Ways to make child care work for you

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dread.

It's one of the most common feelings expressed by parents this time of year. No, they're not dreading swimsuit season, or even the fact that graduation ceremonies now start at the ripe old age of 4 (seriously, do we really need caps and gowns for kids heading off to kindergarten?).

Instead, this dread is aimed at the kids getting out of school. While many stay-at-home moms and dads look forward to celebrating summer with the kids, working parents scramble to figure out the child care -- both logistically and financially.

In my informal parental poll, which consisted of making a few phone calls and emails, I asked some friends and family who are parents how they make child care work over the summer.

While some are able to afford the cost of a nanny or sitter, day camps through a local church, Boys and Girls Clubs, or parks and recreation department are a popular choice. The cost can vary depending on the program, often requiring more cash the summer than it would cost the entire school year.

Some parents get creative every summer, finding friends or neighbors to child-swap with, which lets kids play with their pals while parents save some dough. Or ask around, maybe there's a stay-at-home parent looking to make a little extra cash for helping out. Getting child care at a lower cost, with happy kids and peace of mind included? Sweet!

But, whether you stay home, bribe family and friends to help or send kids off to camp, one thing is universal: Summer is an opportunity to create more time with the kids, whether it's as big as a vacation or as simple as squeezing in evening walks. For most of us, memories of summer mean easygoing lazy days, playing until it got dark and using our imaginations to create fun things to do. Foster that in your kids and you'll all be sure to have a summer to remember.

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