Child care solutions are of vital importance to parents. After all, you won't enjoy yourself away from home if you're worried about your kids. But, a babysitter can be hard to find, and regular daycare provider costs can be quite expensive. Are there any alternative child care solutions you could consider?
1. It's All About Family
Do you have family living nearby? Most grandparents love spending time with their grandkids, at least occasionally. If your parents aren't close, how about your siblings, cousins or in-laws? Think creatively, make a few calls, and you may find a relative who would be willing to help you with child care.
Be sensitive of your relatives' time; don't assume she would be thrilled to babysit your child each day for free. Be open and honest about your expectations, and offer compensation if that seems appropriate. Even if you end up paying a relative for daycare, it is often less expensive than using traditional daycare centers.
Many areas now have daycare cooperatives, where child care is provided with help from the parents using the service. Parents help with child care, crafts, refreshments and facility maintenance, thereby significantly reducing the cost to them. An additional benefit is that you get to be involved with your child and see what he is doing while he's away from home. Do some research and see if there is such a center near your home.
3. Team Up and Trade
Considering teaming up with a group of parents to trade child care duties. This may not work for child care on a daily basis, but if you're looking for babysitting to cover the weekly night out, it can be an excellent - and often free - solution.
Set up a group where each parent earns a "credit" each time they babysit another parent's child. You can be as specific as you want: 1 credit per child watched per hour, etc. Parents can "bank" these credits and spend them when they need a babysitter.
In a situation like this, honesty is important so that all participating parents feel that they are benefiting and none feels taken advantage of or overworked. If you have a group of friends living nearby, and you all have young children, it's a wonderful way to help each other out and get free babysitting as a bonus!
4. Daycare Everywhere
Think outside the box - who might offer daycare other than daycare centers? Consider churches and other religious organizations, community centers like the YMCA or hobby groups; any of these might offer daycare at reasonable rates.
Don't forget that child care is a major component of the flexible spending plans offered by most employers. Your employer will set aside money from your paycheck which you can then claim back as you accrue child care expenses. The advantage to using your flexible spending account for daycare expenses is that you are paying for them on pre-tax earnings. This amount can be significant if you pay for fulltime child care.
There's no denying that child care can be expensive, but by using these strategies, you can find child care solutions at a reasonable cost.
Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana. She writes at girlsinwhitedresses.wordpress.com and Associated Content.