May 16, 2013

Summer Corral

Mom stayed home with the kids growing up, the three of us spent our summers getting raisin fingers on a city pool pass and an icebox of ham sliders.

I feel bad for my daughter, she's mostly without mother and her summers are less alive than mine were.  Parents always want the fruit of the loins to have it a tad bit better than we had it.  It's not quite working out that way for Pigtails.

Every year for the past five summers, she's corralled in the school gymnasium like a red-butt baboon, grunting, making paper crafts and flinging feces out on the playground.  The group occasionally takes field trips to a movie or park, although not as often as I'd like.  And it costs me $700 a month.  Which is crazy money, nearly a half-year of tuition.

Perhaps a nanny would unknot the bind.  Although it would require a deeper bite on the wallet, and she wouldn't be around other kids to play/bicker with.

Summer camp could close the gap, but only for a week or two.
Her mom is not healthy enough to spend long amounts of quality time together.
I want a 10 week sabbatical to show her America.  Yeah, that ain't happening soon.

Help a brother out, what other options do I have here?  Something that will bring her the lazy sunny laughs I had as a kid, without costing my third leg.  What does your bambino do come June?



-Beard

62 comments:

  1. I would love to stay at home with my son, but our family needs two incomes to survive until the man graduates from college (thanks, GI Bill!). My 9 year old is out for the summer tomorrow at 11am; I am thankful that my mother will be around next week until I go on summer break myself (not a teacher, but work with the school calendar). My mother also stayed home with us brats, so we just ran the neighborhood for 10 weeks. I wish I could give that to my son; maybe someday before he's 18 and out of the house.

    Does Pigtails have a trusted school friend with a stay at home parent? Maybe a trusted neighbor family with a mom who stays home? One of our neighbors has children around my son's age, who also attend the same school, and we have exchanged child-watching from time to time. Maybe you could develop a similar setup, but with a bit o' cash instead of reciprocity...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Daughter is best friends with the kids next door, love the family and the mom stays home, but they have 4 kids and are fairly tapped out. Other neighbors in area have more random work schedules, so could be tricky to work a plan.

      I'll keep thinking on this, want her to terrorize the neighborhood on a bike and spend all day at the pool like we did growing up.

      Delete
    2. That's just what I was going to say.... maybe a friend with a stay at home parent. The family next door might go for it, even with 4 kids, if Pigtails and buddy will help entertain each other, and you pay them $500 a month or so. You'd save a bit, they'd make a bit...

      Otherwise, maybe 1-2 other friends with working parents and you could go in together to split the costs of a nanny? A college student who will be happy with $300/week or so?

      Delete
  2. Anonymous5/16/2013

    Does Pigtails have a friend in a similar situation? Perhaps you could split the cost of a nanny with another family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most nannies want full time work, guessing our schedule will be fairly split this summer with her mom taking her for a few days at a time, I'll take some PTO, perhaps a few days with the neighbors. If I could find a nanny that was willing to work part time and on a flexible schedule, it would be a done deal!

      Delete
    2. Nannies/college students would definitely work flexible (from experience). I loved having time off for myself and the parents were off my back for having a job. Sittercity.com is a good resource for finding sitters as well as local colleges!

      Delete
    3. I dunno about nannies as I would've always wanted to work full-time myself back in the nanny business. But Nora is right about what around here we call "babysitters" which is also something I have plenty experience myself. A college student, mature high school student or a trustworthy young lad or lady from church? And speaking of church: Does your church offer some holiday fun besides the odd camp? Also: There's such a thing as granny nannies which could also be awesome since Pigtails would have extra grandparents, sorta. Usually, those are grandparents whose own children live far away or who don't have any themselves. You could ask at church. Maybe your pastor can give you some advice on whom or where to ask.

      Delete
    4. PS:
      The granny nanny thing - it's not like your regular nanny thing where you pay. It usually is a setup coordinated by an agency or charity. It is free of charge as both sides benefit from the programm. I love the idea and would definitely encourage you to find out if there's anything like that in your area or if you can find some "grandparents"for Pigtails yourself.

      Delete
    5. Good ideas, I'll check SitterCity.com and the granny dating website, thanks you two!

      Delete
    6. Alrighty, checked out SitterCity.com, most of the sitters with good feedback want $10 - $12 an hour, which would come to $1,600 a month if full time. I could use them in a pinch for an hour here and there, but still. Hail Mary, full of grace...

      Delete
    7. Oh poor Beard, probably should have mentioned the going rates for that... $10 is a bargain, especially for one with a car. However, if you share, you can probably halve that. I used to get paid $15 for 3 boys, $20 for 5 (I was crazy, I guess) or $12 for 1. These were at different times (high school versus grad school) and locations (suburb vs city) but if you had 3 well behaved kids, $15 would be more than reasonable for a sitter for a few hours...

      Delete
  3. We always had a nanny (3 kids, works out cheaper than daycare) and attended 1 week of away summer camp and 1-2 weeks of cheaper school craft camp. Are there other day camp options? I worked for the rec department and our small town had 2 camps (and there were more in other towns) but we took at least 1 field trip a week plus a weekly beach trip to the smelly town lake. There was also a slightly more expensive smelly town lake camp where you could be corralled by the lake for all the splashing around needs. My cousin also worked for a Girl Scout day camp and one summer, I also ran a camp for the neighborhood kids if you could get one responsible nanny for multiple kids.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A nanny would definately be a good deal if you have multiple kids, as the price for 1 kid vs. 3 isn't all that much different. There are several camps around here, tricky part is they have wacky start times so I'd have to leave work early to drive her there or find a flexible nanny that can change schedule often based on camp calendar, my PTO and visits with her mother.

      I think I know that smelly town lake camp you mentioned, went to one of those growing up, come out of the water glowing green.

      Delete
  4. I would suggest a high school or college student. (I actually started regular summer baby-sitting jobs in Middle school) They would be more likely to be flexible and affordable vs a full-time nanny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll start looking around, wondering if difficult to find a sitter that's not glued to her phone while hanging with my kid?

      Delete
    2. I see it as you are paying, you set the rules :-) If we were not all the way in the north burbs, I would offer up my teen!

      Delete
  5. Our local rec center had a great day camp program that my brother, sister, and I all attended for many years. It had a really great mix of physical activity, arts & crafts, movie days, and field trips, like visits to the zoo and kayaking. I would definitely check out if there's something similar in your area. It was a great time and when I was older and ended up in high school with some of those kids we had some great laughs about our experience there.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous5/16/2013

    Any chance you could work out a flexible schedule at work for the summer? Maybe 3 days at 12 hours each day? That way you could spend 2 days a week with Pigtails and the other 3 days could be mom time, craft camp, nanny, neighbor, college kid, etc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Work is pretty busy and I'm on an agile team, which favors consistent schedule and face-to-face time with teammates vs. wonky schedule or working from home.

      Delete
  7. Im a working parent and have no family in the near vicinity. I try to find balance for my kid with a few summer camps (outdoors&swimming are a must) and a few weeks of summer nothingness, visiting relatives. The summer camps range from 40 dollars a week (city parks and rec) to 200 / wk (a traditional day camp with busing (archery, swimming, canoeing, crafts, sumac tea stuff, etc) and a sport camp (his favourite sport). We get family fun in by camping on weekends) as well as longer vacation time (renting a cabin on a lake or travel). I try to avoid signing him up for a different camp every week as I believe that gets too busy / overwhelming and less memorable.

    Perhaps a summer camp for a few weeks (kids really need to go for a few weeks to fully appreciate it) and then some easier (on the wallet) local parks and rec camps and a babysitter for some lazy weeks. If you have a local JCC, they have some interesting and very specific type of camps (cooking, secret agent, rock climbing, etc while trying to instill some traditional camp aspects like singing and flag raising) , Check your local YMCA for a traditional day camp in your area. Some of these camps are tax deductible / considered day care. Also, maybe you cant take a 10 week sabbatical, but take a week or two each summer and head in a different direction to explore.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I don't have much to add here, but I wanted second (3rd, 4th?) the suggestion to find another stay at home parent. You could maybe go a less casual route and send out an email to friends/neighbors/colleagues with what you're looking for. And perhaps it could be a suppliment to the summer camp you usually use. Like MWF at the camp, TTh with the other parent or nanny or whatever. Then perhaps BT's mother could choose to have her any Camp days she is able to further minimize her days there. I don't know... this is really tricky. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Experienced nanny weighing in here. Last summer I kept 2 families at the same time, and it was really great. The kids were friends, and had entertainment in each other, and I had way more fun thinking of fun things to do that we wouldn't be able to do with just 2 of us. The parents split the bill, and paid a little bit extra because I had 2 families. For instance, if my regular hourly rate was $10, they would each pay $6. Everybody wins. Ask around on facebook and see if you have any other family friends in the same situation!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! I'm a nanny too and have one set of kids year round and add another two into the summer mix. Works great!!

      Delete
    2. How clever! That's such an awesome idea!

      Delete
    3. Yes, yes, I like where this one is going.

      Delete
    4. I've been on both sides of your dilemma. I nannied for years both before & after I had my own child. I had multiple families (they were friends) off & on for at least 3 years. Worked out great for everyone. Now I am a single mom that - like you - needs to find creative ways to "entertain" Jr, as well as to pay for said entertainment. When he was at an age that was too old to go to a Daycare, but too young to be home by himself all day I found a couple of teenagers (kids of parents I trusted & respected) to come to my house & hang out with him. I didn't have many rules other than make sure he ate decently and pick up after yourselves before I get home. And of course, keep him safe. Some days they stuck around my house. Sometimes they went to the skate park or Community Center - if they went somewhere, they had to talk to me about it first. The "babysitters" were a few years older, all had their own phones in case of emergencies - and since I have a son, I was thrilled to find two guys and a gal willing to split the M-F schedule I had. If you go that route, think of the kind of ground rules that everyone needs to follow, discuss that up front. It really was a great win-win for my family. Whatever you decide... good luck.

      Delete
  10. Is Pigtails too young for a few weeks at sleep-away camp? Most have scholarships for those of us who aren't millionaires.
    I love the idea of splitting a nanny too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She might do Catholic summer camp this year, but it's only for 5 days. Can I ship the kid to you for the balance of the hot months?

      Delete
  11. I like the idea someone mentioned about hitting up your work for a new summer hours arrangement or if you can manage it how about some 1/2 pay leave (eg my husband took 4 weeks off work but only got paid for 2 weeks). Couldn't hurt to ask right? Split nannying seems like it could do with more investigation too. Can she go visit/stay with any of your family. Get the real deal summer experience that you speak of, I'm not sure how far the distance between your family is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My family is disfunctional and barely speaks. It's a shame, really.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5/17/2013

      I'm surprised by this... From posts about your parents coming to the Boston Marathon with you, and biking RAGBRAI with your dad as a kid, I assumed you were close.

      Delete
    3. The relationship with my parents is better than with the siblings, but it's tepid at best. No moral support of any manner through raising my kid alone, and one of my siblings told our parents there will be no family get-togethers after they pass. I'm not sure what's wrong with people, I just do a facepalm, go for a run and call it good.

      Delete
    4. That's interesting. Does that ever make you reconsider how you were raised and make tweaks in your own nuclear family? Seems like you still feel strongly about the values you were raised with, but my impression was that your end goal was being family-oriented through church/stay at home mom/etc., which your family seemingly is not.

      Delete
  12. Look into ymca summer camp. Unsure of
    her age,but they go canoeing horseback riding
    Etc...tons of fun for less than $700/mo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I sent my son to Y-camp it was close to 400 per week!!!!

      Delete
    2. Was the $700/mo back in the year 1876? Around here, camps often cost a bunch more than that, usually $300 to $400 a week.

      Delete
  13. Checkout http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120709/LIFE/307100011/A-Mom-s-Life-Find-activities-kids-who-stay-home-alone for ideas.
    Growing up, I spend a lot of time at the local library and various book stores. My parents felt guilty to leave me alone ll day and as a treat took me to an outdoor movie each week. It was so cool and my mum would prepare great snacks and I got to drink soda - something I wasn't allowed to have otherwise. Find a great, cheap activity for the two (/three) of you and put a little spin on it to mke it extra special. Remember: It's the simple things in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind the girl home alone for short stints, but definately not a fan of the latchkey thing and long periods of unsupervised mayhem.

      Delete
  14. When we were younger, we had a summer nanny. She was great and took care of the three of us, which I know you've discussed here as a schedule and cost issue...but we had a few friends who would join us on certain days. Their parents paid our nanny for those days (so she wasn't taking on more kids for the same price) but she was fully employed with our family and just did some extra for a few days each week or here and there. Maybe you could tap into the nanny of a friend of Pigtails?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Few things: I am an advisor at UNI and know quite a few girls who could nanny pt for you if that is something you would be interested in (a lot went back to wdm this summer). I agree with some of the other comments, if you know a few ppl in the same situation, you could all band together so the girls have friends all day.
    Also, I started overnight camp at 8. I went to a place in Okoboji called camp foster, and know there are a few DSM kids that go every summer for a week (actually about the same price as daycare for a week :)
    Let me know if you want some names of a possible nanny!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please pass me a couple sitty/nanny names if you have them, only if they are flexible and can vary between part and full time, depending on what's going on each week in our schedule. BeardandPigtails@gmail.com, thanks!

      Delete
    2. Just saw this, sorry! I will email you some today!!

      Delete
  16. Anonymous5/17/2013

    A ring for Curls would be initially more but in the long run would provide your daughter with all those pool wrinkled hands and tan lines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really, Curls would work full time...

      Delete
    2. Anonymous5/17/2013

      had to read this a few times to figure it out! oh my, very bold...

      Delete
  17. I worked as nanny in high school/college. One year I split the days with my sister (two years younger) so that I could work a retail job too. Not every older high school/college young lady needs 40+ hours a week. Honestly, I think most would prefer a lighter schedule.

    Does your church or area churches have a big high school youth group or college group? Maybe ask the pastors/priests for recommendations. In our church a number of the youth volunteers are college aged and nanny during the summers. Many of them are getting degrees in education too.

    ReplyDelete
  18. My kids are going to a church-sponsored basketball camp, VBS, and one week of a local day camp this summer. The basketball camp and VBS are 9-3 deals, so I'm carpooling with neighbors for basketball. My work schedule is 8:30-5:00, so I'll do drop-offs (and get to work a little bit late but skip my lunch break to make up for it) and the other mom will do the pick-ups and keep my kids for a couple extra hours. If you find something near your work with weird hours, could you pick Pigtails up and have her hang in your office for a little while in the afternoon? That's what I've done in the past for VBS with my kids and it's worked fine. They get a kick out of running mail through the postage machine and stapling things. I'll let them bring along their DSs (a special treat) and pack some good snacks. They're good kids, and understand that they need to be on their best behavior while they're at my work. I'm sure Pigtails is the same. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous5/17/2013

    No great ideas for you on the summer plan. I guess you could move to a small town, and just turn her loose.

    The real reason for this comment is this: what are you jumping on, an enormous trampoline? Where is that?

    MAhlers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deal's Orchard, Jefferson IA. It was either a large tramp' we were jumping on or a Twinkie.

      http://www.dealsorchard.com/

      Delete
  20. Anonymous5/17/2013

    Definitely ask co-workers / friends if they know of any responsible college aged girls who would be interested in working as a nanny/sitter over the summer. My daughter spent a summer caring for my friend's daughter. The girls have stayed in touch, and when Daughter comes home she always takes Young Friend out to a movie or shopping. This friendship has been especially important to Young Friend, who is now 13, and struggling like all 13 year old girls do. My daughter is young enough to relate to Young Friend's problems, but old enough to comfort and encourage her. I know you really wish that my daughter lived close enough to sit with Pigtails -- but I am confident there are lots of lovely young women who would jump at the chance to work over the summer and who would be a wonderful role model for Pigtails.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I was a nanny for years. The kids were pretty busy with baseball, hockey and the such but they had friends that would come over or they would go to their house. We did things like go to the library or find other free summer activities. I think you could pay a girl less then you pay now. I would look into it! I don't think it means seclusion from other kids.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oh my word, Beard, hope you can figure this out. I am extremely lucky in that I can be a SAH-mom, and I really feel sorry for working parents. Our summer holiday is not nearly as long as yours, anything between 4-5 weeks, but we also have a winter break of almost 4 weeks. Most of our schools now offer holiday care, but it's just going back to school and playing there, nothing special for the kids.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anonymous5/18/2013

    I had a nanny in the summer until about nine. Lena was amazing! We weren't close with my grandparents and she filled that gap. Wonderful lady that I later found out had her own grandkids far away and saw us as the next best thing. I have many great memories of her and we kept in touch into my twenties, until she passed away. My mom knew her through our church, but we did go through a few different babysitters until we found the right fit. Use your network to see what your options are, high school or university student, summer camp, nanny . . . .

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous5/18/2013

    Have you ever thought of working with a few of her good friends and seeing what their parents do for the summer? Maybe you could share the cost of a nanny/sitter for the summer.
    Some of my friends and I do this for the summer and it is good because our kids get to play together and it is cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
  25. kellie5/20/2013

    wow, you wouldnt think prices would be that different from iowa to north dakota. my niece goes to YMCA day camp & its $195 a week for non members. activities include bowling, archery, soccer, swimming, softball, and volleyball. plus crafts, nature hikes, singing camp songs. & they also take field trips to various attractions. plus since my niece is now older she is also a 'leader in training'. next year shell be able to work w/ the younger kids. she also participates in a water skiing camp ($75 for 5-days), bible camp (free) & shes in a summer volleyball league (covered under her already paid school athletic fee) & ROTC pre training camp (also no charge because throughout the school year she & her parents work concessions at local sporting events that covers her enrollment). this kid is non stop from june-september. maybe just keep researching your area. there has to alternatives at every price point.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Anonymous5/20/2013

    We've got a 10 yr that we plan for during the summer. Cost factor is huge with us too.

    We are letting him stay home more this summer than last. However, one of us goes home during the lunch hour to check in. Not may kids in our neighborhood so he plays on the computer mostly after sleeping in till 10 or 11am. He also has daily chores while he is home to do. So we know he's not glue to the TV or PC all day. I'd say in total he is truly on his own and awake for 4 hours a day. (not counting Fridays when Dad is home from work)

    We do have him in activities that last all day as well. 9am-4pm. We also ship him off to the grandparents for a week and camp for another. Plus our family vacation in the middle there somewhere.

    One thing to check out in your area is the DMPlayhouse. They have some all day camps for kids. They can be a bit pricey but maybe for one or two weeks it would be fun for her. And they put on a play for the parents at the end of each camp.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The summer camp where I worked had a day camp option. It was the same kids all summer. When the over night campers were their age they joined in a cabin for the day. When it was a different age group, but they got to go swimming, do crafts, go to worship, etc with all of the kids each day. Maybe that is an option somewhere close by to you. I have no idea what it cost. That was a long while ago!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous5/21/2013

    Is there a community college, college or university within a close drive? Many near where I live offer summer programs and camps for kids through the office of non-credit programs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have several campuses in Des Moines, I'll check it out!

      Delete
  29. Late to this discussion - but we have a nanny just to provide that at home experience when we can't be there - and it's great. Also very flexible. I'm happy to chat about it in depth if you wanna email.

    ReplyDelete
  30. No real advice as my little guy is 10 months. Although I refused to go back to work FT after my maternity leave was over (I'm in Canada and we get a year paid leave here) I need the income. I have found a way to work PT only so I still have him at home for half the day. I hope to continue only working PT throughout his childhood (and with subsequent kids etc). I digress. I'm also a young mom (30yo) and when I was young I had two FT working parents. My summers sound exactly like your daughters. It sounds like crap now from an adult perspective but I had a lot of fun at the time. I just didn't know any differently and summer camps and such were way more fun than school. But around age 12 I did start to get bored. I don't know if they have this in the US but my mom enrolled me as a "jr camp counsellor" at 12 with scouts canada. So, I basically worked with older teens and had fun teaching young kids. It was day camp style with 2-4 weeks of away camp. Best summers ever! Plus...cause I was helping out it was free! I eventually worked at the camp when I was older too until university.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm a single mom to three very busy girls, almost 16, 14 & 11. I have to work full time and can't give them the summer I want them to have. I'm one of those parents who wants my girls to have more than I had too. Every summer seems to be a disappointment to them (and me!) in some way. I want to also balance out hard work and playing hard. They have a mix of being home, odd jobs and a few trips to friend's homes. This year, I came up with a summer bucket list. I put it on a huge poster board taped to the fridge. Somethings are pretty silly and simple, some more thought out and time consuming. But it does give them something to look forward to with me, and even a challenge to accomplish :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the note, check back for my response!