THE BLOG
05/20/2010 12:11 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Summer Child Care Equals Work Interruption?

In most towns around the country, school's out in five weeks or less. Have you figured out your child care arrangement for the summer yet? (No pressure!)

Last year, we ran an informal survey of parents on Care.com. We found that one-third of them spent 20 or more hours finding child care for the summer. That means one of every three parents used up nearly an entire day figuring out what babysitter, nanny, summer camp, or day care program worked best for their family. Nationwide, a recent survey said the average family spent 12 hours per child to find caregiving options when their children were out of school.

With numbers that high, it's no surprise to find parents regularly use up work hours to solve their summer child care dilemmas. A recent report says as many as two of every three times an employee calls out sick, they're not really sick--rather, they're attending to family or personal issues (such as, say, finding a new babysitter).

Caregiving drives absenteeism that costs employers $33.6 billion dollars a year. The cost is even higher when you factor in "presenteeism"-- workers who are physically at work, but distracted (by, I don't know, arranging summer care, perhaps?).

Any working parent knows that it's really, really hard to remain focused 100 percent of the time when you're in the office. Actually, it's impossible. You always have your children in the back of your mind: their schedule, how they're doing in school, whether they're healthy or sick, their care arrangements, and how exactly did they grow up and get so big overnight?

To make sure we're taking care of both of our boys as best we can, Ron and I work as a team. It's what we've done over the past 18 years, ever since we got married while we both finished college. Now that I'm leading a company, I can't always break away and attend to everything that comes up with our family, so Ron's taken the lead of keeping our 10-year-old's day-to-day schedule on track. There are definitely times though when I clear my calendar to make sure my priorities are still in line. I'm in those parent/teacher meetings, attending the choir recitals, and just spending quality one-on-one time with both of my boys. But no matter how much we work to plan ahead, one of those inevitable "care crises" pops up to throw us off track. When that happens, we're not alone in finding a solution by adjusting our work schedules.

Whether it's a one-time crisis or one of the seasonal hurdles parents face, how does planning for your kids' care affect how you work? If you're like me, you probably find it hard to get anything done when things at home are up in the air. I find that I work best in the office once I make sure everything's set at home and then I can concentrate on running my company, so I don't mind taking the time away from my inbox and meetings to care for my boys. For me, a little "presenteeism" pays off with better focus in the long run.

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