With summer break around the corner or already here, many parents face the dilemma of making childcare arrangements. There are no school schedules to work around, fewer extracurricular activities, no homework that you have to help facilitate—just you and an open schedule to fill.
It seems like by the time you get the hang of the school year’s routine, you have to think of the wide-open summer schedule. My overachiever and financially capable parent friends book their kids’ summer activities in January, because that gives them the first choice of options. I’m not like that. The whole thought of planning ahead for summer overwhelms me. I just figured out who is supposed to go where, when, and which days, and now it has to all change again. Can you relate?
But do not fear… I’ve been doing my homework and I’m here to discuss summer childcare options.
Let’s be honest, finding a trustworthy and reliable babysitter can be a bit of a challenge these days. An available and willing family member who can watch your kids for you while you are at work is many people’s first choice. This tends to be the most cost effective option as well. With a family member, your child is already familiar with the person and that connection has already been established. A family member is also more likely to be familiar with your house rules and routines than that of an outsider. It also gives family members a rare opportunity to spend quality time with the child/children.
Unfortunately for many, having a family member babysit is not an option; whether it is because of proximity or because the family member already has his/her own commitments that don’t allow them to do so. Don’t worry; there are still plenty of other options out there.
Read Related: Spending Summers with Grandparents
If you are looking for childcare just for the summer months, a college student is a great option. Many of them are also on summer break; or at the very least are taking a lighter course load, and they are looking to make some extra money during their time off from school. If you do not personally know a college student, ask around your circle of friends and see if they know of someone who would be interested.
Another great resource for finding the right fit in a babysitter for your family is to search the internet. There are several reputable and reliable sites whose sole focus is to aid families in finding a babysitter. Through such sites you can access applicants’ background checks, references, and reviews.
Have you ever heard of babysitter sharing? It is exactly what it sounds like—multiple families utilize the same sitter. There may be many sitters out there looking for a full-time summer job, but maybe you only need them part-time. If you have a friend or neighbor who you know is also in need of summer childcare, you could ask the prospective sitter if babysitter sharing is something he/she would be interested in.
CAMPS (DAY OR OVERNIGHT)
Another option for summer childcare is day/overnight camps. Day camps can vary from sports camps, art camps, school camps, or simply daycare facilities that offer childcare solely for the summer months. In general, day camps provide a more structured environment for your kids’ days.
Day camps put your kids in a setting where they make new friends. If it is a structured camp, it also keeps kids on a schedule and they will undoubtedly have less trouble transitioning back into school mode come fall.
For older kids, you may want to look into overnight camps as well. Overnight camps are a great way to build confidence in kids. They will get to practice doing things on their own, without Mom and Dad constantly looking over their shoulders. Getting some time away from home may also help them appreciate everything they have at home. It is easy for older kids, especially, to take their parents and families for granted. They just may come home with a new appreciation for you!
When making the decision of which form of childcare is best for your family, you must consider your unique family unit, cost, kids’ ages and personalities, each child’s specific need for interaction with other kids, etc. Do your research on facilities, and ask around for opinions from moms you know and trust. Weigh pros and cons for each option and then decide which works best for your family. Let your Mommy instincts guide you to a final decision!