Childcare: The Real Story

Mom and Dad: How Kids Can Get More from Two Working Parents

Why count sheep when you can count your worries? Your child . . . your job . . . your spouse . . . his job . . . your marriage . . . your child . . . your job . . .

Will getting to 50/50 let you sleep carefree? For us, that hasn't happened yet. But we toss and turn much less because we have good company, spouses who are equal players in the parent game. The many couples we've interviewed say the same: "It's worth it-especially for the kids."

The thoughts that keep you up at night start early. On a popular morning show, a parenting guru shakes his head. "You need to be there when your kids get home from school." (Does he mean you?) As you kiss your kids good-bye, you see a flier from the library: "Children's Story Hour: 11 a.m. on Mondays." You've never gone. "Would my daughter enjoy that? What is she missing?" you wonder as you shut the front door.

Midday, there's an e-mail from school. "Your son writes numbers backwards. Please practice at home." How, you wonder, will you wedge that in on weeknights? Your 3 p.m. meeting started forty minutes late and the Little League game is at 5. You said you'd be there and, as your son likes to say, "a promise is a promise." You arrive at 5:45 and the game is in progress. You sit down as your son goes to bat. The ball soars and he runs all the way to third base. He sees you and smiles-but you wonder why every day feels like such a fire drill. What about that guy on TV this morning: Are your kids getting shortchanged? You start calculating how your family could get by on one income (not yours).

Then your husband grabs your hand and whispers: "Don't worry, I got here early. See what a little batting practice will do?" He smiles proudly as your son's foot hits home plate. Yes, your kids sometimes bring store-bought treats for the bake sale. But if you craft family life to give your children what they need . . . does it matter?
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