A lot of families these days have two working parents. What happens when school gets out at three o’clock and but no one can get home until five? An after-school sitter are probably your best bet. Let these tips help guide your search for afternoon care.
Most schools start in mid-to-late August, which means you should have a plan in place for after-school childcare in July or early August before all the prime candidates have had a chance to accept another position.
At Care.com, our busiest time for child care jobs is July. Post a back-to-school job now, so you don’t miss out on the best nannies and babysitters.
Check Your Schedule
School and work schedules will dictate your need for afternoon child care. You’ll want someone who’s available between the time the kids get out of school and the time you arrive home.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad and just need some extra help with after-school duties, such as picking the kids up from school, driving them to soccer practice or helping them with their homework, you may only need a sitter for a couple of hours a few times a week.
Keep this in mind and be as specific as possible when writing your job posting to attract only candidates whose schedules align with yours.
Outline What You Need
It’s important to think through the needs that are unique to your family. Consider things like:
- Will the nanny be asked to pick up children from school, or just meet them at the bus stop?
- Will you need someone with their own car or do you have an extra one she can use?
- Will the person be responsible for chauffeuring kids to after-school activities and playdates? How often?
- Will you need someone to make healthy snacks for your kids?
- Do you need someone who can help the kids with their homework after school?
- Will your kids need someone who can double as a tutor when they’re struggling with a subject?
- Do you want someone who can help kids be active in the afternoon?
- Do you want dinner on the table when you get home? If the sitter is prepping dinner, how are the children also receiving her attention and supervision?
- What happens if you have to work late? Will you ask the sitter to stay late or is there someone else who can step in?
- Will you need this person to help out full-time during vacations?
Find the Right Type of Sitter
If you’ll be asking a lot from your sitter provider and want someone who can plan activities and nurture your child, you’ll want to look into hiring a part-time nanny for the afternoons.
If responsibilities are limited, you may just need a babysitter to help for a few hours. Look into hiring a responsible high school teen who lives in the area and who will be out of school by the time your kid’s bell rings.
Talk to the best five to ten candidates over the phone and arrange in-person interviews for your top picks. Then invite the two you like best to your home for a more in-depth interview and so they can meet and interact with your child.
Find out How to Interview a Nanny »
Make Safety a Priority
We know you’re busy enjoying your summer and you want to check this child care hassle off your to-do list so you can get back to it. But don’t rush through safety.
Create an Easy-to-Follow Schedule
An organized schedule will not only benefit you, but also your nanny and your kids. Create a weekly or monthly schedule that outlines the kids’ school schedule, noting any half days, days off and lengthier school breaks. Also include any days you’ll pick the kids up so the nanny knows she won’t be expected. This calendar should also include any extracurricular activities (school plays, soccer practice, etc.) so everyone’s on the same page.
Use a free online program like Google Calendar so everyone has access to it.
Once you’ve found the right candidate, offer a trial run once the year starts. Check in with your caregiver, child and child’s teacher after a few weeks to make sure everything is going smoothly and everyone is comfortable with the arrangement.