5 Popular Child Care Options for Summer

kids playing in fountain

Trying to figure out your child care options for summer, when it’s “yet another COVID summer”? Maybe you’re skeptical about booking camps after a ‘no-refunds’ fiasco last year, or you’re wondering how to plan child care around a summer trip. With a year of quarantining under our belts, we’re reviewing the pros and cons of the top 5 most popular summer child care solutions in 2021.

First, there are some general factors to consider:

  • Your schedule – Do you need full-time or part-time coverage and is it for the entire summer or certain weeks?
  • Your budget – According to a recent survey conducted by UrbanSitter, 30% of parents plan to spend $1000-$2999 on summer child care in 2021.
  • COVID-19 restrictions in your area – Check your local county website to find out what current restrictions are on child care where you live.

Next, you can start to evaluate the pros and cons of each of these 5 popular child care options for summer:

  1. Book a summer camp

  2. Summer camps come in all shapes and sizes, from half-day to full-day, completely virtual to sleep-away camps. These can be a great option for kids who want to explore a specific interest (art, dance, robotics, coding, nature, etc.). Because it’s summery weather, many camps can take place outdoors for safety, though COVID-19 did cause many camps to be canceled last year. There are lots of things to consider when choosing a camp including schedules, since many are only 1-3 weeks long and you may need to string together multiple camps to fill the summer.

    Pros: Variety of interests for kids, lots of scheduling options
    Cons: Possible cancellations, strict refund policies, limited openings

  3. Hire a summer nanny or sitter

  4. Hiring a summer nanny or sitter for full-time or part-time child care could be a great solution, especially now that caregivers are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in many counties. A summer nanny cares for your kids in your home according to the schedule and responsibilities you decide on, which may include outings, meal preparation, driving the kids, nap time, bath time and more. While a dedicated caregiver might cost more per hour than other solutions, you only pay for the hours you need and the cost does not double with each additional child as with camps or school. Not sure where to find a summer nanny? Try an online caregiver-finding service such as UrbanSitter.

    Pros: Dedicated caregiver, fits your schedule, no commute
    Cons: Must find/hire candidate yourself, cost depends on how many hours you need

  5. Register for summer school

  6. With so much of the 2020 school year preempted by COVID, many parents want their kids to make up for lost academic time with summer school. If your public school is not offering a summer session (virtual or in-person), many private schools are open and will accept outside students for the summer session. Keep in mind, if you decide on a virtual summer program, your child will likely still require adult supervision and help throughout the day.

    Pros: Affordable (when offered by public school), prevents “brain drain”
    Cons: Only covers school hours, virtual school still requires adult help

  7. Form a summer pod or “sharecare”

  8. As parents struggled with school closures in 2020, they started to form “pods” with a cohort of their trusted circle of family friends. Kids benefitted from having some socialization, while parents shared the cost of a caregiver to watch the pod a.k.a. “sharecare.” This summer, many parents are forming summer pods with their kids’ best friends and hiring a summer sitter with camp counselor experience to create their own backyard summer camp.

    Pros: Socialization, shared costs
    Cons: Management of pod & rules, not an option if you don’t have space for a pod in your home

  9. Plan on a hodgepodge

  10. If you’re a Type A parent, break out your spreadsheet and plan out the ultimate hodgepodge of the child care options at your disposal. For example, pair a series of half-day camps that your kids will love with a summer nanny to handle drop offs, pick ups, and the gap days between camps. Throw in a summer vacation and you’ll almost forget it’s another COVID summer.

    Pros: The exact schedule and activities you want
    Cons: Lots of planning required, expensive

    Did you find the solution that fits best with your family’s needs? Whatever you decide, we hope it will be your best (and safest) summer ever.

    Find a summer nanny or sitter now with UrbanSitter’s detailed caregiver search.

How to Prevent Summer Brain Drain? Let Kids Play!

The practice of giving kids a break from school during the summer started in the early 1900s. Doctors thought kids needed a reprieve from sitting still for long hours in a classroom, which they believed made them physically weak. Summer was the perfect time to set them free because classrooms became stifling hot. And because then like now, when the heat soared, those who could afford it abandoned cities for the shore.

Long gone, though, are the days when kids had three months of total freedom from schoolwork. In recent years, some schools have begun assigning more and more summer homework in response to research that shows that kids spend the first part of a new school year relearning what they’ve forgotten during vacation. But “summer brain drain” remains a hotly debated topic among parents and educators alike. Opinion is sharply divided about whether we should we stock up on workbooks and shell out big bucks for academic-driven camps to help keep kids’ skills sharp—or give kids some well-deserved time off after working hard for nine months. Turns out, the answer might lie somewhere in the middle.

“Kids deserve a break,” says Katie Willse, chief program officer at the National Summer Learning Association. “But they can and should be learning, too—in different places, different spaces, and in different ways than they do during the school year.”

She says it’s important to understand the academic loss that occurs while kids are away from school. Although it disproportionately affects lower income students who have unequal access to educational opportunities during the summer months (American Sociological Review 72, 2007) all kids, regardless of economic status, lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills while they are between grades. A lot of the loss has to do with what kids are doing during their summer break. Just as fitness levels and nutrition suffer from changes in structure and routine, so do academic skills.

Addressing the loss can be pretty simple—with camp. “Summer gives kids a chance to explore new topics and a chance to practice skills they already have,” says Willse. She suggests seeking out camps that offer exciting learning opportunities—such as digital media technology or computer programming—while also sharpening math skills. Local libraries and museums also often offer project-based learning opportunities and field trips that meet these criteria.

Additionally, Willse says parents can sneak in educational opportunities through family projects: involving older kids in remodeling the house by having them research, create supply lists, keep a budget, and manage a schedule; planting an edible garden; planning a family vacation using maps to plot distances and routes, and creating an agenda that accommodates the budget; and starting a family book club. “The goal is to show kids that learning is a life-long, interesting pursuit,” says Willse.

These learning opportunities minimize the chances that kids will spend the brunt of their summer vacation on mindless pursuits, like watching television and playing video games. But Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way for Parents, says that summer learning need not be so organized and purposeful. “There’s too much pressure on children—in school, in the loads of homework, and in the structured lessons their parents schedule,” she says. “If we pressure them to accomplish and to be perfect, it takes away much of the glee of childhood and pushes them to be an adult too soon.”

Cameron sees summer as a wonderful opportunity to give kids a breather, and “a chance to learn and expand at their own rate.” She advises parents to simply let their kids be bored. “Boredom is a tool to let children just be and to reach into their own psyches to find what speaks to them.” Parents merely provide the necessary raw materials: blocks and building tools, art supplies, dress-up clothes, plenty of books, and access to the outdoors. When kids complain that they don’t know what to do, says Cameron, tell them confidently, “You’ll think of something!”

Numerous studies show the importance of unstructured play. It not only positively impacts language development and builds social and physical skills, it also predicts academic success and mental health. “Through play, children develop the ability to become self-achievers and learners,” says David Whitebread, a developmental cognitive psychologist at Cambridge University. Kids develop the ability to think for themselves, control their impulses and emotions, organize tasks, problem solve, and learn from their experiences and mistakes. “Children in play are often setting themselves challenges—climbing a taller tree, riding faster on their skateboard—and through this they are learning their limits and regulating themselves,” says Whitebread. “There’s a decline in this unstructured play and a lack of opportunity for it,” he says. Summer is the time to catch up.

Whether your child’s playtime this summer is organized or self-initiated, all our experts are agreed that what’s really important is just that they stay engaged and learning—with an emphasis on fun.

Experts say kids deserve a break in summer


Here are few ideas for fun summertime activities from summerlearning.org that don’t necessarily feel like learning:

  • Tackle a fun cooking project, such as baking a cake. Shopping for ingredients, using coupons to determine discounts, reading a recipe, and measuring all sharpen math skills.
  • Volunteer at a local school, park, shelter, or soup kitchen to build life skills and compassion.
  •  Get creative juices flowing by making sock puppets or turning cardboard tubes into rockets.
  • Record memories and practice writing skills by keeping a summer journal. Kids can write about books they’re reading, new friends they’ve made, and fun trips you’ve taken as a family.
  •  Plant a window box or herb garden to promote healthy eating.

Photographs by UrbanSitter

How to inject Family Fun into a Summer of Work & Camp

four out of five of the miller & friedlander kids playing cards

Summertime, which we’d so love to think of as carefree fun-time, can too often be an extended period of regret for those working moms and dads who can take few vacation days to spend with the family. But do the post-school hot months necessarily have to translate into drudgery for kids, and a guilt-fest for parents?

Not in the slightest, say Lisa Friedlander and Ilene Miller, DC-area moms who are the founders of class- and camp-booking site Activity Rocket, and between them, parents to five kids. Fun for all might just start with an attitude adjustment: one that enables you to see the summer camp you might inevitably have to enroll your kids in as something exciting and enriching rather than an unfortunately necessity.

According to Miller—mom to sons Mark, age 13, and Max, age 10—“The beauty of summer is it gives kids the opportunity to do something new, that they don’t get exposed to in school, like Claymation camp, or rock band camp, for example,” she says. “But in our area, there are also kids who spend the summer at the community pool, taking swim lessons and being pool bums.” Either way, she says, when kids are happy and tired at the end of the day, that goes a long way toward minimizing parental guilt. Which makes for happier family time all around, when you do manage to wedge some in.

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate or expensive prospect, Miller maintains. “I really value the longer days in the summertime, when the kids can stay up later,” she says. “My husband, Craig, and I try to spend a lot of unstructured family time in the evenings with them. We can barbecue outside, have family tournaments that can last the whole weekend—the kids are huge card sharks. We just get back to basics.”

The basics certainly extend to weekends, when camp and work are finished for the week. Says Miller, “We’re so lucky that in the DC area, we have hiking trails, and a lot of rivers that are accessible to us within 10 minutes, that we can kayak on with the kids.” She’s also a big proponent of finding community events, most of which are free. “In the Potomac area, we’ve got all the Smithsonian museums, book fairs, concerts in the parks, festivals—often they have no admission and the only money we’ll spend is on food once we get there.”

Friedlander and family spend weekends at a river house on the Chesapeake (if you don’t have your own, make friends with someone who does, she jokes!). “It’s very much no screens, no electronics, a lot of time spent tubing and water skiing and playing beach tennis and fishing and crabbing the old-fashioned way, with a piece of chicken tied to a rope.” With her oldest child, Jaclyn, age 14, set to head off to sleepaway camp for the entire summer, she says she’s also relishing the opportunity to spend a bit of quality time with Cole, age 11, and Camryn, age 9. As well as taking her own breather from the usual grind. “Those eight weeks of summer go by so fast, it’s important to give yourself a little bit of a break,” she says. “Whether that means not cooking every night, or not cleaning up every day, or just enjoying a walk around the neighborhood—things you wouldn’t do on a regular basis. Just slow down and enjoy the pace of summer.”

Also critical for Miller, “I need time with my husband, too, whether or not the kids are away. We’ll take a picnic and a bottle of wine somewhere, and focus on our time alone.”

But absolutely the biggest opportunity afforded even to working parents and camp kids in the summer: the fabulousness of being outside. “We get really active,” says Friedlander. “We have swimming races, and we bought a Kanjam—literally a Frisbee you throw into a slot, a team game that’s tons of fun; we all love it.”

Says Miller, “Friends helped us build a Gaga pit, which is Israeli dodge ball in a confined space. On weekends we’ll have friends over and sometimes it’s just adults in there. It’s a great way to be outside, get competitive, and work out a little aggression.” Let the summer games begin!

Lynn Johnson is Empowering Girls Through Go Girl! Theater Camps

By Dawn Van Osdell

This summer across the Bay Area, Lynn Johnson will be spreading a compassion revolution. You won’t find her holding up protest signs or rallying for her cause. Instead, you’ll see her on- and backstage with the more than 600 young girls aged 6 to 14 who are enrolled in her two-week Go Girl! theater camps, held everywhere from Palo Alto and Sonoma to the East Bay.

As co-founder and CEO of Glitter & Razz Productions, the company behind Go Girl! Camps, Johnson, along with her life and business partner, Allison Kenny, strives to bolster these girls’ social and emotional skills and embrace their “girl power” through the creation of their own plays—writing them, creating sets and costumes, and ultimately performing them before an audience. Many of these girls have never before set foot on a stage.

“We help girls develop skills they need to love and respect themselves, to keep themselves safe, to be more empathetic of others, and to make bold and brave choices in their lives,” says Johnson. To do this, she aims to help them to understand and embrace their often confusing, sometimes negative feelings; and appreciate their differences—all qualities and skills Johnson believes will address the compassion deficit she sees in the world. By extension, she hopes to help girls avoid disruptive behaviors, like bullying; and ward off anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders that are often the effects of low esteem.

Lynn Johnson, co-founder of Go Girls! Camps

The power of theater to do this may seem anathema to some but it’s always been apparent to Johnson, a self-described drama geek since age 5. She moved around the Northeast with her parents before settling outside of Boston when she was in the eighth grade. One of only a few African-American students in her new town, she quickly learned what it meant to be different. But she was always at home on the stage, having acted in her first play, called “The Dollmaker’s Shop,” when she was in the first grade; and she found that theater was a way to celebrate differences and to build a better sense of belonging.  “Theater gave me a way to fit in and be part of a peaceful community when I felt like an outsider in every other aspect of my life,” she says. Throughout her school years, she continued to embrace the power of theater “to transform lives,” and has been committed to it ever since.

After studying theater and women’s studies at Northwestern University, Johnson founded a multicultural teen ensemble in Chicago— TurnStyle Teen Theatre—and also performed stories and poems written by children as part of a national tour company called StreetSigns. When the director moved the company to North Carolina, Johnson moved, too. For three years she directed community-based educational programs in Chapel Hill while continuing to perform, until she developed an itch to live in a more urban environment; and she headed west in 2002. “A lot of my friends were moving to Los Angeles, and I thought I’d go, too,” she says. But her plan was derailed when, instead, she took a job teaching summer theater camp in Northern California to be near her brother and sister-in-law, who had just become first-time parents—and met Kenny, a fellow teacher and actor. “She and I fell in love, practically at first sight, and I moved to San Francisco to be with her,” says Johnson.

Eager to continue her work with kids, Johnson worked as a trainer for the Bay Area non-profit, Community Network for Youth Development (CNYD), advising on youth programs in San Francisco while continuing to teach theater with Kenny. With little more than shared experience and a passion for improving young lives, the couple decided to venture out on their own and in 2003 created Glitter & Razz Productions LLC, a theater production company aimed at social change. “We wanted to focus on the impact theater can have on kids, to see what would happen if we helped kids create plays and put themselves in them,” Johnson says. They didn’t need much money to get the company started—they ran it out of their home. Johnson relied on non-profit consulting work and organizational coaching workshops to keep the business afloat, while she taught herself how to run and grow a business. In 2007, the couple moved the company to Berkeley, then again to Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, where they settled in and became a community center of sorts. They offered summer camps and programming after-school and during school breaks; and they also hosted birthday parties.  “We were women artists who wanted to give kids a connection to each other,” says Johnson.

“We help girls develop skills they need to love and respect themselves, to keep themselves safe, to be more empathetic of others, and to make bold and brave choices in their lives.”
— Lynn Johnson

They also wanted to create something that would bring financial security. Glitter and Razz was popular, but not lucrative. To stay afloat, they shifted their focus to the most successful, most passion-centric part of their business: their two-week summer camp for girls. “We needed to prune the roses,” says Johnson. “We had a social mission and when we focused on the part we were most passionate about, our business grew.”

It was clearly the right move. Johnson and Kenny have steadily added locations for Go Girl! Camps, which now totals seven; and they saw their enrollment double in the last year alone. ”There’s a real need for social change,” says Johnson. “We care so much and we see our camps truly changing girls, changing their lives.” This year, they’re partnering with Camp Reel Stories, a popular media camp for teens, to offer a more advanced, behind-the-scenes program aimed at tween and teen girls. This program gives rising fifth and sixth grade girls a chance to produce, direct, edit, and star in their own short films. They also offer a Go Girl! Leadership Team, giving rising seventh, eight and ninth graders an opportunity to mentor younger camp participants, fostering their leadership skills and becoming effective role models for younger girls.

 Go Girl! Campers take the stage in camps across the Bay Area. Photo by glitter & razz Productions, llc.

Last fall, in the midst of planning for their biggest camp season ever, Johnson and Kenny became parents to a 6-year-old girl they are in the process of adopting. Johnson admits that the uncertainty of business ownership can be especially stressful for a parent, but says that parenting has made her a bolder businesswoman and conversely, entrepreneurship has made her a better parent. “The skills and the confidence you develop when you build something help you in all of life, including parenting,” she says. “They give you a sense of worth that is so empowering. “ Turns out, Go Girls! Camp, isn’t just about boosting confidence in young girls, but in its founder, too. “I wish every woman could start a business, build something that belongs to them,” says Johnson. “It’s amazing and truly empowering to do what you believe in.”

Lynn Johnson takes a break in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Park. This summer she’ll welcome more than 600 girls to her Go Girls! Theater Camps.

For more information on Go Girl! Theater Camp, visit Gogirlscamp.com.

Photographs by Matt Mimiaga/stage photo courtesy of Go Girls! Camps

6 Must-Pack Must-Haves for Your Sleepaway Camper

By Julie Cole

If you’re sending your kids to sleepaway camp this summer, you’ve probably already received the standard camp packing list. But there are a few other essentials that probably didn’t make it onto that list, that newby campers especially will be thrilled to have on hand.

1. Glow Bracelets. These are a great solution for campers who are afraid of the dark—and that can include tweens as well as younger children. Once it’s “lights out” in the bunk, some kids may be left a bit afraid. Send them off with a pack of 50 (just to be on the safe side! And also to provide enough to share). They’re bright enough to give comfort, without being so bright that they’ll bother light-sensitive bunkmates.

2. Spare sleeping bag. Do you have a bed wetter? Camps can actually set up an arrangement that will ensure your child’s privacy around this issue—if you give them some advance warning. Send your child off with two identical sleeping bags, one of which will be kept in the camp office. Each morning when campers head off for breakfast, a staff member can inspect the sleeping bag that’s on your child’s bed. If there’s been an accident, he can replace the wet bag with the dry one. It’s a simple and respectful solution to a potentially embarrassing issue.

3. A notebook. Pack a special notebook that your camper can use at the end of the summer, for jotting down the contact details for new camp friends, and for collecting autographs and messages. This makes a tangible souvenir that your child will enjoy using and reminiscing over for years to come.

4. Spare glasses and/or contact lenses. Yes, these things have a tendency to get lost or misplaced for prolonged periods, and since camps can’t rush your kid out to the nearest optometrist for replacements, spares are the obvious solution. Also be sure to get your kid’s eyes checked before she leaves for camp, so she can enjoy her time away with the clearest possible vision.

5. A headlamp. If you have a kid who likes to read in bed, a headlamp beats any old flashlight by providing hands-free light for your little page-turner. It’s easier to focus on the words on the page if she’s not trying to hold a flashlight at the same time. And it’s a whole lot cooler than your average book light. Spelunking, anyone?

6. Odds and Sods. Don’t forget the bits and pieces that kids think they won’t need at camp—until they get there: nail clippers, safety pins, sticky tape, craft supplies, and a deck of cards. These will come in handy more often than you know!

Julie Cole is a co-founding Mom entrepreneur of Mabel’s Labels Inc. and the mother of six.

Summertime Siblings: What’ll It Take to Stop the Bickering?

by Lela Nargi

You’ve spent the better part of the school year taking deep, cleansing breaths as your kids nagged and picked at each other. You sipped (or guzzled) wine in a search for calm as they battled for supremacy over who would get the coveted first shower after soccer practice. You intervened gently—and sometimes not so gently—as they attempted to strangle each other on the living room floor. And now summer is almost upon you: two months in which you hope against hope for peace and quiet and tolerance. Can it be done? Do you dare to dream? And what’s it going to take to get there?

The answer might very well be signing your kids up for separate camp activities—even if it means extra time and effort on your part to shuttle them around. “In an ideal world,” says Kimberly Lemke, a Chicago-based licensed clinical psychologist specializing in children and adolescents and author of I Just Don’t Get My Parents’ Rules, “you’ll put them onto a summer sports team together and they’ll become the best of friends. In reality, that’s not how it goes. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself what each child needs.”

Siblings fight for all kinds of reasons, a big one of which is to assert their individuality. For example, says Lemke, “You might have one child who has self-esteem issues, who compares herself to her sibling and says, ‘She’s always better, I’m going to fail.’” This, she maintains, is a perfect example of when siblings might benefit from time spent apart. “It limits comparisons,” she says, and as a result, conflict. Which in turn leads to less stress for you.

Separating kids in the summertime can lead to enhanced self-esteem in more ways than one. Lemke, who is mother to 4-1/2 year old twins who are always together in school and afterschool classes—and actually like it that way—concedes that sometimes, it’s better to push kids to do things away from each other. “It can be uncomfortable for them to be separated, but a little anxiety is good,” she says. “It lets them practice social skills rather than parenting each other.” But she also warns that separating kids who really want to be together can lead to a power struggle, between them and you.

In this instance, it’s important to let children know the situation is temporary—one month spent apart doing separate activities they’re each good at or have expressed interest in, one month together. “This is a more manageable strategy than just forcing them to do things without each other,” says Lemke. “Tell them, ‘I think it’s wonderful for you to want to share your time with your brother. And I also think this art class looks really cool. Let’s give it a shot, then we can go back to doing something together.’”

Got kids who squabble but don’t have the time or energy to split them up? It’s not always necessary. Some scuffling siblings know inherently what they like and are good at and fight, not for validation, but to get your attention, for example. Remove you from the equation and the squabbling becomes a non-issue, which means kids like these can benefit from being signed up for the same activity—and you score a carefree, one drop-off suits all scenario. Says Lemke, “Individual players know how to engage on their own, and how to enjoy activities on their own. So when you sign them up together,” they’re perfectly comfortable going off to their separate corners to read or talk to other kids. When group activities force them together, without you around they can learn to problem-solve their own conflicts, and this “actually helps to build their relationship,” says Lemke.

Don’t expect the miracle of temporary sibling detente to seep into the pre- and post-camp hours, though; as soon as you and your partner are back in the picture, conflicts are likely to rear up all over again. To counteract this, Los Angeles mom Abbie Schiller, founder of the parenting site The Mother Company, which produces The Siblings Show, recommends attempting to minimize power struggles before they even get off the ground. And to figure out what role you might be unconsciously playing that keeps them going. “One of the things our generation was told was that our parents loved us the same,” Schiller says. “That’s a mixed message. Children are inherently different and when you tell them you love them the same, you set them up to constantly try to catch their parent in an inequity: ‘You gave him two hugs!’ But if you set it up that you love them differently, they stop looking for a-tit-for-a-tat; you eliminate competition.”

Lemke says you can downplay siblings’ inherent competitiveness by getting them to work together to reach a common objective. Each time you see them engage appropriately in a shared activity, reward them with something like a marble. After they’ve accumulated 20 marbles, the whole family gets to go out for a special dinner, or a trip to a water park. “Having a goal helps you direct their behavior, rather than just crossing your fingers they’ll act appropriately,” says Lemke. “But I tell parents, for this to be successful, they’re going to have to be very creative and catch the small behaviors. If your kids are walking through the door screaming at each other but one holds the door for the other, and the other one walks through calmly, ignore for a moment the bickering and say, ‘That was really kind of you to hold the door for your brother like that, and great job walking through the door without shoving.’ Once you start rewarding them both, they realize they can get attention that way, and they have a common mission.”

Much as you might all desire it, working parents don’t always have the luxury of taking time off in the summer months. But this doesn’t mean quality family time is out of the question. Says Schiller, after a day of work and camp, “You can combat the attention needs of your kids by giving them special time as often as possible.” Adds Lemke, five minutes of concerted, present time without you checking your phone for messages, is preferable to 20 minutes of distracted time. Let your child decide how to use your minutes together—snuggling, reading a book, doing a puzzle; then do the same for your other children. Says Schiller, “This makes them feel secure and lets them know you have enough love in your heart to go around.”

Lemke asserts, those concentrated minutes of together time will really add up: to a summer in which each child is reinforced, and reassured, and successful—positive feelings that will hopefully see you well past Labor Day, into autumn and beyond.

Photograph via Creative Commons

How to Line Up Summer Childcare Help

UrbanSitter babysitter

The typical school-age child has 10 weeks of summer vacation. That’s at least 70 full days with you or another caregiver–be it a daycare provider, camp counselor, nanny, babysitter, family, or a friend. Regardless of your family’s regular schedule, it’s likely you could use a bit of additional childcare this summer. Now is the time to think about lining up your summer childcare help, here are a few options to get you started:

Summer Camps

Summer camp doesn’t have to mean an entire summer away from home. A week or more of ½-day soccer, gymnastics, or swim/tennis camp could be just what both you and the kids need to make it a fabulous summer. If you haven’t already registered your kids for summer camps or maybe you thought camp didn’t fit the budget this year, be sure to check out our earlier post –Tips for Choosing Summer Camps for Your Kids.  We’ve included links to help find affordable mini- and day-camp options for your kids, and provided tips for choosing camps that give you the most bangs for your buck.

Regularly Scheduled Babysitters

If you don’t have your kids in a camp or daycare, you’ll definitely need a break, and so will your kids. Shake things up by hiring a regularly scheduled sitter to babysit a couple mornings every week while you run errands, hit the gym, do a bit of housework or simply relax child-free. Many parents who have an infant and older kids, find it helpful to hire a sitter to stay with the baby while he naps and they spend some quality time with the older siblings, or the flip side – they have the sitter take the big kids somewhere fun, while you get things done at home when the baby’s asleep.

How do you find these sanity-saving sitters? Reach out now to find local college or high-school students or neighborhood mother’s helpers.

  • College students typically have some babysitting experience and are hungry to earn extra money. Students at nearby schools or locals who are home for summer break are especially good options. Expect to pay what you would pay a seasoned babysitter, and be sure to get a commitment well before summer break starts as their time is likely in high demand.
  • High school sitters, though less experienced, are often in the eyes of your child the most fun and energetic sitters. For those who have little experience with kids, plan to have them play with your children for a short time while you’re at home, or cover for you while you make a quick run to the grocery store until you are both comfortable with you leaving them alone. Negotiate hourly rates based on experience.
  • Mother’s Helpers are typically teens looking to get babysitting experience and earn a bit of money. Many start offering their help after completing a local babysitting or CPR course aimed at preparing them for potential childcare emergencies. Regardless, it’s best to leverage them as fun-loving, responsible kids to help out while you’re at home. Hourly rates are far less. Talk with the helpers or their parents to determine a rate that’s fair.

Your Go-To Source for Trusty Babysitters, Whenever the Need Strikes

UrbanSitter, of course! With the UrbanSitter mobile app, you can find and book a sitter on the go, and even have a confirmed sitter within minutes.

  • See which babysitters are recommended personally by parents in your local network (friends, parents at your child’s school, YMCA, mother’s clubs, etc.).
  • Need a Monday-Wednesday afternoon sitter or someone to drop the kids off at camp? Post a job and sitters will apply if they’re interested.
  • Schedule interviews online and even screen sitters beforehand by watching their video profiles!
  • Did you know the site even has a feature that allows you to shop by rate? Yep, you can search for a babysitter with the best rate, one that fits your budget.

You can rest assured there’s always a fantastic sitter ready to take your kids off your hands for a bit, whether it to entertain them at home, take them on a fun field trip, or even just take over carpool duty.

Regardless of your family’s summer agenda, don’t forget to include extra childcare in your plans!

5 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Kids

summer camp

Options are seemingly endless for summer day camps and mini-camps for kids as young as toddlers. With camp registrations underway and deadlines quickly approaching, it’s tempting to jump at the first cool camp you come across, just to make sure you secure a spot.

Do yourself and your kids a favor by taking a few minutes to consider these 5 factors before you choose. Not only will it make it easier to decide which works best for your child and your family, it’ll save you a whole lot of money!

Things to consider:

1. Is your child happiest indoors or outside?

Sending a homebody, who finds Zen in the A/C with a stash of art supplies, to “tough it out” in the Great Outdoors might make for (at the very least) unpleasant drop-offs for you both. For years to come, you’ll hear about the number of mosquito bites she suffered! The reverse is just as true. Some kids would choose to be outside even in the dead of winter. If one of them belongs to you, indoor camp probably isn’t the best bang for your buck.

2. Your child’s interests.

It might be obvious that a week of karate isn’t a fit for your princess, but give some thought to whether your child would have more fun with active play or something quieter. Traditional summer camps and sports camps are great for burning energy, but some kids have more fun with more low-key activities, such as crafting, science, learning a foreign language, music or cooking. If you want to get them moving indoors, check out local options for dance, gymnastics/tumbling or theater. Need something to satisfy the child who loves trying new things, check out this list of really cool, not-so-ordinary camp options for NYC area families. Even if you don’t live in NYC, the list might give you a few options to look at finding close to home. You’ll score big points with your adventure-lover.

3. Your schedule.

Little kid summer camps seem to fall into one of a few scheduling categories: they provide all-day care for your child, are a half-day option (mornings or afternoons), or are designed to cover the time after school or daycare and before you get home from work. Decide which you need, and if you have some flexibility with the decision, think about what works best for your child. Will naptime be affected? Is a full day away from home a bit too much for his attention span and stamina?

4. Can you recruit a friend to join and carpool?

Most kids are thrilled to have a buddy join them at camp. It makes it infinitely more fun. And it’s wonderful to have another parent or sitter to share the carpooling. If your car is big enough or you can manage multiple children on public transportation, get a handful of kids to go together. Better yet, coordinate with your pals to book a babysitter who can take care of transportation for the whole group.

5. Cost.

We all knew kids aren’t cheap, but who knew summer camps are so dang expensive!? Yikes! Unless your budget is endless, you need to factor costs into your decision before sending your four-year-old to a few weeks of half-day camps that amounts to the cost of a really great get-away weekend with your spouse. If you’re looking at full-day options for the entire summer, the decision is even costlier. Costs in the SF Bay Area are roughly $5,000 for a 10-week program.

If you’ve given these factors thought and decided summer camp might not work this year, why not hire a babysitter to entertain the kids and give you a regularly scheduled break? There are plenty who would love to help you – log onto UrbanSitter.