How to spend less on child care

Creative childcare ideas

Childcare and affordability are two words that don’t make it into the same sentence often. But whether you need to work, need help picking the kids up after school, time for errands or to enjoy quality time with friends or your partner, there are low-cost childcare options available if you dig a little deeper into your community. Here are some tips.

Spend or swap Low-cost childcare options for parents

Babysitting swap. Trading babysitting hours with neighbours is a great way to connect with other families while offering the affordable option of exchanging time instead of money. Normally, you could expect to pay between $8-$15 per hour for a babysitter in Vancouver.

Babysitting co-ops. Connecting to a greater network of parents through an established co-op or starting one yourself offers more childcare options and flexibility. Swaps are generally more informal while babysitting co-ops usually have a points system to track hours that can be redeemed for babysitting services.

Here’s a great resource from YWCA Metro Vancouver on how to start a babysitting co-op or find one in your area.

Shared babysitting or nanny care. Coordinating your childcare hours with another family can help you save money as two families splitting the cost of one childcare provider is generally more affordable than two separate sitters or nannies.

Friends and relatives. It takes a village to raise children, so go ahead and ask for occasional help. Don’t underestimate the joy others get from helping you out and spending time with your kids. If family and friends won’t accept payment, use this as an opportunity for the kids to come up with a creative thank you. You never know when you may be able to return the favour.

three-generation asian family talking in living room.

Photo by imtmphoto | AdobeStock

Ultimately, with babysitting swaps and co-ops, you save money but you’ll have to spend time and effort in return. When you pay for a babysitter or nanny, you’re spending money but saving the time and effort. What should you consider when choosing your childcare arrangements?

Assess your needs: do you need flexibility or convenience? Do you want to build your community? Taking a look at what your needs are is a good starting point.

Set expectations: having a conversation about your preferences, routines and expectations from the outset will help you avoid awkward situations or communication errors.

Be prepared: no childcare solution is foolproof, so having a back-up plan and being able to roll with the punches will help you avoid disappointment.

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