Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CRAP! A two-body problem problem I never imagined.

Hub and I are in the same field. We go to the same meetings. When we go to out of town meetings, how do we take care of the kids? For an upcoming meeting, I was taking for granted that we would use the meeting-provided daycare and stay together as a family in a hotel. You can get morning, afternoon or all-day slots for your kids, therefore we must figure out our itineraries to determine when we can tag-team and when we will need to hire coverage. If we choose to put both kids in the meeting-provided daycare, for all day, that is
2 kids * $100 * 4 days, or $800!!!!
If we can put them in half-day, by tag-teaming then its
2*$55*4= $440.
Still very expensive out of our pockets. And probably very exhausting to be both babysitting and meeting all day.

The options I see now are 1. Tag-team the meeting. Pay the $440. In the case there is a conflict, keep equity as to who has to sacrifice a session. 2. Leave the kids at home and ask the exchange student to stay alone with them for 4 days (compensated, of course). 3. Fly in the single underemployed Uncle who has very little child care experience.

Can you help me think of other options?


  1. Does your day-care provider do occasional overnights? Even if they don't usually, you may be able to negotiate something for this one case. Or you could ask if they would be willing to keep the kids for longer than usual, to lessen the burden on the exchange student.

  2. I did a similar thing a couple of times; most of the teachers at my children's daycare also babysit, so I just paid one of them stay at my house overnight, and take them to daycare during the day. I never did 4 nights though, max was 2, and I paid $100 per night. I also left my kid (when I had just one) with the family of one of my students (also paid them $100 per day and let them use my car) when I needed to go to an NSF panel.

  3. Grad students who are also attending the meeting? [Or even responsible undergrads.]

    Take exchange student with you?

    Children going to grandparents (we have done this several times)?

    Reducing attendance time by assigning each other to go see relevant talks/posters where in-person presence is not so critical?

    More alcohol? :)

  4. Yes, travel is really difficult when you are in a two-body situations with kids. I've done all sorts of crazy things. The things that have worked the best for me are using the daycare at the meeting, when that is available, or to see if I can find a daycare center nearby that will take drop-in kids for a few days. I have had a lot of luck doing this with the Kindercare chain, and in one case they were cheaper than the meeting daycare you are describing. (The cost is highly dependent on the city, though). I have also found meeting daycare to be not so great for the really little ones- the last one I went to didn't have a good atea for diaper-changing, and at another one had older kids playing with chokeablrs very close to the babies. At least the centers are good in terms of safety and security. The downside of using s center off-site is that you will probably have to rent a car and carseats to get the kids therE, and this will
    probably wipe out any savings you might have from a lower daily rate.

    Yeah, the logistics and expense of figuring out travel with kids when you are in a two-body situation are pretty awful. This is yet another thing that your colleagues with stay at home spouses just don't get.

  5. PUI prof - Hubby and I have the same problem, except in our field arranged day-care at a conference would be unheard of (male field). So far, we've done one of the following:

    - Only one of us gets to go,
    - Bring in grandparent(s) from different state,
    - Fly to and leave child with grandparent(s).

    The latter two involve paying for extra airplane tickets, so not that much cheaper than your on-site solution. I have also seen people fly in a babysitter to the conference.

  6. Charge it to the grant? Some granting agencies explicitly allow this.