Jeff and I have an unusual childcare arrangement. We briefly tried full-time daycare but it was a disaster (Lily wouldn’t drink milk there and was hungry and miserable, and the daycare provider refused to keep her.)
Here’s what we do instead:
- Jeff works 7 am – 3:30 pm.
- I watch Lily during the day and go in to work on the subway with Lily.
- Jeff meets us at the subway station, gets on and rides several stops with us, and then gets off and goes back home with Lily.
- I work 4:30 – 9:30 pm. I also often work Saturday mornings. I have the same job as I used to do full time before having Lily, but per diem (meaning I’m scheduled and paid by the hour instead of having a salary).
Some things that work well:
- Each of us gets plenty of time with Lily, which we missed when she was in daycare.
- Lily is always with her parents, and in most ways I think we give better quality care than a daycare would. I certainly know more about child development now than when I was 19 and working in daycares.
- I like working half-time more than working full-time or caring for Lily full-time.
- Lily takes two naps, one while she’s with me and one while she’s with Jeff, so we each get some free time while she’s sleeping.
- We can get some housework and errands done while watching Lily.
Things that don’t work well:
- Most days Jeff and I only see each other for 15 minutes on the subway, with maybe a little time before or after work. This is big.
- On weeks when I work less than 25 hours, we bring in less money than if I were working full time and paying for daycare. Your numbers will vary depending on how much you earn and how much you pay for childcare.
- A very large proportion of our time is scheduled, so we often can’t do things that aren’t scheduled a month in advance (when I make my work schedule).
- I’m working during the times that a lot of social events happen, so I either miss things or decide to take a day off work to attend something in the evening. It also means if Jeff needs to do something during the evening and can’t bring Lily, I have to take a day off work.
- It is more hours of work for us than basically any other arrangement:
These numbers are somewhat misleading because working outside the home requires a commute, and taking the child to daycare requires additional commute time which I count as “childcare by parents” but is less fun than being home with the child. Many people enjoy working outside the home more than they enjoy watching their children, but I’m guessing almost no one enjoys commuting more than they enjoy watching their children.
All of this only works for us because we have jobs that are flexible with hours. And because my commute passes by Jeff’s work. And because we have two parents. My brain hurts when I try to think about how much work single parents have to do.