Our life has been a bit upside down these days.
If you’ve followed our story, you know we had an amazing nanny for our triplets from the time they were three months old until they finished kindergarten. This is our first school year without a nanny.
And last summer was our first summer without a nanny.
Since summer can be particularly expensive for childcare, Bray decided to delay the job hunt a couple of months and teach the kids important things at the farm and the ranch. They came back as expert fishermen, horseback riders, cattle workers, and hay balers. Having them gone much of the week at the family farm killed me, but I know they will treasure that summer for the rest of their lives.
When it looked like Bray was closing in on job options this spring, we tried to figure out what to do for the summer. A college kid was a good option. Our kids swim on our neighborhood swim team, and we need someone to run them to practice every day. But a fulltime college kid (or teacher or summer nanny) is expensive. Summer camps are options. However, they leave none of the flexibility we need with my work schedule and a husband starting a new job. Plus, camps can be more expensive for three kids than child care.
It got us to thinking, how do people manage the cost of summer care?
Especially if they have more than one child.
I’m curious what the majority of Americans do who don’t have one spouse at home to watch the kids. We could afford it, but I can only imagine so many people could not. And I’m not even looking at the super expensive camps like ones offered by elite schools or Houston museums. I’m looking at gymnastics or cooking or nearby clubs. Once you add on extended care, because who only works from 9 am to 3 pm, it’s bananas.
It made me acutely aware of what a childcare crisis there is in America.
I remember making my way through a United Way exhibit and you had to pick where you spent “your money:” safe housing, healthy food, or stable childcare. When you saw the “average” family salary, there was no way you could do all three.
I’m grateful for options, but I wonder how working moms handle the stress of summers. Ah yes, summers have a lovely reputation for fun and relaxation, but if you work full time and have to shuttle your kids from yonder and thither (and mine are at least the same age so I don’t have to deal with three separate camps), how do you coordinate it?
Do you have family come in? Do you hire someone? Are there affordable options? Have you found you end up working less hours in the office because of a restricted schedule? Each summer, do you try something different? How do you budget for the additional costs?
I’d love to hear working moms summer tips on budgeting, choosing options, and juggling the stress of summer care.
Sound off so we can figure this thing out together.