No matter how prepared you are, it’s bound to happen sooner or later – you need childcare and you need it now, and all of your usual stand-bys aren’t available. Whether it’s because of a big meeting at work, car trouble, or a doctor’s appointment that will require your full attention, what it really boils down to is that Baby will need someone else to care for them. Certainly, a trusted babysitter or family member is the best option, but when your usual choices fall through, it can be helpful to have a few backup plans in mind.
Resources at hand
When you’re in a bind, try looking close to home. If you’re lucky enough to live in a close-knit community full of people who you trust, you may find it useful to turn to a friendly neighbor for help – the people who invite you to their summer barbecues and pizza nights might be willing to help you out when you need a backup. Of course, it’s ideal to have already discussed whether they’re comfortable being a backup care provider before anything comes up, but if you haven’t had the chance yet, at least your neighbor is nearby, and you can ask them pretty quickly.
Friends in the same boat
No one understands the panic of needing last-minute childcare as well as another parent – and maybe unlike your neighbor, you know other parents are used to taking care of active toddlers. The parents in your preschool, daycare or playgroup can be a wonderful resource – you may be called on the return the favor now and then, but getting a babysitting trade set up can be a great way to help Baby socialize and get a little extra time to yourself now and then, as a bonus. Even if your first choice of parent-sitter isn’t around for the specific time when you need help, they may have a suggestion for someone else to try, or may even provide you with the number for a tried and trusted sitter.
When your social circle is tapped out, there still may be other, more professional options for last-minute childcare. Some communities have drop-in daycare facilities that accept last minute arrangements. Again, it is best to find these facilities before you actually need them, as there can be paperwork to fill out before the services can be utilized. Additionally, this type of care will only be helpful during the week and often during regular business hours.
One more resource for beginning a relationship with an occasional sitter is the town library. Children’s librarians develop relationships with the children in the community and might know of responsible teenagers who can be trusted to care for children. Developing relationships with the librarians can help you with more than books!
Finally, there are professional back-up care organizations that are wonderful options if family, friends, and neighbors are not a choice for you. They are used to fielding calls from frantic parents, but these services are often associated with work-places, so check with your human resources department to see if they have a relationship with a resource like this.