When my eldest son went into full-time daycare so I could take my dream job, everyone I knew was super-supportive and offered to be my backup childcare network.
Then, of course, he got sick. And I learned:
- Kids get sick in the night, meaning that calls to the backup babysitter happen at 6 am.
- Kids always get sick when you have had a week where you got behind first.
- Everyone I know, even those who are retired, are as busy as I am. Sometimes more.
Bottom line on backup childcare: Even with the best of friends and family, I have not found a great backup babysitter plan to address the question of backup childcare while my kids are in school/daycare. My parents are not always in the best of health and over time we’ve found that we can’t expose them to all the germs. My sister lives in the States, and as my kids have gotten older more and more of my friends are either working full time themselves or back to school.
And while there are solutions that involve money, they also involve a lot of trust and sometimes, a lot of money – a lot of our regular sitters have regular jobs, and hiring specifically sick-care nannies is not inexpensive. I have also been surprised at how emotionally tough it is (although not impossible) to leave a sick child to a caregiver the child does not know that well.
Usually my husband and I juggle our deadlines and meetings as best we can, because we both have the luxury of supportive and flexible workplaces. I feel really lucky, but I also recognize that it is in fact luck and not a professional perk I have earned. I try to pay it forward for colleagues when they have personal issues come up. And although I’m still settling in here at Canadian Living, in the past I’ve tried to keep my life easier by:
- Working ahead of deadline as much as possible
- Leaving good notes for others, just in case
- Using technology as much as possible to be available, conference in on meetings, etc.
- Trying to keep my sense of humour. It does get easier; with a toddler we are in the worst years again, but I know: it ends. One day, we won’t need that backup babysitter.
I also seem to forget every time, but learned again on Monday: Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. You can spend all day obsessing over something, wishing your phone had Mary Poppins, Backup Babysitter in the contact list or you can admit defeat, and focus on your child.
What’s your solution to times your kids are sick and you need backup childcare? How do you handle the stress, or do you find it fine?