Hire the perfect sitter to watch your wee ones during summer vacation.
Although kids are on vacation for the summer, you, unfortunately, are not. Who takes care of your children when school is out, but you still have to work?
Finding a summer camp may work, but if you want your kids to be a little bit closer to home and get some more personal attention, a summer nanny may be the answer.
It may seem overwhelming, but hiring a nanny to care for and entertain your children during the summer months is easier than you think. Here are eight easy steps to get you started.
Kellie Geres, a veteran nanny who works at Regarding Nannies, advises that, "You will need to begin your search a few weeks before you need a nanny."
Don't wait to start looking for a nanny until right before school gets out. At Care.com, we see a rise in nanny summer job postings as early as mid-April! Find a nanny now before all the good ones are taken.
Post a summer child care job on Care.com, ask neighbors and fellow parents for recommendations, see if teachers or teaching assistants at your child's school are looking for summer work or advertise at local colleges.
Clarify Your Needs
"The first, most important thing is to think about your family dynamics, and then what your family will need from a nanny," Geres suggests. "Then make a plan,"
Will the kids need rides to summer day camps or soccer practice? Will there be light housekeeping involved? Will the nanny be expected to entertain your little ones for most of the day and plan trips to the park and town pool? Do you need someone to help them review fractions, practice penmanship or complete summer homework?
All of these expectations need to be communicated upfront when you write your job description and interview possible candidates. Create a nanny contract to spell everything out and help avoid any confusion down the road.
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Plus, you need to make sure your potential nanny knows she is expected to be more than a summer babysitter. Summertime means the kids will need full-time care while you're at work. A babysitter is great for watching children for a few short hours while you head out on a summer date night, but for the entire summer, you need a nanny who will be more involved with your kids' overall development and entertainment.
Learn more about the Difference Between a Babysitter and a Nanny
Talk About Vacations and Salaries
Lots of people also travel during the summer. Are you planning any family vacations or long weekends? Do you want the nanny to come on vacation with you? Will you offer paid time off while you're out of town?
Have the nanny mirror this process by writing out her planned absences or vacations as well. You want to ensure that they don't coincide with times you'll absolutely need a caregiver. This exercise assures that you and the nanny are both on the same page when it comes to average work hours and days off. It will also give you more time to find backup child care for the days she'll have off. Add any agreed upon specifics to the nanny contract as well.
Summer days are usually spent outside enjoying the nice weather. With this comes extra responsibility on the nanny's part.
As Karen Schmitz, a professional nanny from Lisle, Ill., says, "There are lots of safety issues for a child outside in summer -- the nanny would have to protect the child from harmful rays of sun, handle bug bites, playground injuries, protect the child from drowning and the like...So a summertime nanny better be extra vigilant, and know first aid!"
Other qualities you may want to look for in a summer nanny include prior experience, flexibility and CPR and lifeguard certification.
Plan a Meet-and-Greet
Since your children will be spending a large amount of time with their new nanny, arrange a family introduction before the start date. Herd everyone over to a park where they'll be spending a lot of time this summer. This allows you to observe the interaction between your child and the nanny, and gives your kids some time to adjust before the nanny starts watching them.
Do the kids enjoy the nanny's company? Do their personalities click? These questions are important things to consider before summer begins. After all, you want your children to be comfortable with the person they will spend a majority of their days with.
Write a Schedule
Summer schedules can be pretty chaotic. You need to think about what the summer will look like for your family and create a basic calendar to review with your summer nanny. This should be both specific -- what will a typical day look like for your nanny -- and long term -- any summer camps your kids will attend or regular play dates.
Make sure your nanny has any information she'll need. Locations of local parks, names/addresses of play dates, etc.
Brainstorm Fun Activities
Summer is supposed to be a fun time for children, but it's easy for kids to wind up sitting in front of the TV or singing a refrain of "I'm bored!."
Discuss ideas with your nanny for acceptable summer entertainment. What are your kids' favorite warm weather activities? Do they like going to the zoo, ice cream shop or water park? Other ideas include picnics, play time with friends or even running in the sprinklers.
Need more inspiration? See our article on 101 Fun Things to do with Kids During the Summer »
And don't forget to leave room in your child care budget to give the nanny money to enjoy these summer activities. Talk to her about setting a weekly allowance and balancing both free and low-cost activities.
Build a Relationship
If everything goes well, your new summer nanny may be available to babysit when the school year starts and even come back next summer. This will help take the stress out of searching for a new nanny every spring, and allowing your kids to be comfortable with their summertime routine. Making sure your nanny is content ensures your children will have quality care and entertainment for many summers to come.
Get advice on 8 Ways to Have a Great Relationship With Your Nanny
By following these tips, you'll have no trouble finding a summer nanny to provide for and have fun with your children while you are away at the office. If you can't be there with your children every day, a caring, fun nanny is the next best thing!
Marissa Lucero is a freelance writer based in Denver. Her work can be found here.