Babysitter Solutions: Schooling Your Sitter

The school year is starting, and you've got a shopping list. Don't forget a babysitter!

As you gear up to hit the back-to-school sales at the local office stores with kids and cart in tow, make sure not to forget the most important part of ensuring your fall goes smoothly — a babysitter.

Why are back-to-school babysitters important? They can help smooth the bumps between summer and fall as you run errands; they can aid you in readjusting your work schedule as the kids reenter school; and they can provide you with some much-needed rest time for get-togethers and the occasional pedicure. But when booking a back-to-school sitter, be aware that you'll be competing with almost every other mother in your neighborhood, as September is the most popular month for booking care. Use the following five tips to stay ahead of the game with hiring and training, and get some rest this fall!

Tip 1: Start Early
Unlike a sitter for winter or spring, fall babysitters are very hard to come by if you wait too long. September's high sitter rates and sitters' back-to-school schedules can get in the way while you're trying to find your care match. Remember that 80 percent of babysitters 17 and up are in college, and while you're trying to firm up your back-to-school schedule, they will be too.

The best time to start searching for a fall sitter is a month before your kids return to school. If you start earlier, sitters will still be in summer mode and not know their schedules. If you start later, you might be too late. Post your job a month before your school starting date, and then screen your top candidates two weeks before your kids return to school. If your candidate pool is low after the first week, refresh your posting the second week to bring in more potential candidates. If you've chosen a candidate by the third week, you can pass over your upcoming schedule and breathe easy (but make sure to have a few backups, just in case!) If you still haven't found a match after week three, you still have one week to correct the problem and interview backup candidates.

If your child's school starts particularly late, and you're worried that area care might be depleted by the time you post, consider posting a "teaser" job that explains your dilemma and asks for resumes six weeks in advance. Sitters will appreciate your candor, and it will give you more of a chance to snag a great sitter whose schedule matches your own.

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