Work Full Time and Pre-school: How Do You Do It???

Updated on March 20, 2012
A.H. asks from Ontario, CA
25 answers

Both my husband and I work full time, our three children are in daycare. My oldest turns 4 this fall and I need to get him into pre-school. The programs where we live are half day or full day (7-5). Which sounds great, except that I work until 5 and my job doesn't allow me the flexibility to leave early, or leave mid-day to get him from the half-day program. I also can't alter my schedule. DH's job is so far away from my work and day care, him picking him up is not even an option.

We have no family closer than an hour and a half to us, so that's not an option either. So, what do we do?? (even if we decide to skip pre-school, we'd still have this issue in kinder.)

ETA: I guess our situation is a little different. My kids have always gone to the same daycare. My daughter does not do well with strangers, so moving daycares would be very tough on her. Moreover, I can afford the place they go. I live and work over an hour away from home, and daycare is closer to my office. (But with LA traffic, it still takes me 45 min to get there!) I get off work at 5 and get home at 6:30 on a good day. It's a logistical nightmare. Even with an after hours program, I still wouldn't be able to pick him until after 6, by the time I got the other 2. :/

What do you full-time working mamas do?


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answers from Detroit on

I used latchkey for before and after care. They bused my children back and forth to school. The only problem I had with that was they worked around the school year schedule, so I would have to have a sitter for off school days and summer breaks….



answers from Kansas City on

Does the school have bus routes? They could possibly take you pre-k child to day care for you to still pick up all three kids at the same time. The only draw back would be that you would still have to pay the day care a certain amount. My day care (in a small town) charges $8 for a half day of school, and that applies to any child riding the bus there after school.

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answers from Cleveland on

Likely your school district has an aftercare program that goes past 5:00. Maybe check so you know for sure if K will be an issue or not. Otherwise, we have a nanny partly for these reasons... You may be able to find a sitter to pick up the kids. College students often are good candidates.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

7-5 is only 10 hours.. not enough time for a working parent to travel to work,,, work and travel back to get the child.

I htink you need a nanny. nanny could come early.. get the kids ready for school.. take them to school and then go get them at the end of the day. maybe you could have the nanny keep the 2 littel ones at home all day.. and only send the 4 year old to half day .. so it wouldnt be so expensive.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

In elementary school, most schools have some sort of before and aftercare program you can consider using. That's what we did with SD and will likely also do with DD.

Some daycares also have after school transportation programs. You might look into one of them, or you might see if a college student could pick up your son and watch him PT in the afternoon. Friend of mine is a nanny and she takes her charges to/from preschool.

ETA: When I worked FT in DC traffic, my DD's daycare (which had a preschool) was closer to my office than home. I would look for preschool and/or a sitter near the daycare/your office.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We have a daycare who picks up and drops off. That is the only way we could make it work.

I know there are lots of moms (at least in my area) that do this for extra money, so you may want to run an ad in a church bulletin or ask the preschool if they know of moms who are looking for some extra money. Just be careful and do your homework on them before choosing someone.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Hire a babysitter to do the pick up times and stay until you are home. It may seem like no one will want to do that for such a short time, but if you give them an hour or two of work each day you will find someone.


answers from Spokane on

The pre-school my youngest attends is upstairs from his daycare. The teacher comes down and gathers the kids who are enrolled in class then brings them back down to daycare when school is over. Can you try to find a set-up like that? It is a Christian pre-school and daycare. It's a little more expensive, but it works with our schedules.



answers from Boston on

I would assume that any licensed daycare can and does cover a pre-school curriculum, so I wouldn't worry about that now and it will save you the hassle of figuring out what to do in the summer.

Most school systems have paid extended-day Kindergarten and after school care that goes until 6:30 PM. Check with your school district to see what the options will be when your child is in Kindergarten. You'll then have more than a year to plan accordingly. For us, this means that I cover the morning shift at home and get everyone off to school but get out of work late and my husband goes to work early and comes home early enough to pick up the kids.



answers from New York on

My husband does drop-off and pick-up, so that doesn't help your situation.

However... can you look at center-based programs that have daycare and preschool? My son attends a great program where they have "daycare" until the children are ready to move "upstairs" where they have a fabulous preschool program. Our center is open until 6.

Call around and see what's available. You may have to move all 3, but then at least you know you're covered for all three as they move into preschool and Kindergarten!



answers from Los Angeles on

We all make decisions based on what our priorities are at any given moment.

We have changed our lives MULTIPLE times for the needs of our kids and every time it has been the right change, even if it was a bit (ok, a lot) scary to change things up.


10 years ago, my husband and I were living in the SF area, and I was devastated that I was pregnant, since I wasn't even sure I wanted kids. I was finishing grad school and my husband had a high tech job in the Silicon Valley. We were living in a 2 bedroom condo without any responsibilities. We had no time to travel or do anything else....or so we thought....looking back. LOL

I moved to OC when our son was 6 months old and opened my business. I took him with me to work. Some people didn't like it, some people did. I had no control over how they felt, but knew I was doing the right thing for my family. 6 months later, my husband had sold our condo in the SF area. One day he called me and told me he quit his job, but was going to finish his project (he was a project manager for a HUGE, stable high tech company) out from a OC. I was shocked and thrilled. He became a stay at home dad, while I worked 12-16 hours a day growing my business AND making time for my family. I'd go home at lunch and then again for dinner and then back to work....but this only lasted as long as I needed it to....then I stopped working Thursdays, so I had 3 days at home with my family and had 4 long days at work.

Today, my husband has been running my office since I was pregnant with #2 and continued through present. We've had the same childcare figured out for years. We work M and T from 3pm -10pm and W and Th from 9am-2pm.

Our friend takes Monday nights with the kids and loves it. Another friend drives from Corona and watches the kids Tues night and returns Wed morning - we pay her plenty and she brings her daughter with her to drive that far because we trust her with our kids. Then Thursday ams, my parents watch the kids from 9-1 and my husband leaves, so I handle the office alone.

THAT being said, last week we decided that we don't want my parents watching the kids anymore, so I am planning in hiring someone for the office and my husband will stay home with the kids. They are 9, 6, 4 and 10 months and we've been homeschooling since our first son finished kindergarten. My husband will bring our 10 month old to the office for me to breastfeed.

Nothing is simple....but we tweak things to make it work for us. I know this is not an option for you right now, but maybe you might be able to look outside the box and see if something else will work....

PS Our son was in a dual-immersion kindergarten and it was full maybe look into something like that? Also, you need to do it quick, as I think sign-ups here are in Feb....and you don't have to be in that school area to be put on the list.



answers from Cincinnati on

Have you called and they told you that they close at 5? I ask because my son was in two different pre-school programs and I work full time. Both places had pickups by no later than 6. His first school mixed curriculum and play throughout the day between hours of 830-5. Before and after it was just play time and I pick him up around 5:20 but they are open until 6. His current school offers the preschool program 8:30-1 (they have a lunch break) and the half day kids go home and the full day kids have a nap and then free play. This school also closes at 6. I would be surprised if you can't find a preschool program that will provide 'after-care' until 6 or so. There are too many working moms for them not to :-) Good luck.



answers from Honolulu on

You will need to hire someone, to pick up your child and watch him until you get home.

They are supposed to be background checked.

Preschool is important. He will probably enjoy it.

Once in Kindergarten, schools have after-care programs, most often on the school campus. That is where kids go, until the parent gets off work and picks them up. And these programs usually go until 6:00pm.



answers from Minneapolis on

I just wanted to say that I feel your pain! I ended up being able to work from home on the 2 days she went to preschool so I drive her. But I realize how lucky I am! It is so frusterating! Now we have to figure out kindergarten this fall, and I have no idea what to do before school. I feel like our work culture has become almost impossibly NON-family friendly and it is sad.

Could u call the preschool and see if there is a family that lives near u that u could carpool with and would pick up and watch your child for the last hour? Possibly a SAHM that wants to earn some extra cash?

Good luck, and hang in there workin mama!


answers from Dallas on

daycares usually have a van that picks up the pre-k kids for half day. my in-home sitter picks me pre-k girl up.



answers from Los Angeles on

Most people who can't get there by pickup time have to hire a babysitter to cover the gap. For such a short time, a local college student is a great option. Others make arrangements with a friend from school to take the child home. Do you have any close friends going to the same school? Maybe they could take your oldest home and you could pay them something (less than you'd have to pay a nanny) to watch him for that extra 1-2 hours until you get home from work.

The other option would be to choose a preschool next to your work. It makes it harder for things like playdates and birthday parties on the weekend, but it might solve your logistical problems on a daily basis.


answers from Fort Collins on

Others I have known in similar situations find a nanny to be the best solution.



answers from Champaign on

I started working full-time when my oldest started kindergarten. Our daycare is in our school district. After school he rides the school bus to the daycare center. My husband picks up both kids after he gets off work.

Our youngest would be going to preschool this fall. We will take him to the prek screenings in May. If he is offered a spot, he will either attend the morning class and ride the bus to daycare or go to daycare and ride the bus to attend the afternoon class. If he is not able to attend prek, I'm not sure what we'll do. I really do need to think of a backup plan, so I'll be reading the responses you get.

Good luck!



answers from Atlanta on

Do they not offer after-care? Every preschool, pre-k and elementary school around here offers after-care for parents who cannot make it to the school by the regular closing or let-out time. Most of them operate until 6:30 -a few until 6:00. I would search for a preschool that offered aftercare that would suit your schedule. There are even some here that go until 7:00 or beyond. I know you don't want to move your daughter's daycare, but you may have to. I didn't want to move either of my sons on two different occasions, but they made the adjustment.


answers from San Diego on

I'm not sure what we do will really help you. We work full-time as well. I get off work at 5:30 and my husband around 5:00 (I go in later, he goes in earlier and thus, I get off later and he gets off earlier). Our son goes to a pre-school near our work and is in an after-school care program that goes until 5:45. I drop-off in the morning since I wouldn't be able to pick him up in time before the after care program is over. My husband picks him up since he gets off work earlier.

Best of luck to you, I know it must be very frustrating.




answers from San Francisco on

School, daycare, work - sigh - coordinating it all is enough to make you want to hang yourself!

Is it possible to change him to a full time preschool program closer to hubby's work so he could get him after work?

In my area (northern CA) there are car services for children. They will pick them up at school or daycare or wherever and transport them where they need to go. Could the car service pick him up and drop him at your office close to five?

Preschool is not absolutely vital. If it's too hard, skip it. You can teach him his colors and how to write his name and to recognize the alphabet between now and the time he starts kindergarten. As long as he has this foundation, he'll be fine in kindergarten. My GD NEVER went to preschool and she's right up there at the top of the class (4th grade now).



answers from Cincinnati on

I know that some schools around here actually pickup and drop off kids at daycares by school bus. Theres also transportation services that do that also. Do you have a friend or neighbor that would be willing to help out?
I was fortunate enough that the bus would take him to the sitters after school. But that chapter in life is closed so now I have to pick him up but traffic is not near as bad as what your talking about.


answers from St. Louis on

Kindergarten has latch key which I think you have to pick them up by six.

What about a preschool close to your husband's work?



answers from Los Angeles on

Will your daycare provider be willing to pick up your son after school at 5? It doesn't hurt to ask. My daycare provider would do that sometimes. I always hired a babysitter to do it. Our original babysitter was the teenage granddaughter of our daycare provider so our son already knew her. When she went to college, her sister took over. When they were both not available, I got recommendations from friends for sitters. My son, who is 9 now, always did very well with the new sitters (his current sitter is a 19 year old guy who is like his big brother). Now our elementary school has Boys and Girls club on location for after school until 6:00 so my son goes there some days and some days we have the sitter pick him up so they can go to karate lessons. Our local park has daycare that will pick up the kids from school. You have to look at all the options in your area but I found that talking to friends always helped me solve my sitter problems. Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

My son's daycare runs a preschool curriculum for the older children. They have unstructured time to play as well. When it's time for kindergarten, our public schools have early morning and afternoon care you can pay for.

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