Our “Back to School” Guide For Parents Who Employ Childcare Providers

Because it’s August already …

Good times at a Bay Area Hand in Hand playdate!

It’s the last day of school, then the Fourth of July, then Back to School night! Isn’t that right? It goes by in a flash, and like many things (birthdays, Thanksgiving, important presentations at work), we often find ourselves wishing we’d started thinking about it and planning sooner, before the whole thing snuck up on us and we’re frantically googling “easiest last minute cheap fun birthday party.”

So consider this your friendly Public Service Announcement that if your childcare has been in summer mode, and things might change when the school year starts, now is a good time to start working on it.

These are tips to help you think and plan ahead, for maximum success and satisfaction for both your family and the childcare provider you employ.

While all this advice is a variation on the three central tenets of our Fair Care Pledge, we’ve created this back-to-school special from our very own staff who are parents and employers themselves.

Meet with your childcare provider now to plan out the beginning of the school year

Yes, now! Whenever you’re reading this. The more time you both have, the better. And there can be a lot to figure out: You’ll need to discuss any changes from your child(ren)’s summer to fall schedule, or from last year’s school hours and location to this year’s. What’s the drop off / pick up plan, and are there any after-school activities you’ll need to plan around?

Our director Ilana Berger adds, “Remember that the first few weeks of school often have odd schedules, especially with little ones, where there can be lots of half days and early dismissals in the beginning of the school year.”

Take note, too, of holidays and days off in the first month or so of school, and make sure you have a plan for those with the child care provider (or an alternative plan). Can you provide a hard copy, even a hand-scribbled one, of the usual schedule and all the special dates and holidays?

Ask the nanny you employ about their plans

If the nanny you employ is a parent too, check in about any changes to their own schedule or if they will need to take time off, either to register their kid (it’s a half or whole-day process where some of us live!) or get time off early to go to an open house, orientation or parent-teacher conference.

That way, you can plan to find babysitter coverage in advance.

Consider any changes in roles & responsibilities (do you want to delegate?)

Whether it’s your kids’ first year of school or their fourth, it’s worth reflecting on what has changed, or what you might like to change. Who is going to make the kids’ lunch? “This is always a big stress in my household,” says our Oakland-based organizer, Lindsay, “So it might be something to ask for help from the nanny if she can do it the day before or at least ensure that the lunch boxes get emptied and cleaned so they are ready for the next day.”

Remember that if you’re making significant changes in the job responsibilities, it’s worth reflecting that in writing and increasing pay, too.

Keep the whole care-giving team in the loop

Who else needs to know about these plans? Neighbors, nanny-share families, grandparents or cousins? Does the school require information on who is authorized to pick your kids up?

Our New York organizer, Tatiana, says, “My in-laws are our caregivers. But they want to know everything in advance to organize well. As soon as we get the school calendar for the month we make a copy for them so they know the days of early release and holidays — there are holidays that we wouldn’t be normally aware of. We try to let the grandparents know in advance when we’ll be home for dinner, too, so we don’t overwhelm them!”

Earn some parent karma

Were these helpful to you? Could the other parents at your school benefit from them? Please feel free to share this link with your parents’ list serv or school administration. And if you think there’s appetite for even more information for employers of nannies and childcare, we’re happy to talk with you or your school about offering a free educational workshop or webinar. Email us at info at domesticemployers dot org and we’ll talk!

We wish you all a pleasant rest of summer and a good transition into the school year! To get more tips, domestic-employer basics, and seasonal reminders like these in your inbox, take the Fair Care Pledge.



Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network

We are a national network of employers of nannies, house cleaners home attendants, and allies advocating for domestic workers rights. domesticemployers.org