All parents know what a logistical nightmare planning childcare for the school holidays can be. School calendars and work calendars rarely align, leaving many parents scrambling to sort out how to take care of their kids. Most employers don’t view school holidays as a valid reason for taking time off—as working moms and dads are aware— and expect you to keep your home and work lives well separated. Even those companies who are more understanding aren't going to give you leave for your child’s entire winter break. What’s a working parent to do?
Whether it’s using strategically-timed personal days, enlisting the help of extended family and friends, hiring professional childcare assistance, or some combo of all three, make your childcare planning for the school holidays a top priority. Here are some tips on how to make this holiday season both fun for your kids and less stressful for yourself!
Don’t Wait Till the Last Minute
When it comes to scoring good childcare solutions for school holidays, nothing is more important than planning ahead. Mapping out your calendar well in advance gives you control, reducing the odds you’ll end up frantically searching for a last-second sitter.
It also helps you assess your wintertime budget realistically. We all know how costly the holiday season gets, even without childcare expenses factored in. Booking childcare in advance gives you time to investigate the costs involved and make sure you can budget accordingly. What may have looked like three weeks of sitters can be condensed into just a handful of days with some strategic calendar arranging!
Prices for childcare services—be it a daycare center or babysitter—also tend to go up when you wait until the last minute, especially around the holidays. Waiting might also limit your options, as all your usual care avenues may get booked full. Luckily, Nanno allows parents to book babysitters both on-demand and well in advance. This means you can go into the season having secured the right sitter for your needs, and rest easy knowing you’ve got your calendar sorted.
Consider Taking Time Off
Winter break is also a great occasion to get the family together for a little quality time. While you may not have the luxury of taking off the whole time, why not squeeze in a day or two of PTO? During the school year, it can be difficult to get everyone together at the same time. Planning a long weekend vacation or staycation over the holidays allows you to reconnect with the family, giving each other your undivided attention. It will also soften the blow of childcare expenses.
Scope out what’s going on in the neighborhood during the school break. Are there any special shows or festivals happening for the holidays? Arrange your leave days around these activities so that you can have some fun adventures with your kids. Or, if it’s within budget, escape to a warm beach for the weekend to get a break from the weather, or go camping if it’s not too cold yet.
Play Date Exchange With Other Parents
Your kids often spend a good portion of their waking hours at school with their friends. These relationships are a big part of their lives. Chat with their friends’ parents to discuss options for the holidays. Can you divide some of the weekdays between families?
Organize a few days when the kids can go between houses—a day when you host a play date, a day when someone else does, and so on. With a big enough pod and some collective planning, you can all alleviate some of the costs of childcare during the school holidays. Not to mention your kids will be excited to hang out with their friends outside the classroom setting!
Plan Activities to Fight Boredom
Even once you’ve booked your babysitter, you still want to figure out some activities for them to do with the kids! While the chance to laze around all day might excite them at first, children will quickly get bored if they don’t have anything to do. Plan some activities for your kids to do on the days they are home with the babysitter.
Print out a schedule and try to allocate at least one activity for your kids to do on these days. Maybe a movie day one afternoon, or they can create and rehearse a puppet show to present to you when you get home. Board games and puzzles are always activities to encourage, as they are engaging and also stimulate the brain. Seasonal crafts for the holidays are also a fun and productive way to fill the afternoon.
If the weather’s nice, arrange some outdoor activities! An afternoon at the park or the ice skating rink perhaps. Lay all these options out for your babysitter. With a little forethought, you can be sure that your kids remain engaged and entertained throughout the winter break.
Shop Around for Childcare Options
As the school holidays come creeping around the corner, planning your childcare in advance is essential. Careful planning helps you keep track of costs, so you can budget accordingly. A good childcare plan can save you money and ensure you don’t end up scrambling for help at the last minute!
Of course, it helps to know where to look for childcare options when laying out your schedule. Nanno’s babysitting app is a great start. Designed to provide truly on-demand childcare, Nanno’s network of sitters extends over most U.S. metro regions, so there’s sure to be a sitter available near you. The app also allows you to book well in advance, so you can plan a babysitter well before the days you need them! All Nanno sitters undergo a thorough four-step vetting process—one of the most robust background checks in the business—so you can rest assured your kids are well looked after.
It’s time to get planning! Sign up for Nanno today and find your perfect holiday babysitter.