With summer officially over and the kids back in school, parents everywhere are now faced with the fall and all the busy activities that come with the season. Maintaining a work-life balance can be even more challenging with the demands that come from school and extra-curricular activities.
One of the ways that you can better navigate these challenges is to have a flexible childcare plan in place. There are many options working parents can choose from to balance the changing needs of their family.
Most schools offer structured programs where the kids have time to do their homework, play and have group activities. They are often held in the gym or cafeteria at school. Community centers also have similar after-school programs.
A local high school or college student is likely to be on a similar schedule to your children with afternoons and evenings free. They can often come right from school and help the kids with homework, fix a snack and help make sure they practice their instruments.
Au pairs live with a family and can work up to 45 hours per week. With an au pair you have the help you need in the morning getting the kids up and out the door to school, packing lunches and snacks. In the afternoon, you also have the help you need to pick up the kids from school, or meet them at the bus stop. The au pair can help with tasks like getting homework done, washing soccer uniforms, organizing gear for practice, while also helping to get dinner started. With an au pair, you also have that built in help your family needs when the school has early dismissal for parent teacher conferences, school vacations, and more.
How to choose the childcare option that’s right for you:
- Compare costs: What can you afford to pay your childcare provider?
- Consider flexibility: Do you need 9 to 5 coverage, or a schedule that can work around the needs of your business?
- Convenience: Is having someone at home more convenient or is taking your child to a facility?
- Household help: Determine whether it would be helpful to have a second set of hands for the kids’ laundry, meals and household chores.
In addition to considering the above, be sure to ask about what kind of background check and screening process has been conducted. Lastly, always interview your candidates more than once, asking many questions related to how they would navigate situations with children at the same age as yours.
Following these steps will set the stage for a successful relationship with your childcare provider so that you can be confident in the quality of care they are receiving and get back to business.
Guest Writer-Tracy Cota
Tracy Cota is a childcare expert and Local Development Director for Cultural Care Au Pair. Based in Redondo Beach, California, she has worked with host families and au pairs for more than seven years. Her two children grew up surrounded by au pairs and have enjoyed the benefits of this childcare and cultural exchange program as well.