While it’s true that having a nanny offers much more flexibility and convenience than most other childcare arrangements, there are still times when you might still need backup childcare.
It’s easy enough to coordinate your vacation time with your nanny’s since that’s typically scheduled far enough in advance. But what about when she calls in sick? How will you handle situations when your nanny has to cancel at the last minute? Without a backup plan, it’s easy to be left in the lurch on those days.
If there’s not much going on at work, it may not be a big deal. But what do you do if your nanny calls in sick on the day of an important meeting or work event? Trust us, a bit of advance planning goes a long way when it comes to last-minute childcare. Below, we’ve outlined several different ways to survive if your nanny isn’t available.
Drop-in Child Care
Some child care centers offer last-minute, or “drop-in” options that allow you to drop your child off anytime you’re in a jam. No advance notice is required as long as you’ve already registered with the center, so it’s a good idea to register with one before you need it. For added convenience, these centers are often open earlier than most other centers, and they close later too.
Switch Off with Other Parents
Do you have friends who also employ a nanny for their children? If so, see if both the family and the nanny might be willing to trade childcare responsibilities on the nanny’s vacation days, or if she calls in sick. Be sure that any arrangement you make is also okay with your own nanny as well; after all, an arrangement like this means that she will be taking on additional responsibilities on some days.
Another similar option is to see if you can utilize a family’s nanny share on occasion. In a nanny share, two or more families share a nanny. They may have the nanny watch all of the children from the families involved, or switch off days based on the parents’ needs. If a nanny is open to watching several kids, chances are she might be willing to take yours on for a day if you’re really in a jam.
Here’s a unique idea that might be a great incentive for the nanny in either of the above scenarios; consider offering the nanny (or nannies!) involved a small retainer fee. Here, you might offer the nanny a small amount, like $25/month or $200/year in exchange for her willingness to take your kids any time an emergency pops up. Can’t hurt to try, right?
Ask a Stay-at-Home-Mom to Help
Moms who stay at home with their kids are NOT, we repeat NOT free daycare for those who work full time. Stay-at-home-moms are busy too, and as such, should not be taken for granted. But if you have a close friend who stays home with her kids, she’s probably more than willing to help you out for a day if you truly have nowhere else to turn and need last-minute childcare.
Bonus points for you if you offer to take her kids to the park for a few hours on the weekend so she can get some alone time in exchange!
Other Possible Options
If there’s simply no other option, and your workplace (and busy schedule!) allows it, you could plan to work from home on those days your nanny calls in sick or is on a paid holiday. Here are some ideas to keep your kiddo entertained so you both survive the day:
- Pop in a movie that she doesn’t get to watch very often
- Have her color or do a craft while sitting with you
- If she can read, set up a fun “reading corner” near you that’s just for her
- Use nap time to your advantage, scheduling calls and meetings during that time
- Keep your workday short and catch up at night after you put the kids to bed
If there’s no way for you to work from home, perhaps your partner could split the day with you. This would allow both of you to have some face time at the office without pulling a full eight-hour shift.
We know how much of a struggle it is having to line up last-minute childcare. But rest assured that with a bit of advance planning, you’ll see that you have more options for backup childcare than you think. And we’re confident you can make them work for you when you’re in a jam!
Mommybites has connected thousands of New York area families to full and part-time New York nannies over the past decade. If you no longer need your nanny but value the love and devotion she’s given your family, Mommybites is also the perfect place to help your nanny find a new childcare job.
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Christin Perry is a freelance writer and editor living in the DC area. She specializes in the lifestyle genre and her writing has been published by The Knot, The Bump, and LittleThings.com.