Parents who have to do shift work -- that work that can often require being away overnight or during otherwise nontraditional business hours -- face a problem when it comes to child care that is no longer so unique. Society has changed severely over the past several years and is now a 24-hour phenomenon, rather than a daytime-based lifestyle. Child care centers that are open overnight are becoming a lot more common, which is great for the parents, but that odd scheduling also means the kids aren't going to be following the same schedule as their classmates. To help your child navigate these differences, take time to look at each day in detail with him or her:
Talk to the Child About Scheduling Ahead
Kids love to ask their friends to sleep over or to play after school, but that can be difficult to deal with at the last minute if you have a nontraditional schedule. You have to get your kid home or to the child care center and can't change at the last minute. Talk to your child about why things like sleepovers need to be arranged ahead of time. That way, your child can explain it to his or her friends so those friends also know that they can't ask at the last minute.
Even if a last-minute sleepover sounds like a great way to save some money on child care, you might not be able to cancel the child's stay there with only a few hours' notice. If there are friends that your child is particularly close to, you could also let the parents know that you need more notice to arrange for dropoff and pickup of your child.
Map out Hours With Your Child
If you have a work schedule that takes you away overnight, your child might just spend the night at the child care center. However, if you have an odd shift that sees you driving to work very early in the morning, for example, you and your child need to shift sleeping hours. Map out 24 hours for 7 days and work with your child to literally draw up a schedule that shows when the child has to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when there is time to do homework.
Set Aside Time to Review Homework and to Talk
Speaking of homework, when you draw up that schedule, set up times -- appointments if you will -- to be with your child. That can be difficult if you work more than one job, but even an hour or two to review the week, look at homework, read together, cook meals, and so on ensures you don't end up seeing your child's life pass you by.
24/7 daycare centers deal with parents who have all sorts of shifts, and the staff can help you and your child settle into a stable schedule that lets the child sleep, you work, and neither of you worries. You are not alone, and these overnight daycares ensure that your child won't be either.
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