1. Shop around for day care facilities, compare tuition and curriculum. Day cares, even in the same town have different tuition scales. I chose JD’s current school because it has structured before and aftercare and a great curriculum. In short: I toured many schools and felt the happiest here.
2. Hire a mother’s helper. This is a tween who will entertain your kids for around $5/hr (or cheaper) so you can get work done around the house. Since you’re home, you don’t have to pay a standard babysitting fee + you can referee any sort of problem that may arise since the sitter is on the young side.
3. Use your friends. And let them use you. My friends Amy and Ed watch JD for free. I watch their kids for free. Everyone wins!
4. Take advantage of family. I’m lucky because my fam loves to be with JD and doesn’t consider it babysitting. They refuse to take money for their services, but I repay them in other ways. I’ll get my mom a manicure gift card, take my dad and Karen to dinner and buy Bri a ticket to an upcoming magic show we’re all going to.
5. If you’re a single parent, know your rights. Child support covers work-related day care, camp and schooling. You don’t need to hire an expensive lawyer, just call the family court in your county and ask questions. It’s their job to provide you with information free of charge and it’s both parents job to pay for day care.
6. Use group babysitters. Sometimes my friends and I go out. We hire one sitter and leave her with up to 5 kids. We don’t short change her and we realize watching 1 kid should cost more than 5, but still we end up saving money when we do it this way.
7. Take advantage of fun, free, or less expensive programs: JD’s school often hosts parents survival nights. They charge only $10/hr (I pay my sitters $15/hr). They also offer completely FREE kid movie night for two hours. I drop JD off. He watches a family film with his friends while I run errands and then I pick him up.
8. Work from home with your baby if your employer allows. When JD was an infant I worked from home with him. He was a baby. He ate, pooped and slept. I have fond memories of writing while he swung in the swing or slept against my chest in the sling. I caution, as your kid gets older this won’t work. When JD was 2 I started him in day care. Even though I was working from home, I couldn’t get work done. Napping was less and less and he needed constant supervision and stimulation, but I needed to bring home the bacon.
9. Check with your accountant on a day care credit. NJ offers one to working parents, so JD’s day care tuition turns into a slight write-off for me. Hey, slight is better than nothing.
10. Worst case scenario: If you can’t afford day care at all talk to the administrators at the school—sometimes they will work with you on a reduced fee charge. Otherwise, contact the state for assistance with a child care stipend. You need to work to provide for your child, but sometimes your salary is absorbed by day care costs and that makes no sense. Click here to read about NJ’s assistance program, then google “State Aid Child Care + your state” for more info.
More of my Citibank Women & Co blogs:
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