It’s 6 o’clock. Do your kids know where you are?

I think the worst, most stressful thing in my life these days has been picking the kids up from daycare on time. I have 2 kids who are in daycare/afterschool care in two different locations about 20 minutes apart, and they both need to be picked up by 6pm. Even though I’ve been very lucky so far in that our daycare isn’t strict about when we pick up the peanut and I’ve so far never missed a 6pm deadline at the afterschool place for the preshus, I get really stressed out about getting to both on time after work every day.

Many child care places will charge you up to $1 a minute for every minute you are late picking up your child. Others will start calling you and everyone on your emergency call list the second the clock strikes 6. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to be charged a dollar a minute for picking my kid up late. And more than the money, I feel guilty each time I’m late because I know it’s not respectful of the time of these wonderful people who take care of my kids while I’m at work.

The peanut’s home care daycare is just that, it’s in her home. And I always feel bad picking the peanut up late because I know she has plans for her own life and family after 6pm and I don’t want to disrupt her personal time. As for the peanut, it’s two-fold. First, I hate when he’s the last child to be picked up. He feels bad because he’s last, I feel bad because he’s last, it’s all that working mom guilt rolled up into one tiny little sad face walking out of the building as the staff turn off the lights behind him. Second, this location actually does charge you for being late to pick up your kid and I can’t have that. There have been a few occasions already this school year (two this week alone!) where I’ve had to call the hubs at the last-minute when I just know I’m not going to make it to the preshus on time to go get him, but he takes public transit since we only have one car, and the afterschool place is too far for them to walk home afterwards, so this “backup plan” isn’t really a plan I like to use if I can avoid it.

So what’s a mom to do at this time of year when bad weather and construction conspire to make the evening commute a hellishly slow drive? Leaving work early isn’t always an option. And there are many times when I do leave work early if the weather starts to take a turn for the worse and it doesn’t make any difference, I’m still stuck in gridlock, and late picking up the kids.

Stress I tell you.

Stress every day.

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