“We thought that it was going to be difficult for both children, who have had a parent at home for six months, to suddenly have to leave the house every day,” she says. “Hiring a nanny for the summer let us postpone making arrangements for the baby's care and allowed the boys to be together for a few more months.”
Purrenhage cautions that although it may seem as though a local college would be filled with people wanting to take on a summer childcare position, she learned that “the average freshman/sophomore college student has no experience with the kind of long days and commitment that a full-time nanny position for two young children requires."
“So although I was able to place a free ad at both of the local colleges (through the career placement office), I didn't find any strong candidates there.”
If you are embarking on a nanny share, or arranging childcare among a group of friends, it can only be successful with full and open communication between all of the parents. Some things to consider are how comfortable you feel with others driving your child, whether your child has certain special needs that are likely to be in conflict with a group (e.g. having to nap at certain times or in certain locations), and how comfortable you feel with a variety of people disciplining your child.
Some parents decide to use childcare centers in their neighborhoods on a short-term basis during the summer. According to Peter Pizzolongo, assistant director for professional development, National Association For the Education of Young Children, it’s not uncommon for centers to have opening just for the summer months.
“Sometimes parents are teachers and are off for the summer, or they have a family member who is off and they send the child to Grandma’s,” he says.
He cautions that although it is just a temporary placement, you should do the same kind of homework that you would if it were permanent and make sure that the daycare has the appropriate licensing. He adds that you may want to look for centers that have been accredited by NAEYC to be guaranteed of an added measure of quality.
“One of our mantras is that the early years are learning years, and the addendum is that that happens throughout the year. For young children, those three months are as important as any other throughout the year,” he says.
Finally, there’s one set of childcare providers that you should consider putting into the mix if possible. The time honored tradition of sending the kids away to spend a little time with the grandparents is still alive and well in many families.
Carla Chennault, a suburban Detroit teacher and mother of two girls, says that her daughters look forward to special time spent with their grandmother each summer.
“My mother was anxious to do it. The girls had spent a lot of time with her, so it was more of a home away from home relationship. We didn’t make a big deal out of it at all.”
Whatever childcare you choose for the summer, make sure that it really is right for your child. Remember that “only for the summer” has a very different meaning for a young child than it does for an adult.
As Pizzolongo says, “As adults we tend to think of the summer as going by like that. Just remember how long the summers were when you were a child. Then, summer seemed to go on forever.”