Creating a Childcare Backup Plan

Having an already predetermined back up plan in place that substitutes for your usual daycare plan, might just enable you to still make it in to your morning office meeting. So when it’s 6 am and you find out your children will be home today, but you have an important 8 am meeting in the office, you’ll already have in mind several options for what you can do.


First, see if you can split shifts with your spouse. If you both have to work, but one of you has a super important meeting, see if you can work out the scheduling so that you can each get into the office and work at least half a day.

If that’s not an option, consider working from home. With technology today, many employers would be open to having you work from home rather than not come in at all. While the idea of working while your kids are playing in the background isn’t ideal, if you have access to work email and a phone from home, ask your employer if this would be an emergency option. Calling into a meeting may be better than not being there at all.

If you’re still stuck, call in family and friends. Make those early morning calls to those who you know would give you the shirt off of their back. They may not be happy to be woken up, but chances are if they can help you they will. If your child has a favorite playmate who has a stay at home mom or dad or if you have a pool of regular sitters, calling them may also be an option.

If you can’t find help from those you know, consider calling those you don’t. Many nanny placement agencies, babysitting services and even branches of KinderCare, BrightHorizons and the YMCA offer emergency backup care. Be sure to check with your employer to see if they have a contract with any backup care providers.  The International Nanny Association, has a member directory of nanny placement agencies and babysitting services that may also offer backup care. 

If you’ve exhausted all of your options to no avail, you’re left with two choices: call out of work or bring the kids with you. Depending on the age of your children, bringing the kids to work for a short period may work, if you’re prepared and have lots of quiet activities for them to do.

Preparing in advance will increase your chances of securing last minute child care, so before you need it, make a list of potential emergency child care providers and ask them if they’d consider being on your emergency child care list. You’ll also want to research local backup care agencies and programs. Since some do require preregistration if you are a candidate for needing backup care, so be sure to register in advance.

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