Four Options When You Need Childcare In A Moment’s Notice

It's every parent's worse nightmare: your childcare falls through, and you are left scrambling at the last minute to find suitable replacement care. Don't cancel your appointment or outing; instead, check out some of your options for on-the-fly childcare.

1. See If Your Daycare Has Additional Availability to Care for Your Child

If your child already attends a childcare center, you can see if the center offers care outside of your child's normal schedule. For example, if your child attends preschool, some preschools offer daily breakfast and lunch sessions that your child can attend for an additional fee. Some also have afternoon sessions that parents can sign up for as needed.

If your child goes to daycare, ask your daycare if it has an opening for the hours that you need care. Some daycare centers permit care outside of the child's typical schedule if the time slot is not full.

2. Explore a Drop-in Childcare Center

Check local childcare listings to see if there is a drop-in childcare center in your area. Drop-in childcare centers are specifically designed for parents who need childcare at the last minute. You'll likely pay a small, one-time fee to register your child and then an hourly rate for the time that your child is actually there.

If you don't see a drop-in center in your town, ask local daycare and preschool centers if they permit drop-ins. Some centers accept drop-in children as long as there is sufficient space.

3. Check With Local Gyms

Many gyms and sporting centers host "Kid's Night Out" events where parents drop their kids off for a few hours of fun. The kids might get to watch a movie, swim, or play games while their parents have a chunk of child-free time to work, attend an appointment, or just get a much-needed break. 

Some gyms and sporting centers that host this type of event may require that you be a member in order to have your children attend. However, some do permit non-members to sign up for the event for a slightly higher fee.

4. Team Up With Other Parents

Consider asking the parents that you know if they are interested in swapping childcare. You might agree to watch their children when they need a sitter at the last minute if they can watch yours. Even if the parents themselves aren't available, they may be able to recommend a trusted babysitter who can help you with your childcare needs. If the parents don't need childcare, you can barter another service or errand, like making them a delicious homemade meal or tackling a pesky household repair.

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