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As a nanny, I hear it all the time “oh my gosh, we can never find a sitter, we really need someone.” As a new mom, I felt exactly the same! I was a nanny for goodness sakes, how hard could it really be to find someone to care for my child?
As it turns out it was a difficult thing to do and I finally feel like I have a handle (somewhat) on this. (someday I would like to dedicate a free child care site, but that’s a whole lot of planning to do!) If you are a working mom who needs consistent care to work, there are a lot of options. I also have solutions for those stay at home moms who need to get out of their yoga pants, join society and maybe have a hot date. Or, a day alone without 20 million questions. Okay, maybe I need to call my sitter.
No matter what your situation this is something that is very near and dear to my heart and I hope I can help those in any situation. Below are some ways to make sure your children are well taken care of.
Nanny or Manny: I put this one first because I am a nanny, so I am a bit biased. Someone who comes into your home to care for your children. Do not discredit men who would like to work in this position. I have met some wonderful mannies!
Pros: Child care is in your home. You get to choose who you would like to be your nanny and can check in or get calls and texts. Most nannies possess early childhood education and include teaching in daily care. May also know other languages or be able to teach an instrument or skill. One on one attention with children. Nannies can also drive children to school or other activities and appointments. They may also be willing to clean and cook, but most will expect extra pay for these. Can care for children who are sick.
Cons: More costly than daycare, if using a nanny agency, you may be limited to those candidates they have available.
How to find a nanny: You can find a nanny in many places including sites like care.com or sittercity.com. The bad part about these sites is that while inexpensive, you have to do all the work of finding the nanny yourself. This can be difficult for new parents who have never hired outside help. Make sure to include specific details about you and your family in your ad. Another way to find a nanny is through an agency. This can often take time, so give yourself at least a month if you go this route. A nanny agency is definitely a more expensive method but saves you the trouble and a good agency will replace a nanny that doesn’t work out. You can also use craigslist or ask friends for help in finding a nanny. Both still require you to interview, complete background check and references. It is important to call a nannies references! While it may take a few calls, you may find the real reason someone didn’t call back is because the nanny was not so great.
Nanny Share: A nanny share is when a neighbor and/or friend hire one nanny to watch both of your children.
Pros: Decreased cost and allows more time for one on one interaction with children. Have all the benefits of having your own nanny, just with a few more friends!
Cons: Different schedules may cause conflict, as well as location, whose home to use and any quarrels with friend or family member in the nanny share, could disrupt care.
How to find a Nanny Share: You may or may not be able to use an agency for a nanny share. You will have to check their policy. You would definitely be able to use care.com or sittercity.com. Make sure you are clear with your ad that the nanny will be working for more than one family.
Family or Friend Caring for Child in Your Home (Full-time): Pretty self-explanatory. Some friends are willing to babysit for a decreased amount. I have a friend who will do $30.00 for an entire day. Family members may do it for free.
Pros: Still in your home with decreased cost. The personal interaction; may be willing to do what a nanny does if they have education and training. You know them well and trust may be increased.
Cons: Some family members who babysit for free don’t listen to the parents. They assume since they’re doing you a favor it’s not necessary. May not have all special skills and education of a nanny.
How to find: Ask your family and friends, see who may be willing to help. Often times you may have mom friends who are willing to help out. They might be looking to make a little extra money, but not want to work the 9-5. This may allow them to bring their own children or run errands with your kids in tow. Just make sure you are OK with this and check their car for correct car seats or give them yours, or buy an extra.
Pros: Cost is less than a nanny. Children get to practice social skills interacting with others. Teachers usually have education in early childhood and there are daily lessons. Super cute crafts!
Cons: Kids are often sick. If children are sick and cannot go to daycare someone will be needed to stay home with them.
How to find a licensed daycare facility: This is fairly simple, you may drive past a Tutor Time or facility of this likeness every day. The key is finding one that fits your needs and family. Some daycares offer drop in rates, while others make you attend a certain number of days. You will have to research each facility and make appointments to visit. I would highly recommend visiting a facility before choosing one. In my own experience, I thought we had found a great facility only to stop by during the day and find that there was one caregiver for 8 babies. Not something I was comfortable with at all.
Licensed in-home daycares: These are daycare centers in a family’s home that the state has approved for safety and granted a license of care.
Pros: Very reasonable prices, usually run by another mom, socialization with other children. Often groups are smaller than a facility. Available for a tax credit.
Cons: Illness, not always as structured as daycare and the parent may not have any previous child care experience. May not be able to drive children. Though caregiver may have been screened, not everyone who lives in the home is checked out.
How to find a licensed in home care: The most common place to find these listings is on craigslist. They will often post on care.com and sittercity. You will have to visit these homes as well. We had another experience with an in-home care that smelled strongly of urine every time I was there. I understood that she had a lot of children in the home, but these are little things you should be noticing.
Unlicensed in home daycares: These are in home child care locales that have not been visited by the state and approved for safety.
Pros: very affordable, socialization with others, may be willing to care for children who are ill.
Cons: Home has not been verified as safe for in-home care and caregiver may not have been screened with a background check. Child to caregiver ratio may be unknown.
How to find unlicensed in-home daycares: These are usually listed on craigslist, care.com or sittercity as well. I know many great previous nannies who have become in home care providers, but you really need to do your research. See if they offer a webcam in their home or other safety devices. Check their background and home for safety.
Neighbors/Parent Swap: I know many parents who swap child care. I’ve done this with a friend as does my sister. This is perfect for a few hours to run errands or have a date night!
Pros: No cost, trust of friend or family member. Kids are able to play with their friends as well!
Cons: You will have to work around each other’s schedules. May not be reliable for everyday work needs. Just depends on the situation, if you and your friend work different schedules, you may be able to work this out!
Dropping children off with family members: Grandmas, aunts, uncles, sisters, cousins, whoever it may be! I also heard of two sisters who shared the money, literally. One sister worked, the other cared for the children and they split 50/50. Sounds perfect to me! And works especially well if one family member wants to work and the other would like to stay home & If you have a close enough friend you may even be able to work it out with them. I would just consider a contract in case things get messy. You may also find family members willing to split the duties. Our friend had a preemie baby and was unable to take her to daycare. Her mom watched the baby 2 days, her mother-in-law 2 and a niece the last day. This is a great option if someone doesn’t have to ability to watch your child full time.
Pros: Usually no cost, children are comfortable with one on one attention and family members.
Cons: Must drop off children before work, pick them up. Family members may not always adhere to your rules. There may not be a structured schedule (for those who like that).
How to find family child care: Talk to your family. You cannot assume that your mother wants to watch your children. I have heard a lot of grandmother’s mention that they really did not want to care for their grandchildren, but did not want to say no. Let your family members know it’s ok if they do not want to as well. I know all situations are different, but communication is key in this scenario. You will also need to discuss the kind of discipline you would like your children to receive. Especially if this is a continuous care situation. Sometimes we assume our parents will do the same as we do or vice versa.
Asking Friends to Help Out (for occasional care): Just this week I had a volunteer interview and one of my husband’s friends was able to watch our son for a few hours. He may have been the least likely person to ask, but once my husband mentioned him I knew it could work (our regular sitter is out of town). He did very well! He has healthcare experience and was willing to babysit for free! Score!
Pros: Are usually willing to help out last minute and often babysit for free.
Cons: May not have as much experience as a regular sitter, and can usually only sit for short periods, not on a regular basis.
How to find a sitter friend: Just ask! Some friends are willing to help out and some are not. Just make sure if your child has any special conditions that they know or you explain items they may not be aware of.
BUCA is a service that may be offered through your work. Also known as back up care advantage it is a service that offers child care in the case that your regular daycare isn’t open or your nanny is sick.
What they do is call a provider to find a nanny who will come to your home and care for your child. It may be known by another name, so if you are looking for this benefit ask your human resources representative.
Pros: You are able to go to work when your nanny is sick or if daycare is closed. The nannies are from reputable agencies and have completed thorough background checks and interviews.
Cons: You are unable to meet the nanny before they come to your home. There is not always a nanny available. When you call, the try to find a provider, but most of these cases are last minute and it’s just not always possible.
Paying for child care is often very difficult as well. Even though you may be working full time, it’s still a huge expense. Some people say they pay more for child care than their mortgage! To me, that is crazy, but if I worked full-time I would probably be in the same situation. Here are some helpful tips for paying:
Check your work reimbursement, most places give at least some back for child care costs.
Taxes, make sure you pay legally and submit payments at the end of the year.
Family members, nanny shares, friends are going to be less expensive.
Works nights or stay home until children are in school. This is not always an option, but I work nights so we do not have to pay for child care. It works very well for us!
Finding care for your child can be difficult, trust me, I understand! I hope these solutions are somewhat helpful to you and your family or give you an idea of how to find care for your children. Here are some items that may be helpful when hiring a nanny or child caregiver.
HELPFUL DOCUMENTS: When hiring a nanny or finding a caregiver these forms may be helpful. Please use these at your own digression. The writer will not be held responsible for any actions, due to these documents.