May 23, 2016

Where to find flexible childcare

When my children were younger, I worked four days a week and had Fridays off. It was not easy to find childcare for four days. But times have changed and daycare appears to be getting a little more flexible. I'm not saying it's completely flexible, but we're moving in the right direction. 

In my column in today's Miami Herald, I address the new direction of child care. Below is an abbreviated version but you can click here to see the full article. 


BYH00 Balance News rk
(Pamela Guilarte, left, and her mother, Maria Sayreat the Fun Club in South Miami. Photo by 
Roberto Koltun) 





From nannies on demand to daycare or after-school care on demand, alternatives to full-time childcare are providing parents options to fit their new ways of working.

Drop in care: One of the most-popular options is drop-in care, where childcare is available by reservation, or at the last minute as a service offered by full-time day care and early-learning centers. Parents can pre-buy preschool hours and use them as needed. Costs vary but start at about $10 an hour, plus a one-time registration fee.

Earlier this month, Suzanne Santos, a mother of three, found herself using this alternative. Santos, a real estate agent in South Miami, had a photo shoot set up for one of her new property listings and needed childcare for her 2-year-old daughter for the afternoon when the nanny called in sick. So, Santos bought a package of drop-in childcare hours at The Fun Club in South Miami that she will use as needed over the next month.

Pamela Guilarte began drop-in care as the owner of Fun Club in South Miami and just sold the preschool to Orange Blossom Learning Center. Now, she plans to license the format she used locally to preschools around the country. She and her mother, Maria Sayre, have developed software that allows parents to log onto a website, purchase a package of hours and sign up for preschool/childcare as needed, or several days a week. Preschool owners are able to use the software to track parent usage and send out renewal notices.

Guilarte says drop-in care has gained traction in the past few years, particularly with young parents. “Millennial parents are savvy and because of the way they are working, they don’t want to pay a monthly fee,” she says. “They are hand-selecting the top preschools in their area where they can pay by the hour or the day.”

While it would seem challenging for owners to staff for drop-in care, Guilarte says it serves as supplemental income for childcare centers that already offer full-time care. Parents still need to ensure that a drop-in center is licensed and operates under the same regulations that apply to day-care facilities. “When I opened the Fun Club seven years ago, if I said we offer drop-in care, people had no idea what that was. Now, people know what it is and have started to use it,” she says.

Drop-in childcare has a sizable potential market: People working nontraditional shifts or flexible hours make up 35 percent of the workforce.

While convenient, most drop-in care centers want some prior notice. Tiniciti Early Childhood Center requires 24 hours notice for drop-in care at its two Miami locations. It also offers parents flexibility in how they use day care during regular hours. Michael Taylor, who operates his iPrint company from Pipeline Brickell’s shared workspace, works a loose schedule and typically starts his workday around 11 a.m. after he drops his daughter Ella off at Tiniciti Brickell. Because the center offers alternatives to full-time care, Taylor uses it mostly in the afternoons but has the option of picking Ella up as late as 8 p.m. if needed. “There are so many young business people on Brickell that certain schools have no choice but to offer flexibility and adjust with times,” Taylor says.

Existing daycare centers: Even the large national providers are catering to parents’ working habits. KinderCare Learning Centers has 1,600 locations across the country, including some on-site corporate centers. At some locations, it has extended hours, offered drop-in care or catered to parents with unpredictable schedules. In South Florida, KinderCare and its Cambridge Preschools has 22 locations, some that offer a daily rate or a monthly half-day fee, says Yvonne Wolliston, KinderCare regional director for the South. “We’re sensitive to moms who want flexibility and are working with them,” Wolliston says.

Family childcare centers: Some family childcare centers have adapted, too. Maricarmen Macias has operated a childcare center from her Chicago home for more than a decade. By welcoming children as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m., she has attracted parents who put in nontraditional hours, some of them single mothers. For example, Macias says she accommodates a single mother who works a different schedule each week at a dollar store: “By being flexible, we are giving a mom the chance to have a job and be the main provider for her family.”

Websites: Another flexible option parents are using are websites like that offer a version of childcare on demand and nanny-sharing. Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor at, says parents use her website to build a bank of babysitters to hire as needed. “If you have five quality babysitters in your contacts, you can say, ‘I am picking up a gig this week and need someone for 20 hours, who can help me?’ ” Bugbee says.

Afterschool programs: For parents with older children, after-school programs also are evolving to accommodate a change in the communities’ needs. Jodi Grant, executive director of Afterschool Alliance — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy organization to ensure quality after-school programs — says she has seen more alternative programs for parents who don’t need five-days-a-week after-care for their elementary, middle or high school children. From enrichment activities to onsite after-school care, “the need for flexibility is great and the programs are getting better.” Check your local YMCA or Community Centers for flexible after-school programs. 

What are your experiences with childcare and flexibility? Do you find it challenging to find child care to fit your needs?

May 04, 2016

What makes a state the worst for a working mother?

Source: WalletHub




Yesterday, I drove past the bus stop and noticed a mother with young triplets trying to get her family onto the public bus. I wondered what her life was like -- how difficult it is to support her family and she manages on a daily basis to get her family where they need to go. Is our public transportation accommodating? Is Florida's child care affordable? Is housing affordable?

With Mother’s Day approaching, and single moms with young children constituting nearly three-quarters of all working women, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2016’s Best & Worst States for Working Moms.

So, what makes a state one of the worst for working mothers? Expensive child care, lousy paychecks, too few pediatricians, lack of advancement opportunities, crappy parental leave, and a huge wage gap.  And that's just the beginning of it!

In order to identify the best and worst states for working moms, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions: 1) Child Care, 2) Professional Opportunities and 3) Work-Life Balance.

From there, WalletHub’s analysts compared the attractiveness of each of the states to a working mother by using 13 key metrics such as median women’s salary, female unemployment rate, day-care quality, and the pay gap.

Vermont had the highest overall score. Nevada had the lowest.


Here's how my state (Florida) scored. (It's the 12th Worst State for Working Mothers):
Life as a Working Mom in Florida (1=Best; 25=Avg.) 

  • 24th – Day-Care Quality
  • 51st – Child-Care Costs (Adjusted for Median Women’s Salary)
  • 30th – Access to Pediatric Services
  • 18th – Gender Pay Gap (Women’s Earnings as % of Men’s)
  • 19th – Ratio of Female Executives to Male Executives
  • 34th – Median Women’s Salary (Adjusted for Cost of Living)
  • 34th – Female Unemployment Rate
  • 23rd – Parental Leave Policy
  • 39th – Length of Average Woman’s Workday
  • 20th – % of Single-Mom Families in Poverty


If you live in New York, then rejoice because you live in the best state for working mothers for daycare quality.

If you live in Washington D.C., there's good news for you, too. You live in the area with the highest percentage of pediatricians and the highest percent of female executives. 

Moms in Virginia have something to celebrate as well. You live in the state with the highest median women's salary, adjusted for cost of living: $45,452.

Let's hope states that ranked low make some improvements in the next year. We owe it to the nation's working mothers and the children they are raising!

For the full report, visit WalletHub



April 13, 2016

Daycare costs more than college?




When my daughter was young, I hired a series of nannies until I found one who was reliable.

It was an ordeal.

I wanted so desperately to leave my daughter with someone who I could trust. I also wanted so desperately to keep my job, which in the news business meant unpredictable hours. To land the perfect nanny -- one that didn't fall asleep on the job or show up an hour late -  I painfully forked over more than half of my paycheck.

So, it's not at all surprising to me that other working parents are desperate to find high quality, low-cost child care. When I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the high cost of childcare, it disgusted me, but didn't really surprise me.

In nearly half the country(23 states), it’s now more expensive to educate a 4-year-old in preschool than an 18-year-old in college, according to the Wall Street Journal. The largest disparity between the cost to attend day care and the cost to attend college resides in Florida, my home state, according to Economic Policy Institute data.The average child care costs in Florida are $7,668 a year, making it 73 percent more expensive to care for a 4-year-old in Florida than for a student to attend college.

“High-quality child care is out of reach for many families,” said Economic Policy Institute research assistant Tanyell Cooke. “This crisis is not limited to low-income families, nor is it unique to certain parts of the country. It affects everyone, in every state.”

It's not just full time childcare that's costly. If you're a working parent who needs after-school care, get ready to pay a lot of money for a few hours of supervision.

Costs have risen to the point where parents need to do the math and consider child care costs when offered a salary to determine if taking a job is worth it. And, if you're a parent who works off hours, like an evening shift or a Saturday, finding after hours child care can be a huge scramble and an expensive endeavor. A blog post I wrote many years ago about where to find after hours child care remains one of the most well read.

For single mothers the cost of daycare is a GIANT problem when women are paid 75 cents for every dollar men are paid. I wonder how many bosses have considered that when doling out raises or making job offers.

What can be done about rising childcare costs?

Some ideas are pay parents bigger salaries, subsidize the cost of childcare, open more government-funded childcare centers, encourage more businesses to build onsite childcare centers.

I am sure there are more possibilities. It's time our country considers what those solutions could be.

July 31, 2015

The surprising life of a childcare worker

The cost of caring for a child in America keeps rising, but childcare workers' salaries are not. What's it like to take care of someone else's kid all day while you are being paid subpar wages for your work?

I don't usually post pieces that are political, but this is a topic that affects all of us who care about the next generation of children and the people who care for them while their parents hold jobs. Today, I'm thrilled to have a guest blogger/childcare worker give us some insight into what it's like for her. Her name is LiAnne Flakes, she is 40 and has been working in child care for 22 years. She currently works at the Bible Base Fellowship Childcare Center in Tampa and makes $10.75 an hour.


LiAnne Flakes

(LiAnne at an event outside the U.S. Capitol)

Here is LiAnne's story:

After working in child care for 22 years, I’ve seen firsthand how our broken child care system is holding our communities and our families back. Working parents can’t afford quality care, and child care workers can’t cover rent, groceries and basic bills for our families.

Each day, I care for and teach eight children between 10 months and 3-years-old, making sure that they eat healthy, learn to socialize and play and learn new words and songs. But I’m paid just $10.75 an hour to take care of our country’s most precious resource – our children. That means I can’t afford a car and health insurance.

Most child care workers are among the lowest paid workers in cities around the country. To be able to go to the grocery store is a luxury for me. Right now, my fridge is pretty empty – the last time I was able to buy groceries was about a month ago. 

Sadly, though, many parents are in the same situation, as far as not getting paid enough to afford rent, food and healthcare and relying on public assistance to survive. We’re in a system that’s not working for anyone – parents, children or child care workers. 

That’s why I joined the Fight for $15, and am joining with parents and our political leaders to call for a stronger child care system a $15 an hour wage for all child care workers.

Outside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, I stood with parents, workers and members of Congress to announce a bold plan for a stable, reliable child care system and a stronger workforce that has the pay, training and support we need to provide the best care possible. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said at the event, “Families need a reliable and affordable child care system that’s available when they need it. And importantly, the care should be provided by skilled child care workers who are paid enough to support their families,”

In DC this week, I met child care workers, parents and families who are also struggling to juggle bills and make sure their kids are happy and safe when they are at work. She’tara Brown, a mother of three who works at the Dollar Tree in Tampa, and is paid $8.05 an hour told me that affordable care would change her life. Right now, her mom takes care of her 6-year-old and 3-year-old daughters and her 4-year-old son because she can’t afford center-based care. She told me, “I work so hard. But with what I’m making, I can’t support my kids. My check is $170 every two weeks. After lights, rent and necessities for my kids – like school supplies – I have nothing.”

I want to have children someday, but sometimes I think it’s a blessing that I don’t have any right now. It’s one thing if I go hungry, but an entirely different matter if a child doesn’t have enough to eat. The fact is too many families are working hard each day but can’t pay the bills like me and She’tara.  

Starting next week, child care providers, parents and members of Congress will be holding roundtables and town halls to discuss  policies that strengthen the childcare workforce and invest in affordable quality care. In the Fight for $15 we have already been taking our recommendations to elected leaders. In May, parents and child care workers met with Hillary Clinton to talk about what we need to provide the best care without living in poverty.

It hurts our entire community when hard-working parents can’t make ends meet and child care workers live in constant stress and anxiety about where to get their next meal. It’s time we had a child care system that supported all families and working parents – those who provide and those who need child care.



November 18, 2014

Never bring your boss a work life balance problem

This morning, a male friend called me with a management issue. He wanted my thoughts on how to handle a situation with one of his female employees who is struggling with a work and family conflict. 

The problem is that each member of his staff takes a turn with a task that requires they stay late at the office one night a week. This one employee, a mom, has a young child at daycare and finds it impossible to rely on her husband or a family member to pick the child up when it is her turn to stay late.  She approached her boss and told him she couldn't continue to stay late once a week. 

"She's a good employee," my friend explained. "I don't want her to quit. But we are making everyone else take a turn at staying late."

My immediate response was to rattle off questions. 

First, why is this just this woman's problem? If there's a father in the picture, why isn't he working to find a solution, too?

Second, if she knows in advance she needs to stay late once a week, why can't she plan for it?

Last, and most important, why did she approach her boss with a problem, rather than a solution?

The number one rule in negotiation of a work life accommodation is bring a solution to the table.

I advised my friend to tell his employee to come back with a proposed solution to this dilemma. Then, she and her boss can negotiate from there.

If I were the frustrated mom, I might have asked my boss if there's a task I could take on early in the day in order to skip my turn on the late night rotation.

Long ago, I learned that bosses respond best to proposed solutions rather than problems. Because this woman's co-workers are single or have no kids, there is a possibility of resentment. As a manager, my friend needs to make sure whatever accommodation he makes for this working mom comes off as fair to all. 

We work in an era when the needs of the 21st Century workforce must be considered. In two-job families, men and women may both confront work life balance challenges. No one wants to lose his or her job over a child care issue. And, a good boss wants to keep a good employee. 

As I hung up with my friend, he said: "Let's see what she comes up with. I really want this to work out."

I pretty sure most bosses feel that way. 


August 19, 2014

Working parents biggest fears

I shouldn't say I'm shocked but I am. How is it that in 2014, at a time when most mothers and fathers work, we still fear that we will be fired when our family needs interfere with work demands?

It's interesting that men almost fear bringing up child care issues with their boss more than women do. A dad I know once told me I was lucky that I had a flexible work arrangement and said his boss would get angry if he asked for one. I urged him to ask but I don't think he ever did. 

A new Bright Horizons Modern Family Index survey of 1,000 working moms and dads with at least one child under 18 still in the home shows:

  • working parents fear family responsibilities could get them fired
  • fathers are just as stressed and insecure about work and family conflicts as mothers
  • 39 percent of parents fear being denied a raise because of family responsibilities
  • 37 percent of parents fear they will never get promoted while 26 percent worry about a demotion because of family responsibilities
  • 22 percent worry that family commitments will cost them key projects at work
  • 19 percent believe they won’t be invited to important meetings because of family obligations
  • Working parents are nervous to bring up key family-related issues with their employers

That's a lot of fear, isn't it? We all know that business is about making profit or showing performance but workers are the ones who make that happen. When we have to choose between leaving a sick kid home alone or going to work, that's a tough choice we shouldn't have to make.

Here's something all employers should note: . Those working parents who do feel supported by their employer report strong loyalty.

David Liss, CEO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions, said it well:  "it is clear that working parents throughout the U.S. are still struggling to manage all of their responsibilities, and many still feel that they cannot be honest with their supervisors about needing to be available and active in their family lives."

As a working parent, showing vulnerability to the wrong boss can be career suicide. And so, out of fear, we lie. In the survey working parents -- moms and dads --  admitted to lying or bending the truth to their boss about family responsibilities that get in the way of work. Some revealed they have faked sick to meet family obligations. Others said they lied about missing a work event because of a family commitment or the reason why they didn't respond to emails.

Again, all very pathetic but shockingly understandable.

Over my years as a working parent, I found a supportive boss makes all the difference in being a successful working parent and achieviing work life balance. If I hadn't had a supportive boss when my kids were really little, I couldn't have kept my job. The survey shows 41 percent of working parents agree with me.

Have you ever been fearful that family needs will get you fired? Do you think fathers get less of a break at work and have more reason to be fearful than mothers?

March 20, 2014

Spring Break isn't what it used to be

One day last week, my friend called me and was panicked. Unexpectedly, she was told she needs to travel for work next week during her kids' Spring Break. "I have to go or we'll lose the client," she told me.

Usually, I offer sympathy. But this time, I took a different tactic. I asked her how she'd feel if she stayed home. Would she be enjoy herself and feel like she was on vacation? Or would she be consumed with guilt and worried about what was going on at work without her? I suspect the later.

Don't get me wrong, I treasure my time with my kids. I look forward to spring break every year with them. But while I don't endorse making work a priority over children, sometimes making a sacrifice in your personal life is necessary to keep a job. 

Around me I see working parents unable to get time off to be with their kids for Spring Break. They are scrambling to find a low cost option to keep their kids busy. Even those of us fortunate enough to take time off will most likely stay connected to our jobs by checking our email. Most of us working parents are far away from the days when Spring Break was a time to cut lose and soak up the sun without responsibilities.

I assured my friend that even if she grabs one afternoon of uninterrupted beach time with her kids, she has achieved the goal of breaking from her daily routine. In the end, work life balance is about making work and family blend the best we can -- and not beating ourselves up when life doesn't go as planned. 




August 21, 2013

There is help for working moms (and dads)

The start of the school year is hectic in my home. Judging by the conversations in the school supply aisle of Target this week, I'm not alone. But I know lots of working moms (and dads) who are making their work life balance easier this year by outsourcing responsiblities.

Today, in my Miami Herald column, I wrote about this trend. I'm convinced, there will be even more services catering to working parents in the next few years.


There’s help for busy moms who can’t do it all

Customers Zora Guzman and Mateo use the Moms Helping Moms shuttle.
Customers Zora Guzman and Mateo use the Moms Helping Moms shuttle. 



Just after breakfast, a van pulls up at the Lopez home in Coral Springs. Thirteen-year-old Emily gets in and heads off to middle school, saving mom, Diana, from delaying her 1 ½-hour commute to her job in Miami. The same shuttle picks Emily up after school and takes her to ballet class. Some afternoons, it picks up her older sister at home and takes her to be tutored in math or takes her home from school if she stays late for a club meeting.

Lopez, an international private banker whose husband works in Miami too, says hiring a transportation service has been the only way she can keep a regular work schedule, be home for dinner and have her children participate in after-school activities. “I believe in the theory that it takes a village to raise a child,” Lopez says. “But these days, we’re hiring the village.”

Working parents today are paying others to do things for our children that our parents did themselves — drive our kids to school, help them with homework, cook for our families and take them to baseball practice. The services are needed because things have changed dramatically for working mothers in the last few decades. For starters, there are simply many more moms in the labor force. The participation rate has skyrocketed to more than 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Family economics have change dramatically, too. As the number of women in the workforce swelled, so, too, did their contribution to family income. A record 40 percent of all households with children include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The share was just 11 percent in 1960. With mothers contributing more, managing a household becomes a simple equation of trading money for time.

It can be an expensive exchange — financially and emotionally — and not everyone can afford it.

“It’s a struggle working moms go through,” Lopez says. “We ask ourselves, ‘Am I passing off something I should be doing myself?’ But then, we have to be realistic.”

Moms Helping Moms, the northwest Broward County shuttle service used by the Lopez family, gets $60 to $80 per child per week for roundtrip carpooling within five miles — more for greater distances. Founder Sharron Gay says she launched her business three years ago. As a mom who commuted an hour to work, she saw the need. “Life is too short to feel guilty or overwhelmed. We’re here to make your life easier,” the website boasts.

Gay’s five vans, driven only by moms, shuttle kids to school, activities, orthodontist appointments and sports practices. They even pick up sick children from school and bring them home. Gay says she offers the service moms want — assuring them that the bus won’t leave until the child enters the home safely. “We do things the way moms would,” she says. Gay says her service is profitable and she has plans to add more vans and new geographic areas by 2014.

Others see opportunity, too. Fueled by demand from working parents, a burgeoning cottage industry handling chores for working parents is flourishing. There are reading specialists who get $40 to $50 an hour to assist students individually at their homes on reading and writing. There are businesses that will bring dinner to hungry kids waiting for mom and dad to get home from work.

Ryan Sturgis, a partner in Delivery Dudes, says his business picks up meals from local restaurants and delivers them to Broward County homes. It has seven geographic locations (plans to add more) and charges a $5 delivery fee.

“We get a lot of moms who call on their way home from work. We tell them we can be there with dinner within 45 minutes.”

Some parents turn their world upside down to manage responsibilities before finally accepting that they can’t do it all. Eventually, they discover outsourcing a necessary expense to keep their jobs, reduce stress or get ahead in the workplace.

Miami mother Gabrielle D’Alemberte, makes a priority of the things she feels a mother should do, such as attending school functions and tucking her daughter into bed. But the single mom says she couldn’t continue to work as a trial attorney if she didn’t outsource some tasks at work and home. She has hired someone to pick her daughter up from the bus stop and take her to ballet lessons. In the past, she has hired a company to deliver meals to her home and she’s employed someone to go over her daughter’s homework and review for tests.

D’Alemberte specializes in litigation against large international resorts and often travels for work.

“I could not have had the job and profession I’ve chosen without the help I have gotten in bringing up my wonderful 13 year old,” she says. “Knowing I can’t do it all makes it easier to hire people to help.”

In a twist on outsourcing, working parents also are automating. Whitney Zimet, who ran a community coupon site for five years, hired math and Spanish tutors for her two kids. She even searched for a service to pack healthy lunch box meals. But Zimet turns to technology for relief from some tasks — using Amazon to get home delivery of required reading materials, ongoing school supplies and birthday gifts. She uses auto-delivery for kids’ vitamins and household products. .

It used to be a real point of pride for women who stayed home to take care of every aspect of their families’ lives, she says. Now women are in the workforce, used to thinking practically and doling out tasks to solve problems, and scrutinizing the value of an expense, she says. “Most of us are aware of what needs Mom’s attention, but we’re also looking at what can make our life easier."


August 19, 2013

When you reach the last "back-to-school" day....

Today, I woke up extra early. I hovered over my two older teens with a camera in hand, wanting to snap a picture of them on their first day of the school year. For my daughter, a high school senior, this would be my last time doing this ritual.

 With comforting predictability, I’ve always pulled my camera out on the first day to capture the newness of the year, before the homework struggles and complaints about teachers set in. It hasn't always been easy to "be there" to capture the moment -- some years it meant planning in advance to make sure work assignments don't conflict.

Today, the annual lump in my throat seemed larger as I stood there at dawn watching my daughter get into the car with my son and drive off for high school,  leaving me in the driveway. Every family has its own rituals for getting back into the school swing. I may have complained in the past, but today, I realize how much I enjoy the events leading up to back to school -- stockpiling lunchbox snacks, comparing the deals on new school supplies, choosing first day of school outfits.  

Alone in the driveway, it hit me...

The day will come when I don't have the back-to-school stress that comes from getting kids in bed earlier, digging up quickie family dinner recipes and organizing carpools to sports practices and afterschool activities. Inevitably, my kids will head out from their dorms to attend class without mom taking a first day photo. Inevitably, my work life balancing act will get easier. Now that I'm much closer to that reality, I'm not sure I want that to happen.

My camera just doesn't feel ready. 


July 26, 2013

Do you dare use child care on a family vacation?



For those of you who look forward to summer vacation as a well deserved break from routine or a way to regain work life balance, what are the dos and don'ts of vacationing in 2013? 

Is is okay to hire child care on a family vacation? Is it okay to check out of work completely? Is it okay to bring extended family members along on a trip?

Of course, the answer depends on how guilty you feel over the choices you make.

I just read a very helpful article on about 8 Ways to Find Child Care on Vacation. It includes suggestions such as choosing a hotel with babysitting servies or vetting a sitter ahead of time who lives in the area you are traveling. When I worked 60-hour weeks in the newsroom, I felt guilty using any child care while on vacation with my kids. When my kids were younger, I tried it. I left them with a hotel sitter one night. I think the combination of a new environment and a stranger unsettled my daughter. She cried the whole time we were out to dinner. When I got off the elevator, I could hear the screaming from down the hall. I just felt too guilty to ever try it again. But, I know some families who have left their kids at the camp on cruise ships. They've reported their kids had a fabulous time and they enjoyed some grown up time alone.  There is no right or wrong answer, but there are more child care options than ever if you want some grown up time when traveling with kids.

Next question, is it okay to connect with the office on vacation?

Earlier this week, I wrote my work life balance column on people who take longer vacations but stay connected to the office. I think each of us has to learn to vacation in the way we feel most relaxed. I received an email from John Roig. This is his take: As an IT professional now for 20+ years I've come to know there's no light at the end of the tech tunnel; just another tunnel.  Fine.  To 'restore' (regain perspective really) I need to be where no one can reach me (and conversely, where I am literally unable to reach out - technologically). Getting harder though...cell penetration is getting better each year.....this trip (Zion) was 3 days in early May.  I try and do 2/yr."

(John Roig in Zion Canyon)


Next, is it okay to bring extended family members along on a trip? (Does that detract from a real vacation)?

That depends. says according to a poll, 40 percent of families have gone on a multigenerational vacation. In an era where many grandparents live in different cities, states or time zones than their grandchildren, a trip can forge bonds far stronger than a simple holiday visit to grandma's house and it's efficient way to spend time with your parents and kids at the same time. Plus, grandparents make great babysitters. But if you travel with a toddler and a grandparent in tow, pace is going to be very important. Remember though, vacation is all about renewal. If it becomes too stressful, you may be defeating the purpose.