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The Family Groove


Good HelpQuality child care is at the top of every parent’s list. Whether you’re a WAHM, a SAHM or you work full- or part-time out of the house, you need help, ma’am! So, THE FAMILY GROOVE asked nanny expert Candi Wingate for her advice on finding the right kind of care for little bears. Here, she gives you a how-to of what to do—and what not to do! —when you’re on the great sitter search.

What Do I Need?

For how many hours a week will you need the child care? A nanny/babysitter can work full-time, part-time, temporarily, for the summer, on 24-hour duty, etc. A full-time nanny can work anywhere from 30 hours per week and beyond. A part-time nanny can work anywhere from five to 30 hours per week. Some families who hire part-time nannies will need someone two to three full days per week, while the next family may need someone for before-/after-school care every day of the week. Summer nannies generally work two to three months during the summer, and temporary nannies are hired for on-call situations from one day to a few weeks at a time. Many nannies will make a yearlong commitment if that’s what the family wishes. Remember to specify the specific hours/days of the week you will need up front.

If it’s a nanny that you are seeking, consider whether you want him/her to live in your home. For a live-in nanny (meaning someone who lives in your home), you will need to provide him/her with a private bedroom and either a shared or private bath. A live-in nanny does have specified hours to work and will have downtime. A live-out nanny is someone who comes to your home during the specified hours you have agreed upon but resides elsewhere.

What will be their responsibilities/duties? A nanny/babysitter’s responsibilities can include, but are not limited to: child care, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation, errands, carpooling, laundry and anything that has to do with your children.

Where Do I Look?

Go to a nanny agency. There are many reputable agencies that will help you find the right nanny or au pair for your family. The nannies are prescreened and the agencies will hold your hand while you go through the process—but be prepared to pay for the services you are getting.

Hop online. Sites like mine are designed to easily assist families in finding a quality nanny/babysitter for their specific needs for a small fee.

Be sure to give yourself ample time to conduct a thorough search, as you never want to settle for someone just because you need the help.

What Do I Ask?

You can start by conducting an introductory interview over the phone. If things go well, then you can set up an in-person interview. I suggest meeting the nanny prospect at a local coffee shop, for example, without the kids and only introducing him/her to your kids if you’ve decided to take the next step with him/her.

Here are five must-ask questions:

  1. What is the applicant’s nanny/babysitting experience and has it been with a child (children) the same age as yours?

  2. What are the applicant’s references? Check all the references you are furnished. The more child care references, the better.

  3. What is the applicant’s availability?

  4. Does the applicant know CPR and/or what would he/she do in case of emergency?

  5. What is the applicant’s child care philosophy?

I’ve Found Someone I Like—Now What?

Be sure to do a background search on your to-be nanny, including checking his/her driving and potential criminal records.

What the Heck Should I Be Paying?

The current nanny/babysitting pay rate can encompass a wide range. How much you pay your nanny/babysitter can vary widely depending on where you live, how much experience the nanny/babysitter has, how many children he/she will be watching and what her/his duties will be. Nanny/babysitting rates can be anywhere from $5 to $20 an hour. Here are some considerations that affect the nanny/babysitting pay rate.

  • In general, mother’s helpers who aren’t fully responsible for the care of your children but are there to assist you get paid less.

  • Younger nannies/babysitters tend to have a lower pay rate as well.

  • Major metropolitan areas tend to command the highest pay rate.

  • The pay rate may be higher in cases where a nanny/babysitter has more years of experience, is caring for more than one of your children and has specialized training such as CPR certification or early childhood education.

  • Nannies/babysitters who have a greater degree of responsibility and have been a past nanny/babysitter can command higher rates as well.

  • If you’re wondering what the going rate is for nannying/babysitting, check with friends and neighbors, other parents and parenting boards for the current going pay rates.

Do I Need a Contract?

If you’re preparing to hire a nanny, putting together a child care contract will ensure both parties are clear about everything from job duties to wages. If you’re not sure what you should put in your child care contract with your nanny, check this basic list to make sure you have all the important items covered:

  1. Detail the hours you expect your nanny to work.

  2. Include the benefits, if any. These items can include paid vacation days, health insurance, sick days, etc.

  3. Write out job duties, detailing specific items.

  4. Include the specific wages and when you expect to pay. For instance, if your nanny can expect payment on the 1st and 15th of each month, note it.

  5. Include verbiage about every special situation you can think of. For instance, if you expect your nanny to drive your child to and from preschool, note whether you’ll be covering gas expenses and how much, etc.

For more helpful tips and a free preview of available nannies/babysitters, visit www.nannies4hire.com and www.babysitters4hire.com.