A few weeks ago as I was driving to campus I got a flat tire. Two days later my car overheated as I was driving home from school. The total cost for repairs came close to one $1,000.00. This was a huge hit to my tight budget.
In the days following as I complained about my car woes to anyone who would listen I was repeatedly asked why I just didn’t take transit to school. My answer is that I can’t. I wish I could. it would save me a ton of money every month. I currently pay $12-$18/day to park on or near campus. Add to that the maintenance and fuel costs and you come to a number that is roughly $115/week.
As some of you might know I have kids and I have to pick them up 15 minutes after my classes end every day. Although my home is only a 10-minute drive from campus, it is a 30- to 40-minute commute on the TTC. It would make a lot of sense to have my children on an after school care program, however, finding school age child-care in the downtown core is like trying to find Bigfoot. You’ve heard people talking about it, some have even experienced it first hand, but no matter how hard you try you can never find it yourself. I’m convinced it’s a myth.
Most students at U of T can’t relate to my dilemma. I’m sure they all wonder why it is that as soon as my prof says “That’s all – see you tomorrow,” that I grab my bag and dash out of the classroom. I leap down multiple steps, hit the street and sprint to my car. I’m sure they all think I’m deranged.
This poses a lot of problems for me. I often miss those important last two minutes of lecture when all the crucial information is given. More importantly it’s really stressful and a huge financial burden.
Although the university has a few childcare centres on campus they are filled to the brim, with waitlists approaching three years. I put my son on one in 2010 and still have not received a call back.
Please don’t think I’m just complaining. I’m really not. I’m sure there are other student-parents out there that are under the same constraints as me. Our situation makes us a minority, but not a visible one. I stretch myself thin both financially and mentally in order to pursue my education. My schedule is crazy. Take Mondays for example: I drop my kids off at school, drive like a maniac to get to campus by 9 a.m., drive like a maniac home in the afternoon to pick my kids up from school, make dinner, do homework with my little ones, get back into my car and return to campus for a three hour lecture, then drive home again.
I think that more support is needed for individuals in my situation. The family care office does have lists of childcare options, but the services stop at that.
In my dream world, a bus would pick my children up at the end of the school day and deliver them to an inexpensive, but quality after school centre and I would not have to be sprinting up and down Queens Park four times a day. On the bright side, I my legs are really toned.