This is a guest post from The Coupon Challenge!
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
- 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
- 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?