Budgeting for childcare during the holidays is often a daunting task for parents while your kids may be ecstatic for a couple of weeks off from school. The normal routine of life—juggling work, school, and the home—is busy enough already. But as the year draws to a close, crunch time sets in for many companies, adding significant pressure to already overflowing workloads. Everyone is trying to get those last projects off the ground before the new year, and overtime abounds.
Add to this the consideration that in 61% of married couples with children, both parents are an active part of the workforce. Most parents are just not in a position to take off the whole holiday break to spend with their kids!
Families across the country know how hard it can be to find affordable, quality childcare. According to Child Care Aware of America’s 2017 Parents and the High Cost of Child Care report, childcare is one of the largest items in a typical family’s monthly budget. In fact, it often ranks higher than the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation, or food. As such, it’s important to plan ahead and budgeting for childcare needs before winter break arrives.
Plan Out Your Holiday Schedule
When planning your childcare needs for the holiday season, go right to the culprit first: check the school calendar. Comparing your work calendar with the days your kids have off will inform your booking needs. You may be surprised to find a few days here and there where you’re free after all. Maybe you can even squeeze in a family weekend trip!
You probably won’t be able to stay home with them the entire break. But a couple of days together could make their holiday season. This will also cut down on your overall holiday budget expenses. Check if your boss is open to flexible hours during the holidays—perhaps you can work from home more often over the season. Or maybe go into the office in the morning but work from home during the afternoon.
Earmarking these days will give you a good sense of how many days to plan childcare for. Once you know the dates, you can start to strategize your options. Perhaps you can arrange for playdates on some of these days. Sending the kids to the grandparents (if they live nearby) is always an option as well.
But you can’t fill the whole calendar like this. Once you’ve arranged as many days as possible, it’s time to start looking at childcare. What was an intimidating stretch of weeks might at this point only be a handful of days! That’s much more budget-friendly.
Tip: Not all kids handle schedule disruption well. Having a new routine dropped on them during school holidays can be a difficult adjustment. Avoid these added headaches by communicating your childcare plans well in advance. Place a copy of the calendar in a central location, and mark each day’s planned itinerary for them to see. If you’re employing a new babysitter, perhaps arrange a meet-and-greet sitter visit so that they aren’t just getting acquainted as winter break starts.
Expect Higher Rates for Childcare During School Holidays
Part of the reason you should meticulously plan out when you will need childcare during the school holidays is the cost. Prices are inevitably going to be higher for a good sitter at this time. It’s a simple supply and demand issue. More people are in your exact same boat this time of year. (This especially happens on big party nights like New Year’s Eve.) Additionally, many childcare providers take holidays themselves during these times, shrinking the pool even further. The fewer available childcare professionals, the higher their rates.
Book your babysitter well in advance. Catching them ahead of the season might net you a lower rate—and even if it doesn’t, they will appreciate the early notice. Remember, babysitting professionals also know about parents budgeting for childcare in the season!
To simplify your situation, book all the days you need to be covered in one go. Block bookings might also secure you a better rate with a sitter, so stack your days if you can. In addition to potentially lower rates, booking in advance also offers peace of mind knowing you’ve taken care of your children. By taking the time and doing the work early, you avoid competing with other parents desperately booking last-minute sitters.
Don’t Forget the Tip!
When planning your childcare needs during the school holidays, always, always budget in your tip. This is standard fare for any babysitting engagement. But especially during the holidays, it’s kind to give your childcare provider a little extra.
A $50-$100 cash or gift card is a popular holiday tip for babysitters, especially ones who’ve been a reliable source of assistance throughout the year or agree to work the holidays. Or you might consider offering more material extras, like free cab rides and dinner. Babysitters are in high demand during these holidays, and they are in the position to choose the jobs they take. Securing a good sitter may mean you need to add additional incentives, and you should factor this into your budget.
Look for a Provider That Gives You Options for Childcare During School Holidays
Finding a service that offers you plenty of childcare options when planning for the holidays is important. The right service will provide flexibility and have top-notch professionals to assure the best possible care for your kids—and all within your budget.
Call Emmy takes the hard work out of hiring a babysitter. Call Emmy’s app is specifically committed to offering babysitters and nannies on-demand, and their network of thousands of professionals in most metro U.S. areas means you’re sure to find someone to assist with your needs. All Call Emmy sitters undergo a rigorous four-step background check for clearance, so you can be sure your child is in capable hands.With a variety of options, parents are able to select a babysitter that suits their family’s requirements—and budget. This frees you up to get through the holiday season successfully! Sign up for Call Emmy today and start your holiday planning on the right note.