Unless you have Grandma and Grandpa around the corner offering to watch the kids anytime, free child care doesn't come around often enough. Where I live the going rate is $12.00 an hour plus, this puts a lot of financial pressure on when to use a sitter. So how do you find a trust worthy childcare provider for free?
One of these ideas may just be a perfect fit:
1. Form a Kiddie co-op with friends/neighbors, by taking turns watching the kids you can have your cake and eat it too. This works best with a set of formal rules in place; who feeds the kids, what TV shows are off limits, discipline, and how long do you leave the kids? What happens if the kids don't get a long? Set the ground rules in advance and make sure you all agree to the terms and conditions. Of course this works best when your parenting styles are in sync. Make sure you allow for great communication, agree to follow through with the rules and expectations, and respect the time schedule. If it's four hours make sure it's not a minute more!
2. Bartering - Does your relative, trust worthy neighbor or friend need yard work, painting, tutoring or errands performed. If you are a; baker, a seamstress, computer geek, or have another skill or talent, use it to your advantage. You may be able help each other by offering a barter exchange. It's best to set the plan in motion up front, example, "I'll rake and bag all your leaves on Saturday 10/28 if you will watch the kids for 4 hours each on Friday 11/7 and Saturday 11/15". Its best to set the ground rules in advance, until you develop a trusting relationship, having the dates and tasks firmly in place allows for both parties to have a good experience.
3. Town Recreation nights and Church Youth Groups. Many Churches have youth programs and towns have open gym nights, make sure you ask if the adults supervising have had back ground screenings. These types of programs work best if your child is truly interested in being there and even better attends with a friend. Pick up and drop off times are strict, but, allow enough time to hit your favorite coffee shop or restaurant nearby.
Most of the time we only see value in the form of a dollar, but finding the right resources, working together with other parents and putting our talents to work is easy and often lucrative.
Kerry is a Certified Divorce Coach and the Founder of www.divorceresponseteam.com
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