School’s almost out and the kids have the summer off. If only your job had summer vacation, too! Summertime is a common time for parents to encounter shifting schedules and, consequently, gaps in their child care. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for a smooth transition to summertime care.

Talk to your current child care provider(s). Do they have plans to go away for the summer? Would they be able to handle watching your children for additional, or different, hours? See what they’re up for and find out if you can work out a temporary summer schedule.

Talk to relatives. Maybe you have a family member who has a flexible schedule or is already staying at home with her own kids, and would be willing to help out on a temporary basis. (Even if you don’t give them money, be sure to shower them with gifts and favors for the help!)

Talk to friends. Does a friend have a nanny who’d be willing to do a temporary nanny share? Or, like your relatives, might be willing to watch your kids herself?

Start searching outside your circle. After you work out your summer family schedule, visit Sittercity and post a job with your weekly childcare needs. There are plenty of sitters near you that have schedules that match yours. You’ll receive applications from interested sitters, and then you can select the right one for your family.

So how do real moms handle the summer schedule juggle? We talked to a few to get their take on things and hopefully give you a few ideas.

Preschooler with a nanny

The situation: My husband is a carpenter and I work full time from home, but it isn’t the type of job I can do while caring for my children. Our preschooler goes to Montessori school a few days a week and has a part-time nanny. When school is out for summer the nanny’s hours increase, which is a little more costly for us. We’re lucky that she is available to expand her hours and we don’t have to hire a second nanny! Between the nanny and some planned activities he stays active and happy all summer.

The solution: The first thing I did in establishing his summer routine was to research and list out all of the age-appropriate activities available during the summer in our community. There aren’t many to choose from! Note: We have hot summers and so it’s helpful to find places the nanny can take him to in the heat of the day where there is air conditioning. It’s also nice if he can cross paths with other kids.

The schedule:

  • Nanny is with him 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday
  • Most of their day is free form between playing inside, playing outside, and preparing and eating food.
  • To keep things interesting and stay cool, they go to any of the following drop-in activities:
  • Tuesdays: 2- to 3-year-old swim session at the pool at 11 a.m.
  • Wednesdays: 2- to 4-year-old open gymnastics gym at 12 p.m.; story time at the library at 1:30 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 2- to 4-year-old open gymnastics gym at 2 p.m.
  • Fridays: story time at the library at 1:30 p.m.

Kindergartener with college-age after-school sitters

The situation: Our daughter is just completing her first year in public school; we work full-time and have two alternating afternoon sitters who watch her until we get home from work around 6. They’re college students, and they arrange their class schedules during the year so one of them is always available after 2:30 p.m. We love them! In April we made them both full-time summer nanny offers, but they’re graduating and moving, so we have no child care lined up.

The solution: We decided to sign our daughter up for park district summer camp to keep her active, outside and socializing with other kids. The problem? Pickup was at 3 p.m., just like a regular school day. We talked to everyone — friends, relatives, even the parents on our little suburban block — who might have leads on an afternoon sitter. It turns out that one of our neighbors has a full-time nanny for her two-year-old daughter, and she’d be willing to pick up our daughter and watch her until we can get home from work. (She’ll get a raise for those hours, and we will split the cost.) On the handful of weeks after summer camp ends and before school begins, she’ll watch her full-time. If this situation works out we may consider continuing it into the school year!

The schedule:

Monday-Friday: Summer camp for 5-6 year olds 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; nanny share at our neighbor’s house 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Two Preschoolers and a Toddler

The situation: My husband and I both have full-time jobs. Four years ago, when our first son was born, we posted a job on Sittercity and found the perfect nanny: A stay-at-home mom who has a son the same age. My kid got a nanny and a buddy in one package! When we had our second son we gave her a raise and now she watches all three boys. Normally the older boys are in preschool during the day and she takes the younger one to classes, but now that school’s out we a different plan. She’s also planning to take a few weeks off to visit family, and we’ll need a backup sitter for those days, too.

The solution: The older boys need to be kept active, so we’ve enrolled them in a handful of classes and sports, and also found some local activities for them all to participate in (such as pool passes at the local park district pool). We’ve also posted a job on Sittercity for a backup caregiver during the few weeks our nanny will be out of town.

The schedule:

  • Monday-Friday: Nanny is with them 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Mondays: Swim class for the older boys 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesdays: No classes; Drop-in open gym at the park district gymnastics center
  • Wednesdays: Spanish class for the older boys 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Thursdays: Soccer for the older boys 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Fridays: No classes; pool day when the weather’s nice

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