Monday, November 8, 2010

Kid Samaritans

When I worked as an office manager, after having been home with my kids for ten years, there was never a good solution to the problem of a sick kid needing a parent to stay home with him. My job was at a very small company, so if was out, all my work just waited until I got back. There wasn't anyone to fill in since all of us were already spread so thin and wearing so many hats. Made staying home very stressful. The Engineer's job assignments (all at another smallish company) have varied quite a bit over his career, mostly in sustaining engineering, but right now is in regulatory compliance where about one week a month he's at a testing site with the new product, helping it get through FCC or UL testing. These sessions cost tens of thousands of dollars a day, and the wait for a testing session is long. So he couldn't stay home either, most of the time. What's a family to do? Call on extended family? That proved complicated as well, since the Swede has some health issues compromising his immune system and has to avoid all possible infection, thereby excluding Nana. What we needed is what Sweden has: Kid Samaritans.

It's an ingenious idea. The Samaritans part is from the familiar Bible story about the Samaritan who stopped to help the injured traveler when everyone else, including the Jewish priest, had passed him by.  Kid Samaritans, back in the 70s, were mostly grandmotherly types looking for a little extra income. They would come into your home and care for your sick child just like a grandma would, and I'm guessing on this part, because even The Swede didn't know, for a very reasonable price. He did suggest googling in Swedish, so I did. This profession is going strong! I found one ad where the Kid Samaritans are linked to a pre-school and are already familiar with your child from his or her attendance at that school. They even remind you that half the cost is tax-deductible.  I didn't find any actual salary info though, or cost to the customer either.

I totally can see this working in the US. There are many retirees who are on a fixed income and could benefit from some extra cash. In turn, they'd gain a sense of purpose. I'd rig it like substitute teaching where you can always say no if you happen to have unchangeable plans for the following day. I know many sweet ladies at my church who would do a wonderful job at this.  (Not excluding men, just this might not be the preferred gig, for the majority of them.)

My own Farmor (Swedish grandmother, “Dad'smom”) was employed this way when I was a little girl growing up in Sweden. Many other boys and girls benefited from her tender care, comforting food, and entertaining stories. She had quite the ear for accents and could imitate just about anyone. In her telling of a tale, each character's personality would come through in the voice she crafted for them. She never tired of reading aloud, either. Yes, she was a softie, but isn't that the role of a grandparent?

I wish she'd come take care of me now. I have the beginnings of a nasty head and chest cold, courtesy of YellowBoy, who is almost through his bout. I guess I'll count the blessing that I'm not currently employed, and my boys can look after me for a change. Pass the kleenex, please.


5thsister said...

I've heard of something similar here called "Grandmas on Call" I don't know if they are still around or not and I was fortunate not to have need of them when my kids were little.

House Revivals said...

While I was working so my husband could go to grad school, this was the most difficult part. When the kids all got chicken pox, one coming down with it, as another was getting over it, I would have needed to quit my job, had my mother not been in the same state. We packed up the kids' suitcases and drove them to their grandparents' house for six weeks of rotations. The hardest part of working with a sick kid came when my youngest threw up in the morning right before he needed to go to day care. We had to juggle our day around, and I ended up going into work two hours late. Even though I had called my boss first thing to let her know, she was livid with me. She told me I should have called her the day before if my kid was sick (she was childless by choice, preferring to focus on career). I eventually quit that job....

Brian Miller said...

you know i could see it working in teh right circumstances...i really dont know what we would do if a kid got sick...Ts job is pretty understandable...i guess...hope you feel better!

Aging Mommy said...

I agree, a system like that would be wonderful, not only to assist when you are sick but beyond that, for people like us who have no family there, as grandparent like figures in the children's lives.

I am sorry you are getting sick, I hope you get better soon.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

That would be such a wonderful thing to have. There are times when I just cannot take off but have to because of a sick child. And then I end up working from home and snapping at the child because he wants a cuddle, and I want to work. Kid Samaritans would be an answer to a prayer.

And take care of your cold.

H said...

When my husband first died this was really hard. Fortunately, my parents stepped in with after school care for both boys until they reached secondary school and began to be more independent. Doubly fortunate is that they were both pretty healthy kids and had very little time off school.

I think Kids Samaritans sounds like a great idea. A normal childminder can't just take on extras at the drop of a hat; especially 'extras' who are full of germs to spread. A trusted and liked grandma figure would be perfect for both child and parent.

Hope your cold goes away soon! Take good care of yourself.