For working parents who rely on in-home daycare, you know what it's like to live in fear of your trusted babysitter calling it quits. What can you do?

Please Don’t Leave Me! The Precarious Nature of In-Home Daycare

For working parents who rely on in-home daycare, you know what it's like to live in fear of your trusted babysitter calling it quits. What can you do?

Monday evening I got “‘The Call”—the one every parent who relies on in-home daycare fears.

Or at least I worried that it was “The Call” when my phone rang and I saw my sitter’s number on the caller ID.

If you’re a working mom who isn’t lucky enough to have a relative watch your children, then you know what it’s like to live in fear of “The Call.” It’s the one where the in-home daycare person who’s been caring for your child so well for the past months, years, etc. tells you she has to quit. You’re on your own.

I’ve taken “The Call” once before. Our sitter’s elderly parents had suffered a series of health setbacks, and she needed to care for them full-time, instead of providing in-home daycare for our Little One. I really, really felt for her. I also felt like a desperate, jilted lover–tempted to sob into the phone, PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME!! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW?!

When you lose a sitter, you have to scramble.

Most workplaces aren’t very understanding about an employee missing days due to the loss of in-home daycare, let alone willing to give you a few weeks off while you figure out what to do. So you spend your evenings on the phone and your lunch hours driving to interviews. You worry about how your child will handle the transition to somebody new. In general, you feel really lousy, really harried, and really guilty.

Of course, a day care center provides a bit more stability than an in-home sitter, but centers are much more expensive, and I, personally, feel more comfortable knowing she’s in a cozy house with a limited number of other children. I did look into a center when we lost our last sitter, and guess what – it closed a month later. I feel sorry for the parents who got *that* call.

For working parents who rely on in-home daycare, you know what it's like to live in fear of your trusted babysitter calling it quits. What can you do?

I’ve always believed that better access to quality, affordable child care could solve a lot of society’s problems.

When welfare reform was a hot topic, I remember thinking it was a no-brainer that if we wanted “welfare moms” to get back to work, then we needed to help them find some place for their children. In the discussion thread of an earlier post, we talked about employers who might pay women less because they feared they would leave after having children.

Perhaps companies that want to retain good female workers could consider providing on-site daycare centers. That’s not a luxury amenity for a lot of women—it could just be a lifesaver. I know I’d be willing to dish out a big chunk of my paycheck just to know my daughter was close by. I’d even get to work earlier, since it would eliminate the morning drop-off.

As it turns out, the call I received on Monday wasn’t “The Call.”

Our sitter’s son was sick, and she wanted to know if our daughter could go to her mom’s house the next day while he recovered. We’re lucky to have a great caregiver who has given no indication she’ll need to be terminating any time soon. But I’m always on guard. I cringe every time the phone rings and I see her number in the caller ID window. You never know what will happen, or when you’ll find yourself on the other end of the phone line wanting to cry, “Please! Don’t go! We can work this out!”

It’s one of the perils of being a working mom, I guess. And I haven’t even mentioned the time when *I* had to make “The Call” because a sitter wasn’t the right fit. That’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post…

9 thoughts on “Please Don’t Leave Me! The Precarious Nature of In-Home Daycare

  1. We just found a babysitter to watch our daughter one day a week (replacing my mom whose full-time class schedule conflicts with work-from-home dad’s). Now I am dreading “The Call”! I hope it never comes. But I guess if it does, we’ll deal with it. Just like you did. Still, I’ve got my fingers crossed that this new situation will work out–and last.

    1. – These aren't using the maps API. These are on the main Google Maps website. So unless you are using MapsGL in Chrome street view still uses Flash in Google Maps.

  2. Time and time again, I find myself nodding in agreement with some of the discussions on this page. This is also one of them. I am one of a lucky handful who has a mother gracious enough to keep my daughter. However, if she is sick I am forced to rearrange or hustle to find a stand-in. My mother keeps three other children other than my daughter, so I’m sure it can be worrisome for those mothers as well when things arise and my mom gives us “The Call.”

  3. just4ofus says:

    Oh yeah, I have had “The Call” twice. IT SUCKS. The first one left me in hyperventilating tears all the way to work to call Jason.
    It all ended up working out. The next one was expected and we had enough time to find a new sitter. I do dread “the call” but I am hoping this time it never comes!
    I keep this dialog open with my new sitter. I frequently ask her nosy questions to find out what her future plans are when her son gets older… he will soon be in school full time and she could end up going back to work at some point… ??? SCARY.

  4. I have my kids in a daycare center, but I often wonder what would be different if they were in home care.

    And yes, getting a call that my daycare center was closing? That would SUCK.

  5. “The Call” is part of the reason I’m struggling with a baby sitter versus daycare right now. That, among other things. I know my daycare will always be available. I’ll never get the “I can’t work with O anymore.” or “I’m sick, find other care” calls. I don’t think they will ever shut down, b/c they are an established company with lots of different branches in the area. But then there is the cost factor…

  6. My kids go to our next door neighbor’s house. Thank goodnesss she’s never bailed out on us. Only a few times I think she’s called to say she couldn’t watch the kids for that day. Then I always dread the “your-kid-is-sick-call.” Those calls always seem to happen on the busiest work days!

  7. My oldest was in daycare for about a year and a half. While we never had to worry about the sort of “call” that you refer to, we had a different one to worry about. With daycare (at least ours) they can choose which and how many holidays they observe regardless of whether or not your employer does. Another big issue is that your child could have the slightest sniffle and you get called to come pick them up. Our daycare gave you 1 hour to arrive and your child could not return for 24 full hours. This meant that if they went home at 2 and felt fine in the morning, they still could not come back to the center until 2 p.m.

    ((Disclaimer: I loved our daycare, just not some of their policies))

  8. Njut, njut, njut med familjen!Visst saknar man dem när de är borta! Det är ju just dem som gör att det är den älskade familjen 😉 Ta hand om varandra! Och ha en fin semester!Kram /Maria

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