For when you need a little 'me time'
8 Cheap to Free Childcare Options
by Angela D'Ambrosio
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We have all been there as parents when you've just had enough and need to get away even just for a moment. After the birth of my daughter, I remember spending a lot of time at the grocery store going down each and every aisle enjoying the silence and freedom of being there alone. We shouldn't feel guilty for wanting some alone time or adult time with our spouse and friends. It's natural and frankly healthy. You will be a better mommy and wife if you make sure your needs are being met. Here are my 8 cheap to free childcare options when you need a little "me time."
- Free - Friends and Family - This should be your first option if you have any family or friends that live close. Ask for a weekly or monthly appointment where they can take your kid(s) for a couple of hours. You will be surprised how accommodating and sympathetic your loved ones will be for a favor like this.
- Free - Parent Co-op or Kid(s) Swap - Find another mom or group of moms in your situation willing to take turns watching each other's kid(s). Craigslist.org usually has listings for parent co-ops in your area.
- Cheap - Join a Gym - Most gyms offer childcare so this is a great way for you to get some exercise in and get a break. Don't feel like exercising? Relax in the sauna, sit in the hot tub or just pretend to exercise and do some people watching or read a book. Also, I have even seen some gyms offer "date night" where they will watch your kid(s) for a couple of hours while you and your spouse have a date.
- Free - Join a Church - Most churches offer free childcare during their service or bible study. A ladies' bible study is a great way to meet other moms and grow your support system and faith.
- Free - Freddy's Playland at Fred Meyer - Fred Meyer is a regional grocery store and they have a great little service called "Freddy's Playland." It's a place where kids, between the ages of 2 and 5, can go for one hour while their parents do their grocery shopping. There are a couple of really great things about this, including the fact that it's free, the store is huge, along the lines of a Super Target with all your shopping needs, it has a Starbucks inside, and children love going there. Even if you don't have shopping to do, you can have a one-hour break of all parenting obligations.
- Free - Public Library Service - Most public libraries offer fun, free activities for kids off all ages. You do have to stay onsite, but this is a great way for someone else to entertain your kid(s) for an hour, so you can take a mental break.
- Cheap - Teen Babysitter or Mommy Helper - There are a lot of qualified teenagers available after 3pm on weekdays that have taken classes on babysitting, including safety and emergency training, and they are experienced. You can post or read ads on Craigslist.org or check out a babysitting service that can find someone for you. Have the sitter come over for an interview to see how comfortable you are with them and they are with your child. This is a cheap childcare option and a great way to schedule some regular "me time."
- Cheap - Timeshare a Nanny - Find another parent wanting or willing to share a nanny on a part-time basis.
Reviewed June 2017
Angela D'Ambrosio is co-founder of Big Ramp Marketing, LLC. She uses her talents as an engineer, loving wife and soon-to-be mother of three to share her knowledge of life, parenthood and how to stretch a dollar until it hurts.
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