How to Find Emergency Childcare: A Simple Guide

By Alicia Geigel on February 12, 2024

We have all been there. A situation arises that is out of our control and leaves us in a difficult predicament. As a parent, coordinating schedules and balancing time between work, school, play dates, sports, and other activities can be a struggle. When a scheduling conflict occurs, or when your babysitter calls in sick or has a day off that you may have forgotten about, you’re in a tough spot that requires you to think on your feet and find a trustworthy person to take care of your children.

Finding emergency childcare isn’t incredibly difficult, but it can take a bit of time to secure someone in a pinch. If you are a parent looking for advice on how to find emergency childcare, continue reading for six easy tips to help get you out of a stressful situation.

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1. Try to Coordinate Your Schedule First: Easier said than done, understandably. If you are without childcare because an unexpected meeting popped up at work, a terrible accident has kept you in bumper-to-bumper traffic, your babysitter plans have fallen through, etc., try to work around this in any way you can on your own before considering other outside sources. If your boss has asked for an impromptu work meeting after normal work hours conclude, ask them if it is possible for you to catch up on the meeting topics the following day or engage in the meeting from home via Zoom, Google Duo, etc. Some things, like traffic or a babysitter failing to show up for whatever reason, are out of your control and cannot be handled by coordinating your schedule. In this case, your next best step is to weigh outside sources, starting with friends and family.

2. Consult Friends and Family: When you’re in a pinch that requires a trusted individual to take care of your kids, it doesn’t hurt to consult your friends and family. Family members that are close by, like your parents or brother or sister, are great options, as you know them very well and they can likely swing by in the case of an emergency. Friends, in a similar regard, can also serve as emergency babysitters, as they are people who are close in your circle and likely know your children. It goes without saying that sometimes even our closest friends and family can be too busy to take care of your children in a pinch, so in the case that you cannot secure a friend or family member, move on to a trusted neighbor. Be sure to offer money or something nice, like takeout, to compensate them for their time. Just because they are family or close friends doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be valued!

3. Ask a Neighbor:  If you live in a neighborhood where you are in regular communication with your neighbors and your kids are comfortable with your neighbors, consider reaching out to your neighbor to look after your kids until you can make it home. Give your neighbor a rundown of everything that they should know about caring for your child or children, such as their normal routine around the specified time of day, meals and snacks they can eat, activities they can do, etc. Offer your neighbor money for their time and give them a thank-you note for fulfilling the needed role at the last minute.

4. See If You Can “Share” a Babysitter or Nanny: The idea of “sharing” a babysitter or nanny may seem a bit odd, but if your friend or family member has a nanny who is currently looking after their children, ask them (and the babysitter or nanny) if it is possible to drop off your children or have your children picked up, and have them look after your kids while you are occupied. Like in other last-minute babysitting situations, pay the babysitter or nanny their basic rate and add some extra pay to what you give them to show your appreciation for their flexibility.

5. Look For Last-Minute Babysitters or Emergency Childcare Options: If all else fails, there are last-minute and emergency childcare options that can help you in a pinch. Sites like Wyndy can match you with a last-minute, on-call babysitter who has been thoroughly background-checked and screened by professionals. The rates for last-minute babysitters can vary depending on your urgency, location, and the service you use.

6. Set Up a Back-Up Babysitter: To avoid a stressful situation like this in the future, set up a backup babysitter to have in your back pocket. According to Babysits, “A backup babysitter is similar to an on-call babysitter or nanny. In this case, it is a babysitter whom you’ve informed that you will use as a backup for your regular childcare option, and they understand that they are on your shortlist as a potential if your regular care falls through.”

Finding emergency childcare can be stressful. Whether it is a friend, family member, neighbor, or babysitter you hire through an online service, you can definitely find an option that can work for your specific situation.

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