The following article by Candi Wingate were published on PsychologyToday.com.
School is out, and the search for child care is on! The challenge most parents face is finding quality care for your child that fits within your budget. Here are some cost-effective child care options that won't break the bank.
- Hire a Babysitter or Nanny
Nannies are no longer exclusive to the wealthy. If you have two children in full time daycare you can afford a nanny, and sites like Nannies4Hire cut out the high-priced fee of nanny agency. Whether you need a full time nanny or part time babysitter, trusted online sources provide a massive database of local care providers at your fingertips. You can find candidates quickly based on your personal requirements and budget
- It Takes a Village
There are likely multiple families in your neighborhood with young children. Get with these other parents and arrange shared childcare, in which two or more households take turns attending to the children. Parents might need to take time off work during their turn, but it should be minimal as other households are rotating turns as well.
- Go Back to College
College students on summer break are ideal candidates for child care. They can be recruited through the on-campus career centers or through a parent network in your community. Many will be looking for jobs as resume builders, so their pay expectations might be lower for that purpose, and their schedules are typically very flexible during the summer months.
- It's all Relative
Enlisting the help of a relative this summer can be a win-win for everyone. Whether it is a teenage cousin or beloved grandma, your children can enjoy some quality bonding time. Your relative may not accept payment, but you should certainly offer. Treat him/her as you would a hired care provider: Negotiate pay, respect their schedule, keep lines of communication open, and be direct in your expectations.
- Summer School
It's true that kids deserve a break from the intense learning schedules of the school year, but there is no reason the learning must stop completely. Half-day summer school can be a great option to keep your child mentally engaged. Summer schools may be available through your child's regular school, an alternative school, civic organizations, or churches.
- Summer Day Camp
Affordable day camps can range in activities from sports and science to fine arts. Local options might include science museums, arts centers, YMCA/YWCA, Boys & Girls Club, city parks & recreation, and nearby colleges where the Early Education students can gain experience working with children.
City recreational departments often offer a volunteer program for kids 13 and over. Volunteer opportunities can include office work, recreational centers, aquatics, senior citizens, and children's summer programs. These volunteer programs are a unique way for kids to explore career opportunities, give back to the community, and receive school credit.
You might find that a combination of these options is most efficient and cost-effective. Take your time in selecting the option(s) that works best for your family and budget, and enjoy your summer!