It’s a scenario every working parent dreads: Your phone buzzes at 7 a.m. with a text from your nanny — oh no, she can’t make it in today! Breathe deep — if you prepare a backup plan in advance you won’t need to scramble or take a day off of work. Follow these steps to make sure you’re always covered for childcare, even at the last minute.

Discuss sick days with your nanny in advance. She may have a friend or family member who can serve as a backup caregiver.

Talk to your family. Maybe your parents live in the area, or your sister is a stay-at-home mom, and can help you out in a pinch. Definitely discuss this in advance to see if they’d be willing or interested to help you out last-minute, and don’t rely on them as a sure thing — it’s always possible that they’ll have plans that day and won’t be able to help.

Start compiling your backup sitter list now. This is important, and it’s where Sittercity can help you. Post a job on Sittercity saying you’re looking to meet nannies in your area who can sub when your current nanny is sick or unavailable. This is your chance to meet a variety of new babysitters who could be a good fit for your family and build up your sitter “network.” Hopefully you’ll find more than one backup who you can add to your last-minute babysitter call list.

Prepare your kids. The last thing you want to do is invite a brand-new sitter over that your kids don’t know, then dash off to work for the day. It may seem obvious, but it’s incredibly important that you introduce any new nanny or babysitter to your children in advance. Once you select a few backup sitters, see if they’d like to come over and meet your kids for a shorter span of time, such as a date night, so they get used to each other. The best (albeit most expensive) thing is to hire your backup to co-sit with your current nanny for a day, so she is exposed to your family’s daily routines.

Consider this preparation for planned absences, too. Nannies go on vacation or take planned time off just like everyone else. When you have your backup network ready you’ll be able to handle her absence without any stress.

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