About this time every year my kids start asking if I'm going to sign them up for after-school care. And when I say no, and that Dad or I will be there every day after school to pick them up, they look as if I've announced I'm going to send their dog on a permanent vacation.
This extreme disappointment with the idea of spending the afternoons with the family used to bug me, but I don't let it hurt my feelings anymore. I've realized that after-school care to them looks like an extended recess period, a time to socialize with friends without all the constraints of the school day. And while that it is true to a degree, I suspect kids would find after-school care a bit more structured than they imagine.
For us after-school care just doesn't add up. We have two work-at-home parents with all three kids in the same school, less than five minutes away. But just because we don't need it doesn't mean I don't think it's useful for many work-at-home moms. In fact, I can think of 6 reasons to sign up for after-school care.
A good after-school care program can be enriching and fun while simplifying a family's schedule...just don't tell my kids that.