Need Reassurance About After School Care

Updated on August 17, 2015
J.F. asks from Milledgeville, GA
26 answers

I am going back to work after several years at home and my child (age 10) will be going to after school care. It is on-site at his school. We love the school, and we know the teachers and they are wonderful. Even with that said, it is an emotional decision. He is an only child so I think it will be nice for him to be with friends, but my heart hurts when I think about not being there to pick him up right away when school lets out. To be candid, I also wonder whether SAHMs secretly judge moms whose kids are in after-care (I know that is my issue and not my child's). I would love to hear any thoughts/advice from those of you who have been there, done that.

ETA: That is a really insightful question about whether I judged working moms in the past (and I mean that sincerely). I didn't consciously, but maybe subconsciously I did. It bears thinking about.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

As a SAHM my kids begged to go. It was extra time with their friends, and let's face it, recess is not enough. I let them go a few times a week. Try to relax, he's ten, and as long as he has a few friends there he's going to be fine.
And I can't imagine judging working mothers...is this something you have done in the past, is that why it bothers you?

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J.S.

answers from St. Louis on

My kids loved latch key because they could do their homework right after school and then play with their friends. When they got home they could play with their subdivision friends without worrying about homework. It is a win win.

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S.H.

answers from Santa Barbara on

People who sit around and judge, are going to judge you and others whether they are a SAHM or not.

I know SAHM who used the after school care and that didn't concern me. It is what worked for their family.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

my kids preferred the after-school care to taking the bus to their daycare lady's house. they liked being with their schoolmates, and usually got their homework knocked out before we picked them up, which was a nice bonus.
it DOES suck to make 'em stay at school when most of the others go home. it sucks to drop 'em off at daycare and go to work too. my heart will always have thousands of hairline scars from all those years of my kids being under someone else's watch. i get it.
he'll be okay, though. so will you. we're a couple of generations into more kids having working than SAH parents, and we're collectively figuring it out. you've got a huge leg up with it being a great school, and having teachers you love running the program.
i'm sure there will be judgey moms. there always are. as you say, you were one of 'em. but there's someone to secretly judge no matter what you do. you just have to shrug that off and do what's best for your family.
for us, the reality was that my husband and i both HAD to work. it was not a perfect solution. but we made it work, and our kids handled it just fine for the most part. yours will too.
khairete
S.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

To your concerns about aftercare itself - my child gets annoyed if we pick him up too quickly because he has so much fun there. So no I have no guilt about using it. And he gets all his homework done so we don't have to worry about it. Double win.

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M.P.

answers from Grand Forks on

Judged for having my kid in after care? Lol...wow I never realized I was! I don't have any other option so it's always been a non issue to me. I get my 6 year old son as soon as I can get off, which varies by an hour or so each day...he's only there for about two hours. He finishes homework, has a snack and plays. We hang out from 5-8:30p every night. I think it's fine, perfect, no probs...
I understand you're in a transitional time so it's different from my world and life but we all just do what we gotta do! He'll be fine, just another thing for you to adjust to and you'll adjust soon! Good luck with work!

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V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

I'm a SAHM, and I've never judged parents who utilized the after-care programs. They are necessary and needed. I will admit I am judge-y about some things, some times, but not for using after care so that you can help provide for your family! Heck, even as a SAHM, I used it from time to time when the kids were small and in private school. I sometimes couldn't be there right at pick up time for reasons other than working. Honestly, it was my first foray into having a bit of "freedom" to accomplish things outside the house without the littles in tow. Christmas shopping for example. ;)

But goodness, we all do what we need to do in order to be the best parent we can and to do the best by our children we can, whatever that looks like.

And yes, at 10 years old, your son is old enough to communicate fully with you about his experiences there if something doesn't go well for some reason. My only caution would be to be cautious about how you discuss this plan with your son. Wearing your heart on your sleeve and letting him know how emotional YOU are about this might create anxiety for him that he wouldn't experience otherwise. He's 10. He'll be fine, and probably have fun! (My 4 year old, when I had to occasionally left her in after-care a few times, hated it, b/c they insisted the kids nap, and she had given hers up already. She never fell asleep and just laid there quietly, until they agreed she could read in the corner by herself. LOL)

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

My kids go to a local daycare center afterschool. I teach at a university, so my summer break starts a few weeks before theirs. When I started picking them up at school my youngest was thrilled, and my oldest missed seeing his friends at daycare! Every child is different, buy your 10 year old is more than capable of talking to you about how he feels. Also, you'll probably only be using aftercare for a couple of years. Our daycare center stops at age 12, and I remember babysitting at age 12. This won't last long.

As far as being judged, there are some on both sides who judge. There are some SAHM that judge working moms ("I didn't have kids so that someone else could raise them."), and there are moms who work full-time who judge SAHM (lazy!!!). Like so many others, I have done both. I am so not SAHM material. I was a SAHM for 5 years and have never been happier since going back to work full-time. I do have my summers, and I enjoy them and really appreciate that extra time with my boys. But I am so glad I don't do it year round, and I really, really admire those who do. I think SAHM deserve so much respect for all that they do, but I also know that most moms I know give everything they have in their effort to be fabulous moms for their kids. The important thing is to remember that you are doing everything you can for your child. What you have to offer may not be the same as another mom, but it is still invaluable to your child.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I am a SAHM and I think it is really smart that you are going back to work. You will have much more time on your hands and working means you will not be bored, you will contribute financially to your family, you will have a purpose, you may learn new things, and you just have more security for yourself. My youngest is starting Kindergarten and I am looking around for a job. I think getting your child into the school's after school program is wonderful. They will be with friends and will all have a snack and then play together till pick up time. It's perfect.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

It'll be fine!
Our son use to go to after school care at taekwondo.
He'd get his homework finished there, have class, and then play games until we picked him up.
When we got home, I'd get supper ready while he showered up, then we could eat and enjoy some tv time before bed.
I'm sure we all get judged no matter what we do but I've learned not to care what others think in a lot of areas.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Best wishes to you and I'm sorry if you feel as though you are judged.

You child is 10 and perfectly capable of communicating well with you about after school care. Of course this is a transitional time.

Our elementary school is a part of an after school care program which is hard to get enrolled because of the popularity! Children go after school and get a snack. 1/2 upper level grades go outside to be with friends, recess, socialize while the other 1/2 go to different teachers in the school for any tutoring, home work etc. After a while, they switch. In the end all children get time with a teacher to do homework and be tutored if necessary and get to socialize with friends!!! Win/win

You do what's necessary for your child and whatever you find that works for your family is ok. You're mom and doing the best you can and don't feel like you are not superior because you are not a SAHM.

It's a huge balance and however your chips fall being SAHM or not... Your priority is your child and that's what you are doing Mom!!

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A.M.

answers from Hartford on

Please do not take offense to this but at 10 years old why are you worrying so much and why are you being so hard on yourself!? Your son will go to after schoolcare in the same building he goes to school in which means he is familiar with the poeple and the surroundings. At 10 years old most children are independent to some extent. My son thrives in his before/after care program and at camps. He was an only child up until he was 8.5, it is hard when it is your only one but you have to let them be themselves and give them independence to grow and socialize, espically as an only child. The transition might be tough but in the end it will be good for all involved.

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H.W.

answers from Portland on

Maybe it's because I was a nanny and preschool teacher, but as a SAHM now, I have no judgment toward parents who utilize after-care. And the people who do judge that also judge families which use regular child care, claiming that "people shouldn't have kids if they expect someone else to raise them".

I guess one thing which stands out as abundantly clear to me is simply this: parents are very important in their child's life and having friendly, loving caregivers, teachers and helpers in a child's life is never a bad thing. My son went to my friend's preschool while I taught and ran my own preschool, and I had a great neighbor dad as a child care provider who picked my son up and kept him so I could close, clean up and prep. I loved the people my son was around and so it's heartening to see that you find the teachers 'wonderful'. You should feel really good about letting your son learn to trust others and have a little life of fun without you. :)

And there's a profound difference between the parent that chooses a career or has to work and uses child care options and a parent who would choose to leave their child in a BAD child care situation.

My son is an only child and loves having time with his friends in after-school extracurriculars. I know other kids who love to see their friends and play with them each afternoon at aftercare.

My best wishes for you in your new job. Please don't fall into the trap of bad or guilty about your choice. There are people who judge, and I also think that when *we* feel bad about something already, it's more likely that we take general comments personally.

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E.B.

answers from Austin on

I just want to encourage you to not express any fear to your son. Don't show him that you're worried or emotional about after enrolling him in after school care.

All good and loving moms' hearts hurt a little, or beat a little faster, or feel a little pain, or ache, when their child is away from them. From the first day when the nurse takes our little newborn away to be cleaned up and weighed, to the day that sweet little child gets on that huge school bus for kindergarten, to the day of their first sleep over at a friend's house, to the days when they go on field trips or stay after school for activities, to the day they drive for the first time with that new license, to the day they leave for college, and even after they've moved into their own place and are on their own: we worry, we fret, we pray, we hope, we wait, we're excited, we're proud, we love them, and we're scared.

And sure, some people will judge you, and not just about whether you work or have enrolled your child in day care. Someone will ALWAYS judge you. They'll judge your child's haircut, where you buy his clothes, whether he's on a team of some sort (and if he is, whether he spends too much time and you spend too much money on the sport, or if he's in the "right" sport, and if he isn't, why isn't he?). They'll judge what car you drive and whether you were enlightened enough to use only organic ingredients and imported Tunisian orchid sugar in the PTA cupcakes you baked, and if you did, why are you such a snob that only uses fancy ingredients? What's wrong with regular flour and sugar? It goes on and on. Someone will always judge you for something.

So just do your best to be a good mom to your son. Do your best at your job, and know that your work will either be helping to pay basic expenses, or helping you follow your passion or doing what you're skilled at, or contributing to your son's college fund - whatever reason you have for returning to work.

Just make sure you're not judging others - you don't know what's in their bank account, or what's going on in their home, or what are the reasons for their decisions about education, or day care, or anything else. Teach your son that, and there will be two fewer judge-y people in the world!

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S.C.

answers from Kansas City on

Mom. Mom, mom, mom. This will be AWESOME for your kiddo. And I don't just mean developmentally, I mean he will have A BALL.

Please PLEASE try to calm down. He is 10 years old not 10 days old. He will have so much fun. You're really beating yourself up over this - stop it. There is zero for you to stress about here. I could understand if he was younger but at 10 years old most kids WANT to spread their wings and do stuff without their parents.

I don't know what SAHM mom's judge or don't - I figure there is plenty of judgment from all corners so I just turn a blind eye and do what I feel like doing - there will always be someone who judges you, no matter what you do. Don't worry about it. I wonder if your stress over going back to work is just spilling into this issue because honestly, this isn't something you should waste your precious energy worrying about. I promise- he'll be fine.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

I've been on both sides over the years. When my oldest (now 17, entering his senior year of high school) was in K-2, he went to an after school program every day. It made for a really long day for a little guy, but it was an excellent program where he had lots of friends and did tons of activities. When he was in 3rd grade, I had the opportunity to work from home 3 days a week so he only went to the program on the 2 days I was in the office and later stayed home on his own starting in 6th or 7th grade. My younger boys, who are now 9 & 11, also went 2 days a week for a couple of years until the older one was able to watch them after school for a few hours until we got home from work (again, only 2 days a week). For the past few years they haven't been in a program but have instead been home with a teenage sibling when I haven't worked at home.

I just started a job at the end of last school year that requires full time office days for me, so they are going back into after-school care this fall and are looking forward to having some structure in the afternoons and enjoyed the last couple of weeks of school last year when they had after-school care. Now realistically given their schedules we'll be hiring someone in our home so that they can get driven to hockey practice before we get home but they would enjoy the after school program too if it fit their schedule.

There are pros and cons to both, and the good thing is that kids adapt! If he likes the program, it's well run with lots of activities and friends then great! If he gets bored with it after a while or there is an issue, you can look around and see if there is anyone who runs a home-based after school care group in your neighborhood that would be a good fit, or consider hiring a sitter in your home who can drive him to activities, host play dates, etc. just like you did when you were home.

Know that there are lots of parents in your situation and therefore, lots of options. Give this a try and see how it goes - it'll probably be great but if not, there's always plan B, plan C, etc.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

I have a bias the other way. I see so many women in my life and in my friends that stay home but their family does without. Mom being home isn't more important that your kids having food on the table or having their basic needs met.

And the moms deserve to have their needs met and some of their wants given to them. We deserve to have a happy life.

So if a woman needs to go back to work so her family can have enough food or insurance or better lives or even a vacation then she should get over that "I want to stay home" attitude and get out and get a job.

If a woman wants to have a savings account for an emergency but hubby doesn't make enough or spends too much to put any money aside then she needs to get out there and get a job. If their basic needs are met then when the kids are in school she can go to work and save her income.

I think it's nice if ONE OF THE PARENTS can stay home, they take care of the kids and do a lot that contributes to the home.

If the family income is where one of the parents can stay home all day and they can still pay tithes, fully, plus give offerings when they feel the desire, and they can put at least 10% in savings and have full health coverage insurance and good drivable vehicles and all the clothes everyone needs and all needs ARE met. Then yes, one of the parents can stay home easily.

But if the kids need college money or grocery money or they need tutoring or dental work that isn't covered by the health insurance or sports or other activities then that parent might need to think about going to back work when they are all in school.

If parents have to wait for the kids to finish before they can eat so they can make sure the kids have enough, if the kids get to bathe first to make sure there is enough shampoo or soap for their bath or if the parents have to wash the kids clothes first to make sure there's enough money to do their own clothes then that parent needs to go out and get a job to help their family.

Now, about working out of the home. If a parent that is staying home can take in one more child to watch and not be breaking state child care laws then that's an option to make a little money but be sure to claim it on the taxes. That parent will surely want to claim that child care credit on their own taxes.

If the parent can sew, they can take in ironing, mending, custom items, and more. They understand how garments are put together and they know how to work the seams and iron the garments properly.

They can make quilts, bibs and binky straps and more to finish out a layette, a seamstress mom can construct clothing and sell them at craft shows or online on Etsy or Ebay. A collector will have a stash of items they can sell to get extra money, they can find a way to make money.

So if a parent who stays home just because "I want to stay home with my kids" and they're making their family do without so they can be home all day then I have no compassion for them. They need to get out and find a source of income to help their family have a better life.

I know, I sound mean but I'm not really mean.

If you need to go to work then don't let anyone make you doubt your decision.

Child care is a highly regulated business. Sometimes things happen. But it'snot often and when it does many of us that work in that field wonder just how that happened because we know how things work in that situation. It's just so unlikely those media reports are telling the whole story. Please don't read those reports and thing child care is horrible and dangerous. It's not. It's usually extremely safe.

Your child is nearly old enough to stay home alone all day with just herself. Kids as young as 8 are latch key kids and they come home and stay home on off school days and they learn how to do that through a slow process of learning home alone time.

You go for a walk around the block and leave kiddo home alone. You can walk back and forth a few times on your block and even keep your home in sight...

It's hard to take that first step but it is necessary.

The main thing I look at is this. Child care usually don't keep kids older than 10, that's often the cut off because those kids should be able to come home from school and watch themselves for a couple of hours, especially if they have neighbors who are home and good friends.

When a child is 12 they can babysit and watch others, how can they do that successfully if they can't watch themselves yet?

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C.V.

answers from Columbia on

I never gave a rip what any mother thought of my kids being in after school care. Neither should you. You do what's best for your child and your family and feel GOOD knowing that is what you've done.

That said...he's 10 and reaching an age where he need not go to after school care. He could go to sports or an after school club or activity. He could go home and start on homework. For our family, we found that the kids were capable enough that they didn't need to be babysat after school at that age. Which gave them freedom to do other things for the couple of hours between school letting out and mom and dad arriving home.

Good luck.

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

I have always gone in to work REALLY early so I can be home to get my kids off the bus. The flip side of that is that I rarely get to see them in the mornings. So it's give and take. For my family, it's better for me to be there when they get home, for others it's better to send them off in the morning.

For years we had an amazing sitter who did it for us. Currently my husband works from home, so he does the morning routine.

The only moms I judge are the ones who don't seem to care - working or not.

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J.T.

answers from New York on

I'm sure some SAHM's judge working moms but I'm a working mom so can't say for sure. What I have judged are the SAHM's who send their kids to after care every day! So don't feel bad if you need to go back to work and your son goes. He's 10 so he'll get it and he'll also be able to tell you if he doesn't like it. I think some kids really do want to go to be with their friends and if that's the reason some SAHM's send them every day, that makes sense. I just know some kids who don't want to go. But again, he is old enough to tell you. My kids are around that age and they have told me they don't want to go. Yet some of their friends want to. My concern would be homework as it gets harder. They can't get the same 1:1 attention as at home. But it seems to work out ok and depends on the quality of the aftercare. I know one of ours is pretty good helping the kids. I think the homework is mainly an issue for big projects. So if you stay organized with those, should be ok. So just see how it goes and take it from
there. Btw. Even as a working mom I do judge other working moms when I see them bring their kids to before care and the kids are going to aftercare too while they drive really fancy cars. I try not to judge but I do. I think it's part of how I justify what I do. Ie: better than that mom, not as good as that mom so hopefully my kids are ok. But I have a friend with any only child that has always used aftercare vs a nanny bc she felt her daughter would have more fun in aftercare and that makes total sense to me.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I've done both.

Honestly, my ideal would be a bit of both (part time).

When I was first home, I still sent my kids part time because they enjoyed it and their friends went those days. Ours was pretty inexpensive and so we managed to do it twice a week.

What I liked about it - they hung out with their friends and were active. They also made new friends.

What I worried about - the longer day. Mind you, they adjusted. And it just meant they'd had their fun before getting home, so we just kept it low key in the evenings. Sometimes if we had sports that night too - they were a bit drained. At age 10, probably manageable though. It was only a concern when mine were little.

I've been on both sides of it (working and home) and honestly - career moms don't always understand SAHM's and vice versa. Who cares? Until you've done both, it's hard to know what it's like. We all just want the best for our kids though right? :)

He will enjoy it I'm sure. My kids did. The friend part was awesome. And it's only a couple of hours - then home with you guys :)

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

My SD went to aftercare and my DD will be going this fall if I get the job I hope to get. I know it is a good program and one if not more of her friends will be there. I've talked to her about how it's hard when I'm working from home and at aftercare, she'll play with her friends, do her HW, have a snack and then we can just hang out and enjoy family time at home. Likely I'd only need to leave her there 2 days a week, but time will tell. It was good for SD. My DD is also basically an only and I've been WFH since she was a toddler. I personally don't judge anyone for aftercare and if someone judges me, then that's about them, not me. At this point, I'd like to further my career and that means I can't be there at 4PM for my kid. Someone has to watch her. I think our aftercare is a great option, and I think once she gets the hang of it, she will, too. Her friend likes it so much, she begs to stay some days, even if her mom can pick her up early. I think that says a lot about their program.

ETA: Our aftercare aged out at 12 when SD was in it so we knew we'd have to prep her for going home before then. She actually ended up earning student service hours by volunteering at her old aftercare program for a year or so instead of just coming home. It worked fine for us and then it was free. SS was able to go home at 11 and not burn down the house. He's always been very responsible. I think that by the time they get to middle school many kids can be left alone but it also varies on the kid. I'd take this year to see where he'll be next year and if you need to continue the aftercare to 12 or not. I was a latchkey kid at 10, but that wasn't my mom's preferred choice.

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J.M.

answers from Boston on

It sounds like a great decision and he will do well. Good for you.

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M.M.

answers from Chicago on

I was worried about that for awhile, until my kids started complaining when I came to pick them up from aftercare because they were having fun with their friends.
It's like a giant playdate with everyone they like.
Don't worry about it.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

Its a change of routine and change can be frightening. He'll do fine in after school care as all the other kids who have been in daycare and after school programs have been.

And yes SAHM and working moms don't always seem to support each other well. Working moms feel they have a lot to juggle and think SAHMs have it much easier. SAHMs have a lot of their plate but don't think working moms think they do enough to warrant staying home.

This has been a battle as long as there have been moms. I'd love to think that we'd be over it at some point but I don't see that happening ever. People are judgey so this is just another thing to be judgey about.

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S.W.

answers from Detroit on

Hi Bmama,

I remember this transition for myself and my son and I can completely empathize with your feelings. He's 10 and probably more than ready for this sort of experience. My DS started aftercare in 3rd grade and absolutely loved it. It was provided at his school, it was affordable and it was a great opportunity for my only child to simply socialize with his friends.

He's entering 8th grade in a couple of weeks and at his middle school they don't have any "aftercare." The building stays open until 6:00 with teachers and admin staff on site. He's spent the last two years using that 90 minutes between dismissal and when I pick him up doing homework in the library with his friends and when that's done....what else....computer games. Less for him to to when he gets home and if he runs into a snag, chances are the teacher is still in the building to offer assistance.

It is emotional but it's also a wonderful chapter for him to enter into. I agree with the previous posts that you shouldn't express any negative emotions surrounding this, otherwise he may feel like he's responsible in some way for making you sad/emotional/etc. Just tell him how proud you are of him and emphasize the positive. He'll have a blast. Expect a few "telescope" moments and focus on the joy of the situation.

Best of luck to you all and happy back to school!! :-) S.

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