Once you have made the decision for primary childcare, the next step is to create a childcare-backup plan. Be sure to strategize ahead of time, the last thing you need is to wake up on the day of an important meeting to find your childcare is unavailable.
All parents need to have a plan B, no matter what circumstances surround their work environment. This childcare-backup plan will reduce stress from last minute trauma that is guaranteed to occur in all childcare arrangements. Some childcare-backup plan arrangements can be used for short term, but entirely different ones will be needed for long term. While a short-term childcare-backup plan is more common, long-term backup plans are also important as enduring problems create more complexity.
Typical Reasons Childcare Arrangements Fail
- In home caregiver has a personal issue such as family emergency, jury duty or illness.
- Day care center is temporarily shut down for financial or health issue.
- Child has an illness or disease.
Types of Childcare-Backup Plans
Friends or Relatives - Do you have a mother-in-law who would be available in a pinch to help watch your children for a day or two? Maybe a neighbor would be prepared to be backup on occasion?
On Call Backup Sitter - Ask around or run an ad looking for a stay-at-home mom, retired individual or college student who would be eager to provide backup care on short notice.
Sick or Drop-in Childcare Center- Check with your employer. If they have a childcare facility on site, many times they hold a few spaces for current employees who need backup care. There are also childcare centers that offer special sick care or drop in rates.
Employ Personal Vacation or Sick Time - Split the time with a spouse or relative, take 1/2 day to ease the stress.
Take Advantage of a Flexible Work Arrangement - Bring your child to work or your work to a home office.
Temporary Nanny - Certain childcare agencies have a temporary service where you can call them and they will send a trained nanny over in an emergency.
Evaluate Your Backup Arrangement
Take the same approach you would to finding a primary childcare plan. Visit a sick care center, or interview a backup sitter ahead of time. Ask how they will treat your child if he is sick and uncomfortable. If it is a center, be sure to inspect their sanitary standards and how they prevent the spread of disease. Take the time to pre-register and have all the paperwork arranged so as not to create any additional workload for you the morning of an emergency.
How to Create a Childcare-Backup Plan
Identify potential problems in your current childcare arrangement. Maybe you have a day care center that imposes strict guidelines on bringing a sick child or a nanny who occasionally will need time off. Also keep in mind that there will be surprises along the way. Create a list of options for backup childcare with phone numbers that you can call for help last minute. This list can never be too long or detailed. Make sure there are both short-term and long-term potential arrangements.
Take the time to research the options so you will not have to scramble in the morning when you wake up to a screaming, feverish toddler and you have to run out the door to work. An excellent organization to help you find the right backup childcare is Child Care Resources, a non-profit agency available to help parents find childcare solutions. Pre-register your child with an emergency or sick care center, ask your neighbor for help, or discuss options with your employer for flex arrangements before you are desperate. Having everything laid out ahead of time to handle the unexpected will enable everyone involved to relax and the situation to improve immediately.