schools, depending on the program and grade, can range from 9:30 to 11:30 AM to a more average schedule of 8AM to 3PM.  For the full-time working parent, especially in single parent households, these schedules would obviously require both before- and after-care.  We've previously listed out the before- and after- daycare providers at PPS schools.  PPS Childcare website states:

The Portland Public Schools Board of Education passed a Childcare Policy in December of 1997 that provides for safe, affordable, educationally appropriate childcare for all elementary school students before and after school hours. Childcare is not only a parenting issue, or a workplace issue, but also an education issue.

We recently received an email from urbanMama Tia, who writes about her challenges with PPS aftercare:

My five-year-old son is about to start kindergarten at our neighborhood school, Peninsula Elementary.  My four-year-old daughter will remain in day care near my office in Hillsboro.  Since I am a divorced mom with a hefty commute, before- and after-school care has been a major concern.  I thought my son had a reserved spot in the on-site day care program at Peninsula, so was pretty well dumbfounded a few weeks ago to learn (mostly by accident) that the program has been terminated.  PPS has made no arrangements to replace it.  This affects nearly all the other schools in the Kenton/St Johns area, because Clarendon/Portsmouth, James John, Ockley Green, and Rosa Parks had all bused children to Peninsula for the child care program.  Sitton apparently has an entirely different provider, and a new provider is launching an on-site program at Chief Joseph -- but there are no plans to transport children from the other Kenton/St Johns schools to those locations.

... Nancy Hauth, the childcare coordinator for PPS, has been sympathetic but unable to remedy this gaping North Portland hole in the before- and after-school program.  When I last contacted her I realized that my list of grievances with PPS is already alarmingly long.

I'm worried that there may be other affected parents in the neighborhood who don't even know yet that there's a problem.  My political hackles are up, too, over the fact that PPS' failure here is localized to a big swath of North Portland.  Can you help me get the word out, and maybe spawn some activism on this issue?  I am a total newbie at dealing with the school district and, if nothing else, would love to identify PPS-veteran mentors.

Have you been in a situation left without before- and after-care at your school?  Have you been affected by this change in the North Portland PPS area?  How do we address this need and lack?

Two incomes, can't afford child care: Let's potluck this to a better way

April 19, 2009

I did not have the intended response to the front-page article in the 'O' section of today's Oregonian. The writer meant for me to be sympathetic with the plight of the family depicted; two parents in what seemed a loving, functional marriage with two children under four. I think it was the way the writer approached the story, obvious scrabbling to paint a sad picture of a family left exhausted and strung out, juggling two jobs and only one car.

While I can relate to the stress of the enormous, far-too-dear cost of child care for young children, I came away from the article wishing to share my perspective as a mama of three boys, having drastically changed my work schedule in the past year; though I fear the chasm between the ways we look at life is great. The two parents are working alternate schedules; mom at Costco, dad in sales at a construction and industrial supply company. They pay for only about nine hours of day care a week, or $480 a month, and together make $64,000. They live in a two-bedroom, 800 square foot apartment somewhere in Tigard. No, their schedule doesn't allow for matinees, pedicures, or post-work beer with the guys. Yes, they're "trapped" with one parent, and the car, at work when it rains. The fun for the kids, according to the article: a walk to a toy store, cartoons on 'On Demand,' the shopping mall play area. [The article's writer explained the day she followed the family, it was raining, so they decided not to go to the park; there are parks close by, though the original article wasn't clear on that fact.]

Potluck_urbanmamas
I wish I could fix it for them. What's obvious at first is that we all need a better link to community; to friends who can share childcare providers or swap care for free; to people who can provide that post-work beer experience with the kids; to occasional potluck dinners so each night doesn't seem so harried and lonely. My life today is not perfect (far, far, far!) but thanks to my perspective I can see a number of choices that are worth re-thinking. The sidewalk-less suburb is just one; I know that prices don't vary much from the middle of my neighborhood in inner SE Portland to Tigard, giving the parents far more places to connect and allowing mom & dad to get rid of the car altogether, choosing Tri-Met or the bike for commuting. Then maybe one parent can quit or reduce hours, relieving the pressure and the exhaustion considerably. Harriet calls this concept "householding," and I'm a big fan. (After hearing from the writer who wrote the story, I deleted my comment about food.)

Instead of sitting here frustrated at how isolating, stressful and perhaps more expensive than necessary are the lives we're asked to sympathize with in the Sunday paper, I'll make a challenge. [And judging from the age of the photo illustrating this post, it's a challenge I need badly.] I'll make it easy, because frankly, sharing child care is enormous thing to think about on such a beautiful day. Invite someone over for a potluck dinner -- or invite yourself to their place, if they have more room to set plates and cups. Connect in a simple, relaxed and nonmaterial way. Spend as little money as possible; yes, a carrot and lentil chili and a big salad, with water or homemade iced tea to drink, is perfect. Skip the cartoons and toy stores. Talk about the best place in your neighborhood for nature walks. Make it a regular thing. Start the change small, and see what happens.

Legislating nutrition and exercise in child cares? Yes? No?

January 06, 2009

September 2008 006 One urbanMama wrote in wondering what others think about the Oregonian's article yesterday on nutrition and exercise in child care settings.  Did you see it?  I did and it made me simultaneously appreciate and cringe about the food at our child care center, from the tater tot casserole (boo) to the organic milk (yay), from the fruit loops in the sensory table (yowza) to the whole wheat flour they're now using (progress!). Oh, and the unsweetened soy milk they recently switched to. 

But legislate it?  Our center used to participate in the UDSA food subsidy program for child care centers, and from what I understood (admittedly from the sidelines), compliance was a b#$%#.  We've talked before about the quantity of outside time in childcare settings, but this is a little closer to home. 

What do you think?  Is this the help our child care system needs?  I, for one, can think of some other items to at least add to the list, like 1) affordability, 2) location,  3) quality, and 4) availability.  From the article:

With children joining the ranks of the overweight and obese before they're old enough to recite the alphabet, public health and child advocates say it's time working parents across Oregon wonder whether day cares should shoulder some of the responsibility.

Closer regulation could be on its way. A statewide obesity prevention task force has recommended that the upcoming Legislature require state agencies to study child care and develop minimum standards for physical activity, healthy foods and time in front of a screen.

New food and activity rules will undoubtedly raise some hackles. Is it necessary to mandate play for rambunctious toddlers? Reasonable to expect low-paid caregivers to persuade children to eat their vegetables when most parents can't pull it off at home? And, really, aren't toddlers supposed to be a little chubby?

Thanks, K, for asking what everyone thinks.

Juggling the cost of care with the pay of work

October 04, 2008

Mamas, we recently heard from an urbanMama who is trying to juggle the cost of childcare with the wages she'll bring in with a new job.  Do you have any advice for her situation?

I started my first day of work today: $10/hr., 3 full days a week, and I have two kids that need daycare.  Obviously, this will be hard to swing, but I have a provider who is willing to charge me $6/hr. for both of them.

However, she wants payment in advance, PLUS a deposit.  At bare minimum, I must pay 75% of my monthly bill on the first day - 50% of this month's bill plus 25% of my deposit (which is equal to 1 month's bill).  I will be making about $800/mo before taxes, and paying $650 of it to her for the next two months.

I know that $6/hr is a steal, but I feel very uncomfortable about the money upfront.  For one - I don't HAVE that money.  I'm just getting back into the workforce!  I will have to borrow the first TWO payments from my parents - who don't have money either and will be paying interest on something they were intending to use this money to pay off - because my first paycheck will be for only 1 day of work, and I will have to wait another 2 weeks - 3 weeks total - to get a substantive paycheck.  By then, I will have already had to pay the first $650.

Continue reading "Juggling the cost of care with the pay of work" »

Trust and kids: When do you go too far?

September 09, 2008

Monroe_on_cot A few months ago, I was travelling for work, and as Monroe is still firmly attached to me as a provider of breast milk (and is none too pleased with the whole bottle concept), I had him with me. I tried to get him into the corporate daycare -- he'd been before -- but there was no room in the infant room.

After mining my network for all it was worth, I resorted to Craigslist. My first choice fell through (hair appointment), but the next morning my second choice met me and Monroe at the hotel and I handed over the room key and my baby and was off to the office. Some of my co-workers were discomfited. How did I know she wouldn't just make off with my baby? Well, first, it's a relatively shocking crime, one that seems a little extreme for such short notice. Second, stranger kidnapping makes up less than 2% of violent crimes against children. Third, this is what I do, meet people online and then trust them. I firmly believe in the principle that, when people feel trusted, they will act in a trustworthy manner.

Away from Monroe in a big meeting room, I relaxed, having comforted myself that -- were she to decide to kidnap him -- I had plenty of information about her to apprehend and recover my child. And I had a good feeling. I picked Monroe up at the appointed hour and she gave a great report: Monroe was happy, he'd napped, and she even amiably accepted his peccadillos (he won't do a bottle OR a sippy cup), giving him milk from the hotel water glass. Trusted, and trustworthy, all online.

I'm on the liberal end of the trust spectrum, I guess. I am crazy? (specifically about this, I mean?) How long does it take you to trust others with your kids?

Outside Time in Childcare: Is it Happening?

June 03, 2008

290058905_e5fcefb1fd_m_3 Every time I pick up my two kids from a full day in child care I struggle to ask those exciting but leading questions that'll get them to tell me what happened in school that day.  "So did anything wildly exciting happen today?  Any superheroes in class?"  I know, the beginning of a long, long road. 

Inevitably I wind up asking if they went outside to play.  I honestly don't listen too closely to the answer, though often it is no - even when it's not raining cats and dogs.  I tend to chalk this up to the fact that my 5-YO has no idea if he went outside that day and/or doesn't care to remember and tell me.  I'm not worried because school policy includes daily outdoor play. 

But after reading a recent article in the NYT about kids not playing outside while in childcare, I am wondering.  Did he really not go outside?  Is it because someone doesn't have warm enough clothes?  The teachers don't feel like it?  The park is a long walk?  And if there's an indoor playground, need I worry anyway?  Do your children play enough outside while in childcare?   How do you know?

Thanks to CafeMama for the playground pic.

Finding a Babysitter You Trust

May 09, 2008

That first time leaving the kids with a babysitter can be nerve wracking.  For us, we started with trading with friends.  We slowly weaned ourselves from the "free" care to using my husband's co-worker, and her vast network of babysitting friends.  But when that became too hard on the pocket book, and now that the kids are older we use a teenage babysitter.  Andrea recently emailed us about finding a babysitter: 

Now that my younger sister just had her first baby this week, I've lost both her and the monopoly on my parents' time in terms of free babysitting services.  Considering that I've never left my three kids with anyone but family, I'm in mourning!   So for me, it begs the questions....how did you find the babysitters you trust?  Word of mouth?  Go through a service?  What are the thoughts on the age of who is watching your kids?  Is 13 old enough or do you only trust the grandma next door who successfully raised her own kids?  And last but not least....can someone who has never had kids successfully get a 9 month old, a three year old, and a 5 year old (who fight like crazy!) fed, bathed, and in bed? And if so, what are their names?? :-)

News to us: State increased childcare subsidy

April 09, 2008

Apparently, few of us had no idea.  The Oregonian reports that it's a "little known fact: money for day care":

That made a huge difference for Lisa Fackler, a 29-year-old mother of two. With the increased state subsidy, her out-of-pocket cost for day care for 10-year-old Risha and 3-year-old Aaron at the YMCA dropped from $392 in September to $25 the next month.
.....
About 9,900 families are currently enrolled in the state's Employment Related Day Care program. More than 500 new families signed up in February -- but that's still short of the 3,000 families the Department of Human Services predicted would be added to the program by July 1, 2009.

Are you a family who needs childcare assistance and think you may qualify?  Know another family who should know?  Check out the DHS website on Qualifying for Childcare Assistance or the Child Care Resource and Referral Directory or call 1-800-342-6712.

When it's a "SNOW DAY", what do you do?

February 02, 2008

As much as I love the sight of puffy white stuff coming from the sky, I dread how it can have an effect on our schedules.  Today, a Saturday, is a great day for a snow day, a day to stay inside and watch the flakes come down.  But, if the weather is like this on Monday, a school day, and if our school is closed (see HERE for the PPS inclement weather e-hotline), what are we to do, if it is supposed to be a work day for us?  If you work outside the home and have a "snow day" school closure, what do you do?

Childcare Costs: There Goes My Paycheck

January 15, 2008

Manscaredofhisexpensivebillpgi0126 At the beginning of this month, I wrote a check for $1,118 to our child care center.  What for?  For my two children to attend a total of five days/week - one for two days (the 2-year old) and the other for three days (my five-year old).  That adds up to $13,416 for one year of part-time child care.  That is one ton of money.  The cost for two kids to attend our center full-time???  I don't want to know!  Read more on the high, high costs of childcare & share your experiences & opinions over on Activistas.

Starting a Workplace Daycare

November 21, 2007

If you can't find childcare that meets your needs, why not pool resources and start your own?  Mary is in search of advice from others that have been successful in working with their co-workers in creating a workplace-based daycare.  She writes:

My husband and I are both teachers struggling with the issue of childcare. Is the amount paid worth being away from our two beautiful children? Are we able to find a quality daycare that would meet up to the standards of two idealistic teachers? What happens when the children are in separate schools? How do we get them to two places when we have to be at work by 7:15 am? In our hopes to solve some of these dilemmas, we are working with a committee of teachers from my husband's school district to try and open a district daycare. We are wondering if any others out there have a similar experience. Does anyone have a workplace daycare they are involved with, or has anyone started a workplace daycare? Tell us about your experiences.

Traveling with a Nanny - Setting Expectations

August 02, 2007

Holly will be vacationing with a nanny (how awesome is that?) and she wants to know a fair wage.  Any thoughts?

We are planning a family vacation to Hawaii in October.  We’ve invited a college-age sitter from our children’s daycare to travel with us and act as our nanny for the week.  We’ve never traveled with a nanny before and have some questions about compensation, time off and reasonable expectations.   

So far, we have purchased a plane ticket for the sitter and she has agreed to sleep in the kids’ room – in her own bed.  We also intend to provide all meals and give her some free time off each day. 

Our initial thoughts are to pay the nanny between $8 - $10 per hour.  We are thinking that this will cover the money she could have made by working at the daycare for the week, and it’s tax free.  This is for two preschoolers and one infant.

We don’t plan on being absentee parents on this vacation.  We see nanny acting as a helping hand and extra pair of eyes.  We are hoping to reach an agreement that is favorable for nanny and us.  We would love to hear from the UrbanMamas.  What sounds fair to you and is there anything else we should consider? 

In sickness at the daycare?

July 14, 2007

Every child will get some kinda sick in their childhood.  If your child is in daycare, what are the rules - the hard and fast rules, the "it'd be nice..." rules?  How about when your daycare provider is sick?  An urbanMama emails:

I was wondering if you could post a question concerning daycare etiquette.  What kinds of rules do people follow with regard to sending their kids to daycare when they have colds/flus/fevers/ear infections?  What do folks do when their daycare provider is sick?

The Preschool Pressure - PDX Style

June 27, 2007

We've heard stories about the preschool frenzy in cities like New York where waitlists are eons-long and parents wake up at the crack of dawn to spend days in lines to sign kids up for preschools.  Here in Portland, is the story the same?  After the recent post on the Portland Preschool Scene, Tracy got to thinking:

The recent question about preschool has me thinking about a bigger issue, which is why the pressure to start kids in preschool at age 3 anyway?  I'm a mom who has arranged life to avoid group care settings for my little ones on purpose.  I've really struggled with whether or not to send my oldest (age 3) to preschool next fall and get all kinds of messages that I'm missing something if I don't.  He gets plenty of social opportunities through Parks and Rec classes, play groups, etc where I'm present to help him work things out and develop social skills.  He gets all kinds of exposure to letters, numbers, books, etc at home.  I have no doubt that at age 4 he'll go because I don't want kindergarten to be his first school experience.  But does it have to be so soon?  My solution has been to sign up at a cooperative so I'm part of the program, but I haven't fully committed to sending him yet.  I'd love to hear what others think and whether or not I'm the only one questioning this pressure.

Not only do we question the pressure, we also wonder whether all children will have access to the same resources, regardless of familial situation.  Kris recently emailed:

I am a mother of an 18 month old girl and have amerced myself in everything motherly including reading mommy blogs, having regular play dates scheduled, being a part of several moms groups, and basically just networking with other mommies like crazy.  On a regular basis I find myself upset and confused on the issue of single mothers unable to find quality daycare that they can afford. I myself am married and we do well financially, well, we make ends meet anyways. Daycare is hard enough for us to pay for and I know, because I have met some, that for single moms without a lot of support it gets close to impossible to afford good care. I know how hard it is to leave your child with another person and couldn't imagine having to leave them with someone that I didn't feel good about.  I am wondering if anyone knows how to get active on this issue. Are there single moms out there who have any ideas on how to make good care for their children an option?

Mamas, what say you?  What are your thoughts?  Is it a matter of the "haves" and the "have-nots"?  Do you feel like these differences are less pronounced here in Portland?

A babysitter's going rate?

June 19, 2007

What are other urbanMamas and Papas out there paying their sitters (primarily the date-night variety of a sitter as opposed to the fuller-time more primary caregiver variety of sitter, should there be a difference)....  I think I used to be paid one or two dollars an hour back when I was a kid and did a little babysitting for neighbors.  What has inflation done to the going rates?  Chrissy emails:

I have a 9 month old son.  My husband have starting the search for a babysitter for date nights.   I am curious to know what the going rate is for a babysitter these days.

Drop-In Daycare: The Search Continues

May 21, 2007

I know many of us working parents struggle with finding adequate back up care.  We've posted this previously, but we're wondering if some of this information needs to be updated.  Daniel recently sent us this question:

We have a 16 month old and another due in December. Mom has debilitating nausea and could use a drop-in infant care center on 'bad' days. I found a list of drop-in centers (http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:rM8XNZmz__IJ:www.icse-conferences.org/2003/travel/childcaredropin.pdf+portland+oregon+infant+care&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us&client=firefox-a) and was curious to know if any of Urban Mama community has had any experience with the Joyful Noise centers? Any other suggestions would be helpful too.

Does Joyful Noise centers do drop-in?  Besides Grandma's Place, are there drop-in centers you would recommend?

ERDC Daycare in NE

May 15, 2007

Chrissy is seeking childcare that accepts Employment Related Day Care (ERDC).  Any recommendations?

Does anyone have experience with Rose Quarter Grandma's Place?  Or know of a great FT daycare center in close-in NE? I have a 4 yr old who has been attending PT at Grandma's Place Lloyd Place, however I would like to look for work soon and she will need to switch to FT.  The problem is I wasn't sure I liked the feeling of the place when I visited it. I am intrested in shopping around. I will need someone to accept ERDC cause I am low-income and don't know where to begin looking for good FT daycare in close-in NE.

I am living with family and have been going to school for a long time and haven't been able to work because of the daycare situation.  I hardly have anyone who can help with my daughter, and I am sure many other mamas have been there.  I really just want to find a good place for my daughter where I feel she will be safe.

Experiences With Nanny Placement Service

April 13, 2007

Krista is seeking your experiences with nanny placement services.  Can you offer any?

I am wondering if anyone has experience with either Care Givers Placement Agency or A Brilliant Nanny - I am looking for occasional childcare for my 3 month old daughter and would love to know if anyone has used either of these agencies and what their experience was like. 

A beacon of green

March 10, 2007

Last Thursday's Oregonian featured Eco-Friendly childcares and what the Oregon Environmental Council (OEC)* does to promote eco-friendly childcare.  There are now over 100 Eco-Healthy childcare providers in Oregon, including 40 or so in Portland!  The number participating childcare providers is on the rise.  Is your childcare designated Eco-Healthy

* OEC also administers the Tiny Footprints Program.

Childcare Forum for Providers

February 16, 2007

We recently launched the urbanMamas Childcare Referral Forum as a place for childcare seekers to post their requests.  What we forgot to mention is that it's also open to providers.  If you have a school related open house or event, send us an email and we will gladly post it on the forum.  Do you have an opening at your school or childcare facility?  Let us know, and we will help to spread the word!

Emergency back-up care

February 06, 2007

We've talked before about finding back up care for anticipated time off like Spring Break or Winter Break. But, what do you do when you're REALLY in a pinch? Debby is in need of your suggestions:

I am looking for back-up options for days when my day care provider or her child are ill, like today! I tried Grandma's Place and they are not able to take my daughter (19 months) today due to the fact she is not registered and the manager is ill today among other things. I am getting really tired of having to email everyone I know the night before to see if they can help, and the babysitting "exchange" that I work out on those days is really eating up all of my free time! But I really can't take any more time off from work. What do others do for back-up besides family and friends??? Any thoughts for TODAY??!

urbanMamas Childcare Referral Forum

February 04, 2007

If you've sent us an email recently regarding seeking childcare resources in Portland, we just want to let you know that it has not been lost.  We just get many, many requests and have been trying to figure out a way to spread the word and get you in touch with someone that can help you out.  In response to the frequent and recurring requests, we have dedicated a portion of the urbanMamas site to posting the various childcare requests we recieve from our readers.  We call it the urbanMamas Childcare Forum.

For childcare seekers: send an email to urbanmamas@gmail.com and include the following in your email: geographic area, type of childcare, frequency needed, ages of children, and contact email.

For childcare providers:   send an email to urbanmamas@gmail.com with details of your opening, event, or open house along with contact information.

We strive to respond to all emails we recieve in a timely manner.  However, please note that if there is a backlog of emails which there is often, we may not be able to immediately post your request! Childcare questions of general nature will still be posted on the main site.

Inner Eastside Care - 24/7

January 31, 2007

Here's a unique request of the urbanMamas: recommendations of an in-home provider of 24/7 care.

Does anyone have a 24/7 in-home provider that they love, located in inner NE or inner SE?  We are looking for someone who can accommodate us for one or two Saturdays out of every month.

N/NE Preschool Fair

January 26, 2007

MOMS Club of N/NE Portland is hosting a free Preschool Fair. Come meet local preschools, talk to the teachers and other parents and find the best preschool for your child.

Saturday, January 27, 2007
9:00am - 1:00pm
Grant Park Church Gymnasium
2728 NE 34th Ave, Portland OR (cross street Knott)
Refreshments provided.

Infant Daycare SE: Discoveryland?

January 16, 2007

Researching schools and daycares can be difficult. Lauren is seeking your feedback: I'm curious if anyone has experiences (positive or negative) with Discoveryland for infant care (SE 60th)? Any other suggestions in this area (Mt. Tabor/Hawthorne regions) for infants would be welcome too.

Seeking Part-Time Childcare for under 2

January 10, 2007

uMamas, can you help Jennifer out with some suggestions?

I just found out that our nanny is taking a full-time job with Google and I have a month to find childcare for my 20-month old girl. I think she would benefit from a daycare setting, but in the limited amount of research I've done so far it's been hard to find one that a) is conveniently located, b) allows half days (I work part time), c) takes kids her age, and d) has immediate openings! I've seen lots of interesting preschools out there, but most won't take kids her age, and most of the daycare places don't have websites so it's hard to learn much about them in a short time. Anyone have any recommendations? We live in northeast, near New Seasons in Concordia.

Seeking Infant Care in SW

December 13, 2006

Help a mama out! Writes Melissa:

I'm starting my search for child care for infants in the SW region of Portland (Hillsdale, Multnomah Village). I would be so delighted and appreciative for any advice you could offer. Thank you so much!

Drop-in Centers

December 03, 2006

Have a doctor's appointment? Have a few errands to run sans bebes? Have a dentist appointment? Where do the kids stay if they're normally with you all day? Anne asks:

I was wondering if anyone had feedback concerning any of the drop-in childcare centers in town. I have a three-year old and am finding I need childcare every now and then for a short period so I can make it to an appointment. I was thinking of using Grandma's Place near Lloyd Center, but would be interested in any downtown or close-in eastside location.

Creative Gift Ideas for Daycare Providers

November 30, 2006

Last year, we had a previous conversation The Etiquette of Gift Giving for Daycare Providers. urbanMamas are also wondering what kinds of gifts make for great items for teachers or daycare providers? After nurturing and loving our youth, we're pretty certain that they've been nice and not naughty. Says Misty:

Any affordable/creative ideas for Christmas gifts for daycare providers? Between my two kids, I have 5 or 6 daycare providers I need to get gifts for.

The Tiny Footprints Program

Create an Eco-Healthy Environment with the Tiny Fooprints Program. The Oregon Environmental Council’s Tiny Footprints’ website is an online resource which helps identify eco-healthy options for raising children. The website includes parks that don't use pesticides, eco-healthy childcare facilities, plastics should you consider avoiding, and eco-healthy baby gifts. Or if you are just getting started, check out Tiny Footprints’ eco-healthy baby shower kit which is a great way to get family and friends involved at the beginning of a child's life.

For more information on this program, please call Sara Leverette at (503) 222-1963 x105. Would you like a Tiny Footprints Baby Shower Kit? Please email saral@oeconline.org.

Holiday Camps?

November 27, 2006

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone (although the leftovers still abound), we're looking ahead to holiday fun, like holiday crafty stuffs.  But, for many of us, we will also be faced with needing to find some all-day holiday cheer for our kids whose schools or daycares will be closed.  There are holiday camps, similar to summer camps, offered at larger institutions or community centers:

Children's Museum Camp runs from December 18 through 22, the full week before Christmas.  Full-time care can run from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, then there is additional aftercare offered until 5:30 PM.

Oregon Zoo offers 1/2-day camps for children ages 4 through Kindergarteners for $12-14 per day.  Full-day sessions for children in grades 1 through 4 are $27-35 per day.  Good animal winter fun!

Portland Parks & Rec offers Wild Winter Wonderland at the following community centers: Mt. Scott, Fulton Park, Matt Dishman, and East Portland.  Another offering (which seems to be the same offering) is Winter Madness at Sellwood, Hillside, University Park, Southwest Community Center, Montavilla, St. Johns, and Peninsula.  Some centers offer the whole week, others centers register day-by-day.

Do you have any other suggestions for finding holiday childcare or camp fun?  Aisha writes:

Can anyone recommend a good day care for the Xmas break in the North/Northeast Portland area--my hubby's 7 year old is going to be with us on Christmas break at a last minute's notice and we both have to work.  I have tons of recommendations in SE but nothing around our neck of the woods, any suggestions would be helpful and appreciated.  Something like a winter break camp would be perfect--sports or art related in particular.  Thanks for the help and have a great holiday!

Infant Childcare in NE

October 31, 2006

I was talking to a mama recently, who has a great new job and is seeking childcare in the NE for her 10 month old son. She prefers in-home care, but is interested in different scenarios accommodating part-time schedules.

Also, Christie is looking:

I am due in March and looking for child care for my infant beginning in June (probably 4 days a week, maybe 5). I think nannies are out of our price range, but will take suggestions for good childcare in general. I would really like to find somewhere in Cully, Alameda, Irvington, Hollywood areas (we live off Fremont and 50th and both will be working downtown). Does anyone have experience with Growing Seeds, Little Pandas, Alameda Beaumont Childcare (not sure if they take infants), or anywhere else?

A few previous posts: Preschool Wanted in NE, Seeking Childcare in NE/SE/NW. A couple of comments on Growing Seeds. Also, here is a comment on Alameda Beaumont Childcare. I don't think we've heard anything yet on Little Pandas. If you have any thoughts or insight for NE childcares, please share!

Going Rate for Teen Babysitters?

September 05, 2006

Can we get a sanity check on what to pay babysitter's these days?  Sloane recently sent us this question:

I live in Alameda/Irvington and would love to know what the going rate is for casual babysitting in our area. We have a nine-month-old baby and a lovely 13-year-old neighbour and would love to get them together for two or three hours a week so my husband and I can have a little alone time. The baby has an older, experienced sitter who is available only irregularly, who charges $10 an hour. I can’t imagine the 13-year-old warranting that much, especially as this will be her first time sitting. But I’ve really no clue. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.

Nannysitter Available with Glowing Reviews

September 04, 2006

Childcare, it's probably the hottest topic on the urbanMamas.  Whenever we catch wind of a good find, we'll try to pass it along.  Here's one from one of our readers:

We are letting our nanny/sitter of 8 months go starting 9/1 because we're expecting another child in December and we snagged a spot at the preschool where we were wait-listed much earlier than anticipated. She's a gem of a caregiver, so I thought we'd give the urbanmamas first crack at her.

Her name is Beth, she's 23, creative, attentive and always prompt. She has honored every request we've made regarding our daughter's care and is always up for last-minute changes. She has her own transportation, loves going to the park, and can manage a toddler and a trip to the coffee shop. They go on long walks, do all kinds of art projects, and Beth has taught her most of the colors and shapes. She's an ace hair-doer and is amazing a the art of distraction after a boo-boo. She makes meals and tidies up after the kid-stuff, her rate is reasonable and we'd really love to see her go to a family that will love her and appreciate her as much as we do. She's willing to consider full- or part-time. If anyone is interested, they can email me at bitemycookie@gmail.com. She comes with glowing references, in addition to ours.

Seeking Childcare for a 2-yr old, NE/SE/NW

July 08, 2006

uMamas, we came across another request via the We Are Family thread.  Jocelyn is looking for suggestions for her 2-year old:

I have a 25 month old. I am a working mama and I work in Wilsonville. When I returned to work after maternity leave, I wanted my son near to work so I could nurse him. The benefits of having him close-by outweighed the negatives (long commute for a small baby/toddler). But now, there is no reason for him to be out here, when we live in NE. I am looking for childcare in NE/SE/NW to bridge the gap between now and the time he is potty trained and 3 years old. Help. Is there any hidden gem out there. Everywhere I look, the wait list is long, for example Growing seeds and Providence on NE 47th ave. I looked at Alameda Montesorri and decided against it for now. What else is available out there. HELP!! The commute is getting worse and worse as my little angel learns to assert his wants and dislikes. He does not like being in the car that long!!