Previously posted on The Smartly:
Summer vacation – It is the time of the year every child anticipates with glee. It is also the time when stay-at-home moms feverishly search for games, activities, camps, and other events with which to keep their children busy throughout the summer months. One might think working mothers have it easier this time of year because their children continue to follow the same schedules as they do through the school year – drop the children off at daycare before work and pick the children up from daycare at the end of the work day. What happens, however, when the child gets too old for daycare?
My husband and I are facing this situation right now with my oldest. He just turned ten at the end of May and was already forced to leave one daycare center because their licensing only supported children through the age of ten. We were able to find another daycare center that will watch him during the summer, but unfortunately this new location only supports students through fifth grade. Therefore, as my son enters sixth grade, he has no option for daycare, and we have no family in the area or close friends who could watch him either. By the way, the legal age to be a latch-key kid is 12. Is it me, or is there something majorly wrong with this picture?
Just what is a parent supposed to do when his or her child gets too old for daycare but is not mature or old enough to stay at home alone? No parenting book prepares you for this situation. We are transplants to the area; unlike a large majority of our neighbors…okay, all of our neighbors…we have no family in the area, and all of our friends work during the day as well. We have looked at other daycare providers in the area, of which there are few that support my children’s school district, and all of the others follow the same guidelines. My hands are tied. He is not old enough to stay at home by himself according to state law and not mature enough to do so were he old enough, while I have a job that requires me to be at work before and after school hours. I did negotiate new work hours that would allow me to be home with them before and after school, but in this horrible economy, is that detrimental to my job? I was also able to negotiate all the days off for teacher institute days, early release days and the like? (Spring and winter breaks plus snow days remain an issue.) Could this lack of foresight on the part of daycare centers become a glitch in my career? Shouldn’t the balance between family and career be a little easier to navigate these days?
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