For a single parent, childcare and babysitting are a necessary expense. Unlike married or partnered parents, having one parent stay home with the kids is almost never an option (even a single parent who works from home is going to need help taking care of the kids if he or she hopes to get any work done during the day). Unfortunately, many single parents aren’t sure how to go about arranging childcare or baby-sitting services. It isn’t always as easy as leaving your child with a grandparent or trusted neighbor. There are other things to think about like budget, peoples’ availability, etc.
Obviously one of the first places you are going to look for childcare when you are a single parent is your workplace. Do you work in a company that provides low cost or cost free childcare services to employees? More and more employers are implementing day cares into their office buildings so that employees won’t have to worry about affording child care. If your company doesn’t have an in house day care center, perhaps you can talk your employer into giving you a slight bonus to help you cover costs until your children are old enough for school and after school programs.
If you live near family members that you trust (and who stay at home during the day), perhaps you can make arrangements with them to provide you with childcare and babysitting. It is a good idea to offer some form of payment or compensation for this. Sure the person may be family but they are going to be donating a lot of their time to your children. Even the offer of showing your gratitude monetarily will be appreciated, even if it is turned down. Just be careful not to take this person for granted! Remember, they are not the parent. Try not to assume that they will be available to you for single parent childcare and babysitting 24/7.
Daycare centers are incredibly expensive, especially if you need them to care for an infant. The good news is that many childcare services, like those offered through the YWCA and YMCA, offer financial aid and sliding scales to parents who might otherwise have trouble affording childcare during the work day. Ask each childcare provider if financial aid is available. You might be surprised at how much money you can save!
Babysitting in the evenings is often harder to line up. It’s hard to find someone to trust with your children when you need an “adults only” evening to yourself. The best way to approach this is to ask for references from your friends and neighbors. You might also look into professional babysitting services in your area. You can find listings for them online.
The good news is that, with single parenting, childcare and babysitting are not totally off the table. There are options available. You don’t have to give up your job or having time to yourself every so often. You just need to plan it out in advance!