Transitioning to Summer Child Care
The summer months bring a new schedule for kids and with it, new child care for many families. Often, the schedule that has been in place for nine months with your school-year care provider doesn’t work when the kids are out of school. Transitioning from your school-year babysitter to someone new this summer, can be a struggle for little ones to adjust. It can be a tricky shift, but solid preparation can help ease the transition for everyone.
What do you do to prepare for the departure of your beloved school-year babysitter? You have three considerations: your children, the outgoing babysitter, and the incoming babysitter. You need to prepare your children for the departure of their beloved school-year sitter while simultaneously preparing them to receive their new sitter with an open mind and heart. You will want to send off your departing sitter in a way that will foster continued relationships between her and your children and ensure that she knows that your family cares for and values her. You will also need to recruit, interview, screen, and hire a new babysitter, and prepare for her arrival.
Are departing gifts appropriate?Yes. Common gifts include gift cards to her favorite retailers, a cash bonus, handmade gifts from your children, or a framed photograph of your children. Be sure to involve your children in picking out a special gift. Another gift that you can give your departing babysitter is a glowing letter of recommendation: it may not have cash value, but it may be priceless nonetheless.
How do you help your children prepare for and then cope with the absence of their beloved school-year babysitter? Let your children know that their beloved babysitter will be leaving, as well as when and why she will be leaving. If she will return again in the fall, tell them that as well. Encourage open conversation between you and your children, and between the nanny and your children, so that the children can come to terms with what is happening. Once the departure has happened, comfort your children. Spend extra time with them. Listen to them talk about what they’re thinking/feeling. If possible, keep the lines of communication open between your children and the babysitter. For example, you may help your children write letters or help them place periodic calls to her. Minimize the number and size of any other changes that may be happening to or around your children during this time.
How do you prepare for a new babysitter?Assuming you have already hired a new babysitter, the steps you need to take to prepare for her arrival include: preparing a room for her (if she is to be a live-in nanny), preparing an employment contract and job description, assembling the necessary employment documents (W-4, Form I-9, etc.), making sure that all necessary information (contact telephone numbers, etc.) are all in easy-to-find locations, and preparing an orientation/training checklist (which includes your expectations regarding a daily log and periodic meetings with her to ensure good communication).
How do you help your children prepare for their new summer babysitter? Letting your children have voice in selecting their new sitter is the first step toward helping your children prepare to receive her well. This can be accomplished by including your children in final interviews with the candidates. After the job offer has been made and accepted, but before the new babysitter begins work, speak with your children often about her and all the good times they may have with her. On the babysitter’s first day of employment, stay with your children and their new sitter: this helps to smooth the transition. Plan some fun activities on her first day: go to the park, pack a picnic lunch, etc. For the first few weeks, pop in unannounced to check on your children and their babysitter. Minimize the number and size of any other changes that may be happening to or around your children during this time.
Throughout the process, from saying goodbye to your current babysitter to giving a warm welcome to their new one, let your kids be involved. By following these simple steps, you can smooth the transition from school-year to summer babysitter for everyone and have a wonderful summer!
Candi Wingate is an expert in the child care industry with over 20 years experience. She is the founder of Nannies4Hire.com and Care4Hire.com, author of “100 Tips for Nannies & Families,” and mother of two.