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Slight Panic

August 5th, 2010 at 09:47 am

Last night when I arrived to pick up my boys from day care I was told that the center is closing permanently in October.

I hope I looked like I took the news ok, because it put me in a tailspin and I began to panic.

There are a limited number of quality child care providers in our area -and an even fewer number of providers that we can afford. I got home and called a local home provider who we had been happy with years ago, (she's mulling over whether she wants a new child) and I've now spent the better part of the day calling places. There are a few spots for full time care to be found -and the price ranges are incredible. (Our rate is $210 starting next month, down from the $240 we've been paying - the highest rate I've been quoted so far is $375/wk) Our sticking points (besdies general quality of care) are location and hours - because of the nature of my work and my husband's work location, we need a place that is open earlier and closes later. That's tough to find if you're on a budget.

On the flip side, I've scouted out a spot at the YWCA which is slightly less $ and includes swimming lessons -and is only a few blocks away from our current provider. I'm going to take a tour there this afternoon to see if it's someplace we can be happy with.

Most of all, I feel terrible about the wonderful teachers who are going to be looking for work in the next few months. They've been a second family to the boys, and they have always gone beyond what we would expect. I wish I could do or say something to help them.

Living in Stepford

July 26th, 2010 at 11:23 am

Disclaimer: this is mostly not financial in nature, and absolutely peppered with off the cuff sarcasm.

My oldest son starts kindergarden next month, and I'm nervous about starting at a new school with new parents and teachers, and not only because not everyone appreciates my dry humor and generally sarcastic nature.

I'm the only working mom in our neighborhood.

Our town is very...traditional. Stepford, Mad Men, Neil Armstrong on the Moon traditional. We don't have a gym or YMCA - we have a tennis club. We don't have sewers because "that's how the government gets into your house." (Actual quote) We don't have an ice cream shop or dry cleaner because it is "too industrial." Everyone uses last names.

At kindergarten orientation, the PTA co-president (we also have a co-secretary and a co-treasurer..?) told the assembled parents, "I know many of you moms are busy with your other children, sports programs and volunteer activities...(and then in a hushed voice) some of you may even work...!"

All of the school functions and meetings have been scheduled during normal business hours -which has been difficult to manage when both parents work. All the sports activities are scheduled for weekday mornings between 9:30 and 11:30 -impossible for us to manage.

I've already had a difficult time connecting with the other mothers. I know there are parents who have made some pretty interesting assumptions about our lifestyle and values based on what they perceive of our family...and it irks me. I am too tired to deal with this ridiculous "Mommy Wars" mentality.

I want to say to these people, "Look. What's important is that the kids grow up into responsible, caring adults with a love of life and learning. Who cares if you make tollhouse cookies while I'm arguing a motion? Your kids are going to turn into adults with dependancy issues, and my kids are going to be underemployed with multiple piercings and bad taste in music. Let's work together with what we've got!"

Also, I would like to go in to the Principal's office and say, "If you don't stop scheduling every freaking thing for a time between the hours of 9 and 2, I am going to be a giant boil on your backside for as long as my kids go to your school."

(For the record, I am not going to do either of those things.)

I am hopeful that we'll be able to make some new friends this year, and that my son's mohawk grows out before the start of the school year. Because if it doesn't, I have no chance of ever fitting in in Stepford.

Big Night Out vs. My Wallet

July 23rd, 2010 at 07:19 am

So, we had our big night out on Wednesday. Two big budget scores: first, we parked at a meter, saving about $18.00 in parking -all we had to do was walk 4 blocks.

We ended up having to eat dinner out, so we scored again with a little hole in the wall Hungarian restaurant, skipping the way more crowded (and expensive) places that lined the street. We all tried something new, had two desserts and all for under $20.00. (And had great service and left with plenty of time for the show!)

Then, at the show, despite our best efforts, we couldn't find anyone selling souveniers. We did buy the little guy some ice cream and shared a soda. So, all in all, not a bad night out. (And the show was wonderful!)

As we left the arena, the local baseball team had finished their game, and there were some terrific fireworks! Unfortunately, at exactly the same time, the skies opened up and we were drenched in a deluge -and those 3 blocks to the car seemed longer in the rain while carrying a waterlogged 5 year old. But he loved it. (And it was kind of fun getting soaked!)

Big Night Out

July 21st, 2010 at 10:17 am

We have a big night out planned, which I've been looking forward to for a few months. We're taking our oldest son to see Star Wars in Concert -and while I'm super excited about going, I'm also anxious about one thing: the gimmicks they try to sell you when you go to anything these days.

We're having dinner with my husband's parents at home (cost: $0), and the in-laws are watching the little one (cost: $0). I assume we'll have to pay some crazy rate for parking ($20.00?). Enter the gadgets, t-shirts, lightsabers, and jedi watchamahooozle -all overpriced, and all directly in the line of sight of the 5 year old.

I'm going to explain calmly that there are going to be a lot of things for sale there, but that we aren't going to be buying anything tonight. My son is actually pretty good about that kind of thing...but...I'm afraid that the temptation is going to be too much for him, and we're going to have to try and manage a very disapointed little guy.

Kids and Money

July 19th, 2010 at 06:45 am

Our oldest is 5 and a half, and I think it's time to start really teaching him about money: how to earn it, save it, and spend it. I'm just not sure how to go about teaching him in a way that will be meaningful.

He has a piggy bank, and it's pretty full. He knows about the bank, and (we) opened a savings account with his birthday money last year.

The next step, I suppose, is an allowance. Obviously, something small -because he's still little, and is pretty sure that the size of the coin is = to it's value. (He's still working on the fact that a dime is worth more than a nickle.) So, how much?

Then there's the other issue: do we give him an allowance no matter what, or do we ask him to do chores and then give him an allowance? I want to instill that as a member of the family, we all pitch in around the house -and that helping out is not optional (and not dependent on choosing to be paid). I also don't want him to get the impression that people just hand you money and you then go your merry way.

Finally, once we've provided him some sort of income, however small, how do we best teach him how to save money, how to spend money and how to use money to help others? I've heard of people insisting that kids put 1/3 to savings, 1/3 to charity and 1/3 for spending. Has anyone done that? How do you enforce it and has it worked? As a practical matter, do you use an envelope system? Extra piggy banks?

Any ideas out there?