As you purchase school supplies and pack your pantry to the brim for lunches, go ahead and add planning for aftercare to your back-to-school to-do list. Determining upcoming schedules can feel like a 1,000 piece puzzle you want to avoid.  Planning your back-to-school schedule ahead of time will make the process significantly easier.

The good news is you don’t have to go at it alone. Childcare takes a village, and while every family’s circumstances are different, there are plenty of solutions. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or a full-time working mom or dad, have aftercare options figured out before the school year starts. What’s most important is your kids have a safe place to go every day after school. 

Aftercare planning for working parents

As you grab your calendar to plan your back-to-school schedule, it may feel like a hefty task. Take a few minutes to think about your family’s situation and take it one day at a time.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What did I do for aftercare last school year?
  • What worked well?
  • When did I find myself in a pickle with aftercare last year?
  • What’s changed in our schedule this year (activities, start/end times)?
  • Do I need to find additional people to help with aftercare?

Use your answers to start mapping your days. If you had your mom pick the kids up from school on Mondays and Fridays last year, and she’s happy to do it again, check those two days off the list.

Are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays causing you trouble? Maybe your sitter from last year is now at college, and you need a replacement (or two). 

Once you’ve determined when you need help, create a list of responsibilities for the sitter. Will she be picking the kids up from school? Are there after school activities to attend? Is she responsible for homework and dinner? 

Be prepared with your expectations before starting the search process (more on that below).

Aftercare planning for the stay-at-home parent

You may not go into an office every day, but you certainly work hard at home. And while nine times out of 10, you’ll be the one picking the kid(s) up from school, there will be occasions when your regular routine has to change. Planning for those instances now will help you avoid stress down the road (and keep your kids calm when someone else picks them up after school).

Ask yourself these questions as you create your aftercare plan:

  • When did I run into aftercare issues last year? Could those same things come up again this year?
  • Do I have a list of people that I can call at any given time to pick up and care for my kids if I can’t?
  • Is that list sufficient or do I need to add to it?
  • Do the people on that list know what their responsibilities are if I need their help?

After you answer the questions, write a Plan B for aftercare, and get started implementing it. If you have an emergency doctor’s appointment, can your best friend watch the kids after school? Or, consider connecting with a few sitters that you can comfortably use in the future.

Aftercare tips for every parent

Most parents don’t have a list of people they can use for aftercare. Luckily, there are options.

Find and hire a new sitter with confidence—and fast. Use a tool like Sittercity that allows you to see ratings and reviews for sitters, check references, get background checks, and more. 

As you start your search, be prepared:

Once you have your back-to-school schedule in place, consider what you’ll do if plans change suddenly. Have backup sitters that already know your kids. Tell them that you may be reaching out at the last minute for help. Having a team of people you know, and trust will make the transition back to school less stressful for everyone.

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