The real story, readalong, and a safety net

I never knew where to write the story before, but here's the story of why I got married, knowing he was wrong for me. On the co-parenting blog: "What not to do"

Playground Communications, an Australian marketing company run by a friend of mine, is doing a readalong on their Facebook page of the book Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking The Silence On Teenage Girls and Promiscuity. Talking about the first chapter this Monday. It's a little short notice for the first chapter in 4 days, but we can catch up. Go Like their page on Facebook, get the book, and join the conversation. (Even if you don't want to read along, she has a very thoughtful feed with lots of info about tween and teenage kids, so it's worth liking her page.)

I am feeling a bit dazed by the turn my life has taken in the past month. I was essentially alone in NYC, with little support. And LOD and I were both so stretched by the physical and circumstantial limitations of living there that it felt like a big house of cards. Here, I have much more ease and leeway in everything. He and I live so close now and so close to school that mornings aren't high stakes at all anymore. (I got an hour back in my moring. One full hour.) And my parents are close enough to pick up any slack. And today I've got a friend's daughter after school because her other child is sick. Not only do I *have* a safety net now, but I get to *be* a safety net for someone else! That is amazing to me.

Do you have a safety net? Do you have leeway? What does leeway mean for you, in your life? Is it situational?


53 thoughts on “The real story, readalong, and a safety net”

  1. I wish I had more of a safety net. My husband is in the military which really limits where we can live. When he retires we plan on moving near family even though really by then the worst of it (ie the baby days) will be long over.

  2. I have a safety net, which is nice. My parents (and many other relatives) live nearby and I actually hired my mother away from her job to watch my kids so that I can work part time from home.That said, my husband traveled a lot starting around the time our younger daughter was 9 months old and the high paced traveling (every week, crossing at least one time zone, which seems to make the travel a lot harder) continued until she was almost two. We also moved in the midst of it (trying to keep a house show ready with two little kids was FUN). When he was traveling every week, I felt like I was without a safety net just because I had to be “on” all the time, whether I was working or parenting or whatever, there was just never a break.
    For me, I have leeway now because he’s working more regionally (he consults for big companies, so he’s at different places all the time), so overnight travel is infrequent and I don’t have to be “on” 100% of the time, I can go to my book club or whatever, etc. I think it’s situational, though…when both of my kids are in school full time, I have a feeling the travel won’t be nearly so stressful.

  3. In talking with friends and clients, I hear over and over again about how little leeway most parents have. Their “safety net” is usually hanging by a thread. They may have one relative, or one babysitter, but if that falls through then they are stuck. This probably has to do with the mobility of modern life.The other key thing I notice is that even when there “should” be a safety net (ie. grandparents in town), many relatives just don’t get that involved with child care. From what I hear, some come around for the quick visit/photo-op and then they are done. This is anecdotal, of course….
    I wonder what people on this board experience. Great question, Moxie!

  4. I have no family who can mind my daughter (My husband and I live in a foreign country and we are both from different countries). My sister-in-law has a 3.5 year-old and a 2.5 month old baby so I would not leave my 14-month old toddler with her. She is too young to be left with anyone else and besides this all my friends have their own babies and toddlers. My husband can take my daughter for a few hours but otherwise we are always together. I think I kind of know how you felt in NYC, Moxie – I live in a city too. Lucky for us we have bike lanes here and we enjoy the freedom of cycling around. Anyways, maybe I have a place for her in a kindergarten for small children soon – I have to check it out. I cannot see myself moving home or to my husband’s country, but who knows. For now it is fine mostly, but I look forward to visits from my mum as then I could just take my eyes of her for a few days.

  5. My safety net is much smaller than I’d anticipated. After spending my childless years being other people’s safety net for their kids, I was hurt/dismayed to find that none of those people really had my back like I’d had there’s. And the few people I that had every intention of being there have weeded themselves out of my life by switching jobs and, in my mil’s case, losing her marbles.But DH works from home and we both have flexible schedules. That helps.
    Leeway for me means having a small but available network of people that love my son, support our family, and have the time to pitch in. I’ve got to be able to trust them. And I want to pitch in and help them too. It means having a stable, loving, active community. It all sort of refers back to the recent post about making friends, I think.

  6. I got a whole hour back in the morning this year, too, by deciding (for a variety of reasons) to drive my kids to school. Did not expect it to be such a positive thing, but we can all breathe now in the morning and I’m so much more relaxed.Re: safety net, somewhat… sometimes. When hubby travels life gets much more complicated and stressful. My local relative is stretched thin with elder care responsibilities. This is such an issue for so many people. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to slow us all down, schedule wisely and try to live a bit more deliberately, but gosh, I’m so envious of people with an active network of friend and family caregivers. I want to try to foster it by being supportive of others, but it’s hard to get started when you feel like your in constant motion. I’ve also got a tendency to hold myself to a pretty high standard of self-reliance and autonomy. It’s a New England thing, I guess.

  7. We are so fortunate to have a great safety net. My family isn’t nearby but my husband’s is. My MIL loves to watch my son, anytime she can, and they have a great time together. She works in a daycare with babies in the early morning until early afternoon, and she has helped us countless times by picking up my son at daycare, watching him at our house, etc. Last night I had a wonderful friend take my son to her house so I could have a couple hours of alone time in my apartment. Of course instead of relaxing I cleaned like a whirlwind. It was only the 2nd or 3rd time that I’ve been alone in my apt since I was pregnant. Also have other friends that are willing to watch my son, some even want to really badly! We are blessed in this respect.Also have a decent amount of leeway with my job and work schedule. Very good benefits in terms of paid time off (12 hours accrued each month) which definitely helps.

  8. “Not only do I *have* a safety net now, but I get to *be* a safety net for someone else!” – This is lovely. I *love* these moments.For us, our safety net has been living in other people’s homes. Since getting married, it just made more sense to live in community with people. But now we have the opportunity to live in our own (rented) house, and we are looking forward to offering a place to stay for people who need it.

  9. We had essentially no safety net in Chicago. The breaking point for me was when my mom took the train out to stay with my sick daughter in our crappy unheated apartment because neither my wife nor I could take the whole week off work.That is why we moved back home. Having a safety net and friends (!) has made my life so many million times better.

  10. Our safety net is not as robust as I’d like but it’s not awful either. Hubby and I live in a bigish city that has terrible public transportation and resources and I work 25 miles away (which takes an hour each way driving with no option for public transportation). My parents and siblings and their kids live 50 miles away. They are all close enough to trade babysitting and school pick ups and I’m terribly jealous but not jealous enough to move there since it would then be 75 miles and two hours each way from my job.As it stands my mom has been our nanny since our boy was 4 months old and he’s now 3. She also cares for his cousins one day a week while he goes to all day preschool because I couldn’t handle him going with her to pick up all the others from school and doing a 100 mile round trip in the process every week. So I cut those hours and put him in school. Since she cares for him all week, we rarely have her care for him on weekends, though we can in an emergency.
    I have seen close up what a robust safety net is, what leeway looks like, and we don’t have that. We have family an hour away in an emergency, or friends that we don’t see that often who are 10 minutes away. It mostly works out but I wish it were more interconnected, with more community. Both for us and for our son.

  11. i think about my lack of a safety net. family is all a 3 hour drive away. all the friends from life before kiddo would help if there was true desperation and they were directly summoned for specific tasks. all the other people from life with kiddos are working families with their own children in daycare. the logistics of helping each other can be nearly unsurmountable (no room for another carseat in the vehicle when they/i have to get my own kid, etc).i would love to be and have the safety net you describe. we all deserve that.

  12. Getting that hour back in the morning must be HUGE. I have a lot more leeway now that I work at home. When I worked 30-40 minutes from the kids daycare and then it took another 15 minutes to get home. That? Was my big house of cards. Every commute home was full of stress. Ugh!Now my older son is in elementary school with my stepson at the school about 4 blocks from us and the little ones goes to preschool/daycare about 10 minutes away.
    Sadly we really don’t have much of a safety net. My husband’s family lives in the metro but even the closest one is a good 20 minutes away. And frankly they haven’t really wanted to step up and help out. In a real pinch, 2 of our neighbors have kids that go to school with ours and would help out. I just hate to ask unless it is a real emergency you know?
    Oh and I do have one mom friend that lives 5 minutes away who has been a safety net. But their family is likely moving away.

  13. I think about this a lot because I believe that many of my depressive, losing-my-mind feelings are based on having no safety net. My husband works away from home during the week and is only home on weekends. My mil lives nearby but she lacks the energy and stamina to care for my boys. I have acquaintances but no friends here, no one I could ask to take the kids. I don’t live in a city, though. I don’t know how you did it, Moxie, for all those years. I am so glad you are in a better place now.

  14. I have some safety net, certainly enough for (the start of) a big emergency, but day to day little hiccups I’m on my own. While my FIL does live about a 1/2 hour away, he’s still working and isn’t all that interested in childcare anyway. My mom’s retired and in a huge emergency could fly down although she will extract an emotional pound of flesh for that so that’s an emergency-only option.I have several friends within driving distance of Mouse’s school, or walking distance of our house, with whom I exchanged being an emergency contact for schools. Mr. C and I can mostly be flexible on location of work, and I can on hours but he can’t, so that covers minor kid illnesses. I miss the days when my very best friend, and her daughter who is exactly Mouse’s age, lived a block away – we would have been that for each other in so many ways.
    But I do know who I’d call if I had to make an ER trip, and I’m confident they know I’m there for them too.
    Commute-wise, we joined a new school that’s farther away – and also incredibly great. The morning commute is OK but the evening has been killing me. We used to have a direct bus and the option of walking home (a steep mile) if it was delayed. The new school is on the same busline but more like 2 1/2 miles away which is a lot for the end of the day. So I’m working on that. I don’t quite feel like I’ve got as much leeway as I’d like but I’m OK.

  15. Semi-safety net. Some family here, but in different life stages and not really set up to take kids our kids’ ages, and not all that close.Some neighbors who work part time, like I do, and we all just pray one of the others is NOT stuck in the same traffic jam when it’s time for the bus to come.
    I really felt it at a recent funeral. The family was all there; the high school kids were at the football game; and I had to beg for playdates for my kids. Which were, for the most part, granted graciously, but still: it felt crappy to ask, given that the friends are ones who have safety nets and I can never reciprocate. If I weren’t in a place where so many people have such huge safety nets, I don’t know that we’d feel it as much. And I am not ungrateful for the life we lead. But it’s a little lonely out here sometimes.

  16. I call what we do “extreme parenting” because it is just me and DH, with very little net to pick up the slack or come through in an emergency, unless it is paid for. We live 4000+ miles away from family and friends on anothe coast and have since our kid was born. This year our child was diagnosed with asthma and I am kind of living in terror that there will be complications at some point during cold/flu season and there won’t be anyone there for us during a crisis. It is really, really scary right now.

  17. It must be wonderful after all this time away, and in such stressful circumstances, to be back home. My husband and I have lived 6 hours away from our family for a long time now, and it is hard. We recently chose to move for a wonderful job, but still the same distance away, just in a different direction. One of the hardest decisions, even though it’s been great in so many ways.The no safety net thing is so hard, and in our new community it’s taken a while to feel like we have one or are one.
    One thing that I have found, is that it is so hard to put yourself out there and ask for help, from people who don’t feel quite close enough. But. Once you put yourself out there, most people are so happy you asked, and happy to do it if they can. And then feel comfortable asking you. And then all of a sudden, you are starting to build a safety net..

  18. I’m glad you posted this as I’ve been very aware of the safety net issue on and off and have watched my attitudes change. My husband and 2 little ones moved to a small town in a foreign country 2 years ago. We were suddenly aware that we had next to nobody to call on – nobody we had known longer than a few months, no family on the same continent, no possibility of joining a synagogue. When my son started school, we couldn’t list an emergency contact. We joked a lot about how our social lives, and much else, depended on the class schedule of one or two local undergraduates.2 years later, I am expecting and have a list of friends, and parents of my kids’ friends, who have offered to care for my children when I go into labor. People have asked *us* to be their emergency contact. A new family moved to town and we were able to help them find housing and furniture and feed them when they got here. So while our parents are still far away, and netting itself is still slack, not tight. And you’ve said it, Moxie, the best feeling in the world is being someone else’s net.

  19. sorry, sentence fragment: So while our parents are still far away, and netting itself is still slack, not tight, it’s really and truly there now, and will only get better with time.

  20. Our safety net for emergencies is decent. We have a group of various friends that are ready to call for back up, should we need it. They live in (various) proximity to us. But most back-up friends are mainly for emergency things, not day to day hiccups. We were totally saved this summer by our retired neighbours who babysat and walked our dog almost every day when DH was unexpectedly in the hospital for a week. They were so generous with their time. I don’t know how we would have managed. I call my mom often enough if we’re all sick and need a hand, but she’s 2 hours away. But, my mom is awesome and will come to visit if we need help. DH’s parents are closer 6 months of the year, but it’s harder for them to travel. I’ve outright asked certain friends (some with kids, some without) if they can be our back up, so we have a go to list should we need it.Also, we got a dog walker to use occasionally and she has a key to our house. This is indispensable in an emergency where we can’t get home as she can either walk the dog, or come and pick her up and bring her back to her place (she also boards dogs). It’s much easier to get a friend to go and check on the cat now and then.
    Our safety net for more mundane things is less robust. Working on that now.
    I said goodbye to my leeway (both AM & PM) on Sept 1st when DS switched daycares. I added 1.5 hours onto my commute (by car). DS’ new daycare is in the opposite direction of my work. And sadly, in the direction of traffic. His old one was 5 minutes from my work, and was a route going against traffic. I really hate commuting. But that should tell you how much we wanted to have DS in a more stable daycare after some less good experiences last year. Eventually DH & I may split the drop offs/pick-ups so this may help create leeway.
    Also, I chose a driving route that now goes over the mountain and through a very nice neighbourhood that has lots of green and beautiful houses. We see police horses at the top of the mountain every morning. And I can actually say that the drive is quite pleasant. Driving through areas that feel very non-urban is quite a nice contrast. And seeing green (as in plants & living things) is supposed to be good for your well being, so I’m going with that.
    My ideal would be to work, live and DS to go to daycare/school in the same neighbourhood. But we’ve been on waiting lists for 3 years trying to get into a good daycare in the ‘hood, that suits DS. The new place is the famed $7/day daycare in these parts and on top of that the staff seems to be fantastic and very stable. So far, he is loving it (more than I’ve seen him like his other daycares). So, this will be my sacrifice for the next few years. We’ll re-evaluate after this year (about the commute). But right now it seems to be the right choice, even if it’s not ideal in all regards. Ask me again in the middle of winter and a snowstorm, and I may have a different view.

  21. Oh, I should also say that I have decent flexibility with work, so that helps a lot (with both timing of arriving/leaving from work, and sick days).

  22. Not so much…I’ve always been at home with the kids so it’s never really been an issue but now I think, financially, I need to work, at least part time. But besides my husband, there is no one else. Because he never knows if he has to work overtime or weekends until the last minute (and turning it down would be nuts!) We have no one to call and ask to get the kids off the bus, or stay with the 3 year if need be, or take over if one of them was sick…That’s what terrifies me about working, having to make that choice between the job or the kids, because there really is no one else. We have family somewhat close, but they are all involved in their own lives, and it’s almost more a hassle then it’s worth, which makes me very sad. I’ve been the “safety net” and now that I need one, it’s not there.

  23. When we lived in Australia, it was hard for me to accept there were friends willing to be safety nets, but occasionally we’d use them. But living back in the US, we have my mom as a safety net in case of emergency. But she’s 5 hours away, so it’s more of a planned emergency (if that makes sense) i.e. like hubs knowing he has to go on a trip at the end of the month and I have final exams or classes that week that I really cannot afford to miss etc. The only people that I absolutely trust 10000000% with the kids is my parents (other than hubs)… it’s hard to let someone else help for more than a couple hours.

  24. My moms group has been the most amazing, wonderful, loving safety net. We don’t live close to any family, but I feel truly blessed (and I’m not someone who says that often) to have these women in my life. I realize not every moms group is like this, but awesome, amazing, giving, strong mamas are out there, waiting to form a loving community.

  25. I just last week discovered I really don’t have a safety net, when DH couldn’t start his motorcycle to come home, and I was already on my way to work (I work evenings two nights a week, and DH literally wave to each other on the road). I couldn’t go back and pick up DD, because I was starting new classes and really had to be there. I called 5 parents of DD’s classmates, and NO ONE answered their phone. No, one did, but she would have been in a bind if she had to get my DD. Thankfully, DH got his motorcycle started soon after, and was in the preschool with his car 2 minutes before closing time. And our preschool is laid back, so no hairy eyeballs were given.My inlaws will definitely help for those “planned emergencies,” because they live an hour + away, and are pretty busy people for being retired.
    A friend did just offer to let me drop off DD if we get in a bind, but I’d have to know there was a bind before I leave for work.
    Leeway on those non-evening-work days: I’ve got lots. I’m underemployed, so my mornings are free and several of my days. I’m very grateful for alone time, as I’m someone who really needs it. I also hope to work more, but we’ll be ok if I don’t.

  26. My in-laws, oh what would I do without them! My mother-in-law is like a mom to me and I feel so blessed. In addition to being a constant helping hand, she’s one of the best listening ears I have.I don’t have many friends here in Paris, but having my husband’s parents just a five minute walk away has made such a huge difference in our lives. When a kid is sick or the train is late or school is on strike or whatever, I don’t have to worry how we’ll manage, and that is priceless. Also, now that I’m back at work, my son can skip out of After Care early and go play Legos with Grandpa (also, eat more chocolate than I probably want to know about, but anyway). So nice.
    We’re going to have to find a bigger place soon, and when we do we’ll almost certainly have to move farther into the suburbs. I’m already mourning losing the luxury of right-next-door grandparents. I’m also at a loss for how to thank them. They aren’t into big emotional displays, and of course they do this out of love, not out of expectation for something in return… of course, we’re there for them if they ever need us.
    I guess the best I can do is use them as a model for the kind of love I want to give my children as they grow into adults.

  27. I am very, very lucky, and I know it. I live 1.5 miles from the house I grew up in, where my parents still live. My sister lives 1/2 hour away and teaches school 5 min. away. I have multiple willing-to-help friends within a couple of miles. I work from home. Hubby has a flexible job. We have 4 likable, trustable babysitters we can call upon. We don’t have much money, but we have TONS of support. It makes all the difference.Because I know how lucky I am in this department, I rarely say no to a safety-net request from someone else. Karma, baby.

  28. Our safety net isn’t as robust as I’d like it to be, but it’s not horrible either. My husband and I both work 5 suburban miles from home. Our son’s school is in our home town, so we can get to him and home quickly. My job is flexible enough where I can work from home very easily and it’s no big deal, although it is tough for me to be productive if my son is home with me, but that’s another topic.For “planned emergencies” like someone mentioned above, my in-laws live about 2 hours away. My FIL, specifically, is retired and is more than happy to drive up and spend the day with our son if needed. My parents are a 5 hour drive away, and frequently remind me how they would love to be able to help out more, but we live so far away…
    For school, we need a list of three emergency contacts that are within 30 minutes from school. When my son was a baby, I don’t recall who we put on that list. But now, we thankfully have our next door neighbor, who has a son the same age as ours, and works from home almost every day, and a couple of daycare parents that we got to know and become comfortable with (hello friendly acquaintances!). But like someone else mentioned the logistics of that are not all ironed out, like the whole room in the car or having enough car seats. I try not to worry about it too much since the likelihood of ever needing to use one of our emergency contacts is low, since we are so close to school. But you know, the nature of an emergency is that you aren’t expecting it!
    So, we have the day-to-day hiccups covered with our close-to-home work proximity and flexibility, and we have the no school on a random Thursday in October covered, but it’s those non-planned, actual emergencies that worry me. Thankfully, we haven’t had to deal with one yet.

  29. Left a demanding job 90 minutes away from home for a much less demanding but enjoyable job 15 minutes from home. We also recently moved into a house that is walking distance from both preschool and elementary school. We finally have a good friend (and my daughter’s preschool teacher) who can babysit for us occasionally. We have lovely neighbors. This feels like the beginnings of a safety net for us. And yes, I’m able to now be a safety net for others as well. Amazing what removing some stress from your life can do!

  30. It’s only recently that our safety net has developed – for the first three years of DS’s life, we didn’t have anybody to step in if something happened. I remember having to supply two emergency contacts to the daycare when DS was six months, and really struggling to name one!My family lives in a different country, and DH’s parents are thousands of miles away.
    Now we’re lucky that things are different! We have three good neighbours on our street with similiarly-aged kids that can bail us out (not literally!) if we need – and we can do the same for them. Friendships have developed slowly to the point where I can pick up the phone and ask for help.
    The tipping point for us was when DS was old enought this summer to play with other kids on our street every evening during the summer. All of a sudden we found ourselves chatting naturally with other parents that we haven’t known up to this point – and you know what? They all have the same challenges, struggles & frustrations that we do. That commonality breaks down a lot of reserves! I think I’ve found my village.

  31. I thought that living in a small town would be torture. But…. I have an amazing support system here of families and women of all ages. I’m close(ish) to family. But the help I get from the community and being able to return the favor has made small town life seem pretty darn awesome! The drive to get groceries is not as much fun… 🙂

  32. Ah, safety nets. . . This is a tough one for us because my husband works in a different state nine months of the year, about 350 miles away. (He drives; flying would be a nightmare because we both live in small towns.) Thus, I’m a single parent part of the year – and of course it’s the part of the year when everything is really hard. My husband doesn’t come home every weekend either. So I feel my lack of true safety net all the time- I’m “on” 100% of the time most of the year. there’s nothing like the feeling when my husband comes back and I can just relax. I have a couple of good friends in town, one of whom I can always count on, and some very kind neighbors – but they’re mostly emergency folks, not day-to-day glitch help. Day to day glitches, I have no one, and there is nothing I fear more than a last minute illness/problem. I pay someone to pick them up from preschool too so that is another thing it worry about it – my aftercare is only temporary, and it could run out any day. When I need to travel for work, it’s a nightmare of logistics. Luckily, my mom rocks and she’ll almost always help out -b ut she does live 3 hours away, not like in my backyard.The friends I’m closest to now are the in same situation that I’m in – either their husbands commute, or travel a lot for work, and we have similarly aged kids. We try to band together and help each other out, but it is hard since we’re all stretched so thin all the time. The best we do now is a weekly potluck.

  33. Reading this, I feel so grateful for my own safety net, which is wide. My in-laws live 45 minutes away and are retired, and they’re happy to set aside any plans to help us out in a pinch. My dad is an hour and a half away and works a few days a week, but he’s great with the kids and thinks nothing of making the drive out to see us. I’ve got a teenage babysitter living right next door, and network of a few close friends who all help each other out regularly.And on top of that, my husband sets his own work hours and works from home a lot, so he can be here if I have an appointment or something comes up.
    Some of it is just that my kids are a little bit older now…my younger child just turned 2, and it’s only in the last few months that I’ve really felt comfortable leaving him with people (he’s very attached to me). And my friends’ kids are a little bit older now, too–it seems reasonable to leave someone with two 2-year-olds, or even two 2-year-olds and two 4-year-olds, where it just wasn’t possible when the little ones were babies.

  34. When my children were babies/young toddlers, my parents lived within walking distance. My mom took them some of the time, so between that and the parents day out/preschool program they were in, I was able to work part time from home. My parents would take one or both for part of a weekend, babysit if we wanted to go out and pitch in as needed. They moved away to retire, but I am immensely grateful for everything they did to get us through those baby years when my husband was traveling so much for work. We are also fortunate to each have one or more longstanding close friends who are amazing and willing to help. They are best for those planned emergencies, but if their schedules allow will babysit. As the kids get older its so much easier to ask others to watch them. Since they started in school, its easy to ask someone to grab them if I’m going to be late, since lots of people pick up and then sit and let the kids play on the playground. In a pinch, the teacher will keep the kids a little longer or just send them over to after care. I am a SAHM, so I try to keep an eye out for someone who is struggling and offer to help- with walking an extra child to an after school activity we go to anyhow, or walking them home afterward for example. Everything really did get easier as of last year when we gained all these relationships through school. We’ve also built up a network of babysitters and I have a couple that we use most frequently. The first sitter is a friend’s sitter who I got to know pretty well before she ever babysat. The second was a teenager who I had over to watch the kids while I was home doing other things, until she and I were comfortable enough for her to stay with them on her own. Its definitely been a process, especially since my parents moved. That first year was hard, but in some respects it really forced me to get out and build relationships in my community.

  35. Leeway yes. I don’t work. DH does lots, and travels. Safety net none in practice. No family. Friends all right for the odd mis-hap but not to look after DD for longer than an hour or so. Epipen and food allergies.And those friends have mums and MILs. I got to after DD’s third birthday without needing that net. Herniated two disks while DH away. Carried on in pain until he came back.
    I was able to hire a great cleaner who is good with DD and who will help out where needed and a great nanny agency for ad hoc care. Fully trained nannies, can do emergency or overnight care. I got two of them who did all the recovery time appointments and who will take DD to the playground to help her climb.
    If we lost all our money I dare say DH would be around. I’m not really that flippant. But the hired net is dependable.

  36. Great post and comments as always! I’m a single mom to my 4 y/o daughter. My safety net is pretty good 9 months out of the year. My parents live about 10 minutes from us, except for June-Sept. when they go to their summer place, which is 6 hours away. When they are are around, they are happy to help for a 2 or 3 hours to give me a break, or in an emergency. I also have a good friend who adores my daughter and is always more then willing to take her, when she’s available. Unfortunetly, she is not around in the summers either! Luckily, fall is here, and my safety net is coming back 🙂 Also, there are a couple of parents at my daughter’s day care that I would feel ok asking to help if an emergency came up. And I have pretty generous sick/vacation time at my job, so I’m really lucky.

  37. I have a HUGE safety net. We moved my Mother In Law in with us to help with childcare. She loves it and we love her. It was a big move for her from CT to CA but we think she’ll enjoy the mild Winters and she loves her grandson like crazy. Now, our house is small and we all share one bathroom but everyone has their own bedroom and we’ve converted the garage into a play room. There is a little one on the way and next year it’s gonna get really crowded but we’ll manage. I have about 3 friends that would come baby sit if we had an emergency. Before my MIL moved it, it sucked. We are really lucky.

  38. @ Holly. You are indeed lucky. I cannot envision my MIL living with me as a good thing under any circumstances. The passive aggressive games and traps she sets would drive me nuts in the first month. To have a wonderful relationship with your MIL is an extreme blessing. Good for you!

  39. Oh, a safety net… sighs wistfully…One would hope that having lots of family w/in 15 minutes of us, and even more w/in an hour, we would have help. Nope. Even when I had a horrible stomach flu and could not even change my babies’ diapers, my MIL and a SIL refused to come over to help me until my husband could get home. They didn’t want to get sick. So I don’t really even ask anymore. I’m a SAHM and just deal with any hiccups. If we had a really big emergency, I could probably guilt someone into helping us.

  40. We chose to move ~2 hours away from our safety net 3 years ago, and mostly it’s been OK. I get nervous. My husband and I are both strongly introverted (he wanted me to tell our new neighbors that I’m a widow, so he wouldn’t have to meet anyone; come to think of it, he hasn’t met any yet!), so making friends is hard.My parents will drive here (~2 hours) to help for planned backup, but I hate to ask, which is another of my problems. I do so hate to ask. I have made friendly acquaintances with parents of my son’s friends, and I’m confident any would help out in a pinch if I asked (I’ve helped them), but mustering the courage to ask is virtually impossible for me. So I muddle on through.
    It took me almost 3 years to find a babysitter, whereupon she left for college. Dang it. My emergency contacts are my parents and a friend who lives near them — all 2 hours away. Not an optimal situation, for sure.
    Fortunately, I telecommute 95% of the time, and my husband’s a full-time Dad, so we have very flexible schedules and don’t *need* help very often (much as we might *want* it). What’s actually been harder is that we only have one car. About once a month (not often enough to buy another one), we need two.
    We get by. I do think a real safety net (and willingness to use it) would ease my stress enormously.

  41. Safety Net = None. We live 90 minutes from both of our families. My parents are the only ones that make the effort/take the drive down to see the kids once or twice a month. His parents just aren’t interested. No other family around.I have *some* friends – but all with small kids, so calling on them for some unforseen issue would no doubt create issues within their own houses. Not to mention the logistics of it all – carseats, daycare pickups, contagion.
    I’ve tried to hunt down babysitters – searched the websites, approached teenagers at church, inquired the daycare workers. My husband feels “weird” (his words) about babysitters and is uncomfortable leaving our kids with someone that is not family. And is uncomfortable with “strangers” in our house. Which is hard for me since I babysat for other peoples kids since I was 13, and tend to be more trusting and optimistic about things like that. And I don’t know how to fix his feelings. So we stay home. Plus, babysitters are kind of expensive.
    We have neighbors – two couples on either side of us – that are in their mid-50s and are super-nice and always *offer* the obligatory “whenever you need anything, just hollar…” — and I’ve taken each of them up on the offer once, but feel weird – wonder if the kids feel odd being dropped somewhere unfamiliar and wonder if I’m imposing and taking advantage.
    My (new – no longer 110 mile round-trip commute) full-time WOH job provides a tiny, teensy, weensy bit more leeway than his, which means I am 100% in charge of daycare drop-offs, pick-ups, sick-days, and emergencies. Unless I lose my sh!t and demand that he step in, which I’ve done, and doesn’t make anyone feel good, because it is truly hard for him to rearrange his work schedule. I could (and have) work from home if needed, whcih usually means taking care of a sick kid all day and then working all night and the next night to recover my lost billable hours.
    This sh!t is hard. EFFING HARD. If I had $50 more dollars a week to hire a babysitter, or if I had some local college kid to lean on for an afternoon or so when a kid is too sick to go to daycare, or if my Mommy was a mile or two away and could pop in to distract them long enough so that I could finish a task, or if I could open up enough to let someone else into our home, or take them in a car.
    And then I read some of the comments above and realize that I have it better than most, and is this really just me whining? Sigh. For those that are hour+ commuters — I feel for you. Into the depths of my soul. That is SO.HARD. Been there and praying never again.

  42. We’ve been living 10 hours from any family for 9 years now; in this city for 3. But I do have some safety net. We plan a lot, we hire someone, or in a couple of cases family plans to visit (my sister came to stay when mr. flea had to go on a work trip when I had a just-3 year old and a 6 week old.) For emergencies, we have incredible neighbors with kids we play with every night who would be happy to cope if something terrible happened. (I’m a Yankee – unless it’s a true emergency I don’t ask for help – but we live in the South, and people are very happy to help if asked.) I don’t drive, so there’s an extra layer of planning involved in everything – but, for example, when it snowed (in Georgia) and school and daycare closed mid-day and mr. flea was away, my coworker happily drove me to pick up both kids and drop them at home. Many people LIKE to help others. Don’t worry about asking if you have a true need; just pay it forward.We’re moving next week. We’ll have family an hour away, but I don’t expect to rely on them for anything but true emergencies (my father and in-laws – if it were my mother or sister it would be different), and I hope we can work up a good relationship with neighbors quickly. And I’ll be unemployed for a bit, so maybe I can be someone’s safety net!

  43. We moved to London 7 weeks ago and no safety net as far as the eye can see. But like others I (now) do not work and so do all the running round for the kids. Hubby travels 2 out of 7 days so on those days I can not bank on him in an emergency. In fact, if I locked myself out we’d be in a right pickle seeing no one has a set of our keys. Then again there is our real estate agent and the owner who I could get to let me in, but not handy.Ah yes, a far cry from when we lived in Milan and my MIL was downstairs and an on call baby-sitter. She would be in an emergency, but she doesn’t speak English or drive, nor has she got very good orientation, so I wouldn’t be asking her to come stay with the kids in a hurry. More likely, I’d fly them back home to her.

  44. Our safety net has always been very, very small. Apart from one or sometimes two, trustworthy sitters and a few great neighbors (also with kids), we are on our own. My sister-in-law lives around the corner, but she has no desire to help us out. At the same time, moving closer to my mother, for example, wouldn’t help us out much since she works full-time.Thankfully, my husband’s job is somewhat flexible in that if it’s an emergency, he can usually help out. The kids are (nearly) 3 and 5 now so it’s getting close to the point where it won’t be such a huge issue.

  45. I am feeling a bit dazed by the turn my life has taken in the past month. I was essentially alone in NYC, with little support. And LOD and I were both so stretched by the physical and circumstantial limitations of living there that it felt like a big house of cards. Here, I have much more ease and leeway in everything.

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