A Modest Proposal for Summer Child Care

School is out, or will be soon. Children throughout the city have thrown off the shackles of education and are diving into a carefree and relaxing summer void of schedules, homework, and regular bed times.

Parents, heads in their hands, are muttering (not so quietly): “Yikes! What’s to be done with the kids this summer?”

For parents of small children, there are some reliable options: daycare centers open year-round; summer day camps that coincide with office hours; and for the brave, a few weeks of sleep-away camp will keep the little people from interfering with parents’ work schedules and commitments.

It is when kids get older – and more vocal and opinionated – that creative child care options are needed. As a parent of a tween and a teen, I work to balance many different objectives when planning their summer activities. Below are just a few, along with a modest proposal* for parents on how to leverage all resources available to provide kids a safe, healthy and fun summer.

Transportation – How can you get older kids to and from summer activities that start at 9 and end at 2? Call Brown! UPS and FedEx do a great job getting important holiday packages where they need to go, so let’s put their logistics expertise to work transporting our most important packages. Their online, self-service resources are easy to use. Last time I shipped a package via UPS I printed the label and scheduled the pickup from my desk. I only had to get up once, to put the package on the front porch. It couldn’t be any easier! Helicopter parents will love this option, too, since they can check delivery status with just a tracking number and an internet connection.

Down Time in the ‘Hood  – What kid (or parent) doesn’t long for a relaxing summer of sandlot baseball, Kick the Can tournaments, or just hanging in the neighborhood with friends?  But what responsible adult is available to supervise all this chaotic fun? Enter USPS. Postal workers are already out in neighborhoods 6 days a week. The kids can help them deliver the mail, freeing up their time to organize a few rounds of neighborhood games. The stamina of working through rain and snow and heat and gloom of night makes postal workers well-suited for caring for their charges. And, if any of the little people get out of hand, there is always pepper spray at hand (it works on dogs too).

Summer is Expensive! – 12 weeks of summer activities gets expensive. The least I have ever paid for a weekly camp is $250, but the average is much more. This works out to a minimum $3000 per child for daily care and supervision.  Many parents will pay a lot more. To offset some of the costs, I am considering hiring out my kids to local businesses at a reasonable rate (basically the UPS delivery cost to get them there and get them home). What do companies get? My 11-year-old can quote the latest blockbuster movies word for word, saving employees both time and money because they don’t have to go to the movie in person, while my 14-year-old can update employees’ social media sites on their behalf, saving companies hours of lost productivity. She will even provide a daily update of the latest YouTube trending videos!

Kid For HireSo, pick your head up out of your hands, parents, because you have more options than you think. Enjoy the summer, and don’t forget that summer reading reports are due on the first day of school.

* Hat tip: Jonathan Swift

Heather Nelson is a partner with PeopleResults. You can reach her at hnelson@www.people-results.com or on Twitter at @HeatherGNelson1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.