Finding Childcare that Covers My Work Hours

Parent Q&A

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  • TL; DR: I'm trying to consider two not ideal childcare options: two kids in different childcare facilities that would limit my working hours given driving distance, or hire a nanny we can’t afford for baby while we wait to get an infant spot closer to home?

    Details: I’m expecting our second child next month and we’re trying to nail down childcare for the baby for when I go back to work in August. Our three-year-old goes to a nearby preschool that doesn't take kids under 2 where he's doing well. I’ve gotten us on all the waitlists we can for baby. I work from home 4 days a week + commute (~45 min) once a week. My husband works from the office M-F with a 90-min commute, depending on traffic (not what we signed up for but that’s another story).

    The conundrum: We just got offered a spot for the baby at a daycare that’s 20 min away in the opposite direction of home, my son’s preschool (ages 2+), and my husband’s job. Husband already leaves the house at 7:15 am to drop off my son, and couldn’t also drop off the baby at this place given his commute So I’d have to drop off the baby and pick up both kids daily, which would only give me max 8:30 am-4 pm to work (5pm pickup time both places and don't feel comfortable being away from them more than 9.5 hours, which is already tough). Sounds super stressful and unsustainable, especially with pumping. I'm imagining a horrible 4-5 pm daily where me and the kids are super dysregulated on the pickup rounds due to the rush and then the idea of preparing dinner (even just heating up our meal-prepped food) upon return sounds nightmarish (husband wouldn't get home until 6 at the earliest). 

    We’d have to pay for 4 months of tuition we wouldn’t use to secure this daycare spot for August. We’re on the waitlist for a center in our town but unlikely we’ll get a spot when we need it. I’m also in conversations with all the local home daycares I could find but they don’t have formal waitlists and can’t offer a spot until maybe 1-2 months before you need it.

    If we don’t take this spot, an alternative is hiring a nanny (or doing a share), which we can’t afford but could pay for out of savings for 6-12 months while waiting for a spot at a closer daycare. I don’t love the idea of using so much of our savings for this, but could it be the right use of resources for my mental health/career and our family at this stage of life? (Not open to au pairs, sorry, and neither of us can go part-time or quit our jobs. Husband earns 60% more than I do and my job has more flexibility so the more complex logistics would be on me, even though both our jobs are demanding).

    Has anyone managed childcare logistics like this? How was it? What would you do in my position? What other ways we can we think about this? I know we’re privileged to even have options, and - it feels impossible. Not sure how other families do this! Thank you!

    This sounds very hard and unfortunately not so uncommon around here with lack of quality childcare, long commutes, dual income households, etc!

    A couple other ideas:

    -hire someone to do the pick up and meal prep; (or alternatively the drop-off/s)

    -Move your 2 year old to somewhere closer to baby (this age is really resilient, he would likely adjust quickly!)

    -plan to work after kids go to bed (if that flexibility is allowed in your job)

    -does your husband get family leave? utilize that when you go back to work in August so you don't have to pay for a nanny or childcare for baby until later when you hopefully get off a waitlist closer to home

    Ugh, this is such a tricky situation and I feel for you! We had a similar conundrum with demanding work hours and limitations on our ability to drop-off/pick-up from daycare, and ultimately went with a nanny for 1.5 years until our son aged into a preschool closer to our home. To make the cost manageable, we were able to shift working hours so that one of us started our work day much earlier in the morning and ended earlier, which allowed us to make do with a part time nanny. I understand that sort of work schedule flexibility might not be possible though. I wonder if a nanny share with 1-2 other families would be your best bet? I imagine that the cost wouldn't be significantly higher than infant daycare (especially if you're having to pay tuition for 4 months that you won't use!), and if you could host the share out of your home, or find a nearby share family, the commuting issues would be resolved. 

    This is really hard!

    Have you considered taking the other child out of preschool and having a nanny look after both kids (perhaps as part of a share?)

    Have the nanny pick up or drop off the older child? 

    Ask your work for accommodation to work shorter hours for the next year?  Use family leave more flexibly? 

    Kids are often more resilient that we think, so moving the older child to a different care situation should be a consideration. My younger child went to 3 different preschools and he did fine (but I acknowledge that all kids are different). 

    I’m glad you’re considering in home daycares, which, as you say, tend not to have waiting lists. There tend to be so many and you can likely find one close to your home. I really think you can rest assured that they will have spots opening up in the summer when kids typically move on to preschool (filling spots of the kids moving on to kindergarten). I know it’s hard to not lock something in, but it sounds to me like waiting for a spot at an in home daycare will be the best option for your family.

    I feel for you; this sucks. But of your poor options, I'd consider the nanny share to be your best bet. Finding one starting in July or August shouldn't be too hard; hopefully you can find one that meets at the other family's house so that you can work from home in relative peace. Look for/try for one where there is an understanding that it runs for roughtly the school year or a calendar year since this provides some consistency for routines. I would definitely NOT move your older child from a preschool they are comfortable in at the same time a new baby joins the mix. That is more transition than a little person needs!

    I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this situation.  We participated in nanny shares for our daughters before they were pre-school eligible -- but that is a very costly option. Given that you would have to pay for 4 months of care at the daycare -- that does not seem like a good option for you.  When do you need care to start?  Although stressful, it might be best to opt for a nanny share while searching for a spot at an in-home daycare that is located closer to you.  I found in-home daycares for both of my kids, randomly (usually through a posting on facebook or next door) and within months of needing the spot.  That would give you a chance to find something in a location that is closer to the preschool and works better for your schedule.  You might also be able to find a nanny who is willing to take three babies/kids to cut down on the cost.  

    I'm not sure if this is feasible for you, but I also end work at 4 (and start around 8:30) and then complete the rest of my day in the evening.  It is very tiring but helps with all of the logistics of two kids, etc.

    that sounds really tricky. here are some thoughts that i hope are helpful, and if not, feel free to ignore:

    can you hire someone to help with afternoon pick up and stick around  until 6 to help with dinner etc? 

    are you sure a nanny share is more expensive than paying for the daycare for 4 months that you won't use? how much is this daycare? how much do you expect to pay for a nanny share? where do you live? if you are in Berkeley, i may have some ideas

    Here's an option that you don't mention: quit your job when your paid leave is up or ask to go on unpaid leave until you get an infant daycare spot closer to home? Then go back to work or find another position. Sounds like you'll need to use your savings but maybe that ultimately is less stressful than dealing with nanny/long commute.

    I just made this decision myself. We talked it through a lot because it's not what I envisioned for myself. But I had an inflexible full time position with a commute that paid less than my partner's (who can also work from home). I also have a career that will be easy to jump back into when we no longer have an infant.

    Good luck! It's not easy. 

    It seems like the immediate decision is to secure a spot in this daycare in an inconvenient location or let that spot go, and with the need to pay 4 months of tuition that you won't use, that sounds like a lot. While nanny shares are typically more expensive than daycare, i wonder how much more when you factor in a comparison with 4 months of unneeded daycare tuition? (I currently do a nanny share and pay $17.50/hour for our half). I 100% agree with your concerns about the logistics of that much time driving around and then dealing with taking care of two kids and making dinner. If it were me, i'd let the daycare spot go. But that doesn't mean you have to commit to nanny now, you can wait and maybe you would find a spot in a in-home daycare closer to the needed date (and you also dont need as much lead time to hire a nanny/set up a nanny share).

    My situation wasn't totally the same to yours, but thought id share. I have a 3.5 year old and 14 month old and currently have negative cashflow because I chose to return to work at only 80% after having the second one. We are considering nanny share a 1 year investment as that's when the younger one can go to the preschool the older one goes to. I feel 100% good about my decision, though don't love looking at my depleting savings account every month.

    Good luck!

    Our kids are 4 years apart. I didn't go back to work until the youngest was 9 months though. In our case, we just accepted that we'd be paying more for a nanny-share + preschool than I actually made. I paid for the luxury of working, and I know many others who do also. For us, I only had to commute 2-3 days per week, and it was only until the younger one got into the same preschool (at 18 months). One perk was that the nanny share was at a home right down the street from the preschool, and the nanny was able to take our older son on days when the preschool was closed, or even if he had the sniffles--which happens a lot. (This was pre-covid though.) If I were you, I would find out if any other parents in your older child's preschool have a beloved nanny to share. 

    That said, I don't know what the wise to do is. I would say there are a TON of under-employed, talented (mostly-)women in many fields in the Bay Area whose 'careers' were forever derailed because child care is so expensive/difficult. 

    Congrats on baby #2, and good luck!

    An option intermediate between daycare and nanny (cost-wise) is to hire someone to pick up the baby (and/or the older child) from daycare and watch them for a short time at your house  so you have more working time in the afternoon.  I have found wonderful people to do this on care dot com.

    This stuff is so so so hard, I'm sorry you're dealing with it! I also have two kids and a FT job and typically work in the office 9-4 due to dropoff/pickup logistics. Obviously everyone is in a different situation but it seems like employers are becoming more understanding of family obligations lately, but of course only you know what would work for your job. That being said I'd strongly consider a nanny share if I were you; our nanny share for my youngest is less expensive than the preschool (for ages 2-5) my oldest attends. In our share, each family pays $14/hour if you want a general idea. I think that's about an average cost for a solid nanny, and we absolutely adore ours. Convenience is super important!

    One other thing I'd say is that before my second was born, the thought of all the logistics especially around the after work/school evening hours was utterly overwhelming for me. I didn't see how it was going to work. But you'll figure out what works for you and your family, one step at a time. It will be chaotic sometimes but you'll get it done! <3

    I would use your savings to hire a nanny and because you work from home perhaps you can have the nanny work slightly fewer hours to save a bit of money. This won’t be the situation forever and for your own sanity it is worth it If you can afford it. You could potentially have your old child skip preschool too and stay with the nanny to save some money or do a share with another infant. 

    I’m curious if you’ve worked out the difference in price for the duration if you do a nanny share vs the daycare with the extra 4months paid to hold the spot?! I’ve heard nanny shares can be a lot more affordable than an individual nanny, although the hiring process can be a bit intense and frustrating. Best of luck! I’m sure you will figure something out that works for your family and needs!

    I am so sorry that you are going through this stressful mental and logistical gymnastics. If there is a good chance that a spot will open up at a nearby daycare, I would go with the nanny or nanny share option. It doesn’t feel great but a newborn / infant demands a lot of resources.  With the faraway daycare, there are so many hidden costs — your time, gas/car, everyone’s mental health. I feel that every minute counts when we are busy working parents and we need to do all we can do reduce stress. I feel bad that I splurge on a lot of things, but I feel that if I don’t pay for a bit of comfort, I would sink into depression fast. your life sounds so demanding already. Please don’t penny pinch and sacrifice your physical and mental health. As long as the extra cost is for a defined period of time and you have a plan to make up for it in the next 3-5 years, please choose the option that will not add more stress and work on you. 

    I recommend that you make a point to fully understand all of the paid (and unpaid?) leave both you and your husband are entitled to. If you haven't both maxed out at least the paid time, try to do that to give yourselves more time before you absolutely need full time care. While eligibiltiy is kind of complicated, and varies, in addition to your pregnancy disability leave, you may both be entitled to paid family/medical leave, and/or parental bonding leave.  In general, the leave does not have to be taken as a consecutive block of time, so in some cases, arriving late and/or leaving early might even be an option (though some require a minimum amount of time each leave taken). (And, as others have said, can you do some of your work remotely?). 

    Depending on where your jobs are (the City of SF has even more generous leave benefits), you might be entitled to more than you realized (just be sure you understand which leave is also job-protected, if that's a concern). If you are nursing your baby and/or expressing milk, learn your rights to related accommodations, too - that right was aleady pretty comprehensive in California, but was recently expanded at the federal level to pretty much everyone except airline flight crew.  Employers don't always automatically let you know about your rights, so you may have to bring them the info. Here are a few resources to check out.

    Legal Aid at Work (note that their printed resources are not always fully up to date, since things change regularly, but contact them; they are very knowledgeable and very responsive):

    Calif. state paid family leave:

    Federal paid family/medical leave:

    SF paid parental leave:

    PUMP Act (federal lactation accommodation):

    California lactation accommodation:

  • 0600AM childcare?

    (4 replies)

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone had any experience with finding  pre-daycare hours care. I am expecting in July and my husband and I are both shift workers and have 2 days a week that we both leave at 0600. 

    Most daycares don’t open until 0730-0800, any experience finding someone to come to your house for a few hours in the mornings or daycares designed for shift workers that will open early? I am planning to go back to work around 5months. 

    Any input would be appreciated!!

    My husband and I are also shift workers. We found a college student through Urban Sitter and she comes at 6:00, drops off our daughter at preschool and picks her up around 4pm. She stays with her at home until my husband gets home! 


    My husband and I both work early in the morning as well and we struggled with what to do and looked for months for a daycare that would take our son that early, but unfortunately the only one we found ended up being kind of shady and gave me weird vibes. They were desperate for kids which felt uncomfortable. We ended up posting on and we're easily able to set up 5 interviews for nanny's who would come early and bring him to day care 3 hours later. We found a wonderful nanny who our son loves and I would highly recommend going that route. 

    I use Love & Affection Daycare (San Pablo & Ocean Gloria Lyon 510-652-7509). She’s open that early. Once a week I do a 6:30 drop off. 

    Our infant center and preschool used to open at 6:30am but now opens at 7:00am so there may be some that opens early. If and when you find a regular daycare, you can also ask staff working there if they might be interested in baby-sitting (most likely at your home) for an hour or so before the daycare opens. I did this with staff from my son's infant center in the past when I had to go on business trips and my husband had to go to work much earlier than drop-off. The benefit is it'll be someone you already know and trusts.

  • Seeking after hour care

    (1 reply)

    So my son is a toddler (4y/o) back in school but he is only in school till 1:30pm. I am seeking some after school care till five I have to start work full time soon. I can not find something for him to do from 1:30 to 5:00 when I get off do any parents have any ideas. In the Berkeley, El Cerrito, Albany area. Would be good. Help please!!!

    We picked a preschool that offered full days for this reason. Most preschools offer full days around here - right now many of them are only offering full time because of COVID. I have heard of people hiring a nanny for the afternoons, so I think that's the option if you have your heart set on a preschool that only has a part-time option.

  • Reduced hours at childcares during COVID

    (3 replies)

    Hi parents, i'm beginning the daycare / preschool search and am finding that a lot of places are operating at reduced hours and late morning start due to COVID, i.e. 8:30.  How do working parents manage around these hours if you have a job that requires early start like 7am?  Do you hire help in the mornings to bridge the gap?  I would imagine it would be difficult to get a nanny to come for just 1-2 hours in the morning?  Would love feedback on what other parents are doing.  Would note that both my husband and I are on the same early work schedule so it's not possible to stagger our hours unfortunately.  

    Most preschools and other in-person programs right now require you to only be in one childcare "pod" so you may not be able to hire outside childcare in addition to the preschool (our school doesn't allow it in order to keep the bubble contained). So it's worth checking with the places you are considering to make sure they would allow that if you need it. I think it is actually not necessarily hard to find someone for just a short time in the mornings, for example a student or someone with another 9-5ish job who wants a little more to supplement. I've heard of people hiring morning nannies even in non-COVID times because very few daycares or preschools start before 8.

    I'm responding not because I "have it figured out" , but precisely because I don't, and I feel that that can be just as valid (and maybe helpful) input as any other... Our preschool doesn't open until 8:30 now, and I work from home. My first work zoom call is often at 8am. I'll get everything ready, feed him breakfast, and give him the iPad to get thru my meeting, and then when that's over (between 8:30 and 9) I put him in the car and race the 10 minutes to school (5 min for drop-off), and 10 minutes home. My work only sort of loosely knows this is happening. We're all just doing our best. Sometimes my mornings are extra-crazy because I'm trying to catch up from falling behind (that 30+ min I wasn't working), sometimes it's OK. Occasionally my Mother in Law can help and drive him to preschool - those mornings are nice. Good Luck!

    We had to negotiate with our jobs that each parent can arrive at work early 2-3 days a week, and the other 2-3 days they will be in later (but can stay later as well!). We both work about 9-11 hours a day not include commute time, so even without covid we had to make this compromise with our work. We found that we were not the first people to have young children at our jobs, and they were able to accommodate us. Might you consider broaching the conversation with your supervisor or with HR? You are a caretaker, and they have a certain obligation to reasonably accommodate you.

  • Hi—

    We really like a family daycare that ends at 4pm two days a week. As we are a two working parent family, we cannot make it to the daycare at that time. We would like to find someone to help with childcare from 4-6pm two afternoons a week - for our child or potentially for two children in the same position. This would be starting after the pandemic is no longer so harrowing hopefully (August). Has anyone done this before? Hard to find someone? Ideas about someone who might be interested? (It’s in North Berkeley.)

    Thanks !!


    I suggest you find another family at the same daycare who could pickup your kid at the same time their pick up theirs. Offer to pay them a normal rate. 

  • My wife and I are both teachers and have to be at work by 8.  We live near Elmwood. Maddeningly, nearly every preschool seems to open at 8:30 AM.

    Claremont Day Nursery opens at 7 or 7:30. They have two locations near you - one at Claremont and Woolsey and one a block from Rockridge BART. We’ve had one or both our kids at the Claremont location for 3.5 years and we love it. 

    Claremont Day Nursery is your answer! The one on the corner of Claremont and Woolsey is closest to you, but there's also a smaller campus in Rockridge on College Ave. across from Barney's. I am sure they are open by 7:30 and they also serve a hot lunch every day! Our kids both went to the College Ave. location, while we have several friends whose kids went to the Woolsey location. We all loved it - the teachers are warm and caring, it's play-based, and it was just the sweetest place for our kids. Our kids are teenagers now and we're still friends with CDN families and several of the teachers our kids had are still there...!

    Have you looked at Claremont Day Nursery? They have location on both Claremont Ave and College Ave, and I'm pretty sure they open pretty early.

    Claremont Day on Claremont and Woolsey opens early.

    Claremont Day Nursery! They open at 7am! 

    Lakeshore Children's Center in Oakland offers care from 7 am to 6 pm. From their website ( "We are a full time pre-school that operates year round. Our hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30am to 5:30pm. There is an additional charge for students that need to arrive at 7:00am or stay until 6:00pm. " My daughter went there for preschool, school-age aftercare program, and summer camps. She's in high school now, so left about 5 years ago, but much of the staff is still the same as it was. We were very satisfied there.

    Caterpillar’s in Oakland opens at 7:30am sharp. Ana, the care provider is always prompt and ready to jump in and help families. She can be reached at analanuza27 [at]

    Both St John’s Childcare Center (non religious, they just use the church’s space) and the Model School open early!

    my daughter is at St John’s now and we are loving it.

    The Model School opens at 7am. Just a block away from the Whole Foods on Telegraph. They have rolling enrollment and likely have openings for 2yo+ (infant-2 has a waitlist usually). My 3yo and 1yo go there and the long hours are great!

    The Model School at Prince and Telegraph is open 7a-6p.  

    The New School of Berkeley opens at 7:15.

    CEC off University opens at 7:30am!

    Another option in Rockridge is the Room to Grow Preschool on Broadway at Taft. Open 7:30-6:00, M-F.

  • Hello BPN parents!

    I am seeking recommendations about a good preschool in the Berkeley-Albany-El Cerrito that doesn't have too many days off. Our current school has a schedule that is impossible to do unless one of us stops working or we hire an au pair. Would appreciate advice about solid schools in our area that are geared for more working-class families.

    Thanks in advance.

    Claremont Day Nursery is really designed for working parents. They have a site at the Colusa Circle, as well as a couple in Rockridge. I think the only non-federal holiday is the Friday before Easter and the week between Christmas and New Years. And they provide lunch!

    The Model School in Berkeley is open 244 days a year. Child care can be provided 7a-6p. Very flexible when it comes to their contract, that is, if your hours change, you can change your child's hrs easily too. They have a few openings in the older toddler (18 months  - 2.9 yrs) and PreK classrooms (2.9-5 yrs). We love the school. Very active parent community, lots of social events, great for making friends and giving back to the community (the school is a non-profit). More diverse than other schools I've visited too. My son (3) started PreK last year and is thriving. They recently did units on the solar system, bugs & insects, the ocean - we got lectured about echolocation and bioluminescence a few days ago ... Totally recommend! 

    We sent our kids to Claremont Day Nursery in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland, but they have a location in Kensington as well, and I'm pretty sure they all run on the same format. It's definitely geared toward working parents -- the hours are either 7 or 8 am to 6 pm, they provide a hot lunch every day (!!!!), and the only time I recall them closing is the 4-day Thanksgiving weekend and Christmas week (maybe 2 weeks at most); they don't close at all in the summer. We absolutely loved our experience there with both our kids.

    Try Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington.

    Look at Claremont Day Nursery, there is a location in North Berkeley near Albany. They have long hours, are hardly ever closed, they provide lunch to the kids, and they’re cheaper than many other preschools with much shorter hours and more breaks. We’ve been at the Claremont location for a few years and we love it. 

    Step One School is great, both in this regard and in every other way. We are in our fourth year there, and the teachers are nothing short of amazing.

    I don't know how many days off is too many for you as most seem to take all the federal holidays as well as various "breaks", but we've been happy with Little Inti in El Cerrito. It has real hours for working parents (8-6) and it's a good group of nice families and caring teachers. If you're looking for a "curriculum" or "philosophy" of some kind this isn't the place, rather it's a real play-based school that does an excellent job of socializing kids and feeding them wholesome food. Good luck. 

  • We can't seem to make this work without one of us sacrficing our career aspirations. We can't get back to East Bay by 6 pm to pick up the kids. As soon as we hire a part-time sitter/nanny, within 2 - 3 months, the sitter/nanny quits. We don't have the option to work from home. We certainly can't afford to live in SF where we work (well, I suppose we could, if the five of us and our dog want to squeeze into one bedroom apartment.) One of us could choose to work things out with work and leave early, but that person will basically be putting the job in jeopardy, because the work considers such a behavior as "not dedicated to the company." We've already received multiple "talking to" from our respective bosses for being late to work or missing work due to childcare issues and our promotions have been passed up because we are not "reliable" and our schedule is not "predictable". The first year when our first born entered preschool, he was sick constantly which made me sick constantly and I was out sick a lot. My boss told me I wasn't getting my bonus because I was out sick a lot. 

    We make a decent amount of money but barely make ends meet here in East Bay. 

    I had an honest conversation with my boss. He empathized and said, he, too, had to deal with this issue. His wife also works full time and they have 3 kids. He "kindly" shared his solution which was to hire a full-time nanny and offer an above the market rate to encourage the nanny to stay with his family. I said, "thank you" although I was thinking, "Of course, you could do that because you are a VP - Doctor couple whose parents bought you your first house in SF."

    I can't do this anymore. Are things better in other cities? Please tell me we are not the only ones struggling with the 6 pm pick-up. Everyone else seems to make it work somehow. We can't hack it. 

    I don't have any magic solution to the problem that you describe but can tell you that you are not alone!  I don't know any family with young or school-aged children where both parents are fully pursuing his/her own career with no outside help.  In most business settings, to be a superstar, you need to be able to stay late for an unscheduled call/meeting, go out for dinner/drinks with clients, make a last-minute business trip, etc. etc.  This is incompatible with parenting, which requires someone to do pick ups, make dinner, supervise homework, attend sporting events/school plays/school parties, and the list goes on.  I made my peace with this conundrum years ago by accepting that unless a full-time nanny was in the picture, one parent needed to put his/her career on the back burner for a number of years.  In our family, this is me. I'm OK with not being a superstar at work since I need to leave by 5 and take time off for kid purposes.  The years are going by really quickly and I know that in 10 years' time, my kids will be off at college and I'll have lots of time for work.  Yes, I won't be at the same level in 10 years that I could be were I working full tilt right now, but that's the tradeoff that I made when we had kids.  

    You are not alone! I am also struggling with the same issue. The earliest either of us can be home is 6:30 and it seems impossible to find childcare available after 5:00. We cant afford to put either of our careers on hold, nor can we afford a full time nanny who could commit (we need a share). I would also welcome any suggestions.

    You are definitely not alone! As the primary breadwinner in my family of 3, I couldn't have pursued my own aspirations without my husband's career taking a hit. Our additional solution was to get jobs and find daycare closer to home in the East Bay so that we could leave around 5:30 and pick up our toddler by 6pm. I also work in a department with a lot of women and managers who are really understanding with kid issues. We also have a grandma that's close by and available to help in a pinch. Otherwise, I have no clue how we would make it through...and some days we barely do! Good luck to you!

    On a side note: As an employment lawyer, I'm concerned that your boss did not give you a bonus because you were out sick a lot. Not giving any legal advice here, but that doesn't seem kosher to me.

    You're not alone! It is so hard. Everyone else does NOT make it work - everyone I know struggles, unless like you said they have a ton of money to hire lots of extra care (which we don't). Our solution was to buy a house with my parents (which has its own challenges, believe me) and they help with both helping us afford the house and child care, AND I have cut my hours to 80% (which of course will slow down my career trajectory, and which we can barely afford with paying for childcare for two kids). One other thing we have done is partner up with friends and switch off babysitting - we typically just do evenings and weekends so we can get other things done, but I know people who trade off with another family at the same preschool to take turns picking up both kids - something like that could give you some days when you wouldn't have to get home quite so early. I also know people who have had luck with morning or evening sitters to do drop-off or pick-up, maybe you've just had bad luck and will find someone more reliable!

    This is a terrible situation. I don't know what industry you're in or whether changing jobs (if an option) would make things any better, but that may be the best solution to consider. Even if you're able to get childcare around the clock, you may resent your employers for their punitive approaches, or they may penalize you forever for your past "infractions." In my opinion, the Bay Area is less family-friendly than other parts of the country where I've been, but that may just be a stereotype. It all boils down to corporate culture and individual action. 

    I think if I were in your shoes I would try to piece together solid child care long enough to get some breathing room and then thoroughly consider all the options - would a job change or even a move improve things? If you worked closer to home would your commute shorten enough to make a difference, or would you end up working longer hours? Are you both otherwise happy in your jobs and fields of work? If one of you were to shift into a lower-stakes job, which one of you would it be? Do you even want to work bonus-worthy hours? Are you missing out on life with your kids that you could recapture with a job change?

    Sorry I have only more questions and not answers, but I really feel for you and hope that you can navigate this situation in a way that makes your life better rather than just making your bosses happier. Good luck. 

    Maybe look into getting an au pair? Personally, I downsized my career aspirations and mommy-tracked myself into jobs with regular hours/lower pay. It was really hard to accept for the whole entire time (15 years!), but now I am finally happy with a lower stress job.

    Same here. I have chosen a lower paying job with flexible hours and have taken the backseat to my husband's career. So he gets to work late. One parent needs to do that given the exorbitant cost of childcare; also they are only young once and I guess I didn't want to miss out. This way, I avoid having to stay-at-home and can somewhat have my cake and eat it too.

    I totally sympathize with you, and had the same problem when my kids were younger. Two options, I’ve done both:

    1. Find childcare in the city and bring your child with you.

    2. Work it out where one parent goes in early and the other goes in later. The later parent does drop off, the early parent does pick up. If you get in around 7:30 then you can leave around 4. You don’t say what your professions are but I’ve managed to work this schedule out at three different employers and it’s not unusual.

    Definitely not alone! 

    Our pickup time is 6pm as well and one of us is often rushing in at 6:05. Luckily our home daycare provider is incredibly kind and hasn’t minded. We rotate who drops off and who picks up so each of us can have a later night or two if needed. It’s worked ok but it’s still hard. I often need to log back on after putting little one to bed to catch up on an hour or so of work. We don’t have family in the area to help so it’s all on us.

    In terms of solutions, are either of your companies open to shifted hours? Could one of you do 7-4 and always be the pickup person? Alternatively can you make a deal with the daycare to pay more for 6:30 pickup given your situation? (Even if it’s expensive it’s likely less than hiring a nanny). Third option, are there any families at daycare you could ask to take your kiddos as well? 

    Bay Area parenting is hard!!

    I completely commiserate. It is next to impossible to get to everyone and make everyone happy, all the time. The good news for you is that you work in San Francisco. Of all major cities, SF has the lowest number of children, and they are trying to fix that. Check out the Family Friendly Workplace Ordinance, which is put in place to protect you from discrimination, or at least allow you to have a real conversation with laws on your side.


    Link to ordinance:

    I've experienced the same thing. Basically, my husband stopped doing pick ups and drop offs completely and my career definitely suffered. It annoys me to no end, but he earns the most by far, and is closer to retirement than me, and we need to maximize his wages. My kids are worth it but the stress and hardship are nearly unbearable. I am not sure what field you are in, but you may want to look at larger companies too - they often employ an older workforce that have children and are more understanding of work/life balance. Let me know if you have any tips too. I am in the same boat. 

    You aren't alone, and you will have to make sacrifices.  I would start by finding jobs that measure your performance by the work you get done, not your hours in-office.  We make it work by me only being in-office 8 hours, and my husband 9 hours, but both working 1.5-2 hours from home after our child is in-bed, and occasionally working during his nap on weekends.  My husband does the 7.30am drop off, and works 8.00am - 5.00/5.15pm in the East Bay (Berkeley daycare, 25 min drive to Alameda work), home by 5.30/5.45pm.  I work in SF and have resorted to driving and doing the Emeryville casual carpool where you can get immediately into the carpool lane and be in SF in 20-25 min max.  I leave home at 7.20 with the rest of the family, have a carpool in the vehicle by 7.35, and am at my office a touch after 8.  I walk out by 4.10, driving by 4.15 and am usually at daycare near campus in Berkeley by just before 5.00pm pickup.  Kiddo is in bed at 7.30 and after eating dinner, we work from 8.00 - 9.30/10.00.   This means I don't get to exercise anymore like when I worked in the East Bay, which is a huge bummer, but it was a trade off for a great step up in my career.  I try to take a walk for breaks at work, and sometimes take a call where I listen more than talk on a treadmill down in the gym.   There are ALWAYS tradeoffs - you can have it all - but you can't have it all at once!   We were also told to get a nanny, but it is also incompatible with our financial goals, so we make daycare work.   Seriously consider the work-after-bedtime model to put in the extra hours, and learn to manage-up in your check-ins to clearly detail how you are personally contributing to company goals, trouble-shooting, making sure you close loops so no one is waiting on you, etc.  Plus make sure higher ups know that in an urgent situation they can ring your cell between 4.00pm - 8.00pm.  There are a few times I don't answer (If I'm literally putting a baby in a crib), but other times I can at least field the question using a wireless headset while also putting food on the table.   Not all jobs will measure you by hours in-office - and again, I encourage you to find one that doesn't if it is really an issue of being physically present 8.00 - 6.00 every day.    If your field doesn't allow any of this, seriously consider leaving the Bay Area.  If you're working/commuting/juggling so much and falling behind with family and career and life so you're not able to enjoy any area, it's not worth being here!   When we lived in the midwest folks did really only work 8.00 - 4.30pm, and we regularly met folks for dinner, evening sports leagues, etc. at 5.30pm without an issue.  So if that sounds appealing, definitely look into cities like Minneapolis, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, and Detroit/Ann Arbor if you can stomach the cold...

    I'm a single/50-50? parent and completely emphasize as I'm running around like a madman trying to get from the city to 6pm pick up in the East Bay. It's impossible to do it all well. Likely one of you will need to compromise your career growth for it or hire full time or manage part-time less reliable people. It gets a little easier as they get older in that they aren't sick as much, but they do have more things going on to attend or have them attend. Since you have a partner, the best option if you can't hire is to split the week for responsibility and make it clear for work if they're flexible to only work later some days. For example, one goes in super early and leaves for pick up, one gets in a little later and stays late, or switching specific predictable days for each job. As a 50-50 parent, I'm kind of forced into this anyway, but my work has been more understanding of Monday and Tuesday are my "short days", in that I'm generally in my 9:15-9:30 and must leave by 5pm sharp. I stay later on days I don't have the kids. 

    Alternatively, try and find a better companies that are more supportive of people with lives (kids or otherwise). I empathize though, it's tough, work is designed for young people who can live and breath the company. Just keep in mind that you don't get back time and kids keep growing. Your companies will never care about you as people, you are simple resources, and the time with the kids you don't get back.

    I completely agree with the poster above. It’s frustrating that having young children often coincides with the highest-pressure phases in our careers. One thing that helped when my kids were younger is that my husband worked starting at 6:00 am and was home earlier in the afternoon. I did “morning duty” but could stay at work later. 

    Also, California law allows you to take time off work, without retaliation, to attend children’s doctors appointments and to care for children when they are sick. 

    One last thing (and maybe this sounds a little retrograde), I wish that I had worried less about my career when my kids were younger. It’s hard to do, but the time does go quickly. 

    We are two full-time working parents as well, with unpredictable schedules. It is definitely a challenge. 

    There were two things in your message that jumped out at me. First, why are your childcare providers leaving every 2-3 months?  That seems unusual to me. We’ve had many providers over the years (most of them part-time) and most of them have stayed multiple years.  Are you unpredictable with your hours? Do you need to pay more?  Pick people who won’t want to leave for a full-time job?  It seems like there’s something there that needs to be addressed. 

    The second thing was the idea that you didn’t get your bonus because you took too many sick days. Seriously?  Last I checked, none of us control the effectiveness of our immune systems (short of taking things like Vitamin C). This is really the employer you are so dedicated to?  I may be off base, but that’s what I thought based on what you wrote...


    I’m so sorry you’re in this difficult spot. It sounds like you have 3 children? So that means 3 times the chances of a sick child, and soon you’ll have multiple pickups at different schools/daycares/preschools. In some ways it’s easier when your kids get to school, but pickups are still hard. 

    For your struggles in keeping a nanny, what if you use a service instead of hiring on your own? It costs more, but you’ll have the security of them placing someone new ASAP if one quits

    An au pair program is another good option. Usually they commit for 1 year & can do those pickups and afternoon care & are a loving family member. There are reputable companies to place someone with you  

    Another idea, Would childcare in SF nearer to your work make it easier? 

    But —- Like the previous poster, the families I know that don’t have a full-time nanny, have picked 1 parent who stays on the power career track, and the other who does the pickups/sickdays/parenting stuff (they may work full time still but career is secondary, which might mean a job change, or change in ambition). I know some parents who swapped those roles after 5 or 10 yrs when kids are settled in schools, others who didn’t swap. You & your partner have to decide together, talking honestly about your personal ambitions, salary potentials, love/hate of the different parenting tasks, etc.  You can also compare financially, if you go underwater now by hiring a full time nanny, would your career advancement eventually lead to high enough salaries that you recover that “investment”? But it’s not simply a financial/career decision of course. It’s about how you want your family unit & family life & parenting to be now and in the future

    best wishes

    You're not alone. Because this is not a unique situation, MANY companies are moving towards accommodating flexible work schedules, ability to work from home, etc. It often costs companies much more time and money to hire and train a new employee than to retain the one's they have and most companies have realized this and work to accommodate the realities of family life. It does depend on the industry but I wonder if there are opportunities for you or your partner to find a different company that embraces these values? Both of your companies seem extreme withholding bonuses and promotions for the reasons you describe. Are there options to work closer to where you live? Reducing commute is so helpful if an option. I also agree with the previous poster which is to say that something's gotta give and sometimes that is a faster career growth trajectory while the kids are little. And to answer your final question, yes there are many other places where things are not this hard, so if moving is an option then you are likely to find a lot of relief. Good luck!

    Yep, total disconnect between work world and real world. My husband and I have made it work because my jobs have always been flexible. In some ways I’ve chosen my career path to be flexible, but that was even before I had a child. Still, I am the marketing director for a nonprofit and have a pretty great resume. I just have chosen not to work in the corporate world because I’m not willing to be on call 24/7. One or both of you may want to search for jobs on your field at companies that are more flexible or closer to home (my spouse used to work in SF, but now that he works in Oakland, overall logistics are much easier though I still do majority of kid carting around/camp organization games, etc). Kind workplaces are out there! Data even shows that giving employees more autonomy makes them happier and more effective and reduces turnover! Good luck on figuring stuff out!

    You are living the exact life that I was living two years ago. I had the agonizingly unpredictable transbay commute, the boss who was blissfully ignorant of how good they had it thanks to their higher pay and early home ownership, and the anxiety and stress of failing to live up to my high expectations for myself both as an employee and--more importantly--as a parent. Some people pull it off, but I just couldn't take it anymore. My family decided to move out of the Bay Area to a more affordable, family-friendly community and we never looked back. I took a pretty big pay cut but I don't really feel the effects because of the lower cost of living. I see my kids so much more than I ever did in the Bay Area. We actually eat dinner together every day. The only thing I miss about the Bay Area is my friends, but I never had time to see them when I lived there anyway. Good luck to you! 

    Sorry to hear of your struggles. Would it be possible to do staggering shifts with your partner? One commits to a schedule to be the one to drop off, with the abilty to work late if needed. The other commits to pickup, able to work earlier if needed.

    I'm so sorry to hear that this is the reality for you, as it is for many families. This feels like a true "rock and a hard place" situation. The only reason why this isn't an issue for us is that my partner has an earlier start/finish time in his job--which means that while he's able to swing pickup, I'm doing it all alone in the mornings, which has its own challenges. 

    However, to help problem solve what you're dealing with: I wonder if another family in your school/daycare community would be williing to help out by picking up the kids and bringing them home for an hour or two until you can get there? I do this for school friends occasionally and it usually ends up being a fun playdate. If another parent needed this on a regular basis we might work something out where they contribute to dinner on those nights or something along those lines. I wish we felt more permission to ask our school communities and fellow parents for help when we need it. And I really wish that parents did not feel like they have to choose between their livelihood and being parents. It speaks to the ways in which our society generally does not support families. Let's work to change that norm and build systems that support one another when we can. Best of luck to you.

    We had the same issue. The only viable solution is for one of you to go to a reduced schedule and give up your career aspirations. I waited too long to do this. Looking back on things, I firmly believe that my son would be far better off had I been home for him consistently after school. Being in a social setting from 8 - 6 was too much for my son. Then trying to make dinner and do homework starting after 6 was a total nightmare. Had I been the one to be with him after school, he would have been more secure and developed much better routines. I will never receive another promotion at work but it's worth it to me.

    I saw a meme once that says that working moms are supposed to work like we don't have kids and mother like we don't have jobs. It's not possible and something has to give. 

    I don't have solution. Just here for support. I feel you. 

    If you have the space, have you considered an au pair through the J-1 VISA program? We looked into this and although we decided it wasn't right for us, it seemed like a really appealing, flexible, affordable childcare option- especially when you need care outside of normal childcare hours. Also, they'd be signing on for the whole year with the option of a second, so you'd have some stability as well. Just a thought.

    Same boat.  I have found staggered schedules help - I get to work super early and leave early to pick our daughter up from the nanny (my husband drops her off in the morning).  I hate leaving early and feel like it looks terrible.  But I get to focus on her for a few hours in the evenings, and after she's in bed we eat dinner then I'm usually back online catching up on everything I didn't get done.  I've lost my personal time completely but I can show that even though I leave early, it doesn't mean I'm done with work for the day. Hopefully by showing availability at other times you can make the point that even though your work schedule is different, it doesn't mean you are working less.  But it is all about your boss's attitude.  I think everyone has this struggle but some companies and bosses are more supportive than others about flexible hours and the financial realities.  Yours sounds a bit clueless on this last point unfortunately. 

    Yes, my husband and I struggled with this!  My husband travels for work and I was the one responsible for both drop off and pick up.  There is no way to work 60+ hours a week with a commute AND do drop off and pickup on time.  

    Other cities can be less expensive—but it depends on where you go.  The Bay Area has always had a work culture that demands long hours.  It really favors young singles without kids or really successful couples that can afford to live on one salary.  It was fun to live in the Bay Area when I was young and single.  Hard work was balanced with lots of fun things to do.  Once we had kids, the Bay Area was no longer a great place to live.  Lots of work, schools with major problems, and high crime are tougher to deal with when there is work stress and not much fun.

    I don’t have an answer for you.  I do definitely empathize.  I have been there.  You will have to decide whether the Bay Area has enough to be worth it.  If you have lots of extended family in the area, it is tough to leave.  If you are transplants like us, the decision to go somewhere simpler becomes very appealing.


    I don't have any solutions for you, but I empathize with your difficult situation, made more difficult by the high cost of the area. Heck, my family is moving to the east coast at the end of the month to have a more relaxed, cheaper, lifestyle! I wanted to recommend a book called the Ambition Decisions, and a series of Atlantic articles taken from the book. It's so hard to be 100% present at work when you don't have the right support for your family. Best of luck!

    Aaugh!! This makes me so angry at your employers! Anyway, it sounds like ur both putting careers at some risk already. I know it’s not easy, but maybe consider one of u changing jobs. I took a job in Oakland instead of a long commute down south when my first was born. It made a HUGE difference. Your kids are young for a relatively short period of time. Good luck, these are hard decisions. 

    You are definitely not alone, judging by all the pending responses! I'm also following to see what others say because we are in East Bay, have decent jobs (based in SF), 2 little ones, and always feel like we need to tighten our belts to swing mortgage, childcare, etc. You raise many big issues here, but to first address the title of your post - how to make a 6pm pickup coming from the city. I know you mentioned the inflexibility at your work and no remote possibility, so this point is moot for you but to just share my experience - the only way I found it to work was to give up my office in SF, go exclusively remote, and be happy with the compromise that I was able to do a lot of 'momming' for the kids (pick ups, dinner prep, etc.), but I am sacrificing the opportunity to network and have presence at the office. Personally, I am OK with this tradeoff for now, but that is a very personal decision. Before I made that decision though, I was leaving work at 3:30 to make a 5-5:30pm pick up, which was clearly unsustainable. You mention you already tried the part-time nanny option (I assume for pick ups and afternoon care), but I can imagine you had high turnover because nanny's often are looking for full-time work. And it is equally stressful to be looking for someone to fill in that afternoon gap every few months when your nanny quits, so I personally would not like to do that, even if there are plenty of caregivers around who could still use part-time work. Which brings me to the point that your companies/careers don't seem amenable to work-life balance, and this may require some assessment of the big picture for you, your partner, and how you want your family life vs. careers to be. For us, we have not ruled out moving to a more affordable area, even out of state, and we've decided to re-assess after 1-2 years, perhaps when one/both of us decide to job hunt seriously again. I'm sorry I do not have any practical solutions for you, and I think it is a shame that for such a great area with so much to offer, there are still so many stressors that come with living here. Empathizing and curious what others have to say...

    You'll face this problem in all big cities where you'll find a job. I have a daughter and expecting baby2, and already worried about finding a daycare, spending +70% of my salary for both kids care solution, most daycares close at 5pm or 5:30pm, bart delays, running all the time... yes we all face the same issue, we make it work more or less, and it seems the neighbor is doing it better, but reality is we all make compromises! it's all about finding the right balance between work and family life. 

    I feel like employers in the Bay Area are pretty flexible/open minded though, you should consider changing. Find a job in East bay; Ask help from parents on your kids' school, offering them to pick-up their kids + yours twice a week and they do the same other 2 days... Find a person who's full-time employee on a grocery store or nanny in your neighborhood and willing to do extra 30mins/1h? Maybe employees from your kids pre-school who are willing to do some extra hours? So they don't commute for 1h to do 1h work...

    Good luck!

    You are not alone. We have an 18-month old and both work full-time in demanding jobs, we don't have family money, we are renters and barely making ends meet.  I don't know what industry you're in, but it sounds like your employers suck. The Bay Area economy is red-hot, in most industries you can find another job in a heartbeat. Losing nannies is not worth it, your children are only young for a few years and its stressful for them to constantly have transitions in childcare and to be away from you for long hours. We pick our kid up on time, even if it means some compromises at work. I often show up late or leave work early, but I catch up on email or various tasks after my son goes to bed. My partner does the same, and both our employers are understanding about it. You don't have to settle for being shamed and passed over because you are a parent.There are better employers out there. 

    This is what works for us--I bring my kid in on my commute and he attends preschool near my work. I actually enjoy the time on BART together. I realize it might not work for you, but it's how we're currently swinging it. I have no idea what we'll do when he's ready for kindergarten in a year.

    You are definitely not alone.  The only way we were able to find some semblance of balance for our family in the Bay Area is to have one working parent whose career comes first and one working parent whose career comes second.  In our case, my husband has the higher-paid intense 60+ hour a week job in SF and I have the family-friendly flexible nonprofit job in the East Bay where we live.  I do ALL the childcare pickups and drop-offs, take ALL the sick days, and do ALL the lunches/ field trip permission slips/ summer camp sign-ups/ doctor and dentist appointments/ etc.  Consequently, my husband is free to focus on work and is thriving and getting promoted.  I do wish that there could be more equality - I get weary of the second shift and he gets tired of the nonstop work cycle.  I do like my job but I miss out on a lot of career-related opportunities and he misses out on a lot of parenting and family stuff.  Plus, it feels annoying (to me) how our roles follow such traditional gender lines.  But I honestly don't know how else to do it and I like living here enough that it's a trade-off I'm willing to make.      

    I've been in your shoes. Both me and my husband worked in the city and kids had to be picked up from 2 different schools in the East Bay before 6pm. Our part-time nanny quit after she found a full time job after only 4 months with us. The stress and constantly feeling like we are not putting in 100% at work was exhausting and frustrating. So I gave up my full-time job and changed careers. We had to live on 1 income for a while during my job transition and it wasn't easy but it's all about priorities. Our income now is no where near what we were making as 2 full-timers but it's been great for our family. You could put your kids in SF school or one or both of you will have to get a less demanding job to make things work. Don't even get me started on Summer breaks where most camps end at 3pm and cost so much! 

    My youngest child just turned 18, so I no longer share your conundrum. However, what worked for me was to find a job that was family friendly. Granted, I did make less money than had i pursued other career paths. But, for me it was worth it to be able to successfully manage both a full time career AND be an involved parent. There are always going to be sacrifices (yes, at one time we were living in a one bedroom apartment). You need to decide what is more important - your work or your family. With my children all grown, I reminisce on their childhoods with such fond memories. It was a joy to be a parent to my children. And now that they don't need me in the same way, I've changed careers to something less family friendly. Your children are only young once. I have no regrets at all about making less money working for companies that provided flexibility in scheduling and supported me in being an involved parent. My kids benefited much more from my presence than they would have from a big paycheck.

    If your kids are preschool age or younger, consider childcare in SF so you can pickup before 6p. Sometimes, that can be difficult if there’s no spots available and your child has already established a relationship with your provider. If you work downtown or near the civic center, there is a infant/toddler/preschool inside city hall, Bright Horizons, albeit pricey. 

    If your kids are in elementary school, consider kango for pickup and childcare. That’s what my daughter’s classmate uses since her parents can’t pick up in time. I’m not vouching or endorsing their services. 

    I am sorry that you are in this situation. I don’t know where you live or age of your kids. I know YMCA in Albany offer after school until 6.30 PM. Or you can make a special agreement with childcare provider to extend their care for extra 30 mins or so and offer a bit extra money which I am sure still cheaper than getting a pickup nanny.

    You may want to consider an au pair, or at least find out more about it by talking with other parents (and the BPN website). 

    This is a huge challenge for our family too--I definitely feel you! The single most helpful thing for us was to move one job closer to home. If you plan to stay long-term in the East Bay, it's worth looking at employment opportunities on this side of the bridge that might give you more flexibility (or at the minimum, a shorter and more reliable commute). There are family-friendly firms out there. I'd also take a deep look at why your sitters aren't staying--are the hours too short? Are you not paying enough? Is the schedule too unpredictable? Something is amiss there if they are only staying for a couple of months at a time. The answer may be to pay more or to guarantee longer hours. With three kids, it may well be cost-effective to use a sitter for the entire afternoon rather than using aftercare (though of course that has pros and cons!) which might allow you to pull from a bigger pool of interested sitters. Finding people to take just a couple of hours a day (and stay long-term!) is tough. I might also reach out to other families in your neighborhood to see if any have nannies who might like some extra hours after they arrive home. The other thing that was huge for us was finally having kids at the same school so we could go down to a single pickup. If you can find a preschool/daycare as close as possible to your elementary school (assuming your younger kids aren't yet school-age) so that everyone can be picked up at once, that will help too. Good luck!!

    I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. Yes, it is tough when both you and your spouse work full time and have aspirations for good careers.

    Like the other poster, the way we "solved" this issue was for me to put my career on the back burner which has worked out well for everyone but me. The kids aren't so stressed, I get to go to their school events and am not as overwhelmed managing everything at home, my husband has time to devote to his work and his frequent trips. But I am sometimes bitter that everyone who was my peer 10-12 years ago now makes three or four times what I make and has a more interesting job and does cooler stuff. I will never be able to get back to that even though my youngest is 10 and he is the only one who really needs any sort of raising. (The other two are in middle school and leave for school on their own, get home on their own, mostly make it to their practices on their own.) It is compounded for us because we have three boys so now I worry they will look at what I did and think it is the woman who should sacrifice her career.

    I don't know how flexible your schedule is or whether you need to stay really late on occasion or need coverage for sick kids or just can't leave at 5 to get back by 6 what, but here are some suggestions for things my friends and I have tried:

    If you need to put in hours, could you go in early, like 5am and work until 4pm, and your spouse go in like 9am until 8pm?

    Could you hire your preschool/after care teacher to take your kids home at 6 and get them fed?

    Could you get an au pair to get your kids to school, pick them up after school, and stay home with them when sick? (That would be a pretty sweet gig for someone who wants to take classes or explore since they would generally have most of the day free.)

    Could you put kids in daycare/preschool in SF? (Wouldn't do this with actual school.)

    Are other jobs a possibility? Something with more flexibility? We know someone who works at Google and he had to move around to find a group with a flexible manager. Another friend works at Amazon and she had to do the same thing.

    As part of not having an intensive career, we moved to Davis where it is much mellower. My husband is down in the Bay Area during the week so he can have his interesting job and get a Bay Area salary. We know a couple of other families in the same boat. Life is simpler and easier but again, there is the sadness/bitterness that I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I wanted to professionally and I was the one who had to sacrifice so everyone else could be happier.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I know it is tough.

    I am so sorry and wish I had an answer for you. You are definitely not alone. I, too, was dismayed by the daycare options in the East Bay. My husband and I found one (ONE) place that is in a do-able location that is open 7-7. It costs twice as much as every other daycare in the area, but it is the only thing that will work for us. My hours require me to drop off earlier, but I can pick up earlier; his hours require him to drop off later and pick up later. We needed something with longer hours in order that we could share this responsibility. I had to pass on really amazing places because they had hours that simply didn't work, like 7:30-5:30 (surprisingly common!). A nanny wouldn't be ideal because my hours are irregular, and scheduling would be very difficult. We are both professionals, and while we're both making some changes at work, there is a limit to what we could do. I wish I knew why there wasn't workable childcare around here. I sympathize and hope you find a solution. I have heard that many people in the east bay actually hire someone to pick up their kids at day care and watch them for an hour or two in the evenings until you get home - that is something you might wish to investigate. Again, not ideal, but possibly a solution.

    My solution to this problem was to hire two college student sitters to share the afternoon childcare job. They picked up my child from preschool or school and stayed until 7 p.m. without complaining.  Every semester, I hired two and told them to job share and work it out between them in terms of who handled what day and what hours, and just text me to let me know what was going on.  One of them worked for me for three years; the others were good for two or three semesters.  So it was somewhat somewhat stressful in terms of stability, but I don't think I had a single day where both dropped the ball. I paid several dollars an hour above market, had a good selection of candidates to choose from, and it was completely worth it.  Tip: I never hired anyone who asked to reschedule the job interview.  That to me was a red flag - if you can't keep the interview appointment (when you are most motivated to make a good impression) it won't improve from there.  

    This is only of minor help - but when we were doing the 6pm run we got to know the other parents doing the same and exchanged cell phones.   That way if it was close we could say - JANE!! - can you get the kid and I'll meet you in the parking lot?  Sometimes it was just 10-15 minutes of playing around the parking lot with the kids that made ALL THE DIFFERENCE to the parent making that 6pm run!  And it worked both ways.  

    Oh My! reading these replies makes me want to cry! I just quit my job for the same reason. My take home, after two toddlers in day care full-time and things like health insurance and 401k and other normal things, ended up being about 300 bucks. So I picked up a part time nanny gig, am renting out our 3rd room on Airbnb, and getting scrappy. It’s scary!!! I’m going to have to start over next year. I don’t know if it’s the right choice. But my heart goes out to you. 

    Montenegro sounds nice..... my sister moved to sac from oak last year and she loves it. Her life, in every aspect, is more affordable. Good luck!!!  

    I feel for you! I also went down to 80% time to make it work. There are a very few places that have hours after 5pm.

    CEC in Berkeley is open until 6pm and we are there and love them.

    I toured this Wonderschool as well, and I thought they had a wonderful director and their small location close to Emeryville. They have an evening/dinner program for kids, I really liked them but ultimately the location wasn't quite as ideal for me, and having the dinner program was not absolutely required for me. I hope this helps! :

    My suggestion is to ask the daycare provide to recommend another parent who could pick up for you. Then you could pick up from that person's home a bit later. It would have to be someone in a convenient location, whose kid gets along with your kid and, of course, who is willing. You could pay this parent.  Or do a trade: they pick up your kid during the week, you host their kid on the weekend. 

    I just want to chime in with some words of support and say that I am in the same situation. The modern working world and modern economy that now requires two full-time working people in each household is just not compatible with raising kids. It's been one of the most frustrating and maddening realizations for me. I know some people do better in other locations (and perhaps have shorter commutes), but every time I have looked, I see how much less money I would make and it still doesn't seem to make sense. I'm also extremely frustrated by the fact that the people at the top of every organization (those who make the rules about how much flexibility employees can have) most often are making so much more money than the rest of us that they can afford to have one parent at home or hire a full-time nanny or housekeeper, ugh! They just don't get what it's really like. Anyway, sorry you are going through this too. I think the truly flexible jobs are few and far between, but you might just both keep your eyes open, and then the only other thing that I think works for many people is the staggering of hours (as others have said) - one parent doing drop off and the other doing pick up and shifting work hours to do it. Good luck. Sorry you are also dealing with this!

    I’m the OP. Thank you everyone for your responses. Hearing that so many families struggle helps. One person’s suggestion of building a team is brilliant — diversifying risks makes sense. We spent the last few weeks soul searching and my spouse has decided to reduce hours. We will cut costs — kids are sad that they won’t be seeing grandparents this Christmas and so are we but airplane tickets (~$1000/person in December) to east coast was the most obvious cut to make. We are stopping kids’ piano and karate lessons and won’t be renewing memberships to the zoo, fairyland and the YMCA. Fixing our floor and replacing roof will have to wait. We decided to cancel our first trip to Disneyland but don’t have the hearts to tell the kids. We are sad but hopefully life has good news in store for us. On the upside, kids say that being picked up by a parent early is always better and seem very happy about that. I never imagined a household income of $200,000 would make us feel strapped and $1 million dollar house being so so far from what we dreamed of for our family home.

    My friend, a nurse, was taking care of a very sick, old patient in the hospital. I'll never forget what my friend said this patient told her: "I have regrets and things I wish I did differently, but not a single one of them is wishing I had worked MORE." Although it's not easy to get by here, my partner and I made the choice to put family and personal time ahead of job/career/money. We make sacrifices so hopefully we can look back and not wish we had spent more time with our kids and each other. I don't think you'll regret reducing work hours or cutting costs because time is precious.

    I agree with you about cutting work hours; your kids are only going to be this young and lovely once, and I remember how pleased my daughter was to walk home with me most days (and nice it was to not feel so stressed rushing back from work). At this point, being with their parents is what makes them happiest.

    You mentioned the winter holidays in your second post: "We will cut costs — kids are sad that they won’t be seeing grandparents this Christmas and so are we but airplane tickets (~$1000/person in December) to east coast was the most obvious cut to make." If at all possible, think about January next year, or in the years to come. Our Brooklyn daughter and her family visit us in late December or early January; fares are lower, and we just celebrate all that much longer. In any case, best wishes with your family's new hours.

  • Why is it that 9 out of 10 daycares in the SF/East Bay close by 5:30? 

    I am relocating from Seattle to Berkeley with my toddler and will be working in SF. In Seattle, daycares are open later (our current one is open until 7). I'm not sure how to even make a 5:30 pick up time work. I was wondering what other parents who work full-time do. How do you make the limited hours work?

    Our family adjusted schedules so that one parent dropped off and worked later, and the other went in earlier and then picked up by 5:30. Other families have babysitters or other caregivers who pick up and fill the hour before they get home. There are a few places open until 6 if you hunt, but I've never seen one open as late as 7. (Some close as early as 5--we took those off our list...) Good luck with the transition, and welcome!

    There’s a very good pre-school called Nomura and they are open from 7-6pm. They are right off the Carlson Blvd exit and located in Richmond. Highly recommend! 

    We had a great experience at Claremont Kids when our child was in preschool - I believe it's open till 6:30 (might be 6) - it also provides hot lunch & snacks and is open almost everyday (closed xmas, thanksgiving, 4th of july and that may be it!). 

    It was great for working parents and I never felt guilty about taking my son there - he loved it. We still run into his teacher and she fawns over him (he's 11)! The main teachers have been there for many years, there's very little turnover. Highly recommend!



    Many daycares close around 530-6pm because the providers have children and families theirselves.

    I work in SSF and I leave work around 3pm to make a 5:30pm pickup and then work the rest of the hours from home.  Would that be an option for you?

    Try and talk to your employer about flexibility with your hours - lots of folks are in this position and from what I've found employers understand and work with employees to make things work. My daughter can't be dropped off until 8 and picked up by 6, but I like to get to her by 5:30ish. I also work in SF.

    Instead of taking BART and being uncomfortable and miserable with the commute, take an AC transit bus. You can sit, be comfortable, and most importantly have wifi. I get into the office by 9:30 and leave at 4:30, but am working during commute hours, which actually puts my at working day at roughly 8:15a - 5:15p, a full work day.

    I think you can find until 6pm pretty easily but probably not much later. Why don't you live in SF so you don't have to commute as far and thus can pick up earlier? Or sounds like you might want a nanny so you can set your own hours or hire a caregiver to do pick up and be with your little one until you get home. My spouse and I switch off the earlier pick times and adjust our work schedules accordingly. Good luck! I find it always hard to sort out new childcare situations. 

    We adjusted our schedules, so I start my day early and end early and my husband starts late. He does drop off and I do pick up. 

    My daughter is in preschool but my daughter's daycare closed at 6pm although I try to pick her up by 530. I thought that was the norm but I could be mistaken. Either way I don't think I ever saw a daycare open until 7. To make the times work my wife and I alternate the pick up/drop off. She would drop our daughter off and go to work a little late but then stay longer to put in her hours whereas I would get to work early and leave earlish for the pickup.

    New school open till 6pm

    that where our little one goes.

    Good luck 

    I don’t know enough about your situation to know what will work for you but we found a daycare that opens at 7:30am and I adjusted my working hours to go in earlier and leave earlier. Also, if it’s the commute you’re worried about I would suggest finding a place close to work rather than a place close to home. Depending on your job, there’s always the old standby of leaving before you’re done for the day and bringing work home (far from ideal but sometimes necessary!). Good luck.

    Agreed! Our daycare, CEC, is open 730-6, it's the longest hours that I've seen. Both of us work 9-12 hour days, so one of us does the drop off and the other does the pick up. We arranged with work to understand that we will be coming late or leaving early in order to make things work. I'll be interested to know how others do it. I've heard of people hiring a person specifically to do either the drop off or pickup so that both parents can put in longer hours, but that seems like quite an expense for us.

    I work 3 blocks away from my child's day care so I can run over there and pick him up and off we go. 

    When daughter was a toddler, I worked it out with my boss that I would leave work at 4:30, then put in an extra half hour or so, in the evening around 7 pm, after she was in bed.  I usually saved easy stuff to do during that time.  

    My child was in a daycare that was very close to my office, which made it possible for me to get there by 5:30. Now my kids are in a preschool that closes at 6pm. It’s doable because I have a relatively short commute and a job that allows me to leave by 5/5:30. I haven’t heard of many daycares or preschools that are open until 7 - I agree that it’s probably pretty rare in the east bay. 

    I, too, was dismayed to discover the poor hours in this area when I started looking. I'm currently pregnant and expecting my first baby at the end of July. My husband and I are both professionals and work full time. My hours are erratic (I work some day shifts from 8-5:30, but also work overnights), and his hours tend to run late. We also commute. A 5:30 pickup was completely untenable for us. To be honest, we scoured the area and found one (one!) day care center in Walnut Creek that is in a good location for us and has hours from 7-7. Obviously we wouldn't be using all of those hours all of the time, but it enables me to do earlier drop-off and earlier pickup, and him to do later drop-off and later pick-up. This particular center costs almost twice as much as many of the other options in the area, which is painful, but there's no sense in selecting an option that doesn't work for us. Moreover, it's still cheaper than a nanny. My only remaining recommendation is to talk to some in-home day care providers, particularly smaller ones, and seeing if any are able to be flexible, with additional pay, of course. It absolutely flummoxes me that in an area with so many couples who work full-time in professions that mandate long hours, day care hours are so poor. I wish you the very best of luck!

    We also have adjusted work schedules to make it in time, and a few other families I know either carpool the kids to school (take turns picking up) or have grandparents do the pickup.  

    Similar to previous posters: my co-parent and I alternated shifting our schedules so one of us always had to leave work early. Prior to finalizing our ability to do that, though, I had just started a new job and so could not arrange to leave early. We hired a nanny to do evening pick ups and dinner time 3 nights a week, and the co-parent left early 2 nights a week until we could do the coverage ourselves. Now the kids are in public school with aftercare - and we both still need to switch off leaving early to make it there by 6. 

    I am in the exact same situation. I changed my work schedule to finish at 4:30. It is definitely not ideal but I could not figure out an alternative. 

    People are rich here and have the means to make up for the gaps. Some have partners who don’t work and have the time to accommodate unreasonable daycare schedules.

    Couples generally split drop-offs and pick-ups, or you can coordinate with other parents or hire a caregiver to do the pick-up. I had a nanny share until my child was 3, then chose a preschool with extended hours from 7 to 6.

    Many find daycares that are open to 6. For age 0-3, we did nannyshare with a flexible family and a nanny who could stay until 6:30-7:30 until one of us could get home from SF. From 3-5, we did preschool that was open till 6 and the same nanny who was now working with another family could swing by and pick up our kid at 6 and stay until we got home. For age 5, we did Studio One after school program that is open until 6:30. Age 6 and up, our work became more flexible so we could pick up by 6 and when we can’t, we get sitters or ask another parent for help. It’s a maddening logistical gymnastics to juggle commute and hildcarez

  • Berkeley daycare w/ 8a-6p hours

    (3 replies)

    Hi! Can anyone recommend any daycares in Berkeley that are open 8a-6p? It would be for my daughter who is turning 2. I’ve been looking through the daycare list on BPN, but the info re:hours isn’t consistently available. Thanks so much for your help. We’re moving back to Berkeley after almost 9 years away! Very excited, but also daunting in many ways! 

    We started at CEC on Browning st. last year and we really love it. Their hours are 7:30am-6pm; however they are strict about the 6pm closing, so you'll want to pick up by about 5:50pm to be out of the building by 6.

    They are very loving and play-based, and we are happy there!

    Our son goes to the Claremont Day Nursery in Kensington, which is open from 7am-6pm (great hours for working parents!). I believe they have a branch in Berkeley, so perhaps you can check out that location? Their website is

    The New School of Berkeley is open from 7:15-6pm.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



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