Flexible or Part Time Child Care -- What Do Other Families Do?

Updated on March 25, 2011
E.J. asks from Seattle, WA
14 answers

I'm looking at moving from working full time to consulting, hopefully part time. Ideally I would be working on projects that will start and end, and I might have downtime in between.

I'm not sure what to do about childcare though -- I have a three year old and a 10 month old currently in daycare full time. If I work part time, I want to spend less on childcare. The center we are at has limited options for part time -- only certain days, not for the infant/toddler classes, and they require 30 days notice to make any changes. It seems like everyone I know who has a flexible work arrangement is able to do it because their husband also has a flexible schedule, they have family close by, or a neighbor/stay at home mom friend who is willing to watch their kids as needed. I don't have any of those options. I've googled and it seems hard to even find a complete list and information on other big centers, in home daycare, nannies, etc.

So... if you've figured out childcare to enable you to work part time or with a flexible schedule, would you mind sharing what your solve is and any resources you would suggest?


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answers from Savannah on

In my experience, you can get a set 2, 3, or 5 day a week rate at some mothers day out places, but mdo is usually just during the school year. You won't get better flexibility from regular daycare, but if you talk to some in home childcares, you could possibly get better (depending on size, the care giver's preference, etc). Keep in mind that the care giver is limited to how many children she's allowed to watch at any given time, so this may change if another family came with full time needs. I did change my rates if things changed for my families and I had a week's notice; in home has that flexibility much more so than regular daycare.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

It's not any easier for in home caregivers to be flexible than it is for commercial centers. I live on my income and have to make it work. If I only provided care typical Monday - Friday hours, I could never allow anyone to pay me any less than a full-time rate. But, I make the sacrifice of workin 7 days per week, 24 hours per day, 363 days per year. That allows me to be flexible, take a smaller group around the clock, and it's still hard. I have considered the possiblity of going back to full-time only because my part-time parents are simply too self absorbed, don't care if I can make ends meet or not and it's HARD to never know what the income will be. You need to consider what you want most for your kids and not just your own pocket book. If you could find someone that does not have to make a living, maybe it would be easier. But let me tell you...I'm tired of picking up the phone and hearing someone tell me they are looking for someone that is "not in it for the money". There is no such thing as a bill fairy that will pay our bills while we just play tiddly winks all day, cook, clean, change diapers, deal with toddlers meltdowns and babies needs all the while providing preschool teaching. It's a tireless and thankless job and people want to take our income away too!



answers from Detroit on

Consider a Nanny Share with someone else in your area or sharing an Au Pair with someone in your area.

If that won't work, check out sittercity.com - you may be able to find someone.



answers from Portland on

I use a lovely nanny who is going to night school. It's a perfect set up. She's available during the day and has a fairly flexible schedule and I can call her a few days in advance and book her. I am in the same position and have limited support in the area.

I'd ask around to see if you know any college kids who might be looking for a few extra bucks here and there.



answers from Atlanta on

Doesn't the daycare center have "drop-in" rates. I know when my twins were smaller the daycare centers I usually ran into issues with because I only needed someone two or three days out of the week and my hubby works retail so his two days off were never the same days so to have a "set" weekly schedule didn't work for us. Luckily I was able to find a daycare center that didn't require me to give them two or three specific days of the week. I would call the Friday before and give them which days my twins would be there and I think basically the way they figured it was a "drop-in" rate. Have you checked with daycare centers that might have something like that? Have you checked with the daycare center with other moms to see if they know of anyone who would be willing to be flexible to your schedule? Sometimes other mommy's in your circle are the best resources or call the local elementary school and see if they can suggest any daycare centers-I'm sure they come across a lot of parents that need flexible schedules with their children and might just be able to help direct you with that or they may not have the slightest clue but worth a shot to ask......



answers from Sacramento on

I work part-time but have a consistent schedule. I was able to commit to one childcare place because of it, although I did have to pay full-time rates for a home-based daycare since I was filling a slot and they weren't likely to fill the other half of the day.

I do know that many large centers will accept drop-in childcare. I would start there, checking out your options. Also look to see if there are any drop-in only childcare centers in your area. We have two in our area and would guess the Seattle area might have some, too.



answers from Oklahoma City on

We used a Mother's Day Out program at a local Methodist Church. I would arrange my schedule around the days I had child care avail.



answers from Phoenix on

My daughter goes to a pre-K class and 3 extra hours of daycare M-Th. So in total she is at the facility 27 hrs/wk. I pay $605/mo. My friend has two kids at the same place FT about 50 hrs/wk each and pays $1200. so she basically pays $600/mo per kid. Took me awhile to get over it, but that is the way it is. You will get the most discount if you can do say 3 full days rather than 5 half days. I would think that an in-home place would be more willing to work out a deal with you. The larger places can't wheel and deal as much because there staff is there no matter what and they still need to be paid. For me it works out because I like my job, make good money and next year both my kids will be in school FT, so I won't be paying any childcare. Plus, I can still take them to school and pick them up everyday which I love. They still have mommy whenever they are home. Couldn't ask for a beter set-up!



answers from Seattle on

I'm a small business owner (psychologist) and have both a consulting job and a private practice. I have 3 kids - the oldest is 7 and is in 2nd grade.The youngest two are 5 and 3 and are in full-day daycare 3 days per week (it's a place we've been with since my oldest was a year old). I've always worked part time and took about 2-3 months off after each was born. My work days are Tues, Wed, Thurs and, recently, Monday afternoon. On Mondays, I have an older woman who used to work for the daycare facility come to my house from 2-6pm so I can spend the morning with the kids and then see some clients - my daughter gets off the school bus around 4pm. On Tues, Wed, and Thurs, I work at a facility in the morning, and my private clients start around 2pm. My oldest is enrolled in the afterschool program and stays there until I'm finished with my last client (at 6pm). Dad picks up the youngest two from daycare on the way home from work (I do drop off in the mornings to make sure he's at work early and doesn't have trouble getting home on time to pick up!). We're generally all back together again by 6pm and have time for activiites, etc... For me, Fri, Sat, & Sun are catch up/housework/hang out with the family days. Finding the right mix of work days/hours and care have been challenging for sure, and my sleep is often the thing that gives, but we have found a good fit that works for us, and we've gotten pretty good at time management (e.g., my daughter makes sure she does HW during after school so she is free to do whatever in the evening). If one of the kids gets sick, etc... my husband and I just trade off who will miss what - depends on what might be going on that week. Importantly, neither of us (me or Dad) have any extended family to help out, either, nor do we have stay at home friends to help out. I have definitely occasionally daydreamed about how easy it would be to have someone close by to just help out when needed, but I'm also really proud of how we've managed to make it work! If you're looking for flexibility, you might want to look for an older woman who doesn't really need the income as much as she's looking for something to do with her time. Maybe day care providers in your area might be able to give you some recommendations? There's a website I've come across (www.care.com) that looks like it might be helpful to look for an individual that might be flexible enough to suit your needs. Just know you're not alone! It's not easy to try & do multiple things when you have little ones, and it might take some creativity, but I'm sure you'll figure out something that works! Best of luck to you!



answers from Seattle on

I know that some people may share a nanny... and maybe you are lucky and can make an arrangement with a sitter or in-home daycare.
Other than that EVERY place we have ever checked you, you pay for the spot, whether or not you child attends everyday/full time.
It's understandable since people need a reliable income and for the commercial centers, they could easily get a full time occupant instead of never knowing when your child will drop in and how many hours you will pay for. Good childcare is hard to find in Seattle (especially for an infant).
Contact childcare resources of King County (childcare.org) for referrals, maybe they can point you towards a center that specializes in flexible care.
Good luck.



answers from Columbus on

When we were looking for childcare, we needed it 2X per week. The only places that were willing to accommodate us where home-daycares.

I don't know if you have this in your area, but try Action For Children, which I think is a national organization. Or try your Jobs & Family Services office--they were able to provide me with a list of home daycares in/near my zip code, as well as daycare centers.

If you have friends through work/church or are friendly with moms in playgroups, as around there, too. I actually found our wonderful in-home daycare lady through church.

There's also a place called Mango's Place here (it might be a chain?) that basically has hour-by-hour babysitting, but it's in a daycare center type of setting. They aren't inexpensive, but if you just need a few hours here and there, it's good.



answers from Seattle on

There is a place in Issaquah that does drop-in care at a reasonable rate. I've never personally used it, but it would be a great solution for you. Not sure if there is one in Seattle though.




answers from Washington DC on

Just because you pay for 5 days of care doesn't mean that you have to send your child all 5 days, or even all day. The center that you are currently at should be that flexible.

I guess the goal is to save money on childcare. I honestly tho would keep the flexibility of the full time care so that when you have to work on unscheduled days, or plans change, or you just have a dr. appt. you don't have to worry about care.

To help, there is a link of childcare resources in WA.




answers from Denver on

in home daycare is likely your best bet.

I provide in home daycare for 2 families, and I am extremely flexible with them. They allow me the ability to stay home with my children- which is wha tI want to do. So, in exchange, I am willing to be flexible with days and hours.

If you opt for in home daycare you need to have a frank discussion on hours, rates, and flexibility. Understandably you want to save money on daycare costs, but the person providing the care needs some form of stability. I wouldn't allow 'drop in' in my situation because I rely on the money from my "sitting" to pay my bills.

another option could be drop-in daycare. there are several centers in my area that allow parents to purchase blocks of time. some are "free play" centers, and others offer more structured schedules. Look into that also. It may be more what would be best for your situation.

Good luck!

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