You're busy all year long and sometimes little things slip through the cracks, like finding summer vacation child care or hiring a tutor. How do you know when to do what? Here is a schedule of the secrets of care and service providers, so you have the best chance at getting the help you need, when you need it.
Summer Camp: January to March
As scary as it may seem, this is the time when camps start promoting their services and filling their spots. Jill Tipograph, founder of Everything Summer, says some parents even start looking at camps the summer before their children attend to get a feel for the camp and take advantage of early-bird incentives.
Not sure where to begin? Check out our article on 6 Steps to Starting the Camp Search »
School Vacation Child Care: 2 Months in Advance
Who takes care of the kids when school isn't in session? Hire a vacation sitter as early as possible. Providers book up fast for these weeks, so if you're in a bind, see if you and a friend can do a nanny share.
Summer Vacation Child Care: March
Thankfully, many care providers are available during the summer. Older students are on break or teachers may be looking for extra cash. But summer sitters book up early, so don't wait until Memorial Day to search.
Get more advice about Your 7 Options for Summer Child Care »
Back-to-School Child Care: July
A Care.com poll found that most parents look for back-to-school care a month before school begins. But Katie Bugbee, Care.com's managing editor, recommends kicking off your search around the Fourth of July. You'll have the largest pool to choose from and then get to enjoy the rest of the summer.
Tutor Services: As Soon as the Grades Slip
The best time to enlist a tutor is before grade problems start impacting your child's confidence. "I am a big believer in prevention rather than waiting," says Nancy Cardwell, an adjunct lecturer in the early childhood graduate teacher education program at City College, City University of New York.
Tutors also have busy times, particularly during back to school and the end of marking periods. At Care.com, we see most of our tutoring jobs posted in October and January. Get a jump start by asking other parents and teachers for referrals or posting a tutoring job.
Pet Boarding and Pet Sitting: 3 Months in Advance
"When you book your tickets or you tell someone you are coming for a visit, your next call should be to your pet boarder," says Veronica Boutelle, author of "How to Run a Dog Business" and founder of dog*tec.
Want a smaller facility or individualized care for your four-legged friend? Plan months ahead. Busy times of year like school vacations, long weekends and holidays book up fast. Going away over December break? Call your boarder in late September or early October.
Pet Grooming: 2 Weeks
If you don't have a regular appointment (which you should), remember that certain times (like holidays and weekends) are busy. If you want to tidy up your dog then, make an appointment a week or two in advance.
Dog Training: When Your New Pup Arrives
The most important training happens before a dog is four months old, but it's never too late to get some help, says Boutelle.
In the meantime, practice with our 5 DIY Dog Training Tips »
Housecleaning: 2 Weeks in Advance
At Care.com, we see a big surge in housekeeping jobs posted in September. Schedules change as people go back to work and school and they want to get their housecleaning in order. The beginning of the year is also popular.
"There are certain times of the year that bring cleaning to the front of our minds, and the beginning of the year is one of them," says Cynthia Ewer, publisher of OrganizedHome.com. Once the holiday season is over, schedules open up and it's easier to hire a housekeeper. Try to book one at least two weeks before you definitely need someone.
Senior Care: As Soon as You Notice a Problem
A very popular time for exploring senior care options is in January, right after the holidays. Maybe you saw your parents and things didn't seem quite right. It may be time to bring in some help, says Mary Stehle, senior care advisor at Care.com. Whether you're looking to hire home care or respite for yourself, it might take as long as three months to find someone who clicks with both you and your parent, and who has the right qualifications. Don't rush.
Hiring any service provider often depends on supply and demand, and once you know the tricks of the trade and the busy seasons, you'll be ahead of the game.
Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is an award-winning freelance writer and a mom to two girls. She lives in Massachusetts and writes for local and national publications.