With the ever-changing and dare say, unreliable, environment Australia is experiencing at the moment, it’s difficult to navigate everyday life, let alone childcare and work. They say, every day is a blessing, and now, I truly understand that feeling.
Without childcare, how do we manage work from home? How do we plan? Then the guilt! Should I feel guilty for not fulfilling my work commitments due to kid-disruptions or have the guilts’ for the kids being home and not giving them 100% of my attention? As a parent, this is one of the fundamental things in life you want to balance. So, let’s help you do that. Here are seven alternate options to childcare during COVID that you might not have considered to make sure you have consistent care to balance work & life.
Family daycare offers children from birth to 12 years of age an education and care option in small groups (up to 7 children), traditionally from the carer’s home or family learning environment. To find your nearest Family Daycare, just google Family Daycare in your suburb. Like Childcare Centres, there are strict regulations on this service and you can offset the fees through Childcare Subsidy. Family daycare providers operate various hours and some are 24 hours for shift workers. The option of taking older children is very helpful as you only need to arrange 1 person for all of your children. Just like Childcare Centres, they run a play based age appropriate curriculum. The only issue with Family Daycare is finding a provider with your preferred available hours. You do need to go hunting to find a good one but once you have one, their home becomes an extension of your home.
Nannies & nanny sharing
Nannies are considered to be In-home Carers, which are listed as essential workers falling under Health Care and Primary Care, so they are able to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia, you can expect to pay between $20-40 based on the Nanny’s experience. Investing in a nanny not only provides your children with care but the entire family. Nannies are generally qualified professionals that are skilled in child development. Meaning, you can rely on them to assist with homework and home-schooling, newborn care, creating a supportive environment for the family and more, on a long-term care basis.
Centre-based childcare but with perks
It’s understandable that alternate options might not be affordable or doable. Or, the loyalty you have to your childcare centre but uncertainty on whether to unenrol your child/ren. But what if you could offset the fees? We’re in and out of lockdown all around the country, with little notice and the debate on “how should or shouldn’t be charged”. As a legality, you, the parents, are liable for fees. Although, in many cases, childcare centres and the Government are offsetting fees. However, Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards is a new program that ensures that even if you are paying fees, you’re still being assisted. Families earn points for each dollar spent on childcare fees. The points are then eligible to be redeemed on everyday expenses such as groceries, fuel, entertainment and more.
Au pairs (living in your home)
Typically an au pair is a young, single person from overseas who wants to come to Australia to learn English and live as a member of an Australian family. Au pairs can be expected to do a combination of child care and light housework duties in exchange for board and a small allowance ($7 per hour). As the global crisis we currently face has paused International travel, Au pairs might be hard to come by but a very cost effective and reliable option if you can snag one.
Occasional, Flexible or Casual Care Services
Outside of school care hours are usually only available to children who are 5 – 13. These are typically run at school or through childcare centres. To entertain the children, they run either incursions or excursions. Personally, when they are doing excursions, I find that this is great value for money! There is no way I could entertain my child the whole day with the fees they charge. Companies are now offering child minding workshops etc. However, these are usually only for a few hours and quite expensive compared to the OCSH care services. Best way to find what is happening in your local area is to google vacation care in your local area. Keep an eye out at your local sporting associations as they often run sport clinics too.
The friends & family bubble
Friends and family can be a great, free option for care. During most lockdowns, there has been a “providing care” clause that allows for the care of children as a reason to leave your house. A great way to work together is to create a bubble and kidswap. Share the care between families – one household has the children one day, and the other family have them on another day. Be sure to adhere to the health and safety advice.
In-home care (babysitters)
A babysitter’s key task is to look after children, of all ages. However, they can also perform extra tasks and responsibilities which provides families flexibility and security for a daily routine. For example, coordinating pick ups and drop offs to activities, birthday parties, play dates etc. Some will even help with house chores to save you the hassle of cooking and cleaning after a long day too.
If you’re on a budget, a great way to share the cost is to share the care with another family. For multiple children, the hourly rate can slightly increase but you’ll still be better off. For a babysitter in Australia, you can expect to pay an average of $18.84 per hour.
Babysitters are a flexible option when needing short-term care on an adhoc basis. I find Kiddo App a great place to find a babysitter available in your area on demand. The best part about Kiddo App is that no one can advertise unless they have a valid Blue Card and Police Check. They also take care of the payment side too. It’s basically Uber for babysitters.
Stay up-to-date with the in-home care rules, and monitor any changes or new requirements through Government websites. The Department of Health and Safe Work Australia sites provide current information, and the Department’s Fact Sheet For In-home Care Workers and Guide for Home Care Providers detail ways to deliver normal, yet precautionary, in-home care at this time.