Archive: Childcare

Defining 'Sick'

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Last Thursday, I was getting ready to bundle the little one up when she started coughing a little bit. Nothing too dramatic, kind of a low-grade hairball-esque hacking. Then she threw up. It wasn't much -- less than a tablespoon. Fifteen minutes later, she let loose with another micro-barf. I immediately scrapped the day-care plan and started preparing to hunker down for the day. I decided she was clearly Sick, with a capital "S." Naturally, she was fine after that. She was in great spirits. There was no more heaving. I struggle with how to determine how sick is too sick. Some things, including vomit, are beyond debate. The stomach flu is too much of a disaster to subject anyone to the risk. Ditto high fevers. But cold season is still upon us, which leaves the whole lot of gray area of coughing, sneezing and green...

 

By Brian Reid | February 14, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Playdate Paradox

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Ahhh, January. It's that wonderful time of year when, freed of holiday obligations, everyone is returning to the usual social patterns. For the kids, that means that return of playdates. For me, that means the return of sweaty palms from thinking about playdates. I'm sure you know the problem: There is a certain assumption about reciprocity when you schedule a playdate. No one wants to be that parent that can never be bothered to allow other children in their home. But as someone working full-time for pay, my ability to host kids after school is a bit more limited than I would like it to be. I certainly don't want to say no when my daughter is invited over elsewhere, but I do feel a bit of trepidation about figuring out how to return the favor. Clearly, I'm not without options: The weekend playdate is always...

 

By Brian Reid | January 10, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (77)

Should Leave for Moms Equal Leave for Dads?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid As most of you know, family leave policies are one of my favorite hobby horses, and I have a pretty straightforward view of things: The more paid leave offered for the birth of a child, the better. Work-life balance is improved, worker retention is better and parents get time with the kids that they might not otherwise have had. Of course, in the United States, long paid leave isn't required by the government, so such policies aren't exactly standard. In fact, according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, good leave policies are exceedingly rare. The IWPR looked at the 100 companies on Working Mother magazine's list of the most family-friendly workplaces and found that even among these standout companies, half provide six weeks of leave or less. That's pretty unimpressive. But even more interesting is how dads are viewed by these paragons of family-friendliness. Half...

 

By Brian Reid | September 13, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (114)

Scoring Free, High-Quality Babysitting

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I can't remember exactly what the going rate for babysitting was when I was a teenager, but I don't ever remember the wrinkled bills my next-door neighbors pressed into my hand at the end of the night making much of a material difference in my life. Now, as a parent, babysitting has the potential to make a much bigger material difference. The New York Times reports that high school kids are bringing in much as 15 bucks an hour to make mac-n-cheese, supervise some tooth brushing and read a book or two. Even by the slightly more modest standards of my neighborhood, dinner and a movie means $40 in babysitting. At a couple of dates a month, that's $1,000 a year. I haven't shelled out for babysitting in years, instead falling back on the it-takes-a-village approach to care that I've mentioned before. In my child-dense neighborhood,...

 

By Brian Reid | July 12, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (397)

Buying Time

By Rebeldad Brian Reid A couple of years ago Mike, one of my local at-home dad buddies, received a burst of attention when he was featured in a couple of national media outlets detailing his theory on at-home parenthood. It's a simple theory: If you decide that you are going to leave the workforce and stay home with the kids, raising the kids should be your prime concern. Not the cooking. Not the floors. Not the toilets. So Mike outsourced pretty much everything he could. Dinner, most nights, was takeout. And the soap or cleanser or cleaner or powder or paste or wax or bleach was someone else's problem -- he happily paid for housecleaning. After all, his logic goes, if both spouses are dog tired after a long day, why should at the at-home parent automatically be saddled with assembling the chicken cacciatore? The big objection to this kind...

 

By Brian Reid | June 14, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Mistake in 'The Feminine Mistake'

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I feel for Leslie Bennetts, I really do. Bennetts is the author of this year's polarizing motherhood book -- The Feminine Mistake -- arguing that just about the dumbest thing a woman (or a man) can do is stay home with the kids. And she's a bit puzzled about all of the flogging she's taking online. Bennetts got some of that flogging during a washingtonpost.com discussion on Tuesday, and she is clearly irritated with the slings and arrows being thrown in her direction. After all, her book does a bang-up job of documenting all the things that can go wrong in the life of a primary caretaker: divorce, illness, inability to re-enter the workforce. Though it may be fair to quibble with some of the stats or raise the question of whether Bennetts is speaking to the experiences of women who fall outside of the usual...

 

By Brian Reid | April 19, 2007; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (471)

Taking Time to Smell the Roses (or Hear the Music)

By Rebeldad Brian Reid Gene Weingarten wrote a wonderful piece in the Sunday magazine last weekend, asking what would happen if one of the world's greatest musicians -- playing one of the world's finest instruments -- showed up at a Metro stop to play street musician for the better part of an hour. Would anyone notice? For the full answer, you need to read the whole piece, but there was one paragraph that really hit me in the gut: There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch....

 

By Brian Reid | April 12, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Emergency Childcare

We all seem to agree on one thing here: it's tough to work and take care of kids, especially sick ones, at exactly the same time. What we disagree about on this blog, and in this country, are the best solutions, and the degree to which companies should help employees balance work and childcare. In a bit of good news on the childcare front, last month The Portland Oregonian ran an encouraging article about firms who offer emergency childcare. "We're just hearing more and more interest about backup offerings," Sheila Niehaus said in the article. Niehaus is vice president for Knowledge Learning, one of the country's largest childcare providers with over 2,000 centers nationwide, based in Portland, Oregon. Employers need workers at work, regardless of whether their kids are sick or their childcare has fallen through. To offer solutions, Knowledge Learning has teamed up with Westport, Conn.-based LifeCare Inc. to...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | April 4, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (349)

Day-Care Dangers Overblown?

Headline on the front page of yesterday's New York Times: POOR BEHAVIOR IS LINKED TO TIME IN DAY CARE Nut graph body copy also found on the front page: A report from the largest, longest-running study of American child care has found that keeping a preschooler in a day care center a year or more increased the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class--and that the effect persisted through sixth grade. The finding held up regardless of the child's sex or family income, or the quality of the daycare center. What the New York Times did not emphasize on its front page yesterday: that the increase in problem behaviors is extremely slight, reflected in a one percent higher score on a standardized assessment of problem behaviors for each year spent in a day-care center. That a huge part of the problem among children may originate not in day...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 27, 2007; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (354)

In Defense of the Dual-Earner Household

By Rebeldad Brian Reid One of the great myths of the work-life balancing discussion is that (as neotraditionalist rabblerouser Caitlin Flanagan once put it) "when a mother [or father] works, something is lost." The idea that kids with two working parents are somehow getting shafted is plausible enough to fuel an avalanche of books of the glories of at-home parenthood, but the actual data on this point is always pretty meager. That's why I was excited to read through this essay from the American Prospect's incredibly exhaustive series of essays on work-family balance (titled "Mother Load," but thankfully cognizant of fathers). In it, author Kathleen Gerson talks to a number of young adults about their perceptions of family, starting with their impressions of their own upbringings. And here, she drops a bombshell of sorts: Those who grew up in dual-earner homes were least ambivalent about their parents' arrangements. More than...

 

By Brian Reid | March 15, 2007; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dads Key to Solving 'Care Crisis'

By Rebeldad Brian Reid In her Monday post on the comprehensive, if not entirely on-base Nation piece on the child-care crisis, Leslie asks, "Is Childcare A 'Woman's Issue?' " It's a good question. Child care certainly shouldn't be a 'woman's issue.' And, Leslie's conclusions to the contrary, it is less of a woman's issue than ever before. Today's dads are down with the cause. They are in the trenches. There has never been a time when men have been more involved, and the foundation of any political change will be further increasing voices of fathers in this discussion. Men are playing a bigger role, with younger dads, in particular, becoming increasingly involved in family life. Indeed, if there is a failing in the Nation piece, which exhaustively lists every possible policy-based care solution, no matter how expensive, it is that the author neglects the importance of changing attitudes -- not...

 

By Brian Reid | March 8, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Is Childcare A 'Woman's Issue?'

Great article in the March 12 issue of The Nation, The Care Crisis. Although we have shelves full of books that address work/family problems, we still have not named the burdens that affect most of American's working families...a profound "care deficit"...Three decades after Congress passed comprehensive childcare legislation in 1971 -- Nixon vetoed it -- childcare has simply dropped off the national agenda...the political atmosphere has only grown more hostile to the idea of using federal funds to subsidize the lives of working families...It is as though Americans are trapped in a time warp, still convinced that women should and will care for children, the elderly, homes and communities. Every working woman I speak with, especially those with more than one child, suffers from never-ending worries about childcare. How much it costs, whether her caregivers are nurturing her children and keeping them safe, whether her life will fall apart tomorrow...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 5, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (480)

The Path to Better Child Care

Studies show that 90 percent of a child's brain develops by age 5. The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice. Or should I say good day care was a great choice. Now a new "state report card" issued by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) points to "an urgent need in every state to improve standards and oversight of child-care centers." In plain language, a lot of states failed the NACCRRA test, and the association believes substandard day care is a national problem. With children of working mothers spending an average of 36 hours each work week in child care, improving the quality of care nationwide is in...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 2, 2007; 06:45 AM ET | Comments (0)

Part-Time Perils

By Rebeldad Brian Reid I'm closing in on kind of a weird anniversary: Next month will mark five years from the time I walked away from the full-time workforce into the wild world of part-time work, part-time-at-home-fatherhood and full-time angst. I've since rejoined the professional rat race, but you've probably noticed that I still spend a lot of time writing about the magic of part-time work. I'm not the only one -- this blog is full of tales of do-it-all parents whose work arrangements make it possible to get some sort of rudimentary balance between work and family (Tuesday's wonderful guest blog on equal parenting is only the most recent example). As I think back over my days as a part-timer, I'm realizing that it was no picnic. And though I don't have a moment's regret about my arrangement, no one ever warned me about any drawbacks. So, in the...

 

By Brian Reid | February 22, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (62)

The Government Is the Answer (Maybe)

By Rebeldad Brian Reid In the search for answers to questions of balance, I've spent a lot of time thinking about ways that employers can make life easier as well as plenty of ways that individuals can try to arrange things to their advantage. But I've pretty much given up on the government stepping in to help. The landmark law in the United States is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which was enacted in 1993 and guaranteed leave to (most) workers. But by international standards, the law was late in coming and weak. The U.S. is one of two OECD countries that still don't have paid maternity leave. (Australia is the other, and the lack of paid leave is a political issue there.) FMLA, meager as it is, has still come under attack from business interests, and advocates for strong leave remain vigilant. But there is hope, of sorts....

 

By Brian Reid | November 2, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Meaningless Child Care Debate

By Rebeldad Brian Reid The reason this blog has such robust and passionate commenters is that parenthood is the single greatest responsibility most of us will take on, and we feel tremendous pressure to do it well. It's possible to walk away, free and clear, from a boss or a job or even a marriage. You can't say the same of kids. And that's why debates over parenting issues are so divisive: Every parent is doing what they honestly feel is best for their child. When another parent makes a different decision (to bottle feed instead of breastfeed, to follow Sears instead of Ferber, to go to public school instead of private), it can be easy to see that as a reproach. And nothing fuels the I'm-doing-what-is-best-and-you-are-not debate more than the question of child care. I'd wager that more study has been done on the impact (or lack thereof) of...

 

By Brian Reid | October 12, 2006; 08:20 AM ET | Comments (208)

Care-Sharing and Other Novelties

By Rebeldad Brian Reid My adult life has been full of lucky breaks. I met the right woman when I was 20 years old. I bought a house in 2000, right when the real estate market here went from hot to you've-got-to-be-kidding me. I had two healthy babies. Up there on the list of lucky breaks is a woman named Hope. Hope has a daughter about the same age as my eldest, and we were caught together in the same uncomfortable position when our girls were infants: We both wanted to work part-time from home. We were both creative types (a writer and an architect), so the working-from-home part wasn't the issue. The trouble was with finding part-time care. Daycare centers, by and large, required a full commitment, even if I only wanted a couple of days of care. And the cost (and scheduling) of nannies wasn't something either of...

 

By Brian Reid | August 24, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Finding Great Babysitters

As we all know, you can't work (or get much else done) without good child care, preferably that doesn't cost a fortune. What's your best advice for finding -- and keeping -- good babysitters? My two cents: Finding babysitters is a learned skill. As a new mom I was terrible and had to use babysitting agencies, which were expensive and not very good for finding occasional sitters (much better for finding full-time nannies). I've now learned to constantly be on the lookout for good sitters. Over time, I've found teenagers and college students to be the best. The right ones take babysitting seriously and appreciate the money. When I spot someone who seems friendly and eager to spend more time with my kids, I immediately ask for their number (although I never ask my friends' sitters -- no poaching seems to be the rule here in D.C.) I've found a...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | July 7, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (173)

$100K Nannies

Good news -- evidence that quality child care is becoming increasingly valued in our society. Last Friday, USA Today ran an article in the Money section titled CEOs Shell Out Nearly 6 Figures to Secure the Perfect Nanny. The cover story profiled several experienced, college-educated nannies who earn close to $100,000, plus benefits including paid vacations, room and board, gym memberships, employer-furnished vehicles, cellphones and health insurance. For those of you interested in finding nannies with these qualifications -- or applying for these jobs yourselves -- an international resource cited in the article is the International Nanny Association. A well-known Washington, D.C., agency is White House Nannies, and a quick Internet search reveals dozens more high-end nanny placement firms around the country. For average nanny salaries in your area, check out the International Nanny Association's 2006 Salary Survey, which breaks out results by region. Salaries ranged from $300 to more...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | July 6, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (282)

 

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