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Child care, especially occasional emergency child care, is one of the things that takes a huge amount of time  and stress in a mother's life. I know, it used to be the case for me too...  

You see, I have a six-year-old, never had a regular, my husband works full-time at a job he can't leave or easily do from home, and our families live in Ohio, California and Europe - while we live in New York City. Oh, and did I mention that for several years we couldn't afford to have a regular babysitter? happy

So over the years I had to develop some pretty creative solutions... They became

•Always have a backup plan, and if possible the backup for the backup
•Befriend carefully chosen mothers - I know it sounds callous, but I’ve genuinely become friends with them...
•Have a break-week rotation
•Join a babysitting coop

The Backup Plan:
In everything I ever created and developed, I always tried to include a backup plan, so that if my Plan A didn't work, I immediately had Plan B, and possibly Plan C, to fall back on. The key, though, is to develop the backup plans ahead of time, so that you already have them when you need them (for instance, have the number of a last-minute babysitting service if all else fails). It's served me very well  - I think only once did I find myself stranded, because all three of my plans fell through at the same time – and it's also served my clients very well. Having the backup plan ready saves A LOT of time and stress when Little One suddenly spikes a fever at 7:30 am.  

Team Up With Another Mom:
One of the best things I ever did was befriending the mom of another child in my son's preschool class, S. We both were in similar situations, so I offered a babysitting exchange.  I would take her child from 4 to 7 one day a week, and she would take both another day. To be honest with you, it was a very selfish act on my part: I desperately needed some Me Time...

Over time, we also became each other's backups: If S's daughter is sick and she has to teach (she's a professor), and I can, I keep her with me. On the other hand, if my son is sick and S has an office day, she takes him. And when we get a last-minute 1pm school dismissal announcement, chances are one of us is available to pick up both children and keep them until the other one is free again. Today, we are excellent friends, and have in some ways re-created a family of choice, where we can drop each other's child whenever we need to.  

The Vacation Rotation:
It works wonders for all those weeks off that the kinds get between September and June. Here is how it works: Get together a group of 5 mothers (somehow it's always mothers ☺) who work full- or part-time, and offer that you make a rotation, where every mom takes care of all 5 children one day, then has the other four days available to work. They will LOVE you for suggesting it, and will take you up on your offer. Make sure to have more than 5 mothers in your pool, because there is always one or too away for the week, and you want to make sure the full week is covered.
This is a free solution for the kids to be taken care of and entertained, while you can still work 4 out of the 5 days, instead of having to use your precious vacation time. In my experience, it works beautifully for most breaks, except for Christmas and Summer – but you already guessed that.  

The Babysitting Coop:
In many communities, moms have started to get together and pool themselves into a babysitting coop. It's pretty simple: Whenever you need someone to babysit your child, you send an email to everyone, and whoever can will respond and take care of your child. In the process, you are "spending" ccop hours, and the person who babysits is "earning" coop hours. I was briefly part of one, and it allowed my husband and I to go out every once in a while without breaking the bank, and my baby to be taken care of a few times when I had to go see clients.  

What about you? What creative solutions did you or are you using?  

Yours in Daily Mastery,


Member Comments

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Angeldove wrote Apr 7, 2009
    • I was very lucky when my kids were young, always had family nearby.  Now that they are grown, I would love to meet people with young children and be a “backup” sitter.  I enjoy children and would love to spend time with them.  Not sure if babies would be a good idea, even though I know Tony would love having them around, but we are not baby proofed.  Anyway, I enjoy reading these blogs, even if they don’t particularly pertain to me.

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