'My Childcare Plans Fell Through at the Last Minute. What Are My Options?'

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My mother-in-law agreed to watch my baby when I went back to work after maternity leave, but two weeks in, she said it’s too much for her, and she won’t be able to do it anymore. There are no daycare spots for a few months, and we can’t afford a nanny in the meantime. Is quitting my job my only option? How am I supposed to ever forgive my MIL for doing this to us?

While your situation seems dire, becoming a stay-at-home mom isn’t your only
choice. You just might need to think outside the childcare box until there’s a daycare vacancy.

Florence Ann Romano, a former nanny and author of Nanny and Me, recommends looking into nanny shares, in which a single nanny looks after multiple children. Since multiple families are paying just one person, the fees are split and are usually more affordable than hiring a sitter for your child alone, she says. To find a share, try posting in local mom groups on Facebook or looking on a website like nannyshare.us or gonannies.com—check out the latter’s free DomestiShare service. Romano also suggests asking friends and neighbors to see if anybody can babysit temporarily; since it’ll be for only a brief time, you never know who might be available. You can even contact the local PTA to expand your network.

There are also government resources you can turn to.
Mia Pritts, the head of early-childhood education at Wonderschool, a network of early-childhood programs, suggests going to your local Childcare Resource and Referral Agency (you can learn about locations on your state government website, usually the two-letter postal abbreviation followed by “.gov”). “Ask them who near you has openings—one of their main functions is linking parents to available childcare spots,” she says. “They might know of openings you’re unaware of.”

You can ask your mother-in-law for ideas too, but first, you’ll need to forgive her. Step one: “understanding that she didn’t do this to hurt you and your family,” says Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship adviser of Relationup, a relationship-advice network. “She did it to take care of herself, and it does teach you about her limits and what you can’t count on her for.”

If you want her to be a part of your child’s life, you’ll need to let her back into your life, says Milrad. If she hasn’t said sorry, consider asking your husband to mediate. Tell him to explain to his mom that her change of heart hurt you and put your family in a difficult position, and that an apology would help fix your relationship.

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