Are you heading Christmas break and need childcare over Christmas break? Struggling with your childcare budget and need to find solutions that are free childcare services? Start here and find the best solutions for your family during the holiday!
The Christmas and holiday seasons are supposed to be magical, right?
Why is it that when the holidays hit, I feel like we are just doing our normal schedule – but it’s harder?
I usually still need to work. My kids need childcare. And I have just a few days to fit all the magic in. IT’S HARD.
Here are a few tips for finding short-term childcare, arranging your schedule for spending time with your kids, and finding what matters to you.
Do that. Find what matters to you. And the rest will work itself out!
If you need a support system this holidays, definitely reach out to our Facebook Group to see what other moms are doing!
- Daycare, Nanny, or find a Free Childcare Provider?
- How To Do It Without Spending All Your Money
- How to wake up early at 5 AM
- Provide Plenty Of Entertainment At Home
- Holiday Time and Maternity Leave
- You can do childcare over Christmas!
- You might also like:
When it comes to your family, your internal questions and your family solutions will change a LOT. One season you will be in a great cadence with kids, work, and life…and the next season things fall apart. When the Christmas period and the holidays hit, everything gets hard.
My husband and I have gotten very intentional about asking each other questions to check-in: Are our children happy? Do we need to make any family changes? Have we had intentional time together recently? What does each person need in the coming week?
These check-ins give you permission to change things up, and make sure the right things are prioritized.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself during this holiday season:
- What matters the most to us? Money? Work Time? Time with the kids?
- What is our budget?
- How many hours this season do we need childcare?
- Can we work earlier or later to allow for more daytime hours with the kids?
- Do we have any short-term childcare options near us?
Daycare, Nanny, or find a Free Childcare Provider?
1. Short-term Childcare
Did you know that there is a LOT of short-term childcare near you?
Drop-In Nurseries or Daycares are short-term childcare centers (often in your neighborhood, or put on by a church or parents-morning-out) that allows you to leave your kids for 1-5 hours a day, depending on what you need. Definitely Google short-term drop-in nurseries near you if you just need a few hours of childcare this season! The rate in my area is $13.50-$17.50/hour.
Mother’s helpers are the BEST solution during the Christmas holiday! Ask your neighbors near you if any high schoolers need a job for a few hours a week! If you don’t know any older kids, definitely ask on the NextDoor app or in a Facebook Group. I have loved using a neighbor girl to watch me kids a few hours/day when I need help. The rate around my area is $10-$12/hour.
2. Free Childcare
Depending on your budget, you may or may not be able to afford childcare or a nanny. THAT IS OK. Don’t feel like “just because everyone else goes to full time daycare, I have to.”
If you are in a season where your kids are at home, it is possible!
I am firm believer that parents working from home can also watch their kids. Yes, sometimes I have complete meltdowns because it can be so hard. But, it is possible.
To be able to watch your kids and work, you have to teach your kids independent play. That is the KEY to all of it working. This isn’t something that happens overnight.
Instead, you have to practice independent play with your children.
Start with 15 minute blocks of leaving your kids (starting young!) to play in their play area (bedroom, living room, play room, playpen, crib) and increase as they learn to be creative.
Keep reading to see how we adjust our schedules to spend time with our kids.
How To Do It Without Spending All Your Money
Sometimes you need a FREE SOLUTION for your childcare. Sometimes that means asking family members to help, and sometimes it means changing your schedule to focus on what matters.
Let me give you an example of what’s work for us now that gives us extra work time and extra time with our kids.
Every week, my husband and I chat about what the other person needs. On top of our normal schedules, my husband is working on house renovations, I work on this blog, and we both have external obligations.
I might tell my husband that I need 3-4 hours extra that week, and he might need 2-3. We factor these “needs” into our schedules, and give each other the time the other person needs. (These needs might be personal, or they might just be work hours that are extra this holiday season.)
Here are some ways we give ourselves this extra time:
- 3-4 times a week, we feed our children dinner early by themselves. On these late nights, we alternate who does the dinner/bedtime routines. When I take care of the kids, he has time to get his work done. The other nights he does the dinner/bedtime routine, and I have extra hours to accomplish my work. After the kids are in bed, we then have dinner and chill time together, uninterrupted.
- 2-3 times a night we eat with the kids, and do the usual childcare routine for bedtime together. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I split and work on our separate work projects. I manage several Pinterest accounts for clients, and complete this work usually between 8 pm – 1 am on these nights. (I also grab one of these for my self-care, early-to-bed night.)
- On weekends, we find periods of time to give each other help when needed. It might be that my husband takes the kids to the park, while I stay home and clean the house. Or I might entertain the kids while he does house construction. If we do a family activity, then we alternate dinner time that day so we can catch up on our obligations.
These patterns aren’t perfect, and if they ever get in the way of “family time”, we adjust. But for right now, they work, and they give us extra time during an already-busy week.
How to wake up early at 5 AM
I hate people who tell me I need to wake up early. But I have found that 5 AM is the magic number for me to wake up before my kids. I shift to this pattern a lot during holiday seasons when things get crazy! Let me tell you how I do it!
The key to waking up early is to identify your goals and make them measurable.
If you just say “I want more time to workout,” you will lay in bed at 5 AM and talk yourself out of it.
If you say “I want to take a walk outside, see the sunrise, and have a cup of coffee before my kids wake up at 6 AM,” then you have a measurable goal that has to happen at a certain hour.
For me, I wanted to work 2 hours before my kids woke up. To make this happen, I would need to start by 5:30 or 6 AM. There are no alternatives. That’s it.
If you are considering making the 5 AM switch, I encourage you to make a goal that can only be accomplished by you during the morning hour. Leap for the moon.
Your morning might include:
- a workout
- time to read a book.
- hours to write or blog
- taking a walk outside
- time to schedule your week and catch up on emails
Whatever your goal is, make it specific enough to get you out of bed.
Also, Don’t wake up early just to read all your emails and check Instagram. When I do those two things, I feel incredibly unproductive and tired.
Instead, I put my phone down. Ignore emails. I even don’t engage with my fellow employees for the first hour or so, just so I can focus solely on the project at hand.
Ignore the world. And let yourself focus on you. It’s amazing.
Provide Plenty Of Entertainment At Home
1. Easy tricks for the Christmas Season
I think Instagram has taught us “what is normal” for moms and kids. We see what other kids play with and what other kids watch, and we think that we are limited by what is “out there”.
Let’s talk about a few ways you can do things differently for your family.
Lunch – Consider eating lunch outside (or even as a picnic on the floor!) This change in the “routine” gives my kids ways to be outside and enjoy a change in pace. I make “snack lunches’ for them with cupcake wrappers in muffin tins. I fill each tin with a different food group, and they love “snack lunch” to change things up. I also LOVE to eat lunch at the McDonald’s or Chik Fil A playplace. This allows me to work while my kids have a fun surprise lunch time.
Screen Time – Let’s talk about screen time for a minute. Yes, I let my toddler watch a few small shows. Usually, she watches just one or two that I strategically use during the day. Sometimes I know I have a meeting later, so I save her show until then. Some days my mornings are crazy, and I use the show to get through the first hour of the day. My goal is always to use the screen time as a tool to my advantage!
Toys – I am always just searching for the best education ideas for each age group. Currently, my daughter is very into puzzles. She builds and rebuilds puzzles many times over – sometimes up to 30 or 40 minutes. If you have a toddler, you definitely need to follow Busy Toddler on Instagram. Her account is magic, and I use her activities weekly. I also love the videos on Signing Time for toddlers and preschoolers – they are excellent!
Subscription Boxes – Another option is to pay for an activity subscription box that gives your kid structured, educational activities every week.
I absolutely love KiwiCo activity boxes because they use the STEM process (science, technology, engineering, math) to give you smart, hands-on activities to do with your child. We have been buying these for our kids for over two years, and love them! We pay for them with our own pennies. (This is definitely not sponsored.)
Now that we have a backlog of these activities, I pull out a few for my daughter every week for her to play with. (I’ll say something like, “let’s do your jungle game, cooking stove, and beanbag racing game this week!”) I love having these backlog of activities.
2. Toy Rotation that Works
If you bring up “toy rotation” in a moms club, you will have every mom in the world talking about cubbies, and cabinets, and charts, and rotation schedules.
Y’all, that COMPLETELY overwhelms me.
Yes, of course you can have a complicated schedule that lets you rotate toys over and over again to give kids new things to play.
But, if you are looking for an easy way to accomplish this same thing without changing your home organization…you need my easy toy rotation solution.
The idea behind this chart is simple. Just choose every week which 3-5 toys your kids will play with. And that’s it.
I like categorizing toys in my head. (Only my head! No need to write this down!) My categories might be:
- Building toys (blocks, Legos, Duplos, Lincoln Logs, Magnatiles)
- Cars and trains (train sets, matchbox cars, pull toys)
- Animals/ People (baby animals, Little People sets)
- Craft cabinet (coloring, stickers, Water Wow, paint)
- Other (puzzles, books, card games, etc.)
Every week just pick one from each category that are your toys for that week. You might tell your kids:
“This week we are playing with matchbox cars, your lego set, coloring, and baby animals….THAT’S IT!”
Holiday Time and Maternity Leave
Are you juggling having a newborn, maternity leave, and the holidays?
First of all, congratulations! What a MAGICAL time of year to be enjoying a newborn!
But llet me tell you. Maternity leave is hard.
Why does no one talk about that?
One day when I was on maternity leave a few years ago, I woke up in a panic.
I felt like I was wasting it.
I just had my second child and am in the throws of a glorious HARD maternity leave.
Leading up to this time, I did so much planning – and preparing – and couldn’t wait for the “lazy days” of enjoying my new baby – and not working.
We are also doing a house renovation, and I just thought “I will spend all day napping and going to Home Goods!” FALSE
Your “break” is hardly full of resting and having free time. It is exhausting, emotional, unraveling, and just plain hard.
But, the first thing I’d encourage you to do is try to hold on to little moments. Hold your baby and think “I have you here now. That’s what’s important.
Start with your time now, and find tiny ways to enjoy it. (Don’t spend all your time looking for childcare!) When you look back, you will miss that time with your baby.
You can do childcare over Christmas!
I know we are all looking for the magical flexibility to have the perfect Christmas. But maybe this holiday break season is just going to be a huge juggling game that gets us through!
Whatever you end up doing, definitely focus on what matters and enjoy your life. It’s a beautiful season!
Leave a comment below sharing all your favorite childcare over Christmas traditions with your kids! I can’t wait to hear what your family is doing this season!