As the winter holidays approach in November and December, many parents prepare to take time off to travel, take family vacations, or visit loved ones elsewhere.

Plus, flu season typically begins when fall does; most flu activity in the United States peaks between December and February. With COVID-19 this year, things may be even more unpredictable. Families may require more nanny help if their kids become sick.

What can you do as an agency owner to make sure the holidays go smoothly for you and your team? Start preparing now in October.

Begin making holiday schedules

Start thinking about your holiday operating hours. Do you plan to close the agency completely on certain holidays? Will you extend your office hours on other days just in case your clients or nannies need you? 

If you want to change your hours or services offered, remember to talk to your team about them so that they know what to expect. Don’t forget to update your website, social media pages, and email newsletters with any changes as well.

Ask families what they need from you

Not sure how you can best prepare for the holidays? Ask your clients what they need from you! You’ll meet their needs without wasting your time or resources. 

For example, you may expect your clients to ask for nannies over Christmas and New Year’s, but in actuality, parents are hoping for extra help during Thanksgiving weekend. Or, rather than request nannies for weeklong holiday vacations, most families want a nanny for only a few days. 

Get clear on what families are looking for so your agency can be prepared to provide those services.

Start planning for your nannies’ time off

Ask your nannies to check their schedules ahead of time so you can begin planning for their time off. When you know who will be gone in advance, you can make sure your services and client needs are still covered.

You should already have some sort of time-off request policy in place for your agency. An official policy sets expectations for your nannies and makes the approval and scheduling process easier. If you don’t have one, I suggest starting with the rules for how far in advance you’ll accept requests. 

It’s your call: you might want requests handed in two weeks prior or two months. You might have different rules for taking two days off versus two weeks off. Whether you use online forms, apps, or emails for your requests, have a standardized system that all your nannies know to use.

Recruit extra help

Now that you have your nannies’ schedules all planned out in your calendar, you might find that there are some gaps you need to fill. You may want to begin recruiting new nannies now to ensure that you’re covered if some of your nannies take time off for their own holiday celebrations.

You can hire more nannies as seasonal, temporary, or part-time help if you don’t need anyone full-time, or don’t have room in your budget. The good news is, many people look for extra work during the holidays to bump up their income or pick up the slack from reduced hours elsewhere.

Check in with your business

Before the holidays begin, why not take some time to check in with your business? During quieter times, you may even review your marketing strategy and how you’re serving your clients. Both may have changed because of the pandemic.

Look at your spending and see if you need to make any budget changes before the year ends. Finances aren’t anyone’s favorite task, I know, but checking them now can help prepare you for the new year.

Don’t forget to check in with yourself, too! We often focus on showing appreciation for our nannies and our clients during the holiday season, but caring for yourself is just as important. After all, you’re the one running the show. You can’t do that well if you’re not feeling your best!