Elementary School Aftercare Program

Updated on November 15, 2013
L.K. asks from Lafayette, CA
22 answers

Feeling a bit "guilty" and could use some support.

My 3 kids go to elementary school and we have access to an excellent aftercare program on the school's campus. My two younger children get out two hours earlier than my oldest and so I've been sending the youngest two to the aftercare program for 2 1/2 hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This gives me some extra time to get things done and allows me to pick the kids all up at the same time.

My question is:

Does anyone else utilize their children's afterschool program (i'm specifically wondering if other stay at home moms utlilize the program)?

How do I get "over" feeling guilty about having them there?

Thanks so much.

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answers from Reading on

I don't - I stay home with them to be the one caring for them, so I've never used the after care programs. But I also don't because we have so many working parents who are desperate for affordable after school care that it wouldn't be fair for me to use it - "fair" isn't quite the right word - you pay for it and it's first come first served and I'm just as entitled to it as anyone else, but since I don't NEED it, I wouldn't feel right taking that spot.

ALSO, I disagree with Diane B - I don't see snarkiness in these responses. You asked for opinions and that's what people are giving. I don't think asking "what's the point of staying home if you hire someone else to do the job" is snarky. They aren't judging you, they're giving their perspective, which is what you asked for. I think we are way too quick to cry foul here - these responses are honest and fine - both those pro and those con. Not everyone has to agree and egos don't need to be stroked.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You should think about how much gasoline and car emissions you're not doing.

You have a right to time, time to do things you want to do, not just things you NEED to do. You are just as valuable as the kids.

I think you should just look at this a different way. They are having fun with their friends. Taking them out to come home isn't fun. It's almost like punishment...lol.

4 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

I work at home full time and am off when the kids get out of school, so no aftercare program. BUT - in the summer they go to camp that ends 1-3 hours after my workday ends. No Way do I pick them up early! They are having fun with their friends and I get Mom time - Win-Win as far as I'm concerned!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Yes, mine WANTED to go! As a SAHM I felt a little guilty at first too, but I have really sociable, active kids and they would much rather have an extra hour or two to play with their friends every day (recess is never enough) than to come straight home from school.
There were still plenty of hours in the day for family and down time, sports and everything else. It worked out well for us :-)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I absolutely use mine but I am a FT working mom. However, I would definitely do what you are doing. It gives you extra time and their time is spent socializing and having fun. Honestly, if you were letting them watch TV for 2.5 hours while you did chores around then house, that would be worse. And if you're happy, they will be happy.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It is NOT a waste of money. It's a good experience for the kids, and those who just want to pick up their kids and have them be bored at home or play video games are losing out. Go for the aftercare!

Of course we use it. We use 2 different ones! So I pick up from 2 different schools. I'm at home, too. We even use it on days off of school! They are open and it is $2 an hour on days off as a special. But it is over $300 a month per child for the one; the younger ones go to a different one that's much cheaper. I won't be able to do it forever. (They get bused to it; there is a cheaper one at school but I like the one with the bus for variety).

Why are you guilty??? Enjoy the time!

We use it 5 days a week for one, and 3 days for some of the other kids.
My child BEGGED me to let her go to it.
I would do whatever it takes to pick them up at the same time.
If they are home, they are bored. At the program, it's built in friends and fun activities. And it's easier than driving around to an hour program here, an hour program there.

It makes no difference if you work outside the home or work in the home keeping house, etc.. It's available to whomever signs up and is savvy enough to do so early and follow the guidelines. I understand completely that you want to get things done and not want to have to pick up twice. I'd do the same thing.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I thought that was what being a SAHM was all about - being there for the kids after school. If they're in an aftercare program, you may as well get a job and help bring in some income.

I've heard SAHM's on this site complain because working moms are asking for help with childcare and then we have someone who doesn't need it taking up space in the after school program. Our after school programs have limited space. Wouldn't it be a shame if a working mom had no daycare options because a SAHM chose to take up space in the after school program so that she could have MORE free time. Personally, I think that having free time from 8:00 - 2:00 or so should be enough, but apparently not.

I have to wonder what it is that takes up so much of your time. I have been a working mom all of my life. I still manage to keep a clean house, run errands, pay bills, shop, attend school meetings, cook a homemade meal every night, do dishes and get my GD in bed by 9:00.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I have been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years. I try to get things done when they are in school, so I don't utilize an after school program. My younger two get out around 2:40 and my oldest at 4:00.

I just bring the younger two home. My older one walks or rides his bike home.

If the program works for you, then don't feel guilty. I feel guilty being a stay at home mom all the time. Just today, I was telling my husband that I feel guilty staying home, but it works for our family. As long as your kids are not exhausted when they get home or hating the program, then it's fine if it means your life is more organized.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

No why waste the money. Can't you get things done when they are in school.


No why waste the money. Can't you get things done when they are in school. I hope some poor working Mom is not screwed out of aftercare because you want time to yourself.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Do the kids like it? And how late does it get them home?... As a working mom I have to say I wonder about SAHM's using aftercare but I think it does depend on the children. If your kids want to go, then it's not really different than other paid activities they might be doing. If they don't want to go though, then I'd look whether you're taking lots of personal/relaxation time and kind of sluffing them off onto aftercare and then what's the point of being a SAHM?... Likely that's not the case if you're asking the question so nothing to feel guilty about.

ETA: Such different answers and I'm surprised no one focuses on whether the kids like it or not. I had mine try it bc one really wanted to and I thought it'd be fun for both of them. One liked it for a while then wanted to stop. Other one never really liked it so we stopped. To me that's the key - I didn't have to send them so we stopped. But if they liked it and had fun and wanted to go, it's not really that different than a playdate or other activities. I also assume since finances weren't mentioned it's not a problem to pay for it. If it is taking money away from other things - even saving for college - then seems silly to stay at home and still pay for 3 days. Or if the kids don't really want to go, then I think there is reason for guilt... Or if not guilt, at least don't complain to working moms how hard staying home is. I know a mom like that and it drives me crazy. Doesn't work, uses after care and still complains.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Why feel guilty? This provides opportunities for the kids to do things, build social relationships, learn new things (our after school program provided different opportunities for the kids to learn different things all year), and have fun, instead being in front of a tv after school. It is ok to make things a little easier on yourself without feeling bad about it. A Happy non-stressed mom
= Happier kids ! You could even try some 'me' time in there once in a while, you're allowed. C. S.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I work full-time, but I still know what you mean. I don't usually work Fridays, so that is my day to catch up on grading papers or going to the grocery store or running other errands. At first I felt guilty about my younger son still going to daycare on Fridays, even though I was not at work. Then I realized a few things.

First, if I didn't do that stuff alone, I'd have to do it with him and who wants that. Second, this was part of his routine (going to daycare everyday), so keeping him home threw off his schedule.

Recently our school was out on a Friday, usually my day off, and my department chair called a meeting that day. I told our school age son that I wasn't going to be able to be home and he needed to go to daycare that day (so great that we have that option if we need it). Was he upset? No. He smiled really big and got excited because he was going to spend the day with is friends.

We are all trying to achieve that perfect balance, aren't we? We want to spend time with our kids. They want to spend time with us. But we all have things to do, and we all need our time with our friends and our time with ourselves. What we don't need is to spend time feeling guilty about things that aren't even bad. Your kids are happy, right? They are spending time with their friends and are probably doing some fun activities, maybe even getting some exercise! As long as everyone is happy and healthy and doing what they need to do, there's really no reason to feel guilty.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm a little dismayed by some of the snarky comments here.

I think there's no single right way to parent a child. Each parent or couple decides what's best. I think it's a huge leap to assume that you are taking the spots needed by some single working mother or that you are being neglectful! By that logic, we would all homeschool all the time, never use preschool, and we would never go out to dinner with our spouses, so we could be with our kids 24/7.

If you need to get stuff done, and you have a supportive program that is nurturing and enjoyable, if your younger kids are learning how to deal with a longer school day as well as transitions, if you can afford it, what's the problem?

I put my child in preschool 2 days a week to start, and moved up progressively to 3 days and then 3 days plus 1 lunch, then pre-K, then pre-K plus 2 lunches/extended day. It wasn't for academics - it was for socialization, enrichment, cultural activities and to give me time to get stuff done and have a life that wasn't based on a child 24/7.

I think you feel guilty because you are listening to someone else tell you they wouldn't do that. But plenty of other moms ARE doing it, so you aren't looking to the right people for support if you still feel bothered.

The other thing is, if you are spending too much time on errands and chores and stuff you SHOULD do, maybe you aren't getting enough time for just YOU. Not caring for yourself can spill over into feeling you aren't worthy, and than can make you feel like you aren't perfect at everything you're supposed to be perfect at. I hope you use SOME of the time when they are in school to read a book, go to the gym, meditate, knit, volunteer, or do whatever it is that fulfills and restores you. That's critical for your own rejuvenation, and will make you a better mom when you are with your kids.

Just try to USE the time and not measure it in terms of how many toilets you scrubbed or how much recycling you did (because there is always stuff left unfinished), but in terms of whether you did something to better the world and better yourself.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

As long as you are not taking up a spot that would otherwise be used by a family who really needs aftercare, then I see no problem with it. In my area, though, childcare is difficult to find, and the before/after school programs often have a waiting list.

I do think you should feel guilty if you are taking away a spot from a family whose parent(s) work outside the home. They really need the childcare. If, however, there is plenty of room for all, keep using it. The kiddos are probably happy hanging out with friends and you get some much deserved down time.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

My kids were in after school care and loved it. I now have a work at home job so don't need it but my 5th grader begged me to go back too it ... Caregivers are wonderful and they do wonderful art/craft projects that I signed her up till December as there is no after school care in middle school.


My kids were in after school care and loved it. I now have a work at home job so don't need it but my 5th grader begged me to go back too it ... Caregivers are wonderful and they do wonderful art/craft projects that I signed her up till December as there is no after school care in middle school.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I have 2 kids. 4 years apart in age.
I am a SAHM but now work part-time.
When one of my kids were in elementary and one was younger and still not in school, I did not have my older child in aftercare. Nor did so just so that my younger one at home was napping or could nap or whatnot and was still very young.
Then, when both my kids entered into Elementary school, I did not have them in aftercare and still do not.
Because, we don't want to pay for aftercare, since I am home, and can drop off and pick up my kids after school.
It is an extra expense, if we have our kids in aftercare.
And I can be home with them after school.

Both my kids now, go to 2 different schools, one in elementary and the other in middle school. And both have different times they end school.
I still do not have any of my kids in aftercare.
We don't need to.
I don't need to.
And it is an extra expense.
And sure, there are tons I have to do everyday all day, and plus I work part-time when my kids are in school.
But even if I am crunched for time and per home things I have to do, I still would not have any of my kids in aftercare, because there is no need to.
I can be home with them after school and pick them both up at their different school times. I just time myself.
But we also do not live far away, from my kids' school.
But yes, I am driving back and forth during the day.
But that is just the way it is.

For me/us, I am a SAHM but work part-time, and a major reason for that is so that... I can be home with my kids after school and thus do not have to pay for aftercare. Which would be, about $100 per month for each kid.

My kids also do not want to go to aftercare. Although many of their friends do, who's Moms work full time.
My daughter even told me a couple of times, how "glad" she is that I am home and can pick them up and she does not have to go to after school care. Some of her friends, hate it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

my kids spent their entire elementary school experience going to after-care, almost every day. they had a great time, and it was a life-saver for me.
most of the time i was at work, but i also did use it sometimes so i could do errands or <gasp> have an hour to myself.
and yes, i felt guilty about it. horribly.
silly me. and silly you. i'm not sure HOW you get over the guilt. but please do know that it's unnecessary and counter-productive.
by the time you hit my age you won't beat yourself up for that sort of thing any more!
:) khairete

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I am a SAHM and all 3 of our kids are in school. No I have never utilized the before or after care programs.

I don't understand all this mom guilt that I hear and read about. Talk to your husband...make a decision together. Do what is best all around for you, your schedule, the kids and finances. Then once a decision is made, go forward with confidence and don't give one thought to someone else's contrary opinion. It is just that...an opinion. We are all entitled to our opinions...doesn't make anyone right.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

As long as the kids are enjoying it and thriving, don't feel guilty. It's not like you are sending them until dinnertime while you go to the spa each week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I would never have put my kids in aftercare, unless it were free. With only one income we have to budget our money, and that would have not been a worthwhile way to spend it. I do provide before and after school care to other peoples kids though.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

I worked full time and once and a while, I would take time off for me to do whatever I needed to do without having to drag kids around.

In order to be an effective mom, you have to take care of yourself whether you work at home or at a job. You have to keep yourself together physically, mentally. and emotionally in order to function and care for the family. No one else is going to worry about what you did or didn't do for you or them. They just see things from outside are quick to judge. Don't feel guilty and don't feel guilty about saying "NO" to someone sometimes. You can't be everything to everyone all the time without a major meltdown. Once you learn your limits you won't have this thought issue. I was a woman, a wife and then a mom. Think in that order and you won't have this issue.

If you need the program so be it. You are not broadcasting to the world what you do. That's why I don't do Facebook very well. They find out after the fact and not before.

Have a great weekend.

the other S.


answers from Houston on

I taught Performance Dance after school two years ago. I was able to reintroduce skills and teach choreography at an advanced pace, The program was free for students, but I got a $18 stipend. No one could find a better offer than that!

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