Friday, February 11, 2011

Childcare options in Jacksonville

The disadvantage of being stationed so far away from family is that there is no one to turn to in emergency situations. I am solely responsible for our 2, soon to be 3, kids while my husband is at work. If something happened to me, I honestly don't know who I would call to prevent the kids from riding the ambulance with me. There is no fallback support system.

Typically, the kids go with me wherever I go. I have gotten to used to going grocery shopping and to doctor's visits with both of them in tow. And we love any service that has a drive-through window! The bank, the dry cleaner, even the local Subway-- those windows are a time-saver and a life-saver! But sometimes children simply aren't allowed to accompany me, and that's when I have to get creative.

My favorite childcare option in Jacksonville is the PEERS Family Development Center. It is part of the Onslow County Social services. They offer free childcare 1 morning per week on either Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 9 AM- 1 PM. If is a little tricky to get on the schedule, since it is first-come, first-served. The schedule opens 2 weeks in advance, and you have to call the morning it opens to get a reservation. Their number is 910-455-4145. But once you're in, it's great! They have an infant room and a toddler room (up to age 5) all run by trained social workers. You pack your child's lunch, and then they will supervise them eating it. If you have an appointment, you can try to work it around that schedule, or you can just use it to get a break 1 morning a week, which is what I do with my 2-year-old daughter.

However, as wonderful as PEERS is, they have left me in a bit of a pickle this morning. The social worker for the toddler room got sick, so they had to cancel us. I am supposed to go to the dentist in a few hours, ideally without children. There is a "drop-in" childcare center on base, but they are almost always filled a week in advance. Also, they are $3 an hour per child, so when I am leaving both it adds up quickly! But they are a nice facility, right next to the PX. Plus they provide all the meals, so you don't have to pack anything! Their number is 910-451-1220, and I strongly encourage making a reservation in advance.

Thankfully, this morning just got a little easier. I had already arranged for my friend to watch Danny, my 1-year-old. When I told her about Sophia's cancellation, she said she would be happy to watch her too! So now I just have to pack their lunches and take them to her house. Then it is off to the dentist for me! I think I really need to find more friends who are comfortable watching my kids. I always feel bad asking people to watch both at once, but that really limits me. Does anyone else have good childcare solutions, in or out of the Jacksonville area?

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