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:
Book a summer camp
Hire a summer nanny or sitter
Register for summer school
Form a summer pod or “sharecare”
Plan on a hodgepodge
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
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
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
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
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