This fall, your youngest will be entering school full-time. Ah, a sigh of relief – your childcare woes are behind you! And then reality hits: how do you fill the gap between the end of your children’s school day and the end of your work day? How do you get them to soccer practice or piano lessons on time? How do you get dinner on the table, help with homework, and still have a little time for yourself? Not to mention the stress of patching together care for early dismissal days, in-service days, snow days, holiday breaks, summer break and the dreaded sick days.
As a long-time nanny employer, a mom of two beautiful, busy, school age kiddos, and the co-owner of ABC Nannies, I get it. I’m right there with you, and it certainly isn’t easy. While some parents can handle a patchwork approach to childcare during the school year, many simply need something more. Arranging consistent after-school care can be a stressful consideration for working parents of school age children, and evaluating your options can be daunting. But from one working parent to another, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to lighten your load and get your family life back on track. You have options. Many parents successfully rearrange their schedule to be available between the hours of 2-3 and 6 p.m., they work from home in the afternoons, or they share the load of after-school pickups with their spouse, family, friends or neighbors. But if those options are not for you, here are a few solutions that families on the Front Range opt for:
1. On-Site Childcare Programs
Many parents who need basic after-school care choose to enroll their children in on-site childcare programs or after-school enrichment programs. These programs may be run by your child’s school or privately run by a third party. The upside to on-site care is that this is far and away the lowest-cost option of them all; a great choice for families who just need 1-2 hours a day, a few days per week. The downsides to on-site care or after-school enrichment programs are high student to caregiver ratios, fixed hours that may or may not meet your scheduling needs, and the fact that your child will be at school for 1-2 additional hours each day.
2. Hire an After-School Babysitter: In-Home Childcare
The ideal option for cost-conscious families who are seeking in-home care after school is to hire an after-school sitter. After-school babysitters can pick up your children from school or meet them at the bus stop, make them a snack, help them with homework, and even run them to an activity or two. While there are sitters out there who are happy to help after school, good ones are very difficult to find: quantity and quality are often both low due to the small amount of hours each week. But let there be no mistake: there are some great after-school babysitters – many working for our clients right now! The best after-school sitters, however, often make $2-$3 more per hour than the average babysitter or temporary nanny and commit for a few months at a time. (Beware of those who commit to a year upfront.) If you are the type of person who’s comfortable with changing caregivers every few months, and you don’t need help covering full days off during the year or help with household duties, then an after-school sitter might be an ideal option for your family.
3. Hire a Nanny Manager: In-Home Childcare + Household Help
For working parents who need more help than your average sitter can offer, many choose to hire a full-time nanny manager. This role is a combination of childcare and household management duties. While a nanny manager’s primary focus is your children when they are not in school, a large part of his or her job is assisting with household management duties. A typical nanny manager schedule is Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a 35 hour/week position. Many parents choose to add a weekly date night to bring the position up to 40 hours/week and attract a dedicated full-time candidate. These hours can be altered to match your scheduling needs. The hours prior to after-school pickup are filled with household management duties such as light family laundry, light cleaning and organization, chopping fresh fruits and vegetables, preparing children’s lunches or dinner, dinner prep, grocery shopping, errands and more. Once the school bell rings, your nanny manager is in full nanny mode: shuttling children to and from activities, preparing snacks and dinner, helping with homework, and simply engaging the kiddos in recreational activities. Not to mention that if you hire a full-time nanny manager, they are also typically available for full days when school is closed, on sick days, and during holiday breaks and summer vacation: one employee covers it all. The idea of returning to a tidy home, with dinner prepped, homework done, and errands run is undeniably appealing. This option is ideal for families who are seeking consistent coverage for a year or more – but it comes at a higher cost than other options. Most nanny managers in the Front Range are making an average of $18-$22 per hour BOE.
For more information on apply for or hiring an after-school sitter or nanny manager, please contact ABC: