update: household employees keep ghosting me

Remember the letter-writer whose household employees kept ghosting her? Here’s the update.

Hello! Things did _not_ get better, but maybe this can serve as a warning / dose of drama for your other readers?

Like (I think) many parents with kids under 5 in a pandemic, we went through the winter “surge” by seeing no one / going nowhere / doing nothing, sans childcare.

As some folx suggested in the comments, I did talk to a nanny placement service. The person I talked to said it was hard to place people during a pandemic, especially since we couldn’t offer a guaranteed parking spot (it’s just street parking), and there would be a 6-12 week wait for applicants.

During that time, in my infinite wisdom (aka panic), I decided to make the pretty flakey former sitter a formal offer complete with a health insurance stipend and contract emphasizing the need for consistency and punctuality this time around.

Well… to the surprise of perhaps no one… she took all of her annual leave in three months. Then, in what wound up as her final week, she took a last-minute unpaid day off, showed up 90 minutes late to work another day, and then texted me 10 minutes before a shift to tell me that she was taking another unpaid day off.

Between my own back-to-back meetings and throwing snacks at children in front of a television, I sent her an overly polite severance email. I just stuck to the three most recent incidents, emphasizing how I can’t plan to do my work if she isn’t going to come to work. I closed with, “Please come get your pet [who we were pet sitting] and drop off the key.”

She replied by email that she didn’t like the kids and I had better appreciate what she had done for my family, oh, by the way, the pet was a gift that she would not be taking back, and she wanted to know if she was owed PTO. She then called my family member whose number was listed in the contract as an emergency contact for the children to say that I owed her money.

Overall, patching together childcare has basically been a nightmare and I have found a school for the autumn that will suit once the kids are vaxxed.

Good luck to anyone else with kids under 5 who is trying to live their life, and a reminder to anyone else that if you have to write to an internet advice column about someone once, you should not invite them back into your life!

Ask a Manager once, good for you!

Ask a Manager twice, come on, you already asked her — re-read what you wrote and DO NOT RE-ENGAGE!

P.S. Childcare is a known issue, at least in the garbage-fire-country where I reside, so this is more of a warning to not live here and have children since it’s basically set up to be impossible.

{ 337 comments… read them below }

  1. Invisible fish*

    What is this pet and where is it now? I ask because this is so bonkers – I just – what?!?!?

        1. JP*

          What was the office turtle letter? Because I ended up with an office turtle. I don’t remember writing in, and now I’m wondering if one of my coworkers did.

          1. Hlao-roo*

            “my office got us turtles to take care of and bring home on weekends” from September 1, 2021

            1. JP*

              I found it! That is not my office…and it’s really weird that multiple people have unwittingly ended up with pet turtles through their places of employment.

              Seriously, I really dislike having a turtle at home, but it was being so poorly cared for here that I couldn’t take it anymore. Office display animals are a bad idea.

              1. quill*

                I won’t go to a dentist whose fish don’t seem well cared for. I will go to a dentist who does not have fish.

              2. Jacqueline*

                My office has an office turtle, lizard, fish, and 5 cats. I work in pet shipping. The turtle and lizard were illegally smuggled into Canada and the government let us keep them. The cats…2 from a shelter and the rest I’m not sure but they all have stories. My manager has another NINE cats at home who are mostly stowaways that arrived illegally. We have a professional fish/turtle cleaner come every few weeks :)

                1. Starlike*

                  I was going to say, I’ve taken home 2 cats from work, but I work at a veterinary office – it’s a known occupational hazard.

                2. Vio*

                  there’s a guy who lives not far from me who rescued some cats from similar, though even worse, circumstances. there were a lot of complaints from his neighbours about them though, some demanding that they be put down. these were BIG cats though, so it’s quite understandable the neighbours wanted to be sure lions weren’t going to be escaping into their gardens
                  fortunately he knows what he’s doing and they’re well looked after and kept safely contained

              3. CountryLass*

                My daughters school are looking at getting a School Dog apparently… The Deputy Head will be taking it home evenings, weekends and holidays. I suspect she wanted a dog but for someone else to foot the vets bills and for her to be able to bring it to work. In which case, bravo, spectacularly played!

                1. KABby*

                  I worked at a school that had a school dog once and it was kind of awesome (and I say that as someone who isn’t really a pet person). Ours was an inadvertent school dog, though. He initially belonged to one of our regular substitute teachers, who lived next door to the school. He slipped out and followed her one day without her knowing, and he was delighted to discover that she went to a place filled with children who would love and play with him. He ended up with a routine where he would get fed at home in the morning, head next door to the school (whether she was working or not), hang out outside with the kids all day, and then trot back home when they kids left. When the owners moved away the dog stayed with the principal because his owners concluded he was more attached to the kids than to them.

              1. Nicci*

                *Turtles*?! I checked, *really long lifespans* is one of the things they have in common with pet tortoises. You need estate planning to care for that kind of pet!

                1. Princesss Sparklepony*

                  I think it depends what kind of turtle. The ones we got as kids never lasted more than a few months. We were not good turtle carers though…

                2. Eldritch Office Worker*

                  Yep, our turtle has his own summer home on our deck we’re considering charging him rent for all the investment he takes

                3. Turtles All the Way Down*

                  The two turtles in Rocky, Cuff and Link, are now nearly 50 years old and still live with Sylvester Stallone. They made an appearance in Creed, too.

    1. lost academic*

      It’s not as bonkers as you’d think – I’ve seen tons of people find the weirdest ways to dump pets and many of them look like this. My money is that it was a pandemic puppy that the sitter got tired of.

      1. Antilles*

        Sadly, yes. The sitter got their own pet without thinking it through, realized it was too much work, then basically just made it somebody else’s problem.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I saw this exact technique used–ask your relatives to dogsit, then tell them the dog is now theirs. They had young kids, making any “I didn’t volunteer for this, so Fido is going to a shelter” particularly hard to commit to.

        1. quill*

          See, when I was a kid we ended up having to give a dog to my uncle in sort of the reverse move: she started getting aggressive around kids, so “don’t worry, Fido loves your uncle so much that we’ve decided she’d be happier with him” was the line. Though my parents asked him if he wanted a lab/greyhound mutt with a bristles-at-children problem, instead of just leaving the dog there.

        2. Overit*

          Happened to my neighbor. Friend asked her to dogsit a Newfie (HUGE dog) while they went on vacation. Returned and kepy making excuses about why they could not pick up dog, then basically said, “Actuallllly, we don’t want him. He’s yours now.”
          Neighbor kept the dog –wonderful pet. But come on! People suck so much

          1. HelenofWhat*

            Newfies are lovely dogs, glad the neighbor was able to keep this one (as bad as the friend is for abandoning one)

          2. Starbuck*

            This is why best practice of dog sitting is to do so at the person’s house! I pet sit often but would NEVER do it by having the animal come to my house. I got to the pet’s place (and get paid extra for driving, or just stay there and house sit at the same time).

            1. Vio*

              and as a bonus it’s almost always better for the pet too which makes it even easier to suggest. it’s stressful enough for a pet to have a change in carer, having a change in location too can really bring about abandonment issues

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, I can’t believe OP left us hanging on that, since obviously it’s the most important part of this update. (I kid. Kind of.)

      1. Nonny Mouse*

        That’s certainly what I’m looking here to find out.
        Dog? Cat? Echidna? Mostly worried it’s a dog. What did OP do with it?

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I have a hard time believing that the nanny would be able to pass off a dog or a cat as a gift…more likely that something in a cage or tank would be believable as a gift. However, this nanny is already a terrible person so it’s definitely not completely unbelievable. Sigh.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I know at least two people who got dogs dumped on them by people who asked them to “pet sit” – one by an ex-mother-in-law, one by a friend. So it definitely happens.

            1. Hadespuppy*

              I know someone who acquired at least one parrot that way. “I’m going away, can you take care of Mr. Gosh while I’m gone?”

              “Oh, I don’t have time to pick him up, I’ll be around in a bit.”

              “He’s doing so well with you, and he’s really bonded with Bean. Why don’t you just keep him?”

              1. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

                I acquired several parrots that way. We love them all, but have learned not to accept bird sitting arrangements. It’s the oddest thing — when people find out you have a parrot/parrots, they try to give you one. Or two.

                1. Falling Diphthong*

                  My uncle notoriously went out for animal food and returned with a bird. The daughter with whom he lived pointed out glumly that the bird was expected to live longer than she was.

                2. JustaTech*

                  Last summer, while out for a run in my residential neighborhood at like 6am I discovered a blue zebra finch in a 3 foot tall cage sitting in a puddle by the side of the street.

                  It’s the only thing I’ve ever posted to NextDoor, and eventually someone did pick it up, but no idea who left it there, or who took it away.

            2. By the Bay*

              On a recent episode of the podcast Death Sex & Money, about breakups, there was a guy whose boyfriend of like a year broke up with him by asking him to dogsit while he went on a short trip and actually moved out of town and ghosted.

              1. Audiophile*

                What?!? How do you move under the guise of a short trip? Presumably, you have a lease you have to renew or exit. That is so bizarre.

              2. Burger Bob*

                I immediately thought of that story as well! Absolutely wild that people do this. I’m glad the dog and its new owner appeared to be doing well together in that story.

          2. Lonely Aussie*

            I dunno, after my horse died, it was genuinely baffling how many people offered me free horses. Like at least four or five. I was over vet bills and none of them were really all that suitable for me but the offers were there lol

          3. Chexwarrior*

            “I don’t know why someone who can’t afford hay just assumes someone else can”

            It doesn’t matter to them, because it’s no longer *their* problem if the victim can’t afford to feed the horse.

          4. Louise B*

            At one point I had four cats, all of whom were presented as “can you watch my cat for the weekend.” By different people! I was just known, I guess.

      2. It's me, the OP*

        So sorry to leave you hanging! Just saw this was posted. Yes, it is a caged animal that the children have no interest in, but I still think they’d be sad if I conveniently disappeared it…

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          That helps. I’m now envisioning a gerbil / hamster, which fits short-ish life span, with tempting the kids with keeping it for a few days, thinking it would be cuter than it was to own one, and not giving it another thought once you’ve unloaded it. Thank goddess it wasn’t, like, a sheep or a goat.

          1. JustaTech*

            If it’s a guinea pig be aware you’re in for the long haul – my last one lived to be 8.

    3. Generic Name*

      Yes! We must know. Dumping someone with an unwanted fish, okay, whatever, but is it a dog, a cat, a llama???

    4. KC*

      I am trying to figure out how the LW got roped into pet-sitting FOR THEIR BABYSITTER to begin with!!! Like what are the logistics here??

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I can actually see that: “I’m going on vacation, but I need to find someone to take care of Fluffy.” “Oh, we could do that. The kids would love to play with Fluffy while you’re gone.” But I imagine that happening when the working relationship is already good.

      2. It's me, the OP*

        The sitter told the kids they could pet sit as a bribe before asking me… In retrospect, this was ted flag #45, but I wouldn’t write to an internet advice columnist if I didn’t need advice!

        1. It's me, the OP*

          I meant “red flag” in case anyone felt the need to look up “Ted flag.”

    5. Jukebox Hero*

      Happened to me when I bought my home. The previous owner had an aviary in the back with 6 or 7 morning doves. There was a gap of about 10 days when he vacated before I moved in, but I stopped by to take measurements about three days after his move-out and the birds were still there. Called my agent to let them know and to reassure the seller that I wasn’t moving in for a few more days, so he could come get his birds without running in to me. Turns out, he left them for me. I remember thinking, who leaves behind pets??? But, in reading this thread, it’s more common than I thought. And still very odd.

      1. JustaTech*

        My friends got their cat that way; he was a mostly stray who came with the house (now he’s a pampered indoor cat).

        1. Casper Lives*

          My friends did too. They bought a house with the owners denying the cat that hung around all the time was their cat. Well. The friendly calico cat refused to leave the yard so…my friends have an outdoor car!

          The cat is estimated 10 years old and refuses to stay inside during the day. But she’s got a great pampering setup in the garage with a heated house, scratching post, toys, food & water, and of course, attention from all human visitors.

        2. Just Another Cog*

          I worked in real estate until recently and a sales agreement stated that the cat came with the property. I thought that was so cool.

          1. MsSolo UK*

            It’s how Larry at number 10 Downing Street works! Become Prime Minister, pet sit.

            1. londonedit*

              One bright spot in our current political bin fire has been the social media posts from Larry reassuring everyone that he won’t be going anywhere :)

      2. KoiFeeder*

        To be fair, that is how we got the koi… but I think the rules are different with pond fish.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yes, I appeared from the woods while my parents were houseshopping and refused to leave. You’ve figured it out.

      3. No lizards allowed*

        The former owners of our home left behind several large pet lizards in a very smelly cage. We took possession on a Saturday and they had let us no contact info. We ended up giving the lizards to the locksmith (he and his nephew were lizard enthusiasts). On the following Tuesday, one of the former inhabitants came by the house to pick up something else that they’d left behind and casually asked “Where are the lizards?” “The lizards are gone,” I told him, and he didn’t ask any further questions.

        1. coffee*

          That’s extremely fortunate! I hope the lizards and the locksmith lived happily together. Had to have been an upgrade.

          1. No lizards allowed*

            It was definitely an upgrade for the lizards! There were two different types of lizards, and the locksmith told me that they should never be kept in the same cage. One of the lizards had bitten off the other’s tail because they didn’t get along. I was confident that the locksmith would take much better care of the lizards than their former owners. I found out later that just a few days earlier, the youngest son (22) had been busted for dealing drugs–the police chased him through the neighbors’ yards like an episode of cops. So possibly the lizards’ owner was in jail at the time.

    6. n.m.*

      Absolutely bonkers!!! Altho judging from browsing the comments here, it’s quite sad that this seems to be a common method of abandonment.

  2. FrivYeti*

    “oh, by the way, the pet was a gift that she would not be taking back”

    what happened to the pet? Did you come out of this with a nice pet? Is that going to be the silver lining to this nightmare?

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Same. I sincerely hope this woman has no more kids and pets in her life ever. I’d even side eye her with a pet rock

          1. It's me, the OP*

            Awww, I am sorry for All The Things that are going on!!!!! (To all the commenters above, yes things are out of control bad for everyone! Childcare is just also the thing that is out of control bad for me right now.)

      2. All Het Up About It*

        I’m planning to use it my life to replace trojan horses or anything that’s too good to be true. As soon as the other shoe drops I’m just going to shake my head and say “The pet was a gift.”

    1. Double A*

      I hope this LW is a [whatever type of pet this is] person because I know getting, say, a dog dumped on me when I was struggling with child care would be my worst nightmare.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I know someone whose parents tried to give them a puppy when they also had newborn twins. Like, NO. Hard NO. (They did eventually get a dog when the kids were in elementary school or later, I don’t know exactly when.)

        1. Ali + Nino*

          How oblivious can people be? I’ve heard (and totally relate with) new parents who say, “Do not bring me a plant as a new baby gift. I can only keep one thing alive at a time and I will be choosing the baby.”

          1. Zephy*

            Conversely, years ago when I did adoptions at an animal shelter, I had to work way harder than I thought I should have to talk people with multiple tiny humans out of getting a puppy. No, the baby dog will not “grow with” your baby human. In 15 months this puppy is going to be a whole-ass dog and your infant will still be a baby. Get a grown dog with boundaries or come back in 5 years.

            1. Gnome*

              We got a puppy when my eldest was 4 and youngest was 1. The first had just gotten over the dog-fear and the second hadn’t developed it yet. I was a SAHM. I got the side eye from the rescue group but I pointed out that 1) My first dog was a difficult breed and I purposefully was looking at a lab-mix 2) a puppy would be less than half the work of a new tiny human and would be house-broken well before my tiny human.

              They saw the logic there, but it is NOT for most people. Especially first timers for either humans or pets.

              1. SyFyGeek*

                I messed up the order with housebreaking dogs and my kid. Got the Lab trained to go outside, was working with kid to go on the potty. Wound up with a new puppy, was paper training him, he got praised for going on the paper. Kid thought peeing on the paper would get him praise as well. It didn’t. But I did have a discussion on why puppies can pee on paper or outside, and little boys have to pee in the potty, not on the paper, and not outside.

        2. EmmaPoet*

          My mom got a six-month-old puppy the same week I arrived.* She already had my older brother (2) and our wonderful senior dog (4) who took one look at the puppy and decided she needed to train it, because my mom had a little crawly thing (bro) and a little squealy thing (me) plus the burning desire to eat and sleep occasionally. Therefore, it was senior dog’s job to wrangle the puppy, who was intelligent enough to realize that senior outranked her and became an excellent junior dog. Mom later said without Senior dog she would have had a much more stressful time.

          *She had planned to get the puppy sooner but life happened. Fortunately she wasn’t holding down a job outside the house then. Dad did what he could at nights and weekends, but paternity leave didn’t exist in the early 70s and he was often working out of town/state. Senior dog was a herding dog, and she herded the puppy. And occasionally the kids.

          1. KABby*

            I’ve heard from dog-owning friends that this is the way to go. Get the new puppy while the senior dog is alive and in reasonably good health/spirits and the senior dog will generally take charge of showing the puppy the rules of the house much more effectively than you can.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I, also, uttered, “WHAT?!” at that line. That took this lady from flaky person who overpromised her babysitting ability and overcommitted her schedule to actual Bad Person You Do Not Want In Your Home.

    3. It's me, the OP*

      The pet was not well-cared for (is anyone surprised?), but will live out the rest of its naturally short life in comfort here.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        If ever there was a question about whether perhaps you, OP or the babysitter was somehow misrepresenting what happened, this settles it: the nanny is an objectively bad, not-decent human who you were 10000000,000% correct to terminate. You get bonus points for doing the right thing for the little creature she dumped on you. Do not be shocked if later she regrets it and then tries to say you somehow ”refused to give back” her pet. This person is beyond awful, and it absolutely could happen, leverage of sorts.

        If you don’t have the fact that that the animal is a ”gift” (not as bad as the gift of fear, but it’s up there!) in written form from her, get that, post-haste, and I sincerely hope all of your childcare problems are very soon a thing of the past!

  3. Trillian*

    You might want to send her a registered letter requesting she claim her property (i.e., the animal), or otherwise do something to protect yourself against being accused of stealing it/holding it hostage.

    1. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein*

      Having the email that states that the pet is a gift would be a protection itself, I would think — but a registered letter as well is probably a good idea, since this person sounds like an unending drama bomb.

    2. Observer*

      Why? The OP has the severance email and the response.

      They have enough on their plate that they don’t need to figure out how to deal with non-existent “threats.”

      I get that this former babysitter is a flake who makes ridiculous accusations. But that’s not going to be changed by a registered letter.

    3. yala*

      They’ve got it in writing already that the pet was willingly surrendered, so I don’t know that a registered letter will be much more help.

      Also, I do not want that person changing her mind and picking up the pet again. She should not have an animal at all.

    4. EPLawyer*

      Registered letters aren’t magic. Neither is notarizing something. Unless absolutely required by law a “writing” is sufficient. Which the email to come get your pet is probably sufficient.

      But since the person did not come get the pet, OP is now stuck deciding what to do. Be seen as the mean person who took the animal to a shelter or be stuck with a pet they probably don’t want. OP is a single parent who has enough on their plate without adding in pet care and expense.

      1. Wisteria*

        A registered letter provides documentation (as long as the recipient actually picks it up). It’s protection against an accusation of stealing, not a call to action. You are correct that the email also provides that documentation.

      2. Antilles*

        And of course, there’s also the fact that by taking the animal to the shelter, you have to worry about disappointing the kids too – children under 5 aren’t going to understand the situation or fiscal realities, all they’ll see is that Lassie is suddenly missing.

        1. SarahKay*

          Depending on the size of the pet, and their ongoing involvement with it, they may not notice. My sister and I had gerbils when I was a small child, on the understanding that we would feed them – with parental assistance and oversight so they didn’t starve if we forgot sometimes. (Watch that word “sometimes”, it’s about to be important.)
          One day, aged about five, I marched into the kitchen and demanded to know where the gerbils were. My mum calmly told me she’d given them away… a month ago!

        2. Jessica Fletcher*

          Surely they’re young enough to be told “Lassie went back home” and quickly stop asking about her, especially if they never see that sitter again.

      3. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I’m more concerned that if she didn’t pick up the pet… did she ever return her key? You might want to get a locksmith out.

        I agree the email reply stating the pet was a “gift” is just as good as a registered mail showing OP tried to return pet. I’m guessing what to do about the pet is more of a “how attached to pet are kids at this point?”

        1. Kacihall*

          Even if she DID return the key, I would change the locks. Dup keys are easy to get.

    5. Sad Desk Salad*

      Without knowing the state they’re in and its laws, this is unlikely. Once a person has spent x number of months caring for the abandoned pet, unless there is a foster agreement between the two that allows for such, the ownership transfers to the new person. Particularly if new person has taken pet to the vet, gotten a microchip (or gotten the microchip registration changed), gotten vaccinations, etc. Once you dump a pet, after a while, it gets REALLY hard to legitimately claim you want it back, unless you’ve made arrangements ahead of time, like in a temporary foster agreement.

    6. Generic Name*

      In my unfortunate personal experience, sending registered letters/letters from lawyers only works with people who are already generally law-abiding. They don’t work and could actually just rile up someone who thinks rules don’t apply to them. This woman has shown that she doesn’t think any rules apply to her, so this would not be especially useful. Especially since she already put in writing (email) that her dumping a pet on the OP is “a gift”.

    7. ToS*

      It’s in writing that she is abandoning it. Connect with a reputable rescue and help happily-ever-after for the dear animal happen, if keeping it is too difficult with all that you have on your plate.

      The mantra is do-not-engage. This is about LW and the left-behind animal, which gets the same decency as managing a stray. Sometimes they stay, sometimes they re-home elsewhere. Our SPCA lets owners post about rehoming without putting an animal at risk of being euthanized. The pet was a gift, so as new owner, this is an option.

  4. Joie De Vivre*

    Even if she retuned the key, I’d get my locks changed. Just in case she made a copy.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Fortunately, locks are pretty easy to change. I can swap a deadbolt out in under 5 minutes, doorknobs are a little trickier, but 15 minutes for new locks is time well spent (for the peace of mind), and one can pick up a decent quality set at Lowe’s/Menards/Home Depot or whatever similar store is closest.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      And warn the kids that if she approaches them to not talk to her and tell the parents. She’d totally be the sort who’d approach the kids a the park, library, etc and give them a letter demanding money for $Whatever to deliver to their parents

      1. Hills to Die on*

        ^^ that.

        Sorry you are going through this. At least she is out of your life (hopefully). You do the best you can and then you learn and keep doing better. We have all been there.

    2. LawLady*

      Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize that pretty much every 7/11 has a little kiosk that will copy a housekey in about 5 minutes.

      1. quill*

        I always went to the hardware store to cut keys when that was part of my job, but that was because I usually had to pick up other stuff there too.

    1. Aggresuko*

      I presume OP kept the pet and/or regifted it to another family since this crappy ex-employee did shit.

      1. Clisby*

        I hope so. That’s what I would have done. On the other hand, I would never have agreed to take care of an animal I couldn’t at least tolerate, so no dogs, no raccoons, no possums, no hamsters, no guinea pigs.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Raccoons are not even pets. If someone dumped a raccoon on me I might teach the raccoon MK-Ultra assassin skills and inflict it right back on them.

            1. It's me, the OP*

              I’m not entirely clear on what is happening here, but I am laughing reading the replies so thank you everyone!

              1. Ismonie*

                Mk ultra was a program under which, among other things, large doses of LSD were covertly given to people without their consent. Some of whom had really serious issues as a result, understandably.

              1. Ismonie*

                I think my dad cared for a pet raccoon once. Or maybe it was a squirrel. He regretted it muchly.

          1. Freenowandforever*

            You don’t have to teach them those skills, they already have them. My father grew up on a chicken farm. You don’t want to know how many dead chickens result from a raccoon overnighting in a chicken coop.

          2. ToS*

            Raccoons are unable to be vaccinated against rabies, and our state’s Dept of Natural Resources would require a permit, minimum, for keeping a raccoon or possum. They both have their place in my local ecosystem, (opossums eat ticks, how it THAT for a superpower?) however NOT in my house, ever. We have a wildlife rescue nearby so if duty calls, we leave it in the hands of people that know WAY better than I do.

  5. lost academic*

    None of this update really surprised me – I’m in a very similar situation with flexible work, kids who were out of daycare, etc. Luckily for us we’d been using an agency since pre-pandemic when we needed a short term nanny and sitters on and off so we were able this year to find reliable help while waiting on daycares to have openings. But I also don’t think it’s the pandemic entirely – this kind of work is essentially temporary, casual and not career oriented and has so many assumptions tied to it.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Assumptions, indeed.
      My late dad, bless his heart… commented on one woman who watched three kids along with her two each day. He said, “why not? They are just going to play and she’s home anyway.”
      I told my mom what he said.
      We laughed….
      and laughed.

      1. Anon Supervisor*

        That’s what it was like at the in-home day-care I went to. She was a stay-at-home mom with two kids my age. However, we were all pretty chill kids during a time when being a latch key kid wasn’t such a terrifying possibility. We were at that age where we could amuse ourselves but were too young to be home alone. She gave us lunch, little chores or activies to do if we were bored, signed us up for and drove us to summer enrichment classes, drove us to the pool, but there wasn’t much beyond that. Certainly not a typical scenario now, though.

  6. Observer*

    That sounds really, really stressful. I’m glad you found a school for kids. I hope it works out!

  7. The Wlack Bidow*

    I feel like non-parents aren’t understanding enough of the issues parents are having re: the pandemic and childcare.

    Sorry you are having so much trouble OP!

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Wait, why? I promise we are reading letters like this one and listening/ helping friends!

      1. pope suburban*

        Right? It’s honestly disheartening to see how disposable some people consider us. I’ve stepped up to cover shifts and take on tasks, and while I did it because I believe it is the right thing to do, a thank you would have been nice. The truth is that, at least in America where I am, this has been terribly hard on most everyone because we do not live in a society that is focused on support and care. People who care for elderly relatives have been left to figure it out. People who lost jobs have been left to figure it out. People with illnesses and disabilities have been left to figure it out. This has been a terrible and ugly time for the vast majority of us; if you’re not blessed with ample money (that doesn’t come from work, even!), then chances are you’re drowning. It’s not a competition and it’s a real bummer, even now, every time someone acts as if it is.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Thank you. Kids are not the only hardship right now. You can understand what parents are going through and be sympathetic, and still have problems that take more of your personal attention.

          1. quill*

            Yes. Personally dealing with the issues in my (all adults) family and that I personally have has been less constant than childcare, but far too intensive to assume I’d be able to step in to cover already overloaded job duties. Everyone was at the edge of unviable scheduling before the pandemic, and now, parents or not, there’s just no wiggle room left for the vast majority of people.

        2. starfox*

          Absolutely… I’m probably being over-sensitive but as the only one without kids at my job, I’m TIRED. I’ve been doubling and tripling my workload this entire pandemic so they can take off work at the drop of a hat while making the same salary.

          The one time I had to leave early because my cat was sick and I had to take her to the vet before they closed, I felt like a steaming pile of garbage for asking someone to do for me what I’ve been doing for them for literally years now….

          There is nothing left inside me. I am so burned out and I can’t give anymore.

          1. pope suburban*

            I’m so sorry to hear that, and I hope your cat is better. That particular story really struck a chord in me. This May, my husband and I had to say goodbye to our cat of 15 years, who we’d had since we were students newly living together. Fortunately, he’s off work with an injury right now and was able to handle the vet visits solo, but I wanted to be there for the last days. I asked for two days off- one the day before, to have a last day with all of us together, and the day of because I knew I couldn’t work well after making that decision. I got one day approved. One day, after being the only one in the office for days or while everyone else picked up kids, after a ton of deeply uncomfortable unpaid babysitting while trying to work, after my only concession was that I could go cry in the dressing room if I needed. We were able to reschedule the euthanasia but that just…broke something in me. No, I don’t think that animals are literally the same as people, but a) they are still important, b) we are still responsible for them/their well-being, and c) *I* am a person, and people have limits. I am burned out too, I have given all I have to give, and I am still here trucking. I know that is not a unique situation but I am still stuck in it and struggling. Hearing a consistent refrain that I am not doing enough or that I cannot possibly be having a real hard time is unhelpful and discouraging.

            1. Sad Desk Salad*

              +1 and I am very sorry for your loss.

              starfox, I hope your kitty made a fast and full recovery.

            2. Lily*

              “Hearing a consistent refrain that I am not doing enough or that I cannot possibly be having a real hard time is unhelpful and discouraging.”

              Yep. This right here.

            3. CommanderBanana*

              My two dogs are 10000% more important to me than any of the people in my life.

            4. Insert Clever Name Here*

              I am so sorry. Please know that there are parents out here who see and are so grateful for what our coworkers and friends are doing AND who do their damnedest to reciprocate that flexibility back to them and others. I wish more of those parents into your life and less of the sucky ones.

              1. pope suburban*

                Thank you so much. Funny enough, the people I know personally are all great, and have been as gracious as anyone could hope for. I just don’t seem to work with anyone like that! Oh well. I’m doing my best to set and maintain boundaries now, and am trying to set aside a little time/mental energy every week to look for a job that will hopefully be better with regards to flex and treatment than this one. It’s occasionally exhausting but it’s also all anyone can do, so…we keep on keeping on.

            5. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

              I would say, I’m sorry I can’t a lot more often now, if I were you. You need to take care of yourself. And I know that while you probably did not volunteer to do extra as a quid pro quo, it’s reasonable to expect it when you do need the time.

              And before anyone jumps on me as “you just don’t understand what it’s like to have kids!” — yes, I do. In fact, my “kid” is 22 and I still need to take time off to take him to medical appts (serious illness, unable to drive), and we’re in year 15 of this. I have a spouse for whom I’ve had to take time off to take to medical appts and take care of the last two years. I have my own health issues. I ask for a lot. I give a lot too. Fortunately my co-workers and supervisor are humane, and because we all pitch in for each other, it doesn’t feel as burdensome for any one person or for any one kind of person.

              Pope suburban, I’m so sorry about your kitty. And I’m sorry your co-workers and boss have let you down. I’m very serious about my advice to Just Say No.

          2. Tara*

            I get it. I am childless and have worked with very little flexibility. We are on an in incredibly thin staff, so any absence creates a hardship. I usually pick up that extra work gladly, yet I am the one left feeling awful when I need a little grace for my own issues—taking my sick cat to the vet etc.

    2. RunShaker*

      what? that’s not a good assumption to make. I don’t have kids but totally understand & have offered support to my parent coworkers when able. I’ve also advocated for work place policy changes. Many non-parent coworkers & friends have done this in their workplaces.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I’m totally missing how the non-parents comment had anything to do with the letter. We get it, oh we get it. Many of us have stepped up to cover the work of our coworkers with kids and no childcare because everything about the situation sucks. But this situation has nothing to do with folks without kids ignoring the troubles of those with them. It is just the reality of hiring people to work for a small number of hours, for maybe not as good pay as available elsewhere (not a slight on the OP, but wages in the childcare industry are low in comparison to other industries), at a time when a bunch of the folks who used to work these jobs are: a) stuck caring for their own kids; b) stuck caring for relatives; c) in higher paying jobs; d) disabled due to long COVID; e) dead.

        LW, my only advice and what ended up sort of working (with severe financial pain) for friends is upping the hours to the 25-30 per week range. With gas prices being what they are and the high demand for child care, most folks I know figured out people aren’t so interested in a job for less than 20 hrs a week. Not surprisingly, many prefer having 2 or less gigs a day to having to cobble together 3+ at 10-15 hrs each

    3. Shhhh*

      To be fair, I think plenty of us are understanding but feel powerless to do anything. I do what I can to support my colleagues who are working parents. I work for a university and I’m on campus >95% of the time so others don’t have to be; I volunteer for work tasks that make sense with my job title and duties that otherwise might fall on a working parent; I advocate for policies that will help working parents (for example, the university did away with snow days because “everyone can just work from home” and I did everything I could think of to push back on that decision). I’m understanding when their schedules are irregular and do whatever I can to show that without being condescending or anything.

      In some cases the issue might be a lack of understanding on the part of non-parent colleagues, but much more often it’s lack of understanding and actual, concrete action on the part of both employers and policymakers. And to some degree, unfortunately, it’s just a shitty situation given part of the problem with the pandemic, specifically, is you don’t want to put anyone in a situation where their health and the health of those around them is at risk (but again, there’s plenty employers and policymakers could do).

      1. the loafing life*

        Have children and further worsen the condition of parents who actually struggle and work as opposed to us loafers who don’t have children for whatever reason?

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It makes it really hard to keep being sympathetic. I get it’s coming from exhaustion but when I have been bending over backwards in my workplace to make sure we have accommodations for working parents right now, and in my personal life to be as supportive as I can with the limited resources I have, and I don’t need gratitude persay but I would at least like people to stop accusing me of not caring.

        1. Siege*

          Yep. I’m sympathetic (fortunately, no one on my current team has small children so the issues haven’t come up) but in place of your child I have my increasingly complicated medical situation and my parents to manage, and no one is stepping up to help me with that, so I don’t see the justification for special treatment. I’m exhausted too. Being treated like we’re not ALL exhausted isn’t helpful; this isn’t just a frustrating situation for people with kids and the rest of us are eating bonbons and refusing to help.

      3. starfox*

        I guess take on 100% of everyone else’s job while we all get paid the same salary so they can stay home with their kids? Which feels like what I’m doing a lot of the time, anyway, at my job.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Which is insane. If we had kids we’d be competing for the same resources.

    4. Childfree and Struggling*

      Meanwhile I feel like no matter how much understanding we offer, those parents just keep demanding more!

    5. zinzarin*

      As with other replies, I’m failing to find the data points in either the original post or this update that highlight how non-parents don’t understand the plight of parents in this pandemic.

      One of the de facto rules of Ask a Manager is that we don’t read more into the letters than is explicitly stated in the letters.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Funny thing is that the problem in this case is a childcare provider who may or may not be a parent. The Wlack Bidowild may be pointing their ire at another overworked parent

    6. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Oh I think we get it very well which is why we chose not to have kids. There is like NO WAY I’d have children in the US.
      That said, we have our own struggles to you know! From elderly parents to sick partners and our own health and wellness issues.

      1. louvella*

        I also get it, I am choosing not to have kids because of it and various other circumstances in the United States, and I am sad about it every day because I always thought I would and was really excited to be a parent.

        I know that my coworkers with kids have unique struggles but they also make more money than me and are married to people who make more money than my spouse and if I was in their financial position I might have chosen to have kids too.

        So yes I support my coworkers with kids and know it’s hard but I don’t really feel the need to make massive sacrifices for them when I’m also deeply jealous of what they have.

    7. Fargo*

      I have definitely heard some people lately imply that parents are being too dramatic about the impossibility of childcare and surely a serious childcare demand would be met with a requisite supply. How? Capitalism, baby! However I think they’re just a loud minority; most non parents have more common sense. Though I will never forget the commentator at the height of Covid who advised working from home parents that they shouldn’t have any more trouble than she did with her puppies. It was along the lines of “human babies are a more intelligent creature so you can definitely leave them unattended just like a puppy”. Fun times.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Which is such a bizarre thing to say because you can’t leave a puppy unattended, either!

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Like, puppies are adorable whirlwinds of destruction and shark teeth. My friend gated her puppy into the living room and he ate the baseboards. Hell, my sweet senior girl who is like, 99% of the time the Goodest Girl every once in a while decides to nibble all the buttons off of something or remove the zippers from the couch cushions. While I am in no way advocating for leaving infants unattended, at least they are not equipped with razor sharp milk teeth and a desperate desire to eat the couch!

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*


              1. Pam Adams*

                One of ours ate a ceramic statuette of Jiminy Cricket. Strangely, it did appear to give them a conscience, as they continued eating household objects and furniture. 10 years later, one will still chew any paper left lying around, like a 4-legged shredding machine.

            2. Ellis Bell*

              My sister’s dogs enjoy eating socks. Literally they have to lock up their socks and dry them on airers under closely watched guard because it’s no fun pulling a soiled sock out of a dog’s bum.

        1. Fargo*

          She didn’t seem to have a great handle on stuff generally, but it was enjoyably absurd.. because I’m not a parent. If I was a parent I’d probably have had blood coming out of my ears.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I found that incredible as someone with a puppy who is DEFINITELY a big to deal to take care of during COVID. Expensive, logistically difficult, emotionally exhausting…which I assume is x10 with kids but I don’t think that woman was taking care of her puppies properly.

    8. kittycontractor*

      This is a weird comment. Pretty much all the comments I’m reading (1:30 EST) are pretty sympathetic and supportive to the LW>

      1. Sad Desk Salad*

        I posted a similarly supportive statement below, before I saw this one, and it kinda makes me think my sympathy is wasted on parents when this is their thought process (which is unfair because surely this is not all parents’ thought process). Not that sympathy produces any real help for people who need it, so I guess it’s moot all around.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          This whole thing is under my skin and I’m trying to sit here and be like “They’re tired, they’re overwhelmed, they’re lashing out, they’ve had a tough couple years” but g-d so have I and so has almost everyone it’s just so hard not to throw up my hands and be as selfish as everyone seems to want to paint me as for not having kids right now.

          I know I’m overreacting but it’s just the latest comment in a long line.

          1. Fig*

            I totally feel this! Like my whole 20-year career I’ve been covering for my coworkers with kids, whether I wanted to or not, being told “you don’t have kids, so you have more time to be at work”. As if I can’t possibly have a life or any value because I’m not a mother? And so I’ve worked all of the OT, and took on 2-3x of my workload, and everyone is annoyed and frustrated when I’m selfish enough to want a day off.

            1. PB Bunny Watson*

              It’s also really annoying because it doesn’t factor in that not all non-parents are that way by choice. Just like many parents aren’t parents by choice. On top of the stress we are all feeling because we’re human… on top of trying to extend grace to our parent co-workers by covering as much as we can… on top of caring for our parents, partners, and selves… some of us are also dealing with reproductive health issues. So having it thrown in our faces that we aren’t parents and that somehow makes us unsympathetic… is actually a bit cruel for some of us. Not that it matters. The answer to *some* people being a jerk about others being parents is definitively NOT being a jerk to others.

        2. Insert Clever Name Here*

          As a parent, comments like The Wlack Bidow’s absolutely infuriate me. I see what my non-parent coworkers and friends are doing, and comments like the top one here are just a slap in the (exhausted) face to them.

    9. anonymous73*

      Pitting non-parents against parents here is 100% unnecessary, and your attitude is the reason non-parents get so upset when parents are given benefits at work that are not extended to them.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. People have all sorts of things going on in their lives that have been grossly complicated by the pandemic. I have several people on my team who have had similar issues with aging parents, including some who had to move them out of assisted living due to concerns about COVID spread or staffing shortages. One of my childless employees needed a major accommodation to care for their 80-year-old parents so they didn’t die in a short-staffed nursing home. Medical issues have also become more acute for some people and some are experiencing shortages in medication that they need to be healthy or for their families to be healthy… or even not at risk of dying.

        I feel like some parents – and I AM a parent – are not understanding enough of the issues other people are having re the pandemic and critical things in their lives. I’ve had to ask for grace and lean on others, but others also need the same grace and to lean on me, too. It’s reciprocal. Just because someone does not have children does not mean that they are not also experiencing major interference with their families and lives that are impacting them in similar ways.

        It’s the systemic issue, not your childless coworkers’ understanding, at which you should direct your ire, frustration, and efforts to change things.

        1. Agile Phalanges*

          This. Plus often in a family with multiple adult children to potential care for or help with aging or ailing parents, it’s the one(s) who don’t have kids themselves that are stuck with the most time-consuming tasks. I think employers and colleagues alike should be as flexible as they can be to ALL people who have sudden schedule changes, needs for time off, etc., regardless of parenthood status. Of course, some jobs are more conducive to more and/or different kinds of flexibility. But a little understanding FROM everyone TO everyone (including the employer as an entity, and the policies and procedures it enacts!) regardless of what you think you know about a person’s home life would go a long way…

    10. Dust Bunny*

      What, exactly, do you want from us?

      I have two coworkers out today because their daycares closed. Our work mostly can’t be done remotely so I’ll be handling two patrons on my own. It’s fine, it’s part of my job, but it’s going to be exhausting and also not-great patron support. Patron support affects those coworkers’ jobs, too.

    11. Lenora Rose*

      Until I learn that non-parents could somehow magic up more childcare spots or more reliable human beings, and chose not to, I’m going to assume non-parents *are* sympathetic but can’t really help.

      1. Lexia*

        That’s also my stance. I’m sympathetic to parents on my team, and I work lots of OT to cover, and vote for family friendly policies (childcare, school funding, healthcare etc) but ultimately…it’s America, a famously bad place to have kids or elders. Nothing on an individual will actually fix this huge structural problem, and we have to push up instead of infighting. I have a severe chronic illness, I will ultimately choose myself in the office if push comes to shove.

    12. SoloKid*

      Oh, we understand! Enough to go secure our birth control (while it’s still legal).

      Just like many individuals can’t just up and move to an abortion friendly state (per the recent AAM post) and need to somehow survive where they are, many individuals can’t just up and make a parent-friendly society either.

    13. Linda Belcher's Wine Glass*

      Non-parents aren’t the problem here.

      Employers and politicians who aren’t advocating for support for parents are the problem. Do you really think non-parents are the ones who don’t mandate parental leave, daycare-through-work options, and a government safety net for families?

      And do you also realize that non-parents have been having a craptacular time during the pandemic, even though they don’t have kids? No one is coming out of this unscathed; it’s odd that you’re punching down instead of rising up.

    14. Purple Cat*

      what in the world? I am a parent and I have absolutely no idea where this sentiment is coming from. In the letter(s) OR in real-life.

    15. Insert Clever Name Here*

      Can we not? I’m a parent of two young kids, and this is so off-base and unhelpful. If the non-parents in your life aren’t understanding of the childcare issues you are facing, I’m sorry — that sucks. But that is 1) not an excuse to villainize all non-parents everywhere and 2) not actually at all related to this letter.

    16. Curiouser and Curiouser*

      Sigh. I read this sitting in the office watching parents pack up for the day at 3pm to pick their kids up from daycare and school while I am voluntarily covering for them in the meantime. How disheartening yet again. We really can’t win, huh?

      1. Jazzy P*

        As a SAHM (not by choice, pandemic reasons) people like you have allowed my husband to be present for me during severe PPD and child related emergencies. Both of us are SO incredibly grateful and I know my husband does what he can to return the favor. I hope you know how appreciated you are!

        1. Former Young Lady*

          Your kind words warmed my heart, as one of those non-parents seeing the parent struggles from the childless cheap seats, and trying to be a good stunt-double at work.

          Thinking of you and your family. Take care.

      2. Chirpy*

        This was me, perpetually, at my old job. Heaven forbid I ever wanted a single afternoon off…or *one* other person with me in the office to fend off creeps…

    17. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s not the suffering Olympics. Nor is it a zero sum game. EVERYONE has had a tough couple of years, and what that hardship looks like varies.

    18. Anon, anon*

      Maybe some of us understood these troubles so well that we decided not to become parents. You don’t know.

    19. Green great dragon*

      Where did that come from? I’m sure there are non-parents out there who are not understanding, and a whole lot of parents who are. And I’m sure there are plenty of parents who haven’t been understanding enough of the issues non-parents have had or are having, whether that’s living alone 24/7 during lockdown or being stuck with housemates you can’t escape all trying to work from the kitchen table, or a hundred other possibilities.

    1. mimi*

      “Folks” I guess. “X” seems to be a shortcut for “ks” where I live though I’ve never seen it in this word before.

    2. WiscoKate*

      I see this a lot in higher ed. I think the intention is to show that the person is inclusive, but folks isn’t a gendered word so I personally don’t use it.

      1. IEanon*

        Same. I do not understand it. Not so much the principle (I am all about gender-inclusive language!), but the fact that “folks” is already gender neutral.

        It’s always come off as performative to me, but higher ed is ALL OVER IT.

    3. Robin*

      As mentioned, a different spelling of “folks”. I have also generally seen it used in gender-inclusive circles so I *think* the “x” works as a shortening but also as an indicator of inclusivity (even though “folks” itself is already genderless).

  8. Katie*

    I actually hate to ask this, but are you absolutely sure the pet was hers in the first place? I literally cannot imagine dropping my pet off for pet sitting and then just… never picking it up again. The heart breaks, and the mind boggles.

    1. Lyonite*

      I’m really hoping it was a goldfish or something, that won’t mind there’s a different hand bringing the food.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Oh I can. This person is bat guano crazy. Probably as noted above, got the pet during the pandemic then found out it was WORK. So figured they could dump the pet off on the unsuspecting family under the guise of “pet sitting.”

      Not everyone who gets a pet becomes so attached to it they cannot be parted. That’s why shelters are full. People get pets then the pet doesn’t fit their lifestyle or is too much effort and off the animal goes to the shelter.

      1. I.T. Phone Home*

        Sure but the kind of person who is an irresponsible childcare provider might also be an irresponsible pet sitter on the side. If the pet is a dog or a cat, I would check to see if it’s chipped.

    3. Anontoday*

      I have worked with animal rescues before and unfortunately it’s a common occurrence.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      She does have a pretty good track record of making commitments and not keeping them, so I’d say the odds were good that she got a pet, and then dumped it.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        At least it wasn’t a baby. I would only be half surprised if she did that with a child. “No, no, you had this child when I pulled up. No, I’m sure… so you actually owe me for watching four kids, not three.”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Even Laszlo Cravensworth stuck around to look after Colin Robinson’s clone baby. If a selfish, oversexed vampire can do it . . .

    5. DLW*

      When I was in junior high we started pet sitting the dog of one of my mother’s friends. She traveled a lot for work, so pretty soon the dog was spending more time with us than her. And I was getting attached.
      She went on a trip and was supposed to be back before we moved. She knew we were moving. She was not back and did not contact us. We moved with the dog. She did not contact us for another month. At which point my mother told her the dog is now ours which she agreed to. People just leaving their pets is unfortunately not rare. But we got a much beloved dog who lived out a long and happy life with people who doted on him.

  9. Pandemic Mom*

    I’m a parent of a 4.5 year old.

    This pandemic has been beyond awful.

    We’re also a high risk for COVID family, child included. She’s received her first COVID vaccine dose so at least that has a ray of hope.

    Childcare during the school year was ridiculous! She was a 3 different preschools and still we only had 4 days of coverage!
    (She’s Autistic so 2 hours 4 days a week of special education at public school – then 2 days at 1 preschool and 2 days at preschool 2.

    Finally this summer she’s only at 1 preschool and has 90 minutes of special education (PT, OT, and Speech) one day a week. School year 23 she’ll be at this same preschool 5 days a week and will be bused by the city from special education to the private preschool.

    She’s a love and knock wood despite all the COVID exposure that going to 3 schools entailed, she has always tested negative. (At least 13 times tested at pediatrician office and I lost track of home tests.)

    I got COVID when I traveled for a work conference in early May, despite masking indoors. So happy I did not share COVID with my spouse or child.

    I see you mom. Even though the rest of the US policy makers have forgotten us, I see you and hold space for you.

    Good luck!

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I work with special needs kids, and SEN parents definitely get the short end of the stick. I recently saw on the news a toddler who uses an epi pen has just been universally shunned by all the nurseries in his borough. It’s hard because there’s a hiring crisis and possibly they’re saying no because they can’t assure his safety with current staffing. Low income families get free childcare in the UK for kids his age, but his parents were not even most bummed about missing that benefit; they just wanted their little boy to have friends and a good start to his development before school.

    2. It's me, the OP*

      I’m doing this on my phone so I think I accidentally replied to this somewhere else, but thanks for your comment and I am sorry you are going through it!!!!!

    3. LisTF*

      Applied Behavior Analysis clinic. Insurance is largely covering it these days and copays will be comparable to daycare costs. And it’s typically 8a to 4p ish so no shuttling back and forth. The science has come much further than the old days of ‘behavior modification’ and insurance typically spot checks for anything inappropriate. Read the treatment plan and if you see anything you don’t agree with tell them they don’t have your permission to work on that. Even when she’s school age you can get it written into her IEP that she can miss school to attend her medically necessary treatment (some families do MWF at school and the other days at the clinic. Or half days. Or whatever makes sense). Just an option for coverage that will also increase therapy time that can help with developmental progress.

  10. Sad Desk Salad*

    I continue shaking my head at the predicaments parents are left in. How in the world do you manage their care? It’s not like you can just quit your job, and childcare is just…:waves hands in the general direction of this letter:…how do you manage?!

    1. ccb*

      well. I myself have cobbled together a hybrid work schedule and grandparent care. its not great! but in my area daycare is 1.5x my mortgage. I dont know anyone that has almost 2 extra mortgages in their budget per month. and we dont qualify for low income. with the prices of everything being so high, daycare is out of reach.

      thank you to all the republicans who voted against child care support

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m looking for childcare in my area right now (for a child that’s not even born yet) and we’re on wait lists at a dozen places and it will be at least $2600 a month for the first year+ (until they move up to toddler).
        A full time nanny would be *more*.

        Yes, we live in a very high cost of living area, but it’s just completely bananas.

    2. mreasy*

      I remember talking to a colleague about how they have to Tetris a summer schedule for their kid amidst summer camps being hard to reserve if you didn’t do it the previous summer… that’s even without the pandemic shutdowns.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Oh goodness yes. I have to have deadlines in parenting agreements of when a parent wants to take their summer time with the kids. Inevitably the less involved parent does not get why it has to be like March 15 at the LATEST. They’re like “BUt I don’t even know my summer plans by then, how can I choose my 2 (3) weeks with the kids.” Then I have to explain that Summer Camps fill up QUICK. If you don’t have your kid registered by the end of March its a no go.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I do not envy you at all for having to be a third party here. Its enough of a mess when everyone’s under the same ding-danged roof and getting along (know how many times we flipped a coin to cover either an emergency or something that slipped through the cracks when the medium sized humans were smaller? I bet you’d be pretty accurate given your apparent family law background!).

      2. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        It’s really hard. A ridiculous number of day camps in my area run from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Maybe 4 p.m. if we’re lucky. On the days I do dropoff, that means I don’t get to work until almost 9:30. Pick-up is a patchwork of carpooling or one of us having to leave work early.

        I am very lucky to have a fair amount of flexibility at work, including plenty of WFH days, a role that doesn’t require anyone to cover for me during flextime so I’m not inconveniencing my coworkers, and a supportive boss, and a spouse who’s truly an equal partner, and, and, and…I’m STILL constantly stressed out and feeling like I’m dropping a ball somewhere. And that’s with kids who are old enough to be home alone for a few hours at a time; my heart goes out to everyone who’s making this work with younger kids and/or fewer resources. It’s HARD.

      3. Ismonie*

        My kid got sent home from summer camp two days ago. Kiddo is four. After talking it over the next morning, we learned there was a fire alarm (kiddo hates loud noises even more than average for a kid) and the required project was confusing and frustrating and the counselor wouldn’t help with it. So even when you do have care, there’s no guarantee that they will keep your kid. And yes, kiddo’s behavior is within normal parameters for age and stage.

    3. Up and Away*

      It is a nightmare and I had FOUR grandparents and a great babysitter all helping us out!!

  11. I don’t post often*

    I looked at the original post and childcare is needed 10-15 hours a week. I had a similar situation prepandemic. In fact, I could have written the first letter, pre-pandemic. Unless you have someone that is retired or doesn’t really “need” to work, finding part-time childcare in home is hard. Difficult. Almost impossible. I blew through four people in a years time pre-pandemic. What it boiled down too, is I simply couldn’t pay enough to keep them. They need additional $$.
    if you are in this situation, a nanny share may work- meaning you take nanny part time, and another family or two also also needs the nanny part time. That way, it is more a full time position for the nanny.
    this never worked for me due to the very rural area I’m in. But wanted to drop it here in case it might work for someone!

    1. The Lexus Lawyer*

      Agreed. Not to kick OP while she is down but it’s tough to find part time child care workers. At 10-15 hours, they’re not making enough to live. So either they don’t need the money or they really need money, both of which can lead to them flaking.

      We tried what OP did and got out of it quickly and just went to a more organized daycare that better fit our needs.

    2. LawLady*

      I pretty much just posted this exact thing. We also had nannies flake on us for part time jobs. And honestly? I get it. Nannying 10-15 hours a week is almost certainly only one of a few jobs that person has. Unless the stars align, that’s going to be hard to juggle.

    3. Mid*

      Yeah, I think a nanny-share is one of the better options, as it helps reduce the exposure compared to daycare, and allows the nanny to hopefully make a livable wage. I do childcare on the side of my 9-to-5 and I feel bad that I can’t help out families more, but it’s also a lose-lose for a lot of people. People can’t afford to pay their nannies a living wage with benefits because it eats up their entire salary, but nannies can’t afford to live without that.

      Another option is, if people have the room in their home, to have an au-pair or live-in nanny, and have part of their compensation be room and board. There are still risks, costs, and struggles with this as well, and it’s very imperative for the family and nanny to set clear guidelines and boundaries about work time versus time off. I did a four-month stint as an au-pair, where I was paid very little (I think $300/month?) but also didn’t have to pay rent or for food. But, the family also expected me to be available 24/7, babysit for them whenever they wanted outside of my au-pairing hours without extra pay, and it was a difficult situation all around, because I wasn’t getting any breaks or time to myself and was starting to resent the kids and the entire family for how I was being treated.

      There’s really no good answer for childcare, and it sucks.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I know a woman who became a single mother by choice and had twins, and for several years she had two simultaneous au pairs for just this reason — she got much more coverage without overcommitting one person, and it was STILL cheaper than a nanny or full-time day care.

        Of course, you need to have enough space in your house for this to work, which is a separate issue, but she managed. (Also, I viewed this the way I view the reality that it’s cheaper per item to buy in bulk. Sure, but you have to have the money up front for multiple items, the storage space to keep them (which isn’t free), etc etc etc. Sometimes all you can afford is one.)

      2. Former Mary Poppins*

        I did about 5 years of live-in childcare/household help jobs through some school and travel years and fared so much better than this! One had weekends and most of the summer off and another had 1.5 days off per week. The child I began caring for as a tween is still a friend 50+ years later and I’m pretty sure I also got a significant bonus to care for the grandkids for a week. At the other main job, the mother gave me gifts for Mother’s Day to acknowledge my help with her kids, and always gave me a comp day to make up for extra duties if they fell on my day off.

      3. What even*

        You can get away with charging room and board to an au pair, but American nannies generally do not see room and board as a piece of their payment anymore. Living-“in” is much more beneficial to the family than it is for the nanny, so professional nannies usually charge more to do it, rather than less. Which makes sense if you think about it… How much would your boss have to pay you to move in with them? Certainly not less than they are paying you now.

    4. starfox*

      Yes, this is true. I would’ve happily done something like this when I was in grad school… but that means that class, my graduate assistantship, and all conferences/departmental activities would take precedence over this job because those had a huge bearing on my future rather than just providing some extra cash at the time. And, of course, as soon as I graduated, I’d be moving on to a job that actually paid me enough to live on.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My friends just ran into this. They had childcare for the past 3 months for 10-15 hrs a day. Their caregiver just gave them notice because she got a full-time job with health insurance, vacation, etc and is quitting. They are happy for her, but completely screwed because they can’t find someone who will work for that little time. They are trying to figure out how to either get more $$ for in home care or get him into a pre-school (kid is 11 months). Both of them say it is the most stressful and contentious time in their marriage because all the options suck

      1. Blue Moon*

        My spouse and I have been through 17 years of life’s ups and downs. The logistical and financial struggle of pandemic toddler and infant care is the only thing that pushed us to the brink of divorce. It’s kinda horrifying.

    6. It's me, the OP*

      Oh, the earlier letter was for less time. This update should have clarified that this became a full time position. I mean, it doesn’t matter, because I now have different problems, but that is just an FYI.

  12. HotSauce*

    You’re right, childcare is one of many issues in this country that is lacking. Wages have been stagnant for decades to the point that it’s damn near impossible to support a family on a single (average) income, yet by the time you pay for child care a 2nd income doesn’t make much of a difference. And in your single parent situation it’s impossible. Part of the problem of course is how low paying the job itself is, you’re not going to attract star talent at $10-12/hr. I’m sorry you went through all of this, try not to beat yourself up too much, desperation makes us try things we know will not work out.

    1. Rara+Avis*

      Day care workers’ pay is abysmally low, and yet, infant care for twins ( a strong possibility since I had an IVF baby) would have been more than my salary. But I carried the health insurance for my family, so I couldn’t stay home. It’s a mess.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I recently learned how much a coworker was paying for childcare and it’s barely her salary. I think she’s only working instead of staying home in hopes that she’ll have a career to come back to when her kids start school, because they basically aren’t keeping any of the money. The choices people are having to make right now are just mind boggling.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          That was me, the first three-ish years of my oldest’s life. I cleared less than $5K a year after taxes and childcare.

          I did, however, carry the insurance. I was woefully underpaid, and my pay was adjusted at about the time of my oldest’s third birthday. They expanded and hired someone new – and legal threw a fit because I made less than half of what they offered him, with more experience. It was a slow boil frog thing – I’d gradually shifted away from my original duties, and compensation and titles hadn’t exactly shifted quickly. With legal’s utter “you’re going to get us hit with a EOC investigation, either up her pay or do not hire him” snit fit, I got one he!! of a raise.

      2. A Simple Narwhal*

        We were looking into daycares and saw a place that wanted $250 per <8hour day with a ratio of something like 4-8 babies per worker, who also had caregiver job listings for $12 an hour. Absolutely insane and gross that someone's work would be bringing in $1-2,000 a day for the facility but they themselves were making less than $100/day.

        Why is taking care of someone's child worth less than a job at Target?? (Not saying working at Target doesn't deserve fair compensation, all work does, but as someone who has worked for Target before I can confidently say that taking care of children has a lot more responsibility!)

        1. Observer*

          I can’t speak to this particular day care, but most for profit day cares are running a profit margin of 1-2%. That’s despite the abysmal salaries.

          Considering that in many areas a significant proportion of the staff needs to have at least a BA, and some level of staff needs to have a masters, it’s no wonder you can’t keep staff.

        2. Bad at picking names*

          If you don’t mind sharing, where do you live? I’m in the Bay Area, and that’s an insane amount, even for here. And Rara+Avis is right, the infant ratio is 4:1, at least in CA.

        3. HotSauce*

          One of my coworkers owns a daycare, his wife runs it, he works at my employer for the benefits. The licensing and insurance takes a massive chunk out of their earnings, basic operation costs takes the rest. They are not living in the lap of luxury, by any stretch of the imagination, even though their business is very successful. He has said that he thinks they pay more than a lot of other facilities in the area, but it’s still less than it should be, they just couldn’t afford to operate at less and parents can’t afford to pay more for the care.

  13. time for lunch*

    Where can I buy my GARBAGE-FIRE COUNTRY gear and apparel? Pity to have missed the fourth on this one, though odds are, you can just use it next year. Really gets to the heart of it all.

  14. LawLady*

    In my experience, finding full time childcare is MUCH easier than part time or weird-hours childcare. If you’re looking for fulltime care (and can offer benefits like PTO), you can find career nannies for whom this is their only job.

    To find a part time nanny, you have to find someone whose free hours miraculously mesh with the coverage you need. And unless you find someone independently wealthy, they’ll likely be working several jobs. And often the part-time nannying gig is their lowest priority job.

    1. Mid*

      From the original post, the OP was looking for 10-15 hours I think. And, as a single parent, it would be hard to pay a living wage to someone full-time.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        Which is LawLady’s point. It’s much “easier” (but still very difficult right now) to find a full-time nanny than a part-time one, because people need full time pay to live.

      2. I'm just here for the cats!*

        Where are people getting that the OP was a single parent? I’ve read the original letter 2 times now and they do not say that at all. They don’t talk about a partner but that doesn’t mean they are single

        1. Person from the Resume*

          First letter says: I am also Solo Parenting, so this person is currently my only option.

          1. Elizabeth Bennet*

            In my mind, solo parenting is “I have a partner, but they’re not able to help during this time.” I solo parent during unplanned summer days and sick days. I permanently WFH, and my spouse has to go to an office, so I’m the default solo parent to an 8 yo when she doesn’t have summer camp or she’s sick.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              Eh, I’m reading as the other parent is not around at all. Could be a single parent or could living away from the family or whatever, but there’s no one else available to help so it’s only the LW and the person she hires which is why it’s critical that the babysitter needs to be more reliable.

            2. MsSolo UK*

              Same: solo parenting is how I refer to my days when it’s just me and toddler (we tag team childcare, so she gets two days nursery, two days daddy, three days mummy a week, and we both work four days), to distinguish it from single parenting. It definitely makes life harder, especially with younger kids who need an adult in the same room as them throughout the day – you really have to time those bathroom breaks! And heaven forbid you try and prep any food in stints longer than five minutes, let alone deal with any kind of life admin (guess who still hasn’t added their child to their life insurance policy several years on?). But it’s still a very different challenge to single parenting, and I don’t want to take away from that.

              From the nature of the help required, I’m assuming OP’s partner is either working away from home for long periods, or working shifts that mean they’re not around to help while the kids are awake (including weekends – getting childcare at weekends is next to impossible if you don’t have family to help).

        2. ES*

          In the first letter the note: “I am also Solo Parenting, so this person is currently my only option” after talking about their flexibility and issues with the nanny ghosting.

          1. Retired (but not really)*

            I was a solo parent for many years due to my husband’s type of employment – active duty military in a mobile unit, then out of town jobs after he retired. So he was around occasionally, but not very often during hours I was working or could have been working if affordable daycare had been available.
            And all of this was long before any of the current difficulties people are dealing with. I watch my grandson quite often so my daughter can work, so now I am on both sides of this issue.

  15. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    Anyone who abandons an animal is an animal abuser, plain and simple. (Not all abuse is physical.) That, coupled with the gross thing she said about your kids once she lost herself the job, is the glaring red alarm sign that you should avoid her at all costs, unless you’re taking legal action against her! Add in how she’s harassed your family, and she’s clearly not safe for *anyone* to be around. I’m glad you got rid of her, and I hope she stays gone! But definitely keep all her nasty texts and other recorded messages in case the authorities need them later. She sounds like a real piece of work. The kind that cows drops on the ground with big wet plops. (But at least those pieces of work are good for gardens…she doesn’t even have that going for her.)

    I have…”slightly” strong opinions about animal/child abusers.

  16. Nonny Mouse*

    Update requires an update:
    1. Is it a dog?
    2. Did you keep it?
    3. If not, what did you do with it?

    1. desdemona*

      OP shared up-thread that it’s a small cage animal, though she didn’t specify what sort.

      1. wanda*

        She also shared that it has a short lifespan, which rules out birds, tarantulas, and a lot of reptiles. At this point, I’m guessing rodent.

  17. JR*

    The only practical suggestion I have is to not let people take that much advance PTO. You don’t need to give them their next 12 months of accrual up-front. It can be as-earned, or maybe 3 months ahead as an exception, but not more than that.

    Otherwise it just sucks and I have no particular help to offer.

    1. Blaise*

      I was thinking this too. The way teaching jobs do it is ideal: you get the full number of days up-front and can use them anytime during the year, but they actually do technically accrue monthly so if you quit before the year is up, if you used more than you had accrued at that point the excess is deducted from your final paycheck.

    2. It's me, the OP*

      Yes, good advice! I was trying to be flexible and accommodating due to Covid, etc. But I now realize that I was too flexible and accommodating. Still a good tip for anyone who researches the topic in advance!

  18. Adrienne*

    The Great Childcare Paradox of Despair: My childcare professionals will always make waaaaaay less money than their true worth, and I will always pay waaaaaaay more than I can actually (comfortably) afford.
    They and I are in a mutually loving, yet ultimately unfinancially-fulfilling, dance. Of despair. It’s fine.

    1. Double A*

      Yes, this is why childcare cannot be something the market just takes care of. It’s a fundamentally broken market because of the dynamics you described. It’s why society has to contribute a lot to the raising of the next generation; on the whole, it’s impossible for individual families to do on their own.

      Which like…human societies have always invested in the next generation. Whether it’s extended families or villages or more extensive social supports. Humanity literally could not have evolved if we didn’t support each other in this way.

    2. Mid*

      Yup. I work a 9-to-5 but do childcare on the side because I love this family so much. But I also can’t afford to be paid less by them, and I can’t be there during work hours (I did actually once use a sick day to help them out, but it was a difficult circumstance and they knew it wasn’t something I can do ever again.) I feel bad because I know that childcare is a financial burden, but I also know that I need to eat and keep my rates slightly below market rate for them because I care a lot. And most people who do childcare do it because they care A LOT about the kids they’re working with, which is why so many people deal with the too low wages and weird hours and emotional labor. Sometimes it just feels like a lose-lose for everyone, and it’s heartbreaking.

    3. Paris Geller*

      This is honestly why I’m leaning away from having kids. I like kids, but I was never one of those people who were sure they wanted kids or sure they didn’t want kids. My husband would be a good father and there are times when I desperately want kids (but also times I definitely don’t!), but seeing how absolutely difficult it’s been for parents, especially the past few years. . . It’s such a mess. At the same time, I’ve worked in childcare and can understand why people are leaving in droves!

      1. Carlita*

        As someone who’s on the tail end of child-raising, I can tell you this – if you’re not REALLLY sure you want them, don’t have ’em.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Agreed. Kids aren’t the kind of decision you can just walk back on, so you really need to be sure you want them.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        It’s always been a hard no for me (ligation is scheduled!) but if I were on the fence or even remotely unsure, I also wouldn’t have kids in America because of the absolute trash-fire levels of lack of support for parents.

    4. bamcheeks*

      Childcare simply takes more resources than an individual nuclear family can provide, whether you try and cover it by having one person doing all the childcare themselves or whether you take an entire person’s salary and give it to someone else to provide childcare. It is simply not mathematically possible for two people to provide all the care the small children need for the first 5-8 years of their life intensively for 5-8 years of their own lives! The only way to do it is to have extended families where people take part in caring for children at all ages across their lives, or have paid professionals doing it and the costs spread across a whole community. We’ve opted for neither and it’s ridiculous.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I couldn’t agree more; it’s like an individual family trying to pay separately for their own waste disposal, or policing, or firefighters, or healthcare! Some things need to be part of a bigger, share funded infrastructure.

        1. Off-topic yet relevant*

          Just a side note that half the towns I’ve lived in as an adult have required everyone to hire their own trash pickup. I’ve met a lot of people who have never heard of this but turns out it’s fairly common for your taxes to not cover that!

          1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

            Yup! In my northeast town, you hire a private service or you take your trash and recycling to the town dump yourself. (We do the latter…the dump on Saturday mornings is THE place to see and be seen!)

            1. WorkingMom*

              This is pretty common in rural areas. You can hire a private company to pickup or take it yourself and pay a fee per bag or by weight at the dump.

      2. WorkingMom*

        I respectfully disagree that it takes more than the nuclear family but the 2 parent family needs to have a stay at home parent. I believe the LW is a single parent so that makes it really hard. I hope LW finds a good solution, thank goodness this nightmare of a caregiver is gone.

        1. It’s Actually Takes a Village*

          So when do parents get to do anything together? Or have time to themselves? My husband and I are in this situation because only 1 out of 4 grandparents live within driving distance and we have no other friends and family to help. Our marriage has been so severely damaged by just alternating between work and childcare with no-one else to step in. If one of us needs extra, the other parent needs to provide it, and then they’re even more depleted.

    5. quill*

      This. My mom is a professional nanny, after retiring from teaching right before the pandemic. The only reason she can afford to make this a profession? She lives close to one of the most affluent areas in the state. When only the loaded can pay a childcare worker a living wage, we’ve got a problem.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yep. I nannied full time for a family that paid me a decent wage (not a living wage, but I was in grad school and not living on my own yet) and they could do that because they were millionaires. Hedge fund manager and a successful restauranteur both from wealthy families.

        1. quill*

          My suspicion is that they were underpaying you, but… my mom has a masters in education & I’m sure the pandemic has raised how much people are willing to pay to have someone else spend 6-10 hours per day with their infant.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Yeah, this was…gosh, 14 years ago. Time flies. I worked six days a week but most of the days were like 3/4 days because of my class schedule. It was very fun (I love toddlers!) but it definitely cemented my stance in not wanting kids of my own unless I somehow became or married an actual millionaire, which wasn’t going to happen.

            It’s very sad that having children is increasingly becoming the purview of the wealthy.

    6. All Het Up About It*

      I remember a friend who lost her mind during early pandemic time when she discovered that her child’s daycare teacher was not going to be paid during the closure…. but that SHE and other parents would still be expected to pay their standard monthly rate. Not sure how that resolved.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Oh, I would have absolutely lost my mind right with her. I never nickel-and-dimed my children’s sitter, and now that they’re about the age where they can start doing a little babysitting, they’ll not sit for families that do the same (I worked for some doozies as a teen. Typically once, thankyoutomyparentsforteachingmenottotakecrapsandwiches.)

        Paying a standard monthly rate for a closed center (due to pandemic), they best be paying their teachers. And if heaven help them they’d gotten one of those PPP loans?

  19. EPLawyer*

    This woman is a piece of work. “I never liked your kids.” Then why did you keep the job? You weren’t REQUIRED to sign the new contract. Oh I know, you wanted your paid time off, then figured you could keep not showing up but get healthcare.

    OP this person is not a good person. I would check references in the future. And friend of a friend is not a reference. It’s what was your last childcare position? Who did you work for and how long?

    1. Not All Hares Are Quick*

      I think she’s written her own reference there. If asked for one from a future prospective employer, the OP should just forward that, without comment.

    1. The Wedding Planner*

      It’s so frustrating because it doesn’t have to be like this! The US might not act like it, but we are a wealthy nation with oodles of resources. I have 2 friends in Germany who have kids. Every child is guaranteed a spot in daycare. Access to reliable childcare is a right. Imagine that! One couple pays 24 euros *not a typo, truly only 24 euros* per month so her kid can have organic food that the daycare provides. The daycare itself is completely subsidized by the government. The other couple pays around 400 euros/month (which is considered expensive) for a fancy daycare in western Germany. They were absolutely floored when I told them we pay $2,400/month for a nanny share for one child. Childcare doesn’t have to be so impossible.

      1. Not Patrick Stewart*

        One couple pays 24 euros so her kid can have organic food

        Verily, it’s a pr0gressive paradise.

  20. Wisteria*

    especially since we couldn’t offer a guaranteed parking spot (it’s just street parking)

    Do you also park on the street? Or do you have a parking spot for yourself? If you have a parking spot for yourself, consider parking on the street on the days that you need childcare. It will open up a wider pool of applicants.

    As a person who has had to live with street parking only, I do understand what I am asking you to do. :)

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yeah, that could mean that person ends up losing a day’s wage on a parking ticket!

  21. Veryanon*

    Letters like this are why I am thankful every day that my children are now adults. Cobbling together reliable childcare even before the pandemic was a risky proposition at best. I feel so badly for LW.

    1. ABCYaBye*

      Oh my gosh I was just having similar thoughts as I scrolled through the letter and comments. My kids aren’t adults but are old enough that I don’t need to have someone to watch them for a bit after school, or when there’s a weather issue, or _________ (fill in the blanks for every situation that requires you finding care for your children just so you can work).

    2. heather*

      Amen and amen. My child is now able to get himself to and from middle school, and make himself a sandwich, and my life is a thousand percent easier.

  22. irene adler*

    “She replied by email that she didn’t like the kids and I had better appreciate what she had done for my family…”

    Better off without this (bullying?) attitude around you and your family -esp. your children.

    Just wow.

    OP, so sorry this has been such an ordeal for you. I wish this wasn’t the case.

    1. Chickaletta*

      Oh People. I had a boss one time who, the day after letting me know I was being let go, told me to thank her for all she had done for me (I worked that job for a full 6 months, it’s not like she developed my career or anything). And then she stood there and literally waited for me to say “thank you”.

  23. RJ*

    I echo everyone who posted ‘wow’. This is one of the most bonkers updates I’ve ever read here. OP, I’m so very sorry you had to endure this. Getting reliable childcare in regular times is difficult, but the stories I’ve heard from my peers about what they’ve endured securing it during this pandemic are monstrous.

  24. Empress Matilda*

    What on earth. This woman is…wow.

    OP, I’m sorry you’re going through all this, especially as a solo parent! I hope you have a good support network, and that you find reliable child care (and pet care, if needed?). And I hope this person never shows up in your life again. Sending good thoughts to you and your kids (and possible pet!).

  25. Moira Rose's Closet*

    So sorry you had to deal with this, OP. I have two children under 5, and it is so rough. Best of luck as you continue to navigate this impossible situation.

  26. Just… no*

    Yikes. We kept our under-5 home until they were almost 2. Then we had to either get childcare or quit our jobs. So we sent them to daycare, and they contracted COVID after 2 days. Just bad luck, I’m sure. But man. This whole thing has been brutal. I feel for you, OP!

  27. WeCnWorkitOut*

    We have a similar need for part time childcare and have a retired teacher who comes about 12 hours a week. It’s been wonderful!

    I think the larger problem is that schools and preschool hours don’t correspond with working hours so if you have two working parents you need some kind of extra care. Ideally we’d have a childcare infastructure that would actually support this (e.g., enough after school spots)

  28. RagingADHD*

    Help an Old, pls. Is “folx” text-speak or does it have a special meaning? I usually see -x associated with gendered words being made neutral, but “folks” is already an inclusive choice, so what am I missing?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It’s to show intentional inclusivity instead of choosing a neutral work by happenstance

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It’s often used as a signal that either the referrer or the people being referred to are LGBTQ+ but some people just use it to be deliberate

      2. RagingADHD*

        I mean, choosing to say “folks” or “y’all” instead of “guys” isn’t happenstance.

        1. TransAm*

          If this a conscious, deliberate choice, sure. But it often isn’t. Using “folx” instead is a clear signifier that is welcomed among certain marginalised groups.

          You don’t have to use it but please don’t be a jerk about it. It has meaning and purpose to those of us who choose to.

    2. It's me, the OP*

      Uh, I saw it on the internet and thought it was cute? Or it was a typo, whatever makes people happy.

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      The “x” ending has been substituted for “ks” in words for … centuries now? Perhaps today some people are using it as a way to signal gender-inclusiveness, but I doubt it’s always (or even often) true. How often have you seen “thx” as a shortening for “thanks”? Or “RR Trax” for “Railroad tracks”? (Back when everything was handwritten, there were common abbreviations, such as “Yr obt svt” for a letter closing (short for “Your obedient servant”, which was just a polite way to close a letter, nothing more).)

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, I am familiar with the phenomenon of common abbreviations but this is not a common one. Hence my question.

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Not terribly common, but definitely has been used for longer than the gender-inclusive x ending has been around.

        2. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It’s not terribly uncommon. It’s been in use colloquially since at least the late 90s early 00s

  29. sdog*

    Probably been addressed above, but in case it hasn’t – when we used to provide vacation pay for our nanny, we had her accrue a certain number of hours per paycheck. You know, in case you ever wanted to try the whole nanny thing again.

    What a nightmare, I’m so sorry this happened to you!

  30. PetPerson*

    Thanks for all the pet abuse stories! Totally what I want to read when I come to AskAManager.

  31. MagicEyes*

    I hope some day there is an update to this story, in which the petsitter of your nightmares asks the OP for a reference. She sounds like the kind of person who would really be that clueless.

  32. Boof*

    So sorry op :(. Not only did this person take advantage of your desperation, they gave you the finger when you finally turned off the gravy train. Wish this one could go to judge judy or civil claims almost! (Presumably not actually worth it, hence why the tv version seems attractive)

  33. Lily Potter*

    I’m a retired professional who takes contract work along with a part-time job that’s 10-15 hours a week. I’d enjoy doing childcare for those 10-15 hours instead but, quite frankly, most parents can’t afford me and still bring home a paycheck of their own. Unemployment is hideously low in my area and even non-skilled work for us “mature” folks can be found for $20/hour plus. The only way it would make financial sense for me to do PT childcare instead would be if I could do so under the table – but that’s not the kind of arrangement you set up on care.com

  34. heather*

    My child is now old enough to stay by himself. Thank God. Because for the first decade of his life, we dealt with a string of flaky, unreliable sitters. (We have zero family within 2,000 miles.). I never worked full-time— or even a full part-time position— so we didn’t need a daycare or a full time nanny. What we needed was a warm body who could come to our house at an agreed-upon time, regularly, and keep a child alive. I got absolutely glowing references on one girl in town, who immediately forgot to babysit when my son got off the bus from kindergarten, so he let himself in the house and used the landline to call me.

    Thank the heavens above I only gave birth to one child, and he no longer needs a sitter.

    1. heather*

      And to be clear— we offered much more than the going rate in our area. As in double. AND the nanny agencies didn’t serve our area. We live in Connecticut, but not near NYC, and not near any of the exclusive suburbs. We live in a working-class town, in which people don’t generally have Nannies. So the agencies couldn’t help me, because their sitters weren’t going to drive 45 minutes for a part time position.

  35. It's me, the OP*

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I did read everything but don’t have time to reply to everyone because (spoiler) I don’t have childcare. But you are all doing great! Keep taking care of yourselves and any of the creatures in your care (human, non-human, or otherwise!) XO

    1. LisTF*

      Came here to reassure you that it’s not you. Care.com is a dumpster fire. Maybe 1 in 10 success rate? I’ve used it in 3 different states (husband moves for work every few years) and it seems to mostly attract irresponsible college kids and random unemployed ppl with no other qualifications who want to make a few bucks on their own schedule and convenience (which is not how childcare works). Unfortunately it’s the only good aggregate of independent caregivers available. You’re better off getting referrals through a known entity like neighbors or church or friends. I’m currently bracing myself for a month of no childcare because preschool is on summer break and my nanny (who was fantastic) is only available 1 day a week because she’s opening her own yoga studio. With you in spirit!!

      1. RambleAnn*

        I used care.com for the first time earlier this year because I was desperate for a short-term coverage. I offered double the going hourly rate in my city. I got 5 applications, 4 of whom were hard “would not hire under any circumstances” when I interviewed them. Fortunately, the one I really liked ended up working out (she had recently located to the area with her husband and was doing care.com temporarily while looking for more permanent work), but would not have been available much longer beyond the few weeks I needed her for.

  36. Claire*

    Childcare during the pandemic has been the sort of thing that I would think was an overwritten plot if I wasn’t living it. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong and sometimes I feel like I don’t believe it myself!

  37. Very Social*

    OP: I’m so glad your kids are able to get vaccinated (as the fellow parent of an under-5 kid, can I just say, HUZZAH) and you’ve found a decent school for the fall!

    Alison: Thank you for removing stories of animal abuse/neglect. I’m glad I came into the comments late enough to miss them.

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