First, I Cried – And Then I Made a Spreadsheet

Jun 15, 2016

Yes, you heard that right. First I cried and then I made a spreadsheet.

Friends, I will not bore with you with the details of my recent childcare debacles, but let’s leave it at this: We are unexpectedly between full-time babysitters for a not insignificant period of time. When I discussed this with my IRL friends (Did you know that IRL stands for “In Real Life?” The things I’m learning as a blogger!), they thought it made for a good Togetherness Tale.

After I ingested the news that we were without childcare on the last two weeks of school when I’m also due to travel to four cities, there are two end-of-year events at my kids’ schools, my teacher-husband is buried in report cards and evening obligations, and, oh yeah, the 3-year-old has strep – I did cry for a bit. And after some support from my family, friends, and husband, I bucked up and made a plan.

A spreadsheet, to be precise:

And how exactly did I do this? Through a straight-up combination of begging, explaining, cashing in on favors, and coordinating.

Step 1: I created a version of the chart above that outlined every single gap we had in dropping off, picking up, and covering evenings.

Step 2: I sent a detailed email asking for daytime assistance to every mom-friend in town. This resulted in two names of college students home for the summer, as well as two afternoon playdates at other peoples’ houses!

Step 3: I called my aunt, cousin, and father-in-law to check on their availability and got a hit with my amazing father-in-law. He rearranged his work schedule to fill in some of the biggest holes.

Step 4: I set up interviews with the college students and secured one very quickly to cover other spots.

Step 5: I sent this sheet (along with three more pages to cover the upcoming weeks!) to all parties, connected them via text, and am now checking in daily to make sure no one is left anywhere and everyone is fed.


So, what to be learned here?

  • We all have unexpected events and happenings. I am no more immune to them than anyone else.
  • We are allowed to get annoyed, upset and frustrated by these kinds of issues.
  • And once we deal with all that, it’s time to pick up and re-Together ourselves as best we can.

Though this coordination took a ton of time, it resulted in a schedule that allowed my husband and me to fulfill our professional obligations while our kids got a reasonably structured and full-of-people they love, if a bit haphazard, week. Folders for school may get forgotten, meals may not be as healthy as they should, and let’s not even talk about the state of my house. And yes, the six-year-old accidentally wore sandals to school on the day of the mile-long Fun Run. But everyone is safe and accounted for. And that is what we call Together enough.

PS – Coordinate childcare schedules with a regular Family meeting