For single parents, it can be hard to juggle work and family time during the summertime. When your children are off for the summer, parents must make decisions on how to occupy their children’s time while they are at work. For many parents, childcare costs are too expensive and for young children, there are not many camps or activity centers for them to spend their days. It can be challenging and frustrating for single parents to find childcare that works for their schedules and is also in the budget.
How Can I Plan Ahead?
Summer break can sneak up on you and can cause panic to ensue if you do not have arrangements for childcare. If you are able to, save up vacation days and sick time to spend with your children during the summer. This allows you to spend time with your children and have days to take off if your children need to stay home from their day care or camp.
Also, if you know that childcare will be expensive during the summer, save money from each paycheck to go towards summer activities and expenses. If childcare is absolutely not in the budget, have a conversation with your boss about working from home or changing your schedule to be home with your children.
Ask Other Parents for Advice
Start approaching other parents about what they have planned during the summer months. They may be able to give you insight on less expensive day care options. Do not be afraid to ask stay-at-home parents if they can help watch your children. Suggest a payment plan to help with costs and offer to watch their children on nights or weekends during the school year.
Support from Friends and Family
During the summer, it may be an option to rely on your friends and family to support you if you need help. Single parents have a lot to take on, and there is no shame in asking for their assistance with your children. Offer to compensate them for food and activities if a friend chooses to take care of your children. This will still be less expensive than camp and cause less stress over who your children are with.
Also, children get excited when they have the chance to spend time with grandparents and other family members. If you have parents or siblings that love kids and want to help, allow them to take your children for a few days to cut back on costs.
Siblings and Teens
During the summer, high school students are often looking to make extra money. If you are a working parent, consider hiring a student to watch your kids during the day. Make sure to hire a student who is responsible and is trained in taking care of children. It can be helpful to ask other parents and teachers for recommendations. If you have older children, ask them to help you out during the day for a competitive payment. This way you are leaving your younger ones with someone that you trust.
Should I Enroll my Kids in Local Programs?
Before summer starts, do your research to see if your community offers any low-cost programs for children. The YMCA is known for offering affordable day camps that run into the late evening. There may be other programs that offer financial help or other ways to help you pay for the cost of the programs. Many theater camps and summer stage series offer payment deductions to parents who help out with the programs. You may be able to work a snack table or usher at different shows to put in your time and receive lower costs.
Can my Children Stay Home Alone?
If your children are old enough and responsible enough to stay home alone, this is always an option for them during the summer. Make sure you have a talk with your children about how they feel about staying home alone and what concerns they may have.
Ensure that they know emergency protocols and a number where you can always be reached. Also, make a list of activities that they can do in the house other than just television and video games. Summer should be a month of outdoor stimulation rather than inside activities.
If you feel comfortable, buy season passes to a community pool and organize a carpool so your children can be outside and on their own. If you ask your children to do chores around the house, create a list of incentives, including a trip to get ice cream or a sleepover with their friends. Give your children something to look forward to, like a trip or special event to encourage good behavior and responsibility.
How Should I Spend Time with my Kids?
If you are a single parent who has to work, try and take some time out of your work schedule to spend time with your children. If you are able to take off work, spend a full day with your children, doing all of their favorite activities. If time off is not possible, plan a dinner at their favorite restaurant or take them to play miniature golf. The small things make the biggest difference in the lives of children and spending time with them will help you maintain a strong relationship.
What if I am Not the Primary Guardian?
If you are a single parent who does not have primary care of your children, you may face issues when your children are with you during the summer. Coming up with ideas of what to do with them may be a challenge and a stressful thought in your head. Here are some tips for parents who do not have full care of their children during the summer:
- Stick to the custody agreement: If you plan to take your child on a vacation or away for a few days, refer to the child custody agreement before you plan the trip in case your agreement does not put a cap on how many miles you can take them.
- Make sure you have someone to supervise your children: If you have your children while you are working, arrange for supervision in advance. Do not assume that the children are able to be left alone.
- Take advantage of quality time: Bonding with your children is important and summer vacation is a great time to do that. Get out of the house and engage in activities that you and your children can do together. If you are able to, plan a vacation to spend maximum amount of time with your children.
It is important to spend quality time with your children, especially after a recent divorce. If you have questions about child custody modifications, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable attorney.
Delaware County Child Custody lawyers at Eckell Sparks Understand Child Custody Agreements
If you have questions about child custody agreements or your parental rights, contact our Delaware County child custody lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. for help. We will fight for your rights and the rights of your children. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or contact us online for an initial, private consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we help families throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.