You have secured your ideal schedule at work maximizing the amount of time you have available to spend at home with your children. However, you still need reliable child care for those hours spent at work. Unfortunately, flexible schedules can reek havoc on daycare arrangements which often require regular hours and full-time costs, regardless of mom and dad's schedule. Consider the following daycare options with regards to your own flexible schedule:
- Babysitters, Relatives, and Friends: enlisting the periodic services of a local teenager or someone you know can buy you a few extra quiet work hours at a relatively low cost. Such babysitters are paid hourly and can be hired to work a few hours here and there to extend your work day.
- Nanny or Au Pair: usually a young adult with or without a college degree, a nanny or au pair is generally hired to work full-time hours but can provide the flexibility of watching your kids in your own home. As full-time employees, some nannies may require you to also provide benefits including housing in a live-in arrangement.
- Child Care Cooperative: coops involve a group of parents who swap childcare responsibilities. Often involving a network of several families, coops will provide several options for care at varying times. The only cost is an exchange of equal childcare hours at another time.
- Family Child Care: in home care provided by a licensed provider can offer flexibility to working parents who work longer hours as in the case of a compressed work week. Since family child care providers work from their own home, a provider can watch your child as one of her own brood without interference into everyday activities.
- Child Care Centers: some centers offer part-time rates but usually require regular hours. For example, your child can attend a child care center for preschool only, but the daily class times are rigid, for example 3 hours each morning.
- After School Programs or Summer Camps: activities and camps can keep children occupied for a short few hours, again with a rigid schedule, providing extra hours to get work done.
To search local child care options visit the Maryland Committee for Children. For a nationwide search of childcare providers visit SitterCity (Don't forget Fido. SitterCity also has pet sitter resources).