Two Questions About Summer Child Care

Updated on May 07, 2013
L.L. asks from Elgin, IL
20 answers

I could use some "Mommie" advise on summer child care for my 5 year old daughter and son who is turning 1 this Thursday. For background information, I work from home doing a normal full-time 8am - 5pm job where I have to stay pretty close to my computer and am pretty consistently busy most days.

Question 1: For my 5 year old (turning 6 in July)
We were thinking about signing her up for summer camp at the daycare she currently attends before and after kindergarten. However, after looking at the calendar of events and what they will be doing each day, there are a few field trips they will be taking that I am not comfortable with. There are days where they will be going downtown Chicago to Willis Tower, The Aquarium, and the Science and Industry Museam. The idea of my 5 year old being in the city over an hour away without me makes me really nervous. And lets face it even the most well behaved kids can get into trouble when they are with a group of other kids their age doing something exciting. She has never really gone places without us or another close family member, she's only 5! Am I being too cautious? Do any of you have experience with summer camps like this?

Question 2: For my 1 year old
I was recently approached by my 13 year old neighbor who we know pretty well asking about babysitting for my son so that she could earn some money. I told her that I could use help with my son during the day over the summer and that I would talk to my husband about how much we could pay her. We were thinking that since she is 13 and I will be here with them to pay her $50/week. Since lives right next door she can go home while my son naps. Is $50/week a fair price in this situation or is it too low? I want to be fair, but at the same time, money is pretty tight.

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answers from Chicago on

My neighbor's 13 year old son charges $5/hr for that kind of help. $10/day is definitely not worth her time.

My 10 year old daughter gets $10/day to walk the neighbors' dog twice a day for 20 mins.

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answers from Sacramento on

I worked at a summer day camp for years - through undergrad and grad school. Every summer we took the kids on at least 2 out of town field trips - to San Francisco and Six Flags (both 90-100 miles away). I always had the kindergarten group. It was me and 5-6 kindergarteners. They were fine and had a great time. Kids are different when they are out with a group and it's not their parent chaperoning. We always set very clear expectations and I never once had a problem. Like someone mentioned before, camps have been doing these kinds of trips for years, they know what they are doing.

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answers from Boston on

How many hours for the 13 year old? The going rate here at that age is $10 an hour, maybe a little less as a mother's helper but certainly not less than $5 an hour even for a younger mother's helper. What do you do for childcare for your son now?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

#1 - I would ask how many chaperones will be with the kids. If there are enough adults to keep track of the kids (eg, 1 adult per every 3 kids for a busy place), then I would be fine with this. I think it's a great opportunity for a 5 year old if it's well-planned.
#2 - how many hours per day, and what time of day? You are paying $10 per day. If you expect her to give up going to the pool and spending any time with friends every day from 8-5, then this is way too low. (Even if she can go home during nap time, if she is coming back afterwards, she still can't do anything else with her day so it still counts for the hours you are keeping her unavailable). Around here, mommy's helpers (who play with kids while mom is home) get about $5 per hour.

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answers from Honolulu on

1) per summer programs, a child does NOT have to go, on the field trips.
You can, opt out. With ANY summer program.... you CAN OPT to not send your child to the field trip or field trips. That's what I have done before. NO problem.
You... do not have to.... justify or "explain" why you don't want your child to go.
Typically, before any field trip, they will send home a flyer anyway and permission form with info about payment/fees and if your child will be attending... or... not. And you fill out the form and send it back.

But then, your child will be home. But you work at home. So... get a babysitter for home, to watch your child.

2) $10 per day??? That is, really.... hardly anything.
How many hours a day, would she be babysitting? 8 hours? 9 hours? or longer??? And when he naps, you say she can go home... but when he wakes up, then what? You have to go next door to call her back again????
And if "working"/ babysitting your child, she is on the clock, even if he is napping.
Or just be honest and TELL her... "Money is tight for us, but we can offer you $50 per week. Is that okay with you? Have you talked to your Mom about it?" By telling her that you can only afford $50 a week to pay her, then that way, she will know that you are not trying to... take advantage of her per pay.

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answers from Washington DC on

#1 - I wouldn't even want my 9 year old going an hour away with a bunch of people when I didn't know for sure she would be safe. I am overly cautious, but getting better at giving her freedom. At 5, no way would I have let my kid do it. Even in kindergarten we ALWAYS send a chaperone with our kids. In January we were on vacation when the form came home to chaperone the trip, so I drove myself to Baltimore (about 90-120 minutes away) and paid for my entrance to the aquarium to go with him. I would be nervous too. But if you trust these people and enough chaperones are going, what a great experience for your daughter!

#2 - I think it's too low. I'd offer her $100 per week. Even though you'll be there, she will be the main caregiver. I'd offer her $100 per week even if it's only 5 hours of the day. It's her time she is giving up, her freedon. A 1 year old is a LOT of work too. You being there will actually make it HARDER for her to watch him and maybe interact with him or handle situations when he does something wrong (hitting, throwing, whatever). I was always more nervous to tell a child they were doing something wrong when the parents were around. I'd do the $100 per week AT LEAST and give her set hours.

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answers from Dallas on

My daughter started going to the same type of summer camp when she was in Kindergarten. If I remember correctly they went to some places in Dallas and to the Ft. Worth Zoo. They never had any problems that I am aware of. I think they are well-equiped and staffed to handle these field trips. I think it would be good for your daughter. She will probably have tons of fun. I know my daughter did. She is 12 now so she is too old for that camp, but I am sure she would still want to go if she could.

For your 1 year old - I have recently gone through the exact same situation. I also work from home, an 8-5 job where I need to be close to the computer all day. I kept my son home with me for the first 2 years. He just recently started going to Montessori school because I just couldn't keep up with my work anymore. I tried having someone come to my house to watch him, but he still just wanted me all the time. So, that didn't work for me. But if you do decide to do that - I think $50 is reasonable considering everything.

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answers from New York on

I do not see a problem with the field trips. I think it is a great experience for the kids, your child included. She will be 6, camps have been doing these trips for a while, I am sure. If it was a problem, they would not do them. So try to relax and let her go and have some fun.

$50 for a 13 yo is fine but I think she will get bored after a while.

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answers from Orlando on

maybe i am cheap but i would not pay 5-10$ per hour for a 13 yr old to be at my house watching my 1 yr old while I am there. I'd negotiate a weekly rate, if she is ok with 50$ / week then fine, I'd maybe (MAYBE) go up to 75$.

and, I probably would NOT let my daughter go on those kinds of field trips. I am told I'm overly protective too, and I don't care.



answers from Washington DC on

To increase your comfort level with the field trips: Ask now:

How are the kids transported? Is it by a reliable and licensed and bonded bus company? Are there seat belts on these buses or vehicles? (I know most school buses do not have seat belts and that's why my child does not and will not ride in one, but that's me.)

How many adults go and who are they? Teachers only? Teachers plus some volunteer parents? Who is the head person in charge of the field trip?

Is each child specificially assigned to ONE adult as part of a small group of kids that the adult chaperones? That is what you want -- for your child to be one of three to maybe five kids with a single adult who only watches and escorts them, as opposed to "well, we have five adults goiing and they'll just kind of watch all 20 kids...." Breaking the group into small groups and having a single adult who only is responsible for your child's small group is the way to keep up with kids this age.

Will there be not just name tags but tags with parent phone numbers put on each kid? I've seen field trips where each kid had a name tag but also had a phone number on his or her tag, the school name and number, etc.

What will the preschool do before the field trip to get the kids ready? Will they get a talk in advance about where they're going and how to behave, or will they just get on a bus and go? What's the system for a head count before they leave to come home?

The answers to these should reassure you -- though, if you are not satisified with the answers of course you can opt her out of the trip. I strongly recommend that you take one day off and chaperone the first of the field trips (if they use parent chaperones) so you can see how it works. Most field trips are just fine! Ask yourself if the issue is really your child's safety or if it's more about your own nervousness with having your child away from you, period, if it's new to both you and her.

Is she truly going to be an hour away -- one whole hour in each direction, away from you? If so, what does the school plan to do to keep the kids from getting restless and rambunctious on the bus?



answers from New York on

Well - she'll be 6 in July... Will a good friend be going too so they can do the buddy system some? Is this a really good program overall? Is she the type who would enjoy it or be scared? I think my daughters did a couple of these types of trips at that age. It did make me a bit nervous but it was a very well run program. And you could just have her skip those days. Re: the 13 year old. WAY too low!! It's barely over $1/an hour. I'd figure $5/hour is around what you should shoot for. An adult nanny is probably $15-$22/hour, an older teen maybe $12/hour so $5 seems ok. What does your son typically do? If full time daycare, then this is cheaper... If you just deal with him and your job, then maybe only have her a few hours a day so the cost doesn't become too much.



answers from Oklahoma City on

You could pay about double that for full time child care where the teachers are professional with years of training, CPR.First Aid, a fully accredited curriculum, professional credits, and all sorts of education.

They barely make over minimum wage even with all their credentials. SO what you're thinking of paying this teen is absolutely within what I would think is appropriate.

If you're concerned about the child care center's ability to watch your child go online and check out their records with their licensing agency.

I'd think that if you're not comfortable with her going you just say no she can't go that day and she can go in the 4 year old classroom for the day while her class is gone.

If you decide they are qualified to take care of her then feel good knowing they do this all the time and if they don't do it well it will be reflected in their public records.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I would be fine with the field trips. My son went to the city museum, science center and aquarium on his kindergarten field trips It was a great experience. He LOVED the school bus they took. I would just see how many chaperones they will have. We had two parents for each group of 5-6 kids. One adult should be able to keep track of 3 kids without a problem. You could always keep her home (or have the 13 year old sit) on the field trip days. Or you could take a day off and chaperone one of the trips yourself to see how it goes.

$50/week seems really low. That is only $1.25 and hour. I made a lot more than that babysitting when I was 13 and that was over 30 years ago. Sorry :(



answers from Los Angeles on

I think you should send your daughter to the day camp, but keep her home on the field trip days. My son (turning 6 this month) loved his day camp last summer and is really excited to go again this year. The camps through my city do not offer field trips to children younger than 7. However, I do think that the kids who go to the day care centers offered at their elementary schools do go on field trips at any age.

Why don't you send your daughter to camp and hire the neighbor to care for your son. On the field trip days, keep your daughter home too and pay the neighbor more on those days.

$50 seems really low to me for 40 hours a week of babysitting. Even though you'll be in the house, you are working and not caring for him, which makes this very different than hiring a mother's helper.

What do you do with your son during the school year? Why isn't this an option now? For consistency, it might be better just to keep him where he usually is.



answers from Chicago on

Are you really going to rely on a 13 yr old neighbor for full time chid care during her summer break? If yes, this arrangement could really blow up in a bad way.

From Elgin to Chicago, I wouldn't allow her to go. Especially with all the flash mobs and shootings, and yes the shootings are in the areas you mentioned.

Sometimes you can opt out of field trips. If that's not an option then make other arrangements for her. That's the times I would have the 13 yr old babysit, not for the entire summer.



answers from Washington DC on

I guess the question is how many hours per day and what would her duties be, exactly? I'd probably pay her more than $50, but I would not pay her the same as someone you would when you are going out to dinner.

For the 5 yr old, you can pull her from the camp those days. Our preschool has you sign a form for each field trip. Sometimes your child cannot attend without a parent or adult with them. Find out more about these trips. The daycare is a Known Quantity and you should know who to talk to about these trips and decided from there if you are OK with it or not.



answers from Chicago on

Not sure what the going rate is for 1 yr old sitting - but how many hours would you be using the next door neighbor? I think $50 per week is low - but you have not said how many hours you would be using her in this capacity.

I would not send my 5 yr old downtown on field trips such as you listed. Too far away - and I want them to experience those places with us as a family. There are fun places to experience in Wheaton, Elk Grove Village (Prate's cove) w/o going downtown



answers from Chicago on

For your older child, why not try summer camp through the Elgin Park District? My daughter used to go to camp through her daycare, but last year we switched her over to the park district camp in St. Charles. She actually had a much better time and wound up knowing a lot of the kids from school.



answers from Chicago on

My 13 yr old deserves more then $1.66 an hour to watch a 1 yr old. Even the most behaved one year old. (8 - 5 is 45 hours a week, take away 3 hours a day for nap time, and that is generous, so that is still 30 hours of work.) Yes you will be in the house but you will be working, she will be the one feeding, entertaining and diapering your kid all day. Now if your job was running a home daycare and you would be doing all the feeding, diapering and such and all she would have to do is be an extra set of hands and play with the kids then yes, $50 is on the very low end of maybe being ok. BTW I made $100 a week doing what you describe when I was 12 and that was back in the 80s. ((PS in OK City the standard daycare full time rate is about $75 lower a week then here in the Chicago area, each area has varied rates but in IL it's much higher then in Oklahoma))

As far as the field trips - wow, you should be glad that they are doing such great trips!! Ask the teachers what procedures they have in place to make sure that no kid is left on the bus and that all kids are accounted for during the day. (they should say they have to physically check each seat in the bus and/or do an attendance count after exiting the bus and before leaving the location at the end of the day) These field trips are not as hectic as you would expect and the kids almost always are in small groups, wearing matching shirts so they are easily found, and constantly counted. The teachers know which kids to separate to keep the behavior good too. Being an hour away from you is really not that different then being 15 minutes from you, and bus accidents rarely happen and when they do it's even more rare for any of the kids to even be hurt.



answers from Tampa on

I would be ok with the field trips. I assume that you trust the staff responsible for her or she would not be there now.

I agree with the others that $50 / week is too low for 45 hours a week (less naps). Even if she can go home for a two hour nap she has to come right back. She won't have time to do fun things were her own friends before he wakes.

I also work from home and had a sitter from the time my son was 3 months to a little over 2. I was lucky to find an older teen/ barely an adult that I trusted for $10/hour. I also was there and did not ask her to do anything but care/ play with him (no housework etc).
I agree with the others that $5 / hour would be the lowest you can go. Perhaps you can cut her hours to your busiest times. I am not sure what work you do but my bosses would have caught on if I did not have full time care for my child and my career would have ended. Daycare is a lot cheaper than a sitter if you can find one you like. Good luck.

Edited to Add: does the 13 year old know how many hours you are looking for? I was just thinking that if it is the 8-5 you work that it is a ton of hours for a girl her age. Usually when one gets a job at sixteen they work no more than 20 hours per week. Many moons ago when I was young, thirteen year olds may babysit a few hours a day a couple of times per week or work a couple of short shifts at our local mini golf/ icecream parlor. Nothing even close to the responsibility of taking care of a 1 year old all day long. I would reconsider using her unless you really are trying to only get a couple hours a day for help.

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