Top Childcare Tips

by Lee Rose Emery

Top childcare tipsChildcare in the US is incredibly expensive. In major cities the going rate for a private babysitter can be $15-$20 or more an hour. Day care centers too are costly. Often we don’t live near our kids’ grandparents or extended family who can easily pitch in and help. This makes it tough when Moms contemplate going back to work after childbirth and the math just doesn’t add up. Here are five tips that may help you take a little edge off the childcare burden.

1) Consider a nanny share
This can be a great solution if you find a nanny you love who is willing to take on two or more kids. It can also be great for your child to have a playmate as well. Let’s say the sitter’s rate is $15.00 an hour for one child. Consider paying her $18.00 between two families. You are still paying $6.00 less an hour than having a private sitter. That’s nearly $1000.00 a month in savings if you are using her 40 hours a week

2) Play groups – find a village.
When my kids were toddlers, I had a great group mom friends with similar aged kids. We would take turns having playgroups at each other’s houses. When four of us participated, that freed up three mornings a month for me to get some work done.

3) Consider a high school student
Especially for the all important weekly (or even occasional) date night evening babysitting, a responsible high school girl can be a great choice. They tend to charge half of what a professional nanny does. One of our greatest sitters ever started with us in the summers when she was 16. She grew to be like a member of our family.

4) Carpool
When my kids old enough for school, I realized how much time carpooling saved me. By the time I factored in traffic and a round trip school run (especially when my kids were at different schools) I realized the whole trip was over an hour and a half of the morning. I found a good roster of carpoolers to share the week’s school runs which freed up an additional 18 hours a week for me in the mornings.

[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”0385349947″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TknOCIZWL._SL160_.jpg” width=”97″]5) Work from home
Many employers are open to one or two days a week of telecommuting. This does not make for a stress free day, particularly if you have an active toddler at home and are on an important call, but, if you are crafty with your time, work around naps or put in a few hours after your child goes to bed, this can also save you from a day of high priced childcare. Sheryl Sandberg in her book, “Lean In” describes how she often works when her kids have gone to bed. J.K Rowling wrote in cafes when her child napped before she sold her Harry Potter manuscript.

I have one doctor friend whose husband works from home one day a week. If you and your spouse can each work one day a week from home, then you will only need three other days of care, again, saving nearly $1000.00 a month.

It’s always a challenge figuring out how to manage kids and work, but it does become easier as the kids get older. So, be gentle with yourself. But whatever you do, find some other Moms in the same boat, and see if you can lighten each other’s load.

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