Top 5 Traits to Look for in an After-School Nanny

School supply lists, fall sports schedules, dance studio calendars and piano lesson reminders are slowly starting to fill our inboxes. And that can only mean one thing – summer is coming to an end and (like it or not) the school year and the fall season is beginning soon.

The start of the school year signals new schedules, new routines and new activities. Depending on work schedules or the number of older kids involved in activities, many parents must hire an after-school nanny or sitter to accomplish it all. Perhaps you need a sitter to help watch younger kids a couple nights a week from after school until when you get home. Or maybe you need a nanny to help shuttle older kids to or from after-school activities.

If you think you will need to hire a nanny this fall, now is the time to start looking. Here are a few key attributes to look for in a good after-school nanny who will be able to help you and your family successfully make it through the year.

• Organization. You might need someone who not only can manage schedules of more than one child, but also schedules that may change every day of the week. You want someone who can keep it all straight and do it punctually. And also be willing to multi-task from time to time when schedules change or you have an extra errand for her to help with.

• Flexibility. Let’s face it – as much as we want to be home when we say we will be home, traffic snarls pop-up, long work meetings go longer than expected and appointments get in the way. It’s hard to be home right on time, all the time. You want someone who is flexible enough to stay late on those unexpectedly late nights, or even help out on those random days during the school year when the kids are out of school.

• Ability to drive – safely. Unless you have other arrangements to transport your kids from school, you want a nanny who not only knows how to drive but also is willing to drive your kids in her car. Even if school is only a mile away, you will likely need her to bring your kids home, or maybe even bring them to soccer or piano lessons after school. And you want to know that she will do it safely.

• Smarts. The time period that stretches from after school to dinner is a great time to do homework – school is still fresh in your kids’ minds and they usually aren’t too tired to tackle it. If your nanny will be watching your kids during that time period, you’ll want to make sure she is not only capable of helping them, but also comfortable serving in this role. If your child needs a tutor on a specific subject, such as math, you might try to find a nanny who is particularly adept at math.

• Feels comfortable cooking. Everybody knows how ravenous kids can be after they get out of school. You’ll want a nanny who is knowledgeable about offering healthy snack options and also feels comfortable making them. Depending on how late you typically expect to get home, you might also might try to find someone who can help with dinner preparations, or even feed the kids before you get home.

Every family has different needs and every nanny has different strengths. When we’re pairing a family with a caregiver for an entire year, it’s more important than ever that we match those needs with those strengths as perfectly as possible. While it sometimes takes a while to find that perfect match, the patience is worth it. Because when you find a nanny that matches your needs, your entire school year will go just a little more smoothly.

This blog was originally published August 3 on, the Omaha World-Herald’s online community for moms, dads and families.

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