The trick to surviving as a working parent is to think creatively when it comes to child care. Several of you wrote this week to share your solutions to the endless summer/bored-children/worried-parent syndrome.
"I just finished reading your column about baby sitters for the summer and wanted to share a fantastic solution I've found to the problem of midsummer boredom," wrote a Cold Brook, N.Y., parent.
"Even with a good imagination and a pool in the backyard, the best kids and the most innovative sitters usually get bored with each other by about the middle of the summer.
"So instead of hiring one teen-ager, last summer I hired two. It was great for everyone! My children didn't get so tired of the same face and the same voice and the same way of doing things. My baby sitters didn't get bored, either, because each one only saw my children every other week.
"This arrangement works particularly well if the two sitters you hire know each other (the first sitter you hire can probably recommend a second), but it can still work even if your sitters don't know each other," she explained.
"Just introduce them and explain that you're hiring them as a team, that you'll want each one to work every other week, and that you expect them to follow the same schedules and adhere to the same rules (yours!), as well as to fill each other in by telephone at the end of the week about what's gone on during their 'shift.'
"And if one sitter needs a day off or a week for a vacation of her own, she and your other sitter can be expected to work out a schedule that gives each the free time she needs but never leaves you in the lurch."
And from Orlando, Fla., a mother of three wrote: "I thought other parents might be interested in something my husband and I have done for two summers that has worked very well for our children, ages 3, 5 and 7 -- and for us, too.
"We make two different sets of child-care arrangements: one with our day-care center's summer program, three days a week, and one with a teen-ager who comes to our house the other two days a week.
"Our day-care director asked that our children come three days in a row for the sake of continuity, so they go there Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"Then they spend Mondays and Fridays at home with a reliable 15-year-old in our neighborhood who's too young for a real summer job but loves having a chance to earn a steady $25 a week for two days of relatively easy work," she wrote.
"Our children love going to the center's camp. They have lots of other kids to play with, different toys, the occasional field trip and they're separated and out of each other's hair while they're there.
"But they also enjoy staying home two days a week with their own toys, and permission to sleep late, and the chance to play with their friends who live in the neighborhood.
"By the end of their long weekends at home, they're more than ready for the diversion of going to camp. By the end of their third day at camp, they're ready to stay home. And by the end of the summer, their father and I are not (quite) so ready to pull our hair out."
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.