For many parents, summer is a time when their beloved school-year babysitter packs up her things and leaves town for three months. This seasonal “sitter shuffle” leaves many moms and dads having to secure a new caregiver that has to adjust to the families rules and routine. To make the transition easier, we have shared five important things to cover with your summer sitter.
1. Safety First
Summer is synonymous with outdoor activities. Make sure all your summer safety equipment (helmets, knee pads, etc.) is easily accessible and your sitter knows exactly where everything is located. She should also know where to find your first aid kit (for a list of what to include in a first aid kit, visit here) along with a list with emergency contact information that includes your work and cell numbers and the numbers of nearby neighbors and/or relatives. It is a good idea to leave your sitter with a bag full of sunscreen and insect repellant since so much time will be spent outdoors.
2. Car Situation
Given all the activities kids participate in over the summer (swim lessons, day camp, play dates, etc.), chances are your summer sitter will be driving them around at some point. First and foremost, you should run a Motor Vehicle Records Check on your caregiver to make sure she has a clean driving record. Next, ask for proof of car insurance. If she’s going to be transporting the kids around in your car, check with your insurance company to review your plan and make sure she’s covered. Lastly, discuss safe driving practices (like always wearing seat belts and no cell phone usage) with your summer sitter.
3. Talk about Planned Vacations
Are you planning a family vacation this summer? Will you give your caregiver paid time off while you’re away? Is your caregiver going someplace for a bit? Who is going to watch the kids in her absence? If you didn’t bring these things up during the interview process, be sure to discuss them ASAP. You don’t want to be left in a lurch when you realize your sitter is leaving for vacation a week before she hops on a jet plane. Similarly, you don’t want your sitter to be blindsided by the fact that she might not be getting paid for a week while you are away on vacation. Work these things out well in advance.
4. Write out the Details
If your children will be attending day camps or will be participating in any other scheduled activities this summer, write out all of the days/dates and times that the sitter should be aware of. If your children would like to have friends over (or would like to go to a friend’s house), write out the friend’s parent’s contact information, address and details so the sitter can schedule a playdate with ease. Having all of these details in front of her will help your sitter stay on task each day and keep the schedule running smoothly.
5. Plan for Fun
Kids tend to get bored during the summer, so it’s a great idea to give your sitter the tools she’ll need to keep them entertained during these warm months. Providing her with a jar of “fun money,” for example, allows her take the children bowling or to the movies, allowing her to do something special with the children in between the usual bike rides, outdoor picnics and water balloon fights. Also, having the money readily available to her helps avoid any potentially awkward situations where she spends her own money and then asks for reimbursement.
Covering these five things with your summer caregiver will help ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved and will allow you to start focusing on other important things – like making this the best summer yet!