Figuring out the right jigsaw puzzle of child care isn’t always easy. But when you finally organize all the pieces, it makes your life so much easier.
Until something goes wrong…
Raise your hand if any of these have ever happened to you:
- Your nanny called in sick
- Your daycare is closed for vacation
- Your regular college-age sitter went home for spring break
- Your ex said he can’t take the kids this week
- Your child’s school is closed for a snow day, but you still need to go into work
These are all very real situations that happen to everyone. But your kids still have to be taken care of and you still have to get to work. It’s frustrating and can cause complete panic. But here are five places to turn to find suitable backup care — whether it’s last-minute or weeks in advance.
1. Your Employer Many employers offer regular daycare or backup care as a benefit. Check with your HR department to see what options are available; some are free or low-cost, some are first-come-first-served and some are available only during school breaks. Learn more about getting backup care as a company benefit.
2. Your Friends and Family These are often your go-to resources for child care. If you know that a neighbor, fellow moms’ group member or family member is often home during the day, ask if they’re willing to be put on your list of last-minute sitters. Offer to exchange the favor in case they ever need backup care or a date night sitter!
3. Your Community If you’re a member of a local community organization, such as a church, temple, YMCA or another cultural group, you may be in luck. Many of these groups offer backup care and run short-term camps during school breaks.
4. Your Computer Hire a backup nanny through a nanny-finding website (um, like Care.com). You can quickly find caregivers who are available on short notice. But even though it’s last-minute, make sure you still take the time to interview candidates and review background checks and references.
5. Your Local Day Care Child care centers sometimes provide space for last-minute needs — as long as your child isn’t sick. Every center operates differently: some require pre-registration, others simply ask for a call ahead and some allow a child to be dropped off without any notice at all. Be sure to research nearby daycares and know what they require.
Things always get messed up — usually at inconvenient times. Make sure you have a plan in place, so you’re not scrambling too much. Backup child care doesn’t need to be as stressful as it sounds. Plan ahead and save yourself the extra hassle.