Working parents often find themselves trapped between their finances and their need to have their children cared for when they are on spring break. The cost of hiring a babysitter for the entire break can be immense, and during the pandemic, parents may not even want someone else in their home. Here are some ways for creative parents to save some money on spring break child care.
Split Time With Your Partner
Unfortunately, both you and your partner may need to use some of your time off work to care for your children during spring break. However, taking a vacation is not always an option, either, because of a shortage of vacation time or the prohibitive cost of a family trip. One option is for you and your partner to alternate days off from work to watch the children. This way, neither of you have to take the entire week off, and you can conserve some leave time for a family vacation during the summer.
Rearrange Your Work Schedule
If you have a flexible job and supervisor, you can at least schedule some work hours later in the day. The best scenario would be if you and your partner could stagger as much of your shifts as you can. However, that is not always possible, and you may need to use some leave.
One way to help minimize the hit is if your boss allows you to change some work hours to when your partner can be home with the children. For example, if you can start work later and leave later, it can save you some child care time because you both can cover more time yourselves. Alternatively, your boss may allow you to leave work earlier and take some of your assignments home with you.
More and more jobs are set up where you can work from anywhere. If you have the capability to work from home, you can do this for as much of the week as you can. Even if you can only telework a few days, this is less time that you would need to pay to hire someone. When you combine this with some time of virtual camp to occupy the children, you have the space to focus on your job at home. Even if you cannot telework the entire day, your supervisor may let you start or finish the day at home. However, spring break during COVID-19 may not be as hard because many parents are working from home anyway.
Several families can get together and share their own sitter. Of course, you would need to find someone qualified enough to handle multiple children at once, and they would expect more than the standard rate. Nonetheless, if you are able to pool resources with other families, you can save some money.
Form a Cooperative
If your child has friends and you trust the parents, one person can take a day off work and watch multiple children. If you can spread this around among a few families, you could minimize the amount of time that you need to take off from your job. Your child can be among their friends, and the kids will largely entertain each other. As long as the children are not very young, this may not take a lot of work on your part. You may even be able to get some work from your job done when it is your day. Of course, you would need to trust that other parents are staying at home and following safety measures during COVID-19.
Find Community Resources
There may be some local options available short of hiring a full-fledged babysitter. For example, you may have a YMCA in your city that offers a weeklong program during spring break. This can be an educational camp or something else fun for your child. Since these programs care for multiple children, they are often less than half the cost of hiring your own babysitter. There are almost always spring break options at local zoos, camps and science centers.
Ask Family for Help
Spring break is where grandparents and other relatives can be invaluable. Your parents or in-laws may be retired from their jobs and local. Thus, they could have the time to watch the children, perhaps even for the entire week. If you have siblings in town with kids of their own, they may also be able to help you. Many people will turn to their family first for help when they are looking for child care coverage.
Bring Your Child to Work
At the outset, we will say that this is not always possible, depending on where you work. However, some supervisors go out of their way to make life easier for their subordinates and are flexible about allowing children into the workplace. This may be even more so during COVID-19 when workplaces are more empty than usual.
Pack a tablet and some other electronics, and you can have an office mate for spring break. Provided that you pack enough food and activities to keep your child going for the day, they can entertain themselves. Of course, your child needs to behave well enough where you can have them in your workplace for the entire day.
For working parents, spring break is a time of cobbling together help from wherever they can find it. Many parents are left in the position of having to take it one day at a time when it comes to child care. While children also look forward to and welcome time off from school, parents dread it due to child care dilemmas.
Spring break might be tough, but being creative and thinking beyond the usual child care options can help get you through it.