Finding care for kids during the winter holidays can be a real mind-bender! Our usual sources of great care are unavailable and we need to be a little more creative. In the middle of all the shopping and decorating, take a few moments to think about what your care planning needs are during the winter break, since they are likely to be a little bit different than your regular needs. You may have holiday parties to attend (without the kids), travel plans, and other seasonal needs to contend with—so take stock of your child care options and get started with your planning.
Even babysitters go on vacation, so get your requests in early. Know when your holiday office party is? Don’t wait another second to call your sitter. Don’t know when your office party is? Talk to your sitter and see what holiday plans are on her radar. Some babysitters come home from college and it is good to reach out to them earlier. Let her know what’s coming up on yours, so neither of you will be caught by surprise. Some sitters might even hold a tentative date for you until you can confirm your plans! Ask early and remember that your care takers want to make holiday plans too. You can also go to Care.com to post a job today. Many of our members have success in finding babysitters when they post a job ahead of time.
During winter break, you’ll find many more friends at home. Organizing play dates can actually be much easier than during the school year when you have to navigate all kinds of appointments and lessons and activities. If you need to arrange kid coverage so you can get to work or have a few hours for yourself, talk to your friends. Many parents find themselves at home with the kids and wish they had play dates to liven things up. Call or email your network of friends now—organize a group play date—or find out if anyone can trade off some time with you. It works just great and the kids love it. Finally, don’t forget to check in with your friends who have older kids home on college break. They might love to baby sit to make extra money.
If you’re lucky enough to have family that lives nearby, check in with them about helping with the kids during winter break. Even if it’s not something you can usually arrange during the year, grandma and grandpa, or aunts and uncles might have more flexible schedules during the holidays. It’s extra special when kids can spend time with family. They can have a local adventure together to see a movie, go to the library or do crafts at home (which you will have already prepped for such an occasion). See my blog post on holiday activities if you need some tips.
If you need regular child care throughout the holidays, check your local town listings for special winter break camps. Most town recreation departments offer vacation camp for kids ages 5-12. Check your town’s website and see what’s available now. Camps like this fill up quickly, so now is the time to check it out. Your hometown is not the only source for camps and activities though—check your local museums, libraries, YMCA’s, gyms, and colleges. You’ll find a wide variety of winter break classes and activities for kids of all ages. The key is not to wait, if possible!