For kids, when school lets out for the summer, it’s an exciting time. No more waking up early and going to class. They have the freedom to run around in the sun, spend time with their friends, and just relax. But as a single mother, summer may not be a relaxing time for you. When your kids aren’t in school, there’s more pressure on you to keep them safe and busy during the summer months. Child care can be expensive, and as a single parent, you can’t afford to sacrifice three months of work to care for your kiddos.

Finding appropriate child care for the summer as a single mother takes creativity and openness. This may be a time to ask for help and rely on your community to understand your situation. There are affordable options for summer camps and programming to check out and other ways to keep kids occupied from the safety of your own home. Here are some tips and tricks for child care over the summer as a single parent. Because once you have a solid game plan, you can forget the stress and enjoy this time off with your family.

Create opportunities for art and learning.

It’s important to continue developing your kid’s brain even when they aren’t in school. So even if your kid is at home with you for extra hours, find ways to continue cultivating learning and creativity. Fun ways to learn include playing make-believe, enjoying the outdoors, DIY crafts and science experiments, and designated reading time. You can even continue your kids in classes outside of school.

Maybe if they’re struggling in a certain area, you can hire a tutor for some extra help over the summer. Like online math tutoring that personalizes a curriculum for your student and lets them learn from the comfort of home. Even in summer, they can use some homework help as the best way to prepare for elementary school, middle school, and beyond.

Set some house rules.

Whether you’re working from home with your kids or bringing in a nanny during the work hours, you’ll want to set some house rules for the summer. How much TV time is allowed, what chores need to get done, and what time are they allowed to interrupt your work or not? These are all ground rules to set for a productive summer. These also help with safety.

While juggling work and parenting, you won’t be able to keep an eye on your kids at every moment, so set up safety guards. For example, if you have a pool in the backyard, you‘ll want a pool guard cover. You don’t want your little ones wandering in and getting hurt so for optimal safety, rely on for the best pool safety nets for your backyard pool.

Talk with your employer.

Being a single mother is hard. Companies can often be empathetic about your experience. It’s worth a conversation with your employer to see about reducing your hours or working from home over the summer. That way you can continue working, but stay present for your kids.

Rely on your community.

The summer is a great time to reach out and rely on your community. Set up recurring play dates with other kids so each parent has a day off or ask if your family can each spend a day with your children. Even if you’re a single mother, you don’t have to parent alone. Use your resources and community to help with childcare.

Find affordable camps and programs.

Fancy private camps can cost a pretty penny, but there are also affordable camps and programs in your area. Research places like the YMCA, Parks and Recreations programs, or local churches. These are sure to have cost-efficient, flexible options for single parents just like you. Not to mention they’re fun and enjoyable for your kids as well.