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Child Care Swap, Coming Right Up…

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I’m dipping my toes into the waters of childcare! Credit: shane o mac

Working from home as a mom of one child was hectic and exhausting (mostly because my daughter didn’t sleep). But it was manageable. I’d work during naps and later at night and get things accomplished on the weekends. Once No. 2 arrived though, life got a lot busier. It’s not as easy to get stuff done during the toddler’s naptime because the infant’s schedule is totally different. And when the stars align and the naps overlap? Well, I usually have to clean up the disaster zone that is the house and work gets shoved into the two hours after bedtime and before complete eye-crossing exhaustion.

So when No. 2 arrived, I added a babysitter for a few hours on Monday and Tuesday. She comes and plays with the toddler and tries to keep the baby happy (an easy job, he’s so laid back) while I tend to my growing stack of unread emails and do some writing. But it’s really only enough to tread water and scrape the surface of the to-do list that comes second to the kiddos.

So recently, my neighbor Margie, mom of almost 2-year-old twins, mentioned she was heading back to work a couple of days a week. She really only needed someone for six hours total a week, yet she’d have to drop the kids off at the daycare early so they wouldn’t interrupt naptime. My wheels started turning. Because I, too, could definitely use the extra work time, I proposed a swap. I’d watch her kiddos the few hours she needed, and she’d watch my oldest a couple of times a week. It’s the perfect storm for us. It gives us both dependable, free child care and gives our kids regular playdates with kids the same age (without the exposure to the germs of a daycare!). Once my son is a little older and his schedule is more predictable, the trade really will be even-Steven.

We’ll start our new arrangement in September, but right now we’re slowly easing into the routine. Seeing that my daughter has had a hard time adjusting to the daycare at the gym, and Margie’s have never been away from mommy, we’re doing short trial runs leading up to the big day. Sure, having four kiddos at a time will be chaotic, but the baby will be napping half of the time the twins come over, and the three toddlers are hitting the age where they’ve finally noticed each other and can actually interact. I’m hoping it’s a win-win-win!

Have you ever done a child care swap? Do playdate swaps to make the best use of free time? Any tips for caring for three 2-year-olds? —Erin

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