Thrifty Thursday: Free and Cheap Childcare Ideas

If you have children, you know that quality childcare can be expensive.  The more children you have, the higher that cost becomes.  I’ve tried to list a few ideas for free and cheap childcare below, but encourage you to comment with your ideas as well.

- Trade with a friend (Playgroup): Trading childcare is a great way to get FREE childcare.  It is best to set up a schedule to ensure that you are both getting equal time.  For instance: you have the kids on Monday from 9-1 and your friend has the kids on Wednesday from 9-1.  It will give each of you a break without breaking the bank.

- Family Member: If you live near family, consider asking grandparents, aunts or cousins to help with the kids.  Just remember not to take advantage.  Even grandma needs a break.  Don’t foget you could pay family members to watch your child and the rates will usually be much less.

- Start or join a Babysitting Co-op: You may be able to find several people in your area to share babysitting.   You typically earn points by sitting for other children instead of paying cash.  There are countless online sites to help you search for formed co-ops in your area or resources to start your own.  Hive moms is a site that I have heard of in the past, but there are many others that you can find online.

- Hire a sitter together: Parents can alternate days to use the childcare provider or smaller families could share the cost of a sitter in one home. This sharing could be cheaper than hiring 2 sitters.

- Teenagers: Do you know a responsible teenager in your neighborhood?  They are usually much cheaper than older sitters and can be more fun.  I would make sure I was familiar with his/her parents and ask that they be certified in CPR.

- Mother’s Helper: If you need someone to help with the kids while you work from home or get things done around the house, you could look for a Mother’s Helper.  You are home, so you could save money by having a younger teen come by after school or during the summer to play with the kids.

- Preschool/Mom’s Morning Out: If you’re looking for daytime childcare, preschool is a great resource.  It is likely you can find a local church preschool in your area.  These are usually affordable and offer children the opportunity to learn and socialize.   Children too young for preschool can attend a MMO program that can be extremely cost effective.

- YMCA and the like: If you have a local YMCA or a similar institution, look to see what programs they have available.  It is common for YMCA’s to offer a Mom’s Morning Out, After School or Parent’s Night Out program.  My local Y recently started free PNO for members 2 Fridays per month.

- Childcare Training Facility or University: If you or your spouse is a student, you may be able to take advantage of childcare offered at your college or university.  These are typically low cost since the staff is working on childcare training; however, the waiting list may be long.

Whatever you choose, always ask for credentials and for a trial run (where applicable) to make sure the facility or organization is a good fit for your child and family needs.

What are your ideas for free or cheap childcare?

This post is linked to My Coupon Teacher

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