Parents on a tight budget can find the summer months tough as they struggle to afford the additional child care expenses that come up when the kids are out of school. It can be difficult to find a balance between affordability and quality when it comes to who you trust to watch and nurture your children.
Consider the following suggestions if you’re stuck trying to find the best fit for your child and your checkbook:
- Start at School – If your child already attends school or daycare, inquire what summer options are available. Many public schools work with local rec centers to provide safe and affordable child care. These programs offer lots of fun activities like swimming, crafts and field trips. Operating out of the school has the advantage of keeping your child in their regular routine. On the flip side your kids can get burnt out if it seems they never get a break from school.
- Check Local Churches – As summer approaches, the number of signs announcing Vacation Bible School decorate the lawns of most churches. Call or stop by to find out about the schedule and curriculum. See if you can swing the kids to a different denomination from week to week. Some churches may have their own summer camps set up. Be sure to ask about financial assistance and flexible ways to take care of tuition.
- Ask Around – See what plans other parents have made for their kids. Maybe someone knows a great place you’ve never heard of and as a bonus your child will have a buddy there before the program begins. If you can get enough parents together you could ask about a discount rate. Or start a day care co-op and save all the sitting fees by swapping chaperone duties with other caregivers in the group.
- Make Camp Count – Find an activity that really interests your child and send them to a camp where they can be immersed. It doesn’t have to be sleep away camp; there are a plethora of programs available to kids of all age and curiosity ranges. If you have to splurge a little go for it as long as you can get a tax id number and deduct the expense. Talk to the administrator as well and try to work something out. Offer to supply your own equipment or volunteer to help out in your free time.
- Fill it with Family – Sometimes the most cost effective solution is to have a relative stay home with the kids. The extra time children get to spend with mom or dad is priceless. In a pinch Grandparents will do, too. Even if your parents aren’t local you can plan to pass the kids off half way so they can spend a couple of weeks together.
It might take more than one solution to cover childcare for the summer months. Maybe your best friend can cover you for a week before the kids head off to Grandma’s house. Or perhaps you can swap out a few weeks at the rec center for a stint at a specialty camp. Mix and match solutions until you find a combination that you’re comfortable with that won’t break the bank.