Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thursday Thrifty Tip: Creative Childcare Ideas

Dear faithful reader,
This week's Thursday Thrifty Tip is geared toward my readers with kids who desire creative, inexpensive childcare ideas. Though, I know this doesn't fit the profile of all my readers, I apologize in advance if this post isn't for you. However, maybe you are that neighbor, friend, grandparent that can lend a hand with the community of kids around you. Take a look, tuck it away in the back of your brain. Maybe you'll gleam a "nugget" of information on how to be creative in providing safe and inexpensive childcare for those that are proud to be called parents.
Many blessings,
Katie Jean

Hello and welcome back to Thursday Thrifty Tip... I'm your host, Katie Jean. Today, along with my cohorts: Tracy, Genny and Anisa, we will bringing you tips to save your household money in this crazy economy through Thrifty Tips. So sit back. Relax and enjoy my own creative childcare ideas at The Little Blue Bungalow.

Organize a Childcare Swap:
Swap 3-4 hours a month with close friends or neighbors for a "free" night on the town. Small price = watching their kids another weekend, but believe me the time is bliss and worth the extra craziness for one night. Lay ground rules and swapping procedures by having dinner together before you begin swapping. Be prepared to revisit swapping in large group forum every three months to make sure the process is a win for everyone.

I, personally, have been involved with childcare swapping since Fiona was about four months old. In fact, the "featured" picture for the post is of me watching Fiona and our friend's son, Jason, at one of our first of many swaps. (Wow...times have changed and that is only four years ago...well then.) Well maybe watching other kids doesn't sound've had enough? Remember swapping doesn't always have to be kids for kids. For example, maybe you cut hair, decorate cakes, work on cars, your service for a few hours away from the kids.

Utilize "Parent's Night Out" Opportunities: Many children's establishments such as preschools, YMCA, churches, etc. offer "Parent's Night Out" opportunities for a set fee. These are great places to drop your children off at familiar sites with trusted childcare workers. Often these nights are reasonably priced and include a snack or dinner since the organization offering the service is able to watch several children at once. Take advantage of these evenings if you desire childcare but don't want to worry about "returning the favor" and have fewer dollars to spare in your pocket book.

Stroll the Grocery Aisles: Alright...this is definitely one of those ideas "out of the box", but listen folks...if you need time from your kids know your sources. Take advantage of free child care at local grocery stores (Top Foods and Fred Meyer for the Snohomish County area). Pick up your weekly groceries, grab a coffee and stroll the aisles without the distraction of the kiddos. Most stores offer their services for 90 minutes, but any free time alone is appreciated. I also, utilize my YMCA membership by dropping my kids off at the childcare zone up to two hours a day while I sweat like a crazy lady. Oh the joys.

Befriend a College Student: Go out late...have the sitter come AFTER the kids are sleeping. Offer the student a home cooked meal (prepared by frozen pizza, Mac/ know who you are!), access to free laundry, a quiet place to study and a small reimbursement (ex: Starbucks card, McDonald's Arch card). What a "sweet" job for a student and what a great way for you to gain your night life back again...that is if you ever had one. (Ahem. All right then...moving right along.)

Sowing the Gift of Help: Give free date nights out to close friends for birthdays, new arrivals or anniversaries. Make sure to be specific when creating "gift certificates", ex: 'coupon good for four hours of babysitting...not redeemable for overnight stays'. Not only does this gift save you money from shelling out money for gifts that get stuffed in closets (Did I just write that?), your friends will be so gracious for you willing to give of your time. Hopefully your idea will catch on and you'll receive a date night on your next special occasion.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean

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~T said...

My mom used to participate in a babysitting "coop" when Genny and I were little. From what I've been told, it was similar to your kid swapping idea. It worked out great for our family except for when it was time to pick us up - apparently I loved hanging out with the other kids so much my mom used to have to chase me and catch me to get me to come home!

Anonymous said...

What great ideas! I've never heard of the grocery store thing... not sure they do that here in Colorado? But I love the swapping and especailly the gift certificate ideas! The Gift Certificate saves you $$ twice! Sweet!

Genny said...

I love the idea of the "Befriend a College Student". What a great trade off for a college student - can't beat a home cooked meal or non-coin operated washer/dryer!