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5 Tips to Finding a Summer Sitter

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 competing against other families to find a replacement sitter for the summer.

Whenever babysitting season picks up, you just need to learn a few quick tips to stay ahead of the pack and secure that perfect sitter. To give yourself an edge this year, follow our 5 tips for finding (and keeping!) a summertime sitter.

1. Start your Search Early--But Not too Early

Some sitters may not have their summer schedules planned out very far in advance, so the best time to look for a summer sitter is mid April through mid May. Anything later may mean the best summer sitters have already been booked by eager parents, leaving you in a babysitter bind.

2. Ask about Schedules/Vacations Upfront

During the sitter interview, ask potential sitters for a write-up of their scheduled vacations and absences. If ones is planning on taking a two-week trip to the beach as soon as you get back from your own family vacation, you could be left hanging at the most inopportune time. Getting a written schedule allows you to see if the sitter will be around when you need her and helps you keep better track of all the caregivers you interview.

3. Consider Vacation Pay

If your family is planning on taking any vacations in the middle of the summer, you have to think about how to handle that in terms of paying your sitter. To keep sitters loyal to the family, some parents offer a vacation pay stipend while they are away. It's a great idea if you can afford it, but if you can't, you may be able to use your sitter as a petsitter or housesitter to make use of her availability while you're out of town.

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.

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