Coordinating Work Schedule with Childcare

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages


How can an attorney do a childcare pickup by 5:30pm?

March 2009


I am so upset about this issue... I just don't know what to do. I am working part time and currently looking for a full time job. (I have a law degree and legal aid/nonprofit experience). My part time job is really just for experience that will help me (hopefully) get a full time job, as it does not even cover the cost of child care. We desperately need a two income household, as my husband is an architect with a salary in the 40's after taxes. It's not minimum wage, and I understand that this would be a high salary to some people, but with our monthly student loan payments things are really, really tight. We're young, but not that young (30 and 32) and our kids are 5 and 3.

My husband works really long hours and is often home after 10pm, so I am responsible for picking up our kids from daycare at 5:30. Well, I have gone on more than one job interview where this was a real problem. We live in Berkeley, so if I work in SF I have to leave around 4:45 to pick up our kids in time. I have offered to come in at 6:30 a.m., and also to take work home and work weekends to make up for the fact that I have to leave at 4:45. But the fact of the matter is that most of the offices I am applying for consist of people without children who are available to work late nights if need be. I just had an interview where this came up, and I was so disappointed because I was so excited about the job otherwise.

How do people do it? Do they all hire babysitters to pick up their kids from daycare at 5:30? I just can't bear to do that, plus I can't afford it. I feel like I will NEVER find a full time job with this restriction. I mean, when everything else is equal, an employer is going to hire the candidate who doesn't have to leave every day at 4:45 - especially in this economy when there are so many candidates to choose from. I feel like I have to be upfront about this during interviews, though. It is just so depressing. Any advice? amy

1. There are fabulous daycares that end at 6. I dont know where you live, but check BPN - this exact issue has come up before. 2. you are not under any duty to disclose (and employers can't ask whether) you have kids at the interview. schedule stuff is something to talk about ONCE YOU HAVE AN OFFER. good luck! it can be done

Yes, you can hire a babysitter to pick your kids up from daycare at 5:30. The babysitter can watch the kids until you get home. We have had good luck finding a college student to do this. We pay $20/hour, and you might only need a hour or two per day, which may not be unaffordable if you have a full-time job in the legal field. No comment on ''bearing'' it. Babysitter picked up the kids

Stop bringing up your situation in interviews! It is illegal for them to ask you ANY personal questions during an interview (NOTHING about marriage status, children, age, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc.), and if you don't bring it up, don't allude to it, etc., then they will not know. (I once interviewed a woman who was probably eight months pregnant, and DID NOT bring it up once--illegal. We hired her. She was great!) Go forward in your interview as if you are the best possible candidate, you want this job (if in fact you do), and THEN when they OFFER, you start to play ball.

It is illegal for a job offer to be rescinded, so once they offer you have a couple of advantages. 1) You know they want to hire you. 2) They can't take it back. This doesn't mean that you can make them do whatever you want, but it does mean that there is room to negotiate the terms of employment. What scenarios can work? Come in early, come in one weekend morning, leave at 4:45 three days per week, stay late two days per week--get creative! Maybe you could find a babysitter who is a high school student who really won't charge much for a couple of hours?

Please, let go of your need to disclose all during the interview; I can guarantee that you are removing yourself from the running before you even shake hands to leave the room. If they offer, THEN that is the time. Don't feel guilty for wanting to parent the way you want to parent. Best of luck! anon

If they ask you if you are available to stay late, say yes. Your husband should be able to pick up your kids on those rare occasions when it is necessary for you to work late(he can't need to work until 10 pm every night, can he? If his firm is so busy, he should be making way more money). You do need a childcare situation that enables you to stay at work until 5 on a regular basis. Either talk to your current daycare to find out if there is any flexibility (if it means losing your child, they might be willing to keep him or her for another 30 minutes some additional charge). Alternatively, you can also get a sitter to pick up your child -- that's what I do. In some ways it is a luxury - I could manage without it, but it does make my life a lot easier. The sitter also gets groceries for me, can get dinner started, and put in a load of laundry, etc. which makes my return home much less frazzling.

One thing I did was find childcare that closed at 6:00. It helped a little bit. I chose not to work in San Francisco or over the hill, not only to cut down the commute time but because I was terrified there might be an earthquake or some disaster that would prevent my being able to get to my kids. Or if my kids got sick or hurt and needed to get picked up from school quickly I didn't want to be across the bay. I turned down promotions that would have required travel or overtime. My professional life suffered but I made peace with that. That makes me sound too zen about it - it did stress me out at times too, and I had work hassles and bad vibes from bosses and sometimes co-workers and often felt bad I couldn't work as hard or as long as I wanted to. Once when I was lamenting my plight a co-worker reminded me I had chosen to have children - at the time I was looking for sympathy and thought the comment was rude, but it always stuck with me because for me that's what it boiled down to. Sometimes I would arrange trades with another parent to take turns picking the kids up from preschool and then the other parent could work a little late, but this was not on a regular basis. It really helps to be friendly with other parents in whatever childcare situation you have in order to do trades like that. Staying home with sick kids is another difficult issue when working full time... Once my kids got to middle school and could walk home by themselves it was a whole new world! Been there too

Hi: I'm also an attorney and have managed to work part time since having my children. The pick up was also a big deal for me. I'd be happy to talk to you off the list if you'd like -- just contact the mediator. I don't think you should mention your requirement to leave at 4:45 at the interview. It just gives the employer a reason to not hire you. You want to wait until they make you an offer and then you are in a better position to negotiate. You could say something like, ''It is very important to me to get all of my work done, but I have to leave at 4:45 to pick up my children, so I will bring work home and get it done in the evening, if necessary.'' Just try to convince them that you will get it all done, somehow, just not necessarily from 9 to 5. If they are sticklers for having you there during certain hours it might not be the best place for you anyway because children get sick, etc. If they really like you, enough to offer you the job, they might be ok with a more flexible arrangement. anonymous

#1 There are preschools that go until 6 pm if you can get there by then. #2 On the other hand, if even 6 is going to be cutting it too close, you might want to put your kids in a program that ends at normal school time (3) and have a babysitter pick up the kids at that time. You'll save on the afterschool program and it might be more fun for the kids and babysitter to be able to play at home/park/etc instead of being the last kids at school and then still be with a babysitter. #3 There are a bunch of lawyers at my daughter's school who seem to be able to pick up their kids at least some days by organizing a special schedule, like an extra long day in exchange for a short day. As you get more seniority, you will have more flexibility. anon

I have a few suggestions 1) find daycare that stays open til 6 (they do exist) - that would allow you leave after 5 2) don't even bring this up at interviews. If you are working an 8 hour day then leaving at 4:45 (or 5:15 if you find later day care in my opinion is not something that you need to clear with them). I certainly did not ( I sometimes leave at 4:15 from a high pressure financial firm in SF) - that said I don't have to leave at that time every day. While I never discussed this at the interview (I didn't hide that I had kids) once hired I told them I need to either do daycare drop off or pickup and have found mgt to be very supportive. 3) Why is your husband not doing some of the pickup? His salary doesn't sound like it justifies the long hours. Can't he help out at least while you get settled into a job. Usually once you are there and have established relationships and proven yourself - changing your work hours tends to be a minor issue. good luck!

I am a full-time attorney, and leave my office in SF at 5:00 p.m. nearly every day. I've been doing this for almost 4 years and haven't been fired yet :) Here are my thoughts:

- see if you can find a daycare that's open until 6:00 or 6:15. Being able to stay until 5 may make a big difference. It seems fairly normal to leave then, less so to leave earlier.

- you will probably need someone to pick your kids up on occasion. Maybe your husband can pick them up occasionally, or maybe you can hire a babysitter, or rely on a friend, etc. Generally, my husband does drop offs and I do pickups, but there are days that we switch, and days when one of us does both. (Best estimate: 3-4 times/month.) Flexibility is key. So is the ability to work from home in the evenings or on the weekends, if that's an option for your position.

- I wouldn't mention the need to leave at 4:45 or (hopefully) 5:00 until you have the job offer. Employers shouldn't ask about your child care arrangements (they *can* ask if you'll be available to work late, if that's a requirement), and there's no need for you to mention them. Good luck!

Sadly, our society and workplaces are not set up to be very helpful to real people with real lives and real issues, and the number of flexible workplaces is small, though growing. If the job is entirely inflexible but otherwise great, I would consider two things: 1. You could find a daycare that is open a little later. My son goes to a preschool that stays open till 6 - you could leave after 5 that way, which might help. 2. If this job, that seems so great, is so inflexible on this issue, even when you have offered a number of alternative solutions that would probably, in fact, be perfectly adequate in terms of your productivity, maybe it isn't as great as it seems on other levels too. Inflexibility in one area probably bodes ill for flexibility, creative solution-finding, and respect for the non-work lives and priorities of employees. Doesn't sound so great to me.

Lots of good advice posted already, but here's my perspective. I'm a lawyer (and even a litigator) and have worked part time and flexible schedules since my kids were born. One thing that has been critical for me is having at least a couple of nights a week that I plan to stay late. It keeps me from falling too far behind, it gives me those few hours when workday craziness, conference calls, meetings, etc. are pretty much over and I can take care of getting that letter out or whatever deadline is bearing down. And the law field, rightly or wrongly, still has some pretty strong ''face time'' culture, so this allows me to be physically present for at least some late nights. It also lets you support other people on your team who pick up the slack for you on nights you leave early - ''why don't you go home, I can make sure this one gets out tonight.'' Coming in early can help you, in terms of getting work done, but you might need to be available on the backend some days. Having either a spouse or a sitter who picks up the kids a couple evenings a week makes a huge difference. We hired a college student who gets the kids from school, supervises homework, dinner and bath. Oh, and I 100% agree you are crazy to even bring this up before you get a job offer. And yes, you need a really good emergency backup plan (neighbors who will swap with you or whatever). In fact, you might arrange enough backup for the first few months to stay late most nights, while you are on your learning curve and while they are learning how much they love you - then you can cut back on the late nights and take more stuff home. lawyer mom


Temporarily working earlier than drop-off, later than pick-up

June 2007


Both my husband and I are graduate students at Cal and have a 4- month-old baby currently attending daycare at an on-campus daycare facility. We are in the same program and will have identical schedules for 10 weeks come January 2008. We live in Berkeley, but our schedules in the first part of Spring require us to be in the Sunset district in San Francisco by 8am and has us finishing at 5pm M-F. While the University daycare is an unbelievable deal for us, earliest drop-off is at 7:45am and latest pick-up is at 5:30pm. This creates a HUGE problem for us. We don't have family nearby to help, and while our mothers are more than happy to fly out to help, they're both over 70 years old and will have trouble driving and/or handling his size when January arrives.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what we can do for these 10 weeks? Hire someone for early morning and late afternoon?? We don't want to give up our spot in daycare only because of 10 weeks of a scheduling problem. Any advide that you might have would be greatly appreciated. anon

My advice would be to hire one (or two) of the Student Assistants at the center to do your morning drop off/afternoon pick up. The SA's are well-trained group of students that already know (or will) your child. Runner-up, would be to find another student. There are lots of great Cal students looking for jobs, so it shouldn't be hard to find one. Another ECEP parent

If you can get in contact with other parents and teachers at your day care, I would bet that you could find someone who would be willing to take care of your baby before and after day care hours if you paid them for their time. Anonymous

Have you made friends with any of the other parents at the school? One of them may be willing to have you drop off your child at their house early AM, take to school for you, and bring back at day's end for you to pick up at their house. OR, sometimes you can ask one of the teachers at the school for the same arrangement--offering to pay them for that service. OR, if the moms are there, but you don't trust their driving, maybe a parent or teacher would be willing to do pick up/drop off for you so the moms don't have to drive. don't give up your daycare

You could advertise on the UC Berkeley student job website and hire a caring undergraduate student with experience with infants to handle the drop off and pick up. With a little luck, you will find someone who could be helpful with occasional babysitting in the future after the 10 weeks are up. Good luck! Dan

Yes, hire someone at whose house you can drop off and pick up your baby. Maybe, ideally, someone else with their child in the same campus daycare! Otherwise, another student who could come to your house. anon


What do working parents do in summer when preschool is closed?

Feb 2003


We are looking for the first time into preschools for our almost 3 year old daughter and are finding that a lot of the schools only have programs from September to June. What do other working parents do with the kids during the summer? Much as we would love to,we certainly can't take the summer off of work! Also, one school that we looked at told us that only 15% of the kids stay for the afterschool program. What do the other 85% do? I can't believe that 85% of families have one parent at home every afternoon. Can any working parents who have kids in preschool already tell us how they handle all this? Thanks!
-new to the preschool scene

I asked myself the same question many times when my daughters first started preschool. As full-time working parents, we would have loved a full-time year-round preschool experience, but that was not the prevalent model at the time. We had a half-time nanny who picked our kids up after school, brought them home, and stayed with them until we arrived. We shared her with another family who needed morning help. Luckily, the other family was flexible about sick days, which you didn't mention but are a real inconvenience for working parents.

For the summer, there are numerous summer schools and camps, including some at the preschools themselves. I believe that summer school at preschool is preferrable to summer camps because it saves the adjustment period especially for younger children and because summer camps are usually for a week or two and you have to piece together the summer with many different locations. It would be worth checking into this before choosing a school. I believe Hearts Leap School at the Julia Morgan Theatre is now a year-round school with an extensive after school program and there may be others.

Until schools adjust to working parents Working Parent

You didn't say where you've been looking at preschools. If Oakland is a possibility, Lakeshore Children's Center on Lakeshore Avenue is open year-round. In fact, Lakeshore has only a few holidays and it's never closed for an entire week -- no Spring Break, no winter holiday week. There is information on LCC in the archives. It's a great place. My daughter started there when she was about 3-1/2 and at 7, still attends the before and after-care program for school age children. Lorraine

We are lucky. I work part time, so my child is in preschool half day, and I pick her up. A less-than-full-time work schedule for at least one parent seems to be common at our preschool, which does offer a full-day option as well as the 8:30 - 1 schedule. Our preschool is open as usual during the summer. My husband works full time, but has a flexible schdule.

That said, our preschool is closed for five weeks a year (one week spring break, one week in June, one week in August and two weeks in December.) I get three weeks of vacation a year. We often have to scramble during these breaks, or if our daughter is ill. I wonder how families where both parents have full, rigid schedules manage. Lucky

Well, I don't know about other parents, but I didn't choose one of those schools. When I was calling around to find out about schools I didn't even bother looking at some thing that didn't fit our schedule... I was surprised to see how many there were, but I guess there aren't as many people out there with two parents working 8-5 as I thought. I didn't look at anything that opened later than 7:30, or closed before 5:30. I also didn't look at any school that took more than the standard holidays off plus a two week vacation. That narrowed the choices down quite a bit, but I decided that I would rather choose a school that met my needs and had other families with those same needs then go through the hassle of making secondary arrangements, and have my kid feel bad that he isn't going home when everyone else is. Rose

You didn't mention where you live, so I don't know if our daughter's preschool would be an option for you or not. It's in Lafayette and is called White Pony. Our daughter has been going there since she was 2. My husband and I both work full-time and chose this school because it is a great school, and because it has the best schedule for working parents of anyplace we'd seen. It almost never closes. The only time the school is shut down tight besides the standard holidays that most folks have off from work is the week before Labor Day and the day after Labor Day. So you're talking about 6 workdays per year that we have to take off to take care of her (we don't have family in the area, so this stuff is very important to us). It's really incredible. During school breaks there is daycare. The school is open from 7am-6:30pm Monday through Friday (preschool itself is 9am-12pm). We do before and after care and our daughter is there everyday, all day. Good luck! Lori

How odd that the school is closed during the summer and that only 15% of the kids are in aftercare, I have never heard of anything like that. Most of the schools that I have looked at are open for most of the year, closed a week or two during the spring/summer/winter, and have before and after school care. I actually find it easier to deal with a preschool, which is open from 7:30 to 6 everyday and during the summer, than with an elementary school, which does have afterschool care but is closed all summer. I would recommend that you continue looking at preschools since (I think) most have extended care and are open in the summer. MK


New job requires very early arrival - how to do drop-off?


In a couple of months I will start a job which requires me to leave very early in the morning, before I can drop my son off at daycare. Does anyone else have this problem? Do people hire mother's helpers to stop by and basically do early morning daycare, then dropping their children off later in the morning? I checked the website and I found out about a kid's taxi service, but I think I might need someone actually at my house to get him ready -- he may still be in bed when I leave. Do people ever hire babysitters or nannies for just a few hours in the morning? I'd appreciate any advice you might have.

Due to early morning work commitments we have had to hire childcare workers to get our kids up, dressed, fed and to school for several years now. We have found two sources to be the best for finding the right person. Local college students are often interested in this work - the early schedule appeals and several students have dropped our kids off and gone on to their own classes over the years. Our kids have enjoyed their energy in the early morning too. You will also find that some full time childcare workers want to supplement their incomes with an early morning job - we have found people through using the UC Parents website, as well as advertising at on a college student electronic employment BB that the UC Student Employment office recommended to us - not sure of the name, but you could get it by calling the Student Employment office there. Good luck!

When my job changed I had to commute to Santa Monica 3 times a week and my husband was often out of town. I approached our old preschool teachers, found 2 of them that were willing to come to my house at 7 am, dress my kids, feed them breakfast, and get them to school. They switched off so each did it just once or twice a week. Obviously you'd rather be there in the morning but this worked for us. I paid $25 per day for about 1-1/2 hours of work (but I have twins). I think you can find sitters that would like 2 hours early in the day. Good luck. Ann