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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

6 Affordable Childcare Alternatives to Consider for Peace of Mind

{Image Credit: iStock}

{Image Credit: iStock}

Childcare solutions are an important aspect for working parents to consider, but between the nannies and numerous daycare centers, it’s an extremely expensive undertaking. Not to mention, all the searching and wondering can lead to a very stressful situation. How can you concentrate on work or even a day away from home if you’re constantly worried about your kids and their well-being?

A study for Child Care Aware of America suggests the average annual cost for an infant in the United States can range anywhere from $12,000 to $17,000, which is a lot when you consider everything in between from health to education. The advocacy group’s Executive Director, Dr. Lynette Fraga calls affordable childcare one of the most important investments we can make for our family’s welfare.

“Investments made when children are very young will generate returns that accrue over a child’s entire life,” she says. While the U.S. is still behind in easily accessible and affordable childcare as a national policy, there are alternatives to traditional daycare that can help you take the pressure of  your finances. And the best part is, you’ll love each one of them and find yourself a little less stressed.

Non-profit centers

Think outside the box when it comes to daycare centers, and consider churches, religious organizations or community centers like the YMCA. Drop-in programs offered by these organizations are not only a positive and fun environment supervised by a qualified daycare staff, but they also offer a ton of activities for kids to participate in. Additionally, they are the perfect backup daycare option when school is closed. When researching the right one for you, look into costs with accordance to your budget and consider membership if need be for a lower rate. Keep in mind, most centers provide care for children all the way from eight weeks to 8 years of age.

In-home daycare options

As one of the more affordable alternatives to traditional daycare, in-home daycare welcomes a friendly atmosphere and is a significant fraction of the price you’d spend on regular daycare. Considered more than just babysitting, this form of daycare boasts a more relaxed environment with a focused attention and care on children. Not to mention, offers fewer germs. However, you might not get everything you want in a daycare — but that’s all right. As long as you find a licensed provider with a safe, clean home and someone who really loves kids, you’re good to go. They might not have an education background in early childhood development, but that shouldn’t undermine their ability, especially if they have a good reputation, have established ground rules and a creative curriculum.

{Image Credit: iStock}

{Image Credit: iStock}

Keep it in the family

If you have a good relationship with your parents and siblings, and they just so happen to live nearby — this is a blessing and is one of the easier options. Not only do the children form a beautiful bond with their grandparents and spend quality time with them, but it saves you a ton of money. However, be mindful of their time and honest about your expectations. Additionally and depending on the situation and relationship with family members, you might feel the need to pay relatives for regular help. While some users online recommend offering to pay relatives for regular help, this is subjective to each family, their dynamic and culture.

Baby trade-off and co-ops

If you have a good relationship with your neighbors or friends, consider teaming up with parents to trade child care duties for what is known most often as a free solution. Whether you want to run errands solo or power through an afternoon of work that’s uninterrupted, swapping hours with another parent that you trust is a great solution and will save you a ton of money. Create a group and form a schedule, and then stick to it. It might not work on a daily basis, but if you’re looking for a babysitter to cover the weekly night out, this can be a great way to save money on babysitting. That said, you need to be fair and honest about it. Don’t take your arrangement for granted and set up a schedule that rotates effectively.

Share a babysitter

Also known as “sharecare,” sharing a babysitter can benefit everyone if planned correctly. Split the costs with another family and hire one babysitter to watch both of them in one home. They might have to be paid a higher rate, but splitting the cost will be much cheaper in the long run than if you pay on your own for one. Not only does this method bring about individualized attention in an environment the kids can feel more comfortable in, but the sharecare allows for peace of mind too.

Bring your baby to work

It’s not something every job allows, but some companies understand the value of family and include daycare options in their office. While they can be expensive to run, many companies are looking to them as a form of worker productivity, with the Wall Street Journal suggesting they pay off in employee morale and retention. If an employee needs to focus for a few hours on a high priority project, they can pop their child into the daycare area and literally get down to business. When your little one gets hungry and needs to nurse, daycare staff can call you over and you can get right back to it. As if that wasn’t the best part, you also wouldn’t need to leave the office early to pick up the kids because they’re already with you.

What alternatives to traditional daycare are you utilizing? Share with us in the comments below.

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