Monday, October 5, 2009

Hot topic: Working parents and school holidays

An SF K Files reader asked me to post the following:
I'm a working single mom and don't yet have childcare lined up for Monday, October 12. Our afterschool babysitter isn't available for the whole day and my now-1st grader is too big for her preschool (which does offer care on those days for a flat fee). I take off most school holidays but want to work this particular one. What do working parents do on these school holidays?


  1. I personally have no problem having one of my childrens' friends over for the day on a day like this. The older kids get the easier it is to do that kind of thing. I've also been know to email a bunch of other parents when I need some help with child care, rides, etc. You might not be able to reciprocate exactly the same way, but you could help your child's friend's parents out in some other way.

    Personally, I think people often worry too much about things being "tit for tat", at the expense of being willing to help each other out and/or ask for help.

  2. Charity Kahn of Jamboodas dance camp fame is offering a one day camp for that day and other school holidays:
    She also offers date night PJ Jammy parties for kids so grown ups can get a night out.

    I'm a single mom too and my daughter had a great time at Charity's last Jammy party. I think you have to have done a camp with her before you can do the date nights though.

    Good luck!

  3. As a working single mom, I agree with 9:05. It takes a village. I host a lot of sleepovers on weekends, and am very grateful for support on workdays! I try to say yes to help others whenever I can, and have learned not to be afraid to pick up the phone or put out an email when I need it. Also, yes, it does get easier as the kids get older.

    Some afterschool programs offer holiday care. GLO, which serves Alvarado, Fairmount, AFY, and West Portal, does. Others may as well. I don't know if any of them will take kids from outside the program for the day, but it's worth asking. Sometimes other "summer camp" programs also offer holiday care. I'm not sure about Park and Rec latchkey but that may be an option too?

    I know others who telecommute (if they can)....this may depend on the ability of your child to tolerate your working. My now older kids do very well when they have a friend over--they disappear and I don't see them for a couple of hours at a time, emerging when hungry. That way you get to reciprocate for another family who may need care, while still getting something done.

    Good luck! I never realized how much single working parenthood would end up revolving around logistics--in general, how to make everything work within a 24-hour period, and then how to deal when the routine gets disrupted by illness or holidays.

  4. GLO ( do full0day programs for e.g. Columbus day. Priority is to kids currently enrolled in GLO, and then to others. Worth a try. $38 for the day.

  5. Presidio YMCA offers child care (or did last year) on school holidays. Check their web site.

  6. We always do camps -- and with small exceptions, there are a bunch that offer all day camps on the public school closing days. Sunset Learning Center offers a day class in the Inner Sunset (they are now at 8th and Judah). The Stonestown Y always has camp when public schools are closed (with the exception of MLK Day and Cesar Chavez Day). Another example of a day camp is One Martial Arts, which is a karate school that runs a day camp generally when public school is closed. In my experience, the toughest ones are the administrative days and Cesar Chavez Day since parents generally don't have off those days and they tend to sneak up on you. I always put up my SFUSD calendar and watch diligently for those days so I can find care IN ADVANCE.

  7. --Charity Kahn of Jamboodas dance camp fame is offering a one day camp for that day and other school holidays--

    Yow. That is one expensive day camp ($75 for 9:30-3:30, $95 for 8:30-4:30.) Most of the ones I'm acquainted with are cheaper and have much better coverage (the various Ys, Park and Rec, One Martial Arts, etc.)

    Yet another single mom

  8. One Martial Arts is $70 per day

  9. I've also called in sick on those days (please don't tell my boss). Can't afford vacation, which I save for the summer, and most camps are too expensive. And I don't have a flex enough job to work at home. I do have enough sick time, even considering kids and/or me getting sick, to be able to use sick time for about 2 of those days/year (not all of them though).

    I do enjoy the days off with the kids! Sleeping in....ahhhh....walk over to Randall Museum or take the bus to Crissy Field or some other adventure.

    --yet another single and working mom

  10. --One Martial Arts is $70 per day--

    Right, and that is for 7:30 - 6.

  11. @11:01 PM - Me, too. I always call in sick for these days because I don't think I should have to ruin my vacation plans for days off in the school year. I only get 5 weeks of vacation a year, and that only covers half of the summer.

    If the schools want to have days off when I work they need to pay for childcare. I shouldn't have to pay for this.

  12. I am lucky to be in a two parent household, but we still juggle. I have a lot of paid time off (which I use for vacation AND sick leave). My partner does not have as much. We take turns on school holidays. The wild card when our daughter is sick. We have to figure out who has the least busy work day and can stay home.

    By the way, the GLO registration deadline for the 10/12 holiday has already come and gone (I think it was last Thursday, 10/2).

  13. oh 10:44, I'm the single working mom from 11:01 yesterday. I am SO envious of your five weeks! I only get three. I will get three more if stay in this job for a total of ten years. It's so stingy that I feel almost no guilt about using the occasional sick day to cover these days that the kids get off. But I agree with you that five weeks is not enough either.

  14. At my first job in San Francisco after college in 1985, we got one week of paid vacation and six paid holidays (New Years Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day). If a holiday fell on a weekend, we did not get the Friday before or the Monday after in its place. People who'd been there since the company was founded 12 years prior only got 3 weeks of paid vacation and the same number of holidays as everyone else. There were no Jewish employees, and looking back, I'll bet it's because they did not want to let anyone take a day off for Yom Kippur. Only one employee had a child, and her husband was a self-employed real estate broker who handled all the kid responsibility, or they could never have managed. The company's attitude was, "If you want kids, you need to work somewhere else." So, 5 weeks of paid time off may not seem like much, and it is stingy by European standards, but it could be worse.

  15. I'm having a hard time getting a lot of sympathy together for the person who gets 5 weeks of paid vacation. That's a lot of paid vacation for the U.S.

  16. 1:54 here again--I meant to say I get three weeks and I can get three more DAYS if I stay in this job for 10 years. So I would at that point have 3.5+ weeks. After 10 years. Pretty effing stingy, but it works in other ways.

    Yes, five weeks is a lot by U.S. standards. I so wish I had that! I always send my kids to my family back East for a month in the summer (thank you, family!) and then join them when I can....would love to have more of that time. It would also take the pressure off these "administrative days" that are so onerous for us working parents. Sigh.

    Still, five weeks is normal or even a little stingy in much of Europe. Although their companies are beginning to adopt "American practices," I hope they fight back. Between their approach to universal health care and vacations, they are much more sane about life. They do pay more upfront in taxes, but I think it would be a good trade off for most people. I think it is easier to be a single mom in several countries there too (not so much Italy, but definitely the Scandinavian ones) in terms of social supports.

    By the way, I didn't choose to be a single mom. Most (though not all) of us choose it. It can happen to anyone, in a variety of ways that I won't enumerate here. I advise all of my young female friends to plan ahead--do not give up your career possibilities, think what you would do if you had to do it all on your own, what is your back-up plan. I'm blessed with an amazing village of moms and aunties and some uncles--my family and my friends here. We help each other. I used to say I didn't know how the single parents did it and couldn't imagine doing it. Then one day, I had to. Just a thought for y'all that have built-in backup.....

  17. "Most (though not all) of us choose it."

    Sorry, meant to say, DON'T choose to be single parents. Moving too fast today, apologies.

  18. "By the way, the GLO registration deadline for the 10/12 holiday has already come and gone (I think it was last Thursday, 10/2)."

    Yeah, but if she's desperate, it's worth a call to see if there are spaces.

  19. I'm the original poster. I just called GLO. They only have coverage at West Portal on Monday but there are spaces left. It's $43 for non GLO kids. Might be a good option for some.

    Thanks so much to all who made suggestions, especially all the other single working moms. Maybe we should have a yahoo group for things like this. Let me know if you know of one that already exists.

    I'm going to go with Charity Kahn's daylong dance camp and will report back.

  20. "I'm the original poster. I just called GLO. They only have coverage at West Portal on Monday but there are spaces left."

    When GLO does school holiday camps like this, they only use one or two of the six schools with GLO afterschool programs. So even if your kids at Fairmount or Sherman, they'll go to West Portal on Columbus day for the school holiday program there.

  21. I'm the original poster and am writing to report on Charity Kahn's Jam dance camp though I think folks have long since abandoned this thread! I took my daughter to the camp today. It is out in the avenues in a fabulous, new, clean dance space with a large dance room and two smaller activity rooms. My daughter reported having a wonderful day that included circle time, playground time, dance time, and various art projects including origami. She was very disappointed that she won't be able to go to this Saturday night's pajama party there (Charity does these date nights for kids who have been to her camps). Tonight my daughter said, "don't you think Charity is just great?"

    There were 10 kids with two caregivers: Charity and another dance teacher Kim. There were some bigger kids and I think the littlest was 4 with most kids seeming to be in the k-2nd range. I know another poster seemed to think it was too expensive but I feel that we got our money's worth even though GLO--which I looked into at that poster's suggestion-- would have been less expensive. In all, I will definitely do this again even though it's a schlep from the east side of town.
    That's my report, FWIW.

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