School is out, summer has begun, and many parents are facing the challenging question: Who is going to watch my children during the summer months? This has always been a hurdle that working parents battle; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown parents a curveball. From schedule changes and layoffs to losses of income and new jobs, the effects of COVID-19 are weighing heavy on parents’ shoulders as they try to stay afloat while school is out.
So how do you balance your work schedule, summer childcare, and your budget? We have a few suggestions that may help!
Consider a virtual summer camp for your kids. In the past, summer camps may have been your go-to “babysitter.” Unfortunately, most camps have been canceled this year, eliminating the option—or so you thought. Your kids may not be able to rope swing into a lake or tell spooky stories around a campfire, but that doesn’t mean they have to miss out on the educational and social benefits of summer camps. Virtual reality has now become, well, reality. a variety of camps are offering online, virtual options that can help keep your kids occupied during your workweek. And the best part? Most of them don’t cost a penny!
Ask for support from your friends, family, and neighbors. There’s a chance they may be facing the same struggles. You know what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child,” so reach out and see how you can work together to make it through these summer months.
Split childcare costs with other families that are also seeking independent childcare. Babysitters are often happy to take on additional children because it means higher rates and more money in their pockets. Fortunately for you, since you’re splitting the rates with another family, you’ll still pay less. You save money, and your kids get the chance to grow their social skills and build new relationships.
Make a split schedule with a friend or neighbor with designated times for each of you to watch the kids. There may be a time of day where you’re bogged down and can’t manage the kids. They can take the kids during this time allowing you to get work done, focus on personal projects, or just relax. Then, swap roles and give them some kid-free time to do the same.
Pay in services that you or your children can provide. Cash isn’t the only form of payment these days. Get creative and offer some alternative options. For example, someone you know may need some yard work done—send your kids off for the day to do the deed while you tackle your workday. You’re getting someone to watch the kids, and they are getting free yard work! It is a win/win situation for both. Many favors could pique your neighbor’s interest:
- House cleaning
- Dog walking
- Watering plants
- Car washing
Set a fixed budget for childcare at the beginning of summer to use over the next few months. You may not be able to afford independent childcare every day, but setting aside a small amount of cash is a nice safety net in case you find yourself in a crunch and the options above are not a possibility.
While your days may be consumed by parenting, working, housework, etc., it is important to take a moment each day to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What are your needs? Parents often get so caught in the hustle and bustle of summer that they’re running on empty by the time school starts up again (fingers crossed). And don’t forget it is summer, after all. Take some time to enjoy some family fun while you can!