As we head towards summer, the time is fast approaching when children will be out of school and home all day, every day. For working parents, whether you work in an office or out of your house, the kids being out of school presents a host of logistical challenges that parents happily avoid the rest of the year. But there are ways to plan and maintain a sense of balance during what can be the most fun, but perhaps the most stressful, time of the year.
If you’re used to thinking of summer as the scariest time of the year, consider these tips to change your perspective. Here’s how to balance work and childcare this summer.
Plan ahead with child care.
You may be able to send the kids to summer camp for a week or two, or find a day camp that allows you a bit of breathing room, but chances are you’ll need several forms of child care over the summer. Try seeking out the help of high schoolers in your neighborhood who are looking for a summer job. Or ask around for friends and family who might be able to help you out a few days each week. You don’t need to rely on one form of child care–you can cobble together several options that will work best for your family.
Take advantage of your company’s flexible work policies.
Spend some time reviewing the human resources information at your company to see what is offered in terms of flexible work. A lot of companies offer special flexible scheduling, the ability to work from home occasionally, or even summer hours to help working parents and everyone better balance this time of year. Especially because this is a temporary situation, your employer may be more willing to work with you to find an arrangement that works best. If there isn’t something formal in place, consider requesting a flexible work arrangement.
Form a babysitting co-op with friends who are in the same situation.
If you know other families whose parents need to work during the summer while their children are out of school, try forming a babysitting co-op where the families take turns watching the group of kids for a week while the other parents are working. This might require you to take some vacation time, but it will definitely cut down on the amount of time that you’ll need to be home during the summer. Or, go in on a group babysitter or nanny with the same parents. It will cut down on your cost and allow your kids to stay social with their friends during the summer.
The beginning of summer signals a fun time for families, but it can also be stressful with the change in schedule that summer break brings. Plan your childcare now, and don’t be afraid to use a variety of options or think outside the box. Your relaxed summer self will thank you.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the director of online content at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings, and a contributing writer for 100 Days of Jobs for Moms. Brie provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs blog.