Are your kids counting down the days until school is out? Are you starting to panic a bit? To help you avoid getting caught off guard about childcare issues, here are some tips for working parents on preparing for the summer break.
It’s good to start with getting the answers to a few questions well before your kids are out of school. Answer these questions to help you decide what you will need this year.
Things to Consider
1. How many hours of child care will you need?
Get a solid grip on how many hours of childcare you will need each day/week. Remember to factor in commute time and how your workplace views the presence of children. For instance, you can cut back on the hours needed for child care if your child care provider can come to your office and pick up your child, or if you can drop off your child at the caregiver’s on your way to work. Sit down with a calendar and figure out the number of hours you really need to have a caregiver.
2. What can you afford?
If you don’t already have a budget for childcare, work one out on paper. If you don’t do this step first, you may end up frustrated as you spend time exploring various options that you end up not being able to afford. Determine what you can afford and go from there.
Where to Look
There are various places where you can look for childcare options this summer. Here are some to check with.
1. Your workplace
Some offices and corporations actually offer summer programs for their employees’ children. Find out if your workplace offers such a thing, and if not, maybe you can start one up. You could also see if your company would be willing to “adopt” a local program, such as a day camp.
2. Your Child’s School
School is probably the last place your child wants to be in summer, but it’s worth checking with his or her school to see if there are any programs or activities being offered. It might not be on the school’s campus, or it might be in an area of the campus that is not usually seen by your child. Also, your child’s school might have ideas about child care options in the area that are not necessarily affiliated with the school.
3. Family & Friends
Enlist the help of a family member, non-custodial parent or stepparent if possible. This gives your child a chance to spend quality time with the “other” side of the family and helps to build important family bonds that can help boost your child’s esteem and confidence. If you happen to be a stepparent and don’t work outside of the home, offer to help the custodial or other parent out. You may be surprised how much offering a helping hand will ease tensions and mend relationships.
Friends can also be a big help, especially if they have children. Find out what they plan to do for the summer and see if the friend’s child could benefit from having a playmate.
These people are most likely to give you a helping hand because they know you and your circumstances. Whether you need one of them to pickup your child from a childcare center and watch your child, until your workday is done or you need them to watch your child for a longer period, ask if they can help you out. You never know. It might be something that meets their needs as well.
4. Combine Programs and Activities
As you look around at various options, you can save money and get the childcare you need by combining various activities. Most camps and programs last for a week or two, but not three months. And day camps might end before your work day does, so you will need after-camp child care as well, such as a babysitter, family member, or friend.