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Working Parents Want Cheap Child Care

It’s almost May. For working parents, it means summer is almost here and they'll have to find a way to keep the kids busy for ten to twelve weeks.

Bring on the summer camps!

A new ComPsych work-life report, however, reveals parents are seeking the most cost-effective options for their kids. ComPsych found parental requests for low-cost summer camps have almost doubled since 2008. Over the same period, requests for babysitters (er, nannies) have dropped from 9% to 6%.

The reason is obvious: In this recession, shelling out for summer camps or a full-time babysitter (er, nanny) has become a luxury fewer people can afford. Salaries have flat lined or plummeted (for those who are currently under-employed), but the cost of living keeps going up. Should we send Junior to a week-long summer camp, or should we buy food and put gas in the car? This is life during recession time, but we still scan the camp brochures and booklets looking for affordable summer camp options. Hmm, we can barely afford the week-long nature camp, but let’s see what the adventure camp costs. They want how much for a five-day camp? Ha, ha, ha. I don’t think so. That’s outrageous!

Forget about the date-night-dinner-and-a-movie routine, too. At $70 a pop plus babysitting fees on top of it, "date night" is evolving into "let's go to the Chick-fil-A play area where the kids can have fun and we can talk for a few minutes without being interrupted." Romance will have to wait for dot-com 2.0.

This is real life for today’s stressed-out and cash-strapped parents who, when thinking about shelling out for summer camps and daycare, are sitting down and doing the simple math. When the cost of childcare starts to equal or exceed one parent's monthly income, it can be more cost effective for the lower-earning parent to stay home -- at least in the short term. In the immortal words of Simply Red's Mick Hucknall, money's too tight to mention. Cut back! The band released the song in May 1985 and it's even more relevant today.

The parent who stays home with the kiddos is going to be exhausted all the time, but it makes the most economic sense. Maybe Junior doesn’t really need the flashy sports or art performance camp this summer. Here’s a stick, go dig in the backyard. Why are you sitting in the house when it's so nice outside? Are the neighbor kids home? Go see. Let me know if you want to turn on the sprinkler or set up the Slip-N-Slide.

Sorry, I had a flashback to my youth of the 1970s for a second. But this is the 21st Century, where we don’t let kids play with sticks anymore and parents send their kids to a series of scheduled "play dates." And from the looks of things, more kids could be having play dates at home this summer instead of shuffling off to expensive day camps. Besides, playing in the backyard sprinkler with a few school friends can be just as much fun.

You can read the ComPsych report and watch a video summary here.


  1. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting. I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

    Child Care

  2. Well, thanks so much! I appreciate the feedback. I'll see what's going on with the RSS; I'm not a techie, so I'll have to ask my in-house "IT consultant." Thanks for visiting, Mugundhan.

  3. It is funny that parent say cheap....Well you pay for what you get. Define cheap. To care for a child is not cheap. But the parents are cheap, for some working with families as a Nannies is career. So if this is a persons job why pay them cheap when they are worth so much more.

    All cheap parents should stay home and care for your own children it FREE.


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