Getting childcare is hard enough at the best of times, but at Christmas it can be a nightmare. These top tips will help to ensure that you’re covered if you need to be at work, or that you can make that big festive night out you’ve been looking forward to for months!
You’re asking for trouble if you don’t sort out a babysitter or a childminder a few weeks, if not more, in advance. If all your usual sitters are unavailable, there are always agencies – although these normally charge a registration fee, plus the sitter’s fee.
Phone a friend
A much cheaper way of doing things is to contact a friend with kids. Ask them what nights they need a sitter over the Christmas period, and see if you can do a sitting swap. Alternatively, have the kids to sleepover at your place. It’s convenient, the kids will have a blast and, what’s more, it’s completely free!
If you can’t work anything out with your friends, ask around at school. Mention your childcare dilemmas to other mums or dads – chances are they’ve got similar problems. It won’t take you long to sort out a childcare solution that helps everyone.
Contact the council
If you can’t get any help through friends, family or at the school gates, try your local Family Information Service. They’ll have information about care providers, such as registered childminders in your area.
It’s also worth looking at local children’s centres, leisure or community centres, shops and libraries, for ads from registered childminders. Just make sure to check that whoever you find is suitable, and qualified, to look after your child. You can find out more about childminders from the National Childminding Association.
New Year’s nightmare
New Year’s Eve is always a babysitting nightmare, and is a prime example of where planning ahead is key. Celebrating with friends who also have kids is usually the best solution as there’s bound to be a quiet room in the house for them to go to sleep.
If no-one’s hosting a party this year, take the festive bull by the horns and arrange something yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big occasion – just invite a couple of friends with kids round for a few drinks, ask them all to bring nibbles you can share, and enjoy each other’s company while the kids play in another room.
If you’re the hostess with the mostest this year, you can persuade one of your mates to take on the responsibility next year!