Finding an after-school sitter is easiest now when most people are still thinking of summer schedules. It can be tricky finding care for those afternoon hours, so we gleaned great tips from Care.com articles and Care.com employees.
While you probably feel like you just hung up those backpacks, the truth is that July is the best time to line up your after-school care. Why? Because the influx of people looking will hit in August, so beat them to the punch! Find – and secure – the best person now. Here are some tips for finding the right afternoon fit. For great interview tips, see our article on After-School Nanny Interview Questions.
1. Get two sitters. Here’s a trick. It can be more difficult to find one person who has every afternoon free. But if you create a job post looking for two people to share the week, you may have more luck finding people you love. Plus, you’ll have someone at the ready for back-up care (like a snow day when one person can’t get there, but the other can).
2. Find a student. High school and college students can’t always commit to five afternoons a week, but they can probably do two or three. They earn instant kid cred because they know how to do division the new way (no explaining to mom or dad how to do it!), and older students might even drive. Note: using a student will often mean you need to find two you like who have opposing schedules (M, W, F classes vs. T, Th). You may also look to find students from different schools (different school breaks) or at least one sitter with local roots, so you have coverage on long school breaks.
3. Look to part-time teachers. Energetic and engaging, preschool and substitute teachers know how to make work and play equally fun, and they often have schedules flexible enough to take on an after-school job. Check in with past teachers you keep in touch with or add this request to your job post.
4. Recruit those who lead kids. Don’t forget the coaches, art teachers, the gym’s child care center staff, a faith-based class teacher, mommy and me instructors and library story time volunteers in your town. Just be sure to run a background check and call extra references (no matter if you knew them previously). If this person has not been a sitter before, the new role with your family may be a lot different than her old job, so a trial run a few weeks before school starts will get everyone feeling more comfortable and confident.
5. Call the position a “part-time nanny.” Babysitter and nanny can often seem like tomato, tom-ahh-toe, but not to the caregiver. The term “nanny” professionalizes the job and its responsibilities a little more than “sitter.” It also implies someone who will be depended on every day, have household and childrearing responsibilities, and be treated like part of the family. So changing your search from “sitter” to “part-time nanny” may open your job up to a different group of caregivers.
6. Start a co-op swap. If after-school care is a hot topic among your friends, an after-school co-op is an excellent alternative. See if you can use flex time to be chief chauffer, tutor, nurse and activity coordinator for several kids one or two afternoons a week in exchange for care the other days. See Care.com’s article 10 Options for After-School Child Care for more tips.
7. Don’t forget family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Don’t keep quiet on this one! One staffer found a great match just by talking to everyone in the neighborhood. Another found after-school care through coworkers. You never know – your neighbor might know just the right person. (Just don’t forget to check more references than your neighbor’s point of view.)
Hopefully these tips will allow you to create your job post and put some wheels in motion, so you can sit on the beach and let the applicants roll into your inbox. Then you can page through their credentials leisurely, rather than in a panic. Good luck!