Finding Child Care When You Don't Work 9 to 5

Child Care Solutions Are Not Keeping up With Changing Workforce Hours

Pre School Girl learning.

Scott Quinn Photography/Getty Images

It's hard enough to find quality childcare when you work traditional weekday hours. But according to a 2014 survey by the National Study of Employers, there is a decline in the management of companies awarding flexible work arrangements and more and more employees have to deal with rotating shifts, required overtime, evening hours, and out of town travel. Finding childcare to cover these non-traditional work schedules can be very difficult for many parents.

Child Care Options for Unconventional Work Hours

Problems in finding quality child care when working odd hours aren't limited to parents who need to work more hours. Parents who opt to have one family member work part-time, for example, may find that childcare is either more expensive (offsetting the value of part-time work) or it is unreliable. Many daycare centers can't guarantee children a spot on a part-time or on-call basis due to tight child-adult ratio mandates and a child enrolled full-time provides a better profit and more stability than one who is there only on occasion.

Alternative childcare is on the rise, but mostly in larger communities, and the cost does not come cheap. Options such as drop-in child care can help a parent who has a "mandatory" meeting, but these options don't address late night shifts or business travel. In-home providers are an option, but many families don't want or can't afford to have a nanny, au pair, or even hourly babysitting in their home. It is a dilemma that is causing economic strain and emotional stress within families.

Listed below are nine things you can do to secure child care services that work for your family and your untraditional work hours:

Ask Your Employer for Child Care Assistance

If your boss is asking you to take a business trip or work extra hours, be upfront in explaining your dilemma and ask about employee child care assistance. Maybe they will offer to pay for extra time or help to negotiate a great rate that you might not otherwise have received.

Some employers offer "family stipends" to help out with business travel or extended hours. A growing number of employers are even creating their own corporate daycare to help parents in similar situations where nontraditional care may be needed.

Seek out a College Student

Since most students take their courses in the morning or even stack classes into either a Monday-Wednesday-Friday or a Tuesday-Thursday schedule, it's possible to find a caring individual who can watch your kids in your home when not in school. While the hours may change slightly by semester, you can have consistent, reliable care if you are willing to put in some work up front to find the right fit for your family. Most colleges even have job boards where you can advertise the days needed and rate you're willing to pay.

Offer Perks to Make up for Lack of Consistent Hours

If you're only needing a responsible babysitter to safely watch your child but don't require all the other needs such as enrichment or pre-school prep, then offer some perks to make a variable schedule worthwhile. Giving time to complete their homework, providing dinner, or even free movie rentals can entice a qualified teen.

Sometimes, your biggest need may be to have someone transport your child to after-school lessons or organized sports and stay during practice. That gives a babysitter free time during practice times, and you can sweeten the offer by paying for gas and offering a free oil change or car wash on occasion.

Create a Nanny Share

Nanny shares or splits are great cost-saving options. If you need a nanny for certain hours and another family needs one for different hours, pool your efforts and time to create a win-win situation. A nanny may get paid slightly more for the dual role (two sets of kids, even at different times, still requires more effort), but both families will benefit. Just remember that you can't encroach on the other family's time.

A possible downside is when one of you loves your nanny or schedule and the other doesn't, so the best arrangements are made with good friends who have similar expectations. Contact a nanny agency for a good starting point.

Ask Your Daycare for References

Just because a traditional family provider or daycare operator doesn't offer extended hours doesn't mean they don't know one who will. Ask around for recommendations. Consider asking a provider/center you are already familiar with if they'll consider adding one evening each month or occasional weekend work. You may find providers have ideas or solutions you have never considered.

Babysitter Swap or Co-Op

A babysitter swap or coop is a great and reliable way to get someone to watch your kid for free. Perhaps you can swap care with a friend or neighbor, where they watch your child on a night that you have to work, and in exchange, you watch her kids on Friday night for a kid-free date night! No money is actually exchanged, and both families benefit.

Find a Co-Working Space

For parents who don't work 9am-5pm, co-working spaces that offer childcare provide the benefits of a community work environment, where parents can share workspaces with like-minded adults engaging in work, while also getting the benefit of high-quality childcare. 

Try Drop-In Child Care

While hourly rates at these types of daycares tend to be higher, a confirmed customer on a set schedule may mean that the daycare is willing to lower rates. Some families who are consistent users of such facilities say that they end up getting as good of a deal by setting up a monthly schedule based on work requirements. 

Use Family Members as Babysitters

Many families ask their parents or relatives to lend a hand in child care. Most are all-too-happy to do so. Just be careful to not overburden them or become too critical of their help! Be prepared to negotiate pay with family members willing to watch your child, as that may sweeten the deal enough for them while you get consistent, loving care for your child during non-traditional working hours.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
  • Matos, Kenneth, and Ellen Galinsky (2014). National study of employers. New York, NY: Families and Work Institute.