Not surprisingly, the initial COVID-19 outbreak triggered an onslaught of people working from home. Now, many are cautiously starting to work in person again — with a few adjustments, of course, as 81 percent of businesses are changing their safety requirements.1 With the combination of remote work and businesses shutting down, the coronavirus resulted in a natural pause on childcare programs in the U.S.
If your job is reopening for on-site work and you need childcare, you may be wondering what your options are and how much they will cost. Here are some answers to these questions.
Summer Childcare Options
Childcare is a pretty general term during the summer. It can look like a lot of different things, including, but not limited to:
Independent Nannies or Babysitters
Many working families hire a dependable babysitter or nanny for their children during the summer. This can be a great decision because your child receives individual attention one-on-one with someone they’ll grow to trust over time. If you choose to hire a babysitter, conducting interviews is a great idea.
Day Summer Camps
Plenty of organizations all advertise summer camps for children. These usually follow the schedule of an average workday, offering a limited hands-off approach to parents as their child socializes and participates in fun activities throughout the day. There’s a wide range of day camps to choose from, differing in length, age demographics and programs.
These are much more hands-off than day camps and typically recommended for older children. If you’re thinking about enrolling your child in an overnight camp, make sure that you involve your child in making the decision. For many kids, this will be their first time being away from home for an extended period of time. Like day camps, there are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to overnight camps.
Many daycare centers offer programs for the summer. If your child currently attends daycare, check to see if they also offer a summer session. Keeping them in the same program increases their level of comfort and minimizes stress for you.
For parents looking for summer childcare, there are fortunately a lot of options. However, there’s one fact that you won't be able to avoid – cost. On average, most families in the U.S. spend about 20 percent of their summer income on a summer childcare programs.2
Naturally, some options are more expensive than others. Overnight camps, as you might expect, tend to be some of the most expensive programs. Private daycare facilities are also fairly expensive. And during a time of uncertain finances for many families, carving out a huge portion of your paycheck to give your child the care they need can be challenging.
A Few Ways to Reduce Costs
If you’re in need of summer childcare but put off by the price tag, the following three tips can help lessen the high costs associated with childcare.
Tip #1: Use Day Camps
The price of private, full-time daycare adds up. Look into one of the non-profit organizations or church groups that offer day camps for children at a lower cost. Overall, day camps are a lot less expensive than other options, while still providing a fun experience for your children and taking the same stress off your hands.
Tip #2: Coordinate With Other Families
Turn to a community of other parents. Many working parents are probably facing the same issues as you. Organize a camp-like program on a rotating schedule, where you take turns swapping days for childcare. You could even split babysitter costs with another family close to yours.
Tip #3: Hire a Babysitter
There are a lot of college students who are home for the summer and in need of work. Costs are typically lower than what more professional “nannies” charge, although that by no means indicates an inferior level of care. Look for someone who’s CPR-certified and experienced with children, especially students who are studying education or nursing.
Indeed, childcare costs are notoriously high, but they don’t have to be unaffordable. Take the time to research all the options available to you, then make an informed decision. If you put the effort in, you’ll be able to find a program that will not only relieve you of some of the pressure as you return to work, but provide your child with some fun summer memories.