While many families look forward to the unscheduled days of summer and the fun that accompanies them, summertime requires some additional planning when it comes to childcare. Childcare needs are often much different in the summer when school is out and it can be difficult to find a temporary childcare provider. One obstacle many families face is finding summer nannies and babysitters, as many in the profession are committed to regular year-round work.
Dr. Juli Fraga, a psychologist with a private practice in San Francisco specializing in women’s health and family concerns, and her colleague Lynn Perkins, CEO and co-founder of UrbanSitter, offer parents these tips for finding summertime childcare:
Consider Your Needs. The typical school-age child is out of school for about 10 weeks in the summer. You may need full-time help for the entire break. If not, a regularly scheduled babysitter for part-time care or a reliable bevy of sitters to call when you need a break may work well.
Many parents find it helpful to line up childcare for a morning or two a week so they can run errands, hit the gym, or work. Parents who have an infant with older siblings often find it’s nice to hire a sitter to stay with the baby while he naps so they can spend time with the older siblings, or the flip side — they have the sitter take the big kids somewhere fun while they get things done at home when the baby’s asleep.
Another option to consider for part-time care is half or full day summer camps, such as art, gymnastics or soccer camps, that could be just what both you and your kids need to shake things up.
Schedule Your Sitter Sooner Rather Than Later. There are many parents in the same boat as you so the competition for childcare can be steep. Examine your options and start your search well before you need a sitter. Summer day camps have early registration and can fill quickly (although there are still many with openings for July and August). Babysitters, especially college students who are hungry to earn extra money during their summer break, are in high demand and will likely commit to a summer job as soon as they can. And, like you, caregivers have vacation plans for the season that you may have to schedule around.
Cast a Wide Net. Consider many sources for summer childcare, including family, friends, nannies, camps, regularly scheduled and occasional babysitters, and mother’s helpers. College students returning home for summer break or local students sticking around to take classes or to work are an ideal resource. Check local college job boards for babysitters advertising for summer work or post a job request on a local board. Consult trusted sources like your pediatrician, mommy-and-me groups, or colleagues with kids. Also talk with friends and neighbors to inquire about available sitters and other childcare options, such as swapping babysitting duty with another parent or sharing a sitter.
Use Online Resources. Whether you’re searching for a summer-long commitment or a sitter to come to the rescue when you occasionally need a break, you can find help online. Sources like UrbanSitter.com, Sittercity.com, and Care.com provide a pool of reliable babysitters whom you can book within minutes and a job board where you can post for longer-term help — and they allow you to review advice about finding the right fit for your family, read parent reviews, and run background checks. If you’re active in online communities like Peachhead Families, Facebook parenting groups, or local listservs, reach out to your fellow participants for trusted recommendations.
Discuss Your Needs & Commitments. If you’re asking a sitter to commit to a summer job, be sure to communicate exactly what you need, such as the number of hours, pay, your expectations, and any responsibilities the job entails, such as driving to and from lessons or camps, supervising kids at the pool, or organizing day trips. Also be open about your family’s summer vacation plans, so it’s clear when you will not need babysitting or whether you would like to bring her along to help out.
Set Up a Summer of Fun. Once you’ve found a summer sitter, share these DIYs and activities to help keep the kids engaged and beat the summer slide. It will make it fun for everyone and we’re certain you won’t hear, “I’m bored!”
With a little advance planning and the right tools, you can quickly and easily line up excellent summer childcare.
What are your suggestions for finding sitters and managing childcare during the summer?