Most of us can’t rely on our mothers and in-laws for free child care. Either they live too far away, it comes with strings attached, it’s too much for them, or they are still working full-time. Times have changed and finding cheap, reliable child care is more difficult.
You don’t have to always rely on paying a college student $10 plus an hour to watch the kids while you go to dinner and movie.
If you think outside the box you can find lots of ways to get some alone time or a much deserved break.
The key is to
- utilize more than one way to get support
- make it a schedule and regular appointment
- have it set up before the baby comes
- feel worthy of the break
- think bigger than date night on a friday evening
- consider 1 or 2 hour breaks for yourself as a necessary reason to have a sitter
- look for options like "night nurses" who will stay up with your baby so you can sleep
Babysitting Co Op
A co op is a group of families that alternate babysitting for each other. You could do babysitting swaps for evenings out. Or day times for moms to run errands or get alone time. There is a great free app that helps you track dates, times, and hours. http://usitisit.com/
This is a great option too because it will help expand your social circle.
A pre-teen niece or nephew or the kid down the street could be an extra set of hands. You could see them more as “mothers’ helpers” than full on sitters. They could watch the baby or kids while you go upstairs and relax. Maybe they can go with you to run errands to sit in the car with kids or entertain the kids while you take care of business. If your partner is out of town you could have a niece or nephew come stay with you and help with dinner time and entertaining the kids. They don’t need to be experts. They just need to be able to help in some way.
Retirees / Senior Sitters.
Maybe the empty nesters down the street could watch the kids or help pick up the kids after school. You’ll get great care and possibly some great advice from parents who have made it through the other side. If they are early risers you might ask them to come in early morning so you can sleep in or help with getting everyone ready. I’ve heard of a couple who were marathon runners and had an senor sitter come over and watch the kids at 5 am while they trained together.
Maybe you have some friends who don’t have kids yet and are looking for some practice. Chances are high they have offered and you just haven’t reached out to schedule that time. I enjoyed babysitting even in my late twenties. Many of your young professional girl friends might be interested in getting to spend some quality alone time with your kids.
Church day care.
Drop them off and enjoy a relaxing time to connect to yourself and whatever you believe in.
JCC and Country Clubs are everywhere and might offer child care.
YMCAs are about $50 to $75/ month and some offer free child care while you “work out.” I use that term lightly. You can work out. Or you could sit by the pool and read your book. The choice is yours. You can also have some quality time with your partner or friends.
Share a sitter.
Pool your kids together and split the cost of a sitter. You’ll have to pay a bit more per hour but in the end with the split you will save. This is great if you want to catch up with your friend or do a group date.
Get as much help and support as you need.
Even if you are stay at home mom, you WILL need child care to keep yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy.
Ask. Ask. Ask. People want to help you. You love help peopling. Let them feel good by helping you out.
Do you know of other ways to get free or cheap help and support?