Are Daycares Open on Holidays? (Major US Holidays Explained)

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Holidays are times that special memories are made with your kids.

It’s when tiny hands are kneading the dough for Christmas cookies or being dipped in paint to make precious turkey crafts for Thanksgiving.

But they can also be tricky for parents. On some smaller holidays, daycare and other forms of childcare might be unavailable, and parents may still need to work.

That might leave you in the lurch.

So let’s get into it in some detail:

Are daycares open or closed on holidays?

Most daycares in the United States will be closed on major holidays like Christmas Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the 4th of July. On certain “Eve” holidays, they may be closed or they may simply have shortened hours. It’s common for daycares to be open on smaller holidays like MLK day, Veteran’s Day, or certain religious holidays — unless the daycare is part of a church or other religious organization.

Your best bet is to get a holiday calendar at your child’s daycare from day one of enrollment so you can play ahead.

Let’s take a look at what holidays daycares are typically closed and what childcare options may be available for those who have to be apart from their babies on those days.

Are Daycares Open On Major US Holidays?

Every individual daycare location and/or chain has different policies and a different schedule.

Generally speaking, though — in the United States, at least — most daycares will be closed on major national holidays.

The major holidays on which you can expect most daycares to be CLOSED are:

  • New Year’s Day – If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some daycares will also close on the Friday prior or the Monday after because it is the “observed” holiday.
  • Memorial Day
  • 4th of July – If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some daycares will also close on the Friday prior or the Monday after because it is the “observed” holiday.
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day – Often daycares also close on the following day (Black Friday) to give staff more travel time and family time. Asking about closure on this day is a good idea when interviewing and researching potential daycares.
  • Christmas Day – If the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, some daycares will also close on the Friday prior or the Monday after because it is the “observed” holiday.

Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, and Thanksgiving Eve are a little more tricky. We’ll discuss these in detail down below.

Are Daycares Open or Closed on Minor US Holidays?

If public schools or government functions are shut down on a holiday, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to utilize childcare.

Federal holidays that the government and schools are likely closed but most daycares are OPEN include:

  • Martin Luther King Day
  • President’s Day
  • Columbus Day/Native American Day
  • Veteran’s Day

Keep in mind that if the daycare is closely associated with or part of a school system or government entity (i.e. it is located on a military base, is part of a school-based preschool, is a childcare associated with a college or university) it may be closed on these “minor” holidays.

Again, ask your daycare when you enroll if you can see a holiday schedule ahead of time to plan accordingly.

Other Holidays & Special Considerations

Other special considerations to be made are days when daycare may close early or be closed for a religious holiday.

For example, daycares may close two to four hours early on Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving Eve, or New Year’s Eve.

Some daycares may close entirely on those days.

Also, it is common for daycares and preschools to be a part of religious institutions.

In those cases, daycare may not be available on days such as Good Friday, All Saints Day, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or the 1st day of Ramadan.

How to Find Childcare When Daycare is Closed for a Holiday

When choosing a daycare or preschool, it is important to consider the days that it will be closed and whether those closures would cause considerable challenges for your family.

For example, if you work in healthcare or the hospitality industry your child attending a religious based daycare could result in more days of daycare being closed that you are required to work.

Even still, many essential workers have to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving — days when almost all daycares are closed.

So what are your holiday childcare options?

  • Request the day off well in advance or to work from home. In many businesses, you can request vacation time/time off several weeks or even months in advance. As soon as your child starts at a daycare, request a printed or digital version of the calendar with all closures denoted so that you can request those days off or as work from home days before others do.
  • Coordinate with the other parent. If both parents are in jobs that require holiday work, try to alternate holidays so that one of you is off and available to be home with a little one whenever the other is scheduled to work, and daycare is closed. If you are in a situation where you are sharing custody with the other parent, try to request to work the holidays that you are not scheduled to have physical custody that year.
  • Network. There may be stay-at home parents in your neighborhood, community, church group, etc. that are able and willing to provide childcare once or twice a year that you need it. You can also talk with other parents of children at your daycare who may not be required to work holidays and be able to plan for them to watch your child on a holiday. This may be a mutually beneficial plan because it provides the other child who is home from daycare with a playmate.
  • Plan holiday family time. Ask a family member to watch your child for the day. If there is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, or God parent who lives near you, they will probably jump at the chance to spend quality time with your child on a special day.
  • Have a trusted nanny or babysitter on standby. Possibilities here may include utilizing/sharing the nanny of another family or having a college student who is off school on all the holidays babysit.
  • Drop-In Childcare. Find another daycare in the area that is open on the holidays and inquire about the possibility of bringing your child to drop in just on those holidays. It is likely that many of the children enrolled full-time there will be at home with their families, allowing space for your child for the single day of care that is needed.

Wrapping Up

Every parent wants to spend all the special holiday moments with their children.

However, due to work demands of certain industries and careers, that is not always possible.

Childcare providers also want, need, and deserve to spend holiday time with their families so daycare closures on holidays are to be expected.

There are a few simple steps parents can take to prevent a last-minute panicked search for childcare on a holiday.

Being informed of your daycare’s scheduled closures from the day your child is first enrolled and having a plan for those days is key.

Having strong relationships and good communication with your spouse/co-parent, family members, and other parents in your community is another important factor when it comes to holiday childcare.

If you are well prepared and consider multiple options for holiday childcare, you and your child will have happy and low-stress holidays.

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Hope this helps!