There are plenty of articles on how to hire an awesome nanny from the parents’ point of view, but it’s my not-so-humble opinion that understanding the hiring process from the nanny’s perspective is truly the way you will end up with a kick ass nanny. Luckily for you, I spent seven years as a career nanny for eight different kiddos, so I know a thing or two about creating and maintaining a successful relationship between caregiver and employer.
And while hiring a nanny is NOT a way to save on childcare costs (daycare is much more affordable), I will delve into several ways you can save a little dough while finding and maintaining a nanny. My hope is that the following tips will assist you in finding someone who will love and care for your littles as much as you do. I guarantee that once you find the perfect nanny, you will end up with a lifelong friend and advocate for your children.
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Use Care.com or Sittercity
Prior to the joys of the internet, hiring a nanny was a huge, time consuming endeavor. A family would have to either post a classified ad in the paper or they would hire a nanny agency. Now, thanks to the world wide web, hiring a nanny is a much easier process, especially if you use Care.com or Sittercity.
Both Care.com and Sittercity offer amazing options when you purchase a membership. You can run background checks (at an additional fee), contact nannies, and view references. You can even search for special needs care if your kiddo has a disability. If you choose to pay month-to-month, you’ll spend over $30 for each service, but if you purchase an annual membership, you’ll spend just $11.67 a month for Sittercity and $13 a month for Care.com.
To determine which service is best for your family, I recommend taking advantage of each of their free search options. This will give you an idea of which service has more caregivers in your area.
Consider an Au Pair
While significantly more complicated than hiring a local nanny, families can save money on their childcare costs by hiring an au pair. Au pairs are caregivers from foreign countries that come and stay with you in your home. While there are some significant savings to be had by hiring an au pair, there are plenty of important things to consider before going this route. These include:
- Au pairs are generally limited to how long they can stay. Here in MN, it is one year.
- While the au pair stays in your home, they are limited by law on how much they can work, usually around 40 hours per week.
- Culture clashes are very common between au pairs and families and you risk hiring someone who has a vastly different “parenting” style than you.
- Some au pairs do not have proper driver’s training. I know of a family who had to send their au pair back home as she kept on getting into accidents.
- Not all au pairs have a great grasp of the English language.
- You will have another adult to feed, as well as other expenses like car insurance and a cell phone.
While it may seem like hiring an au pair is all risk and no reward, there are plenty of families who find this to be an ideal arrangement. If you are thinking about going this route, be sure to do your research so you can hire the best au pair agency in your area. Some are shady as hell!
Another way you can save on the cost of a nanny is to “share” the nanny with another family. In a nutshell, this means that you split the costs of a nanny in half, therefore saving a significant amount of money on childcare. While this may seem like an awesome solution to the high costs associated with hiring a nanny, it is actually quite complicated and can end up being an impossible endeavor. The following are things to consider and problems many families run into when creating a nanny share:
- Where will the nanny care for the children? Will you alternate houses?
- What happens if one family is on vacation or if they are sick? Does the nanny still come but only gets paid half her usual amount?
- What if the two families have two different parenting styles?
- What if one family decides to end the nanny share?
- Even though you will be sharing your nanny, both families will need to pay their nanny separately and you will need to submit their own payroll taxes.
As you can see, using a nanny share is not an easy thing to establish and maintain. That being said, the cost savings are significant and may be motivation enough to get over all of the complicated hurdles.
Allow Nanny to Bring Their Child
Let’s face it, childcare is ridiculously expensive and even the best-paid nannies can’t afford to put their children in daycare. If they did, the majority of their take-home pay would go towards childcare. That’s why many nannies choose to bring their kiddos to work with them. When you consider this option when hiring a nanny, you can potentially save a couple dollars an hour on care.
While I chose not to go back to work as a nanny once my son was born, I did consider it. Because some of my time at my client’s home would be taken up caring for my own child, I was willing to take a pay cut. So, while I generally charge $15 an hour as a nanny, I was going to instead ask for $12.50 an hour. It is a win-win for both the nanny and the family when this option is considered.
Be Upfront About Nanny Cams
Concerned that the nanny you hire will not be up to par? I hear you; that’s a huge concern. One way you can “weed out” the undesirables is to be up front during the hiring process if you have a nanny cam. A lot of people think I am nuts when I recommend this; I mean, isn’t a nanny cam supposed to be secret? My answer is no.
Nanny cams are there to protect your children. When a potential hire is aware that there is a nanny cam, they can choose not to apply for you position if they know they will not be able to get away with any shenanigans. On that same note, those nannies who *know* they are good nannies won’t have any problem with it. They’ll actually even appreciate it as they will be sure not to let out loud farts or pick their nose. I’m just joking…… kind of.
Offer Paid Vacation and Sick Days
All full-time employees, whether they flip burgers or are a CEO of a multi-billion dollar company, deserve paid time off. Therefore it is shocking to me how many families think differently when it comes to the people watching their most precious “possessions” – their children. Seriously, folks, if you want to make sure your nanny gives her 100% to your family, you need to appreciate her and one way to do that is offer paid time off.
I recommend offering 7-10 days of PTO for your nanny’s first year and add an additional 3 days each year they work for you. Think of it as an investment in your children, because that is exactly what it is.
Check with Your Insurance Companies
Before hiring a nanny, you will want to check with your home owner’s insurance to confirm that they cover household employees. The last thing you want to happen is have your nanny fall down the stairs or get bitten by your dog and have to pay for her medical care out of pocket. Most insurance companies do cover such things, but double-check just the same.
On that same note, if your nanny will be driving one of your vehicles, you will want to make sure that she is properly covered under your car insurance. And if she is using her own vehicle, I recommend asking to see proof of insurance before letting your littles ride with her.
Sign a Contract
Having a proper contract in place before your nanny starts is not only essential for your family’s welfare, but also for your nanny’s protection. The contract should cover household rules, pay including overtime, mileage reimbursement, how to handle sick caregivers and children, chores, termination, etc. I also recommend having a non-disclosure within the contract, because whether you like it or not, your nanny will become very aware of your personal business. I personally love this contract; just modify it to meet your family’s needs.
When you have a contract, there will be a whole lot less conflict as everyone is aware of the rules. Keep in mind, though, that your contract can be modified if any major changes occur.
Follow the Rules and Show Respect
Did you know that nannies are considered employees, not contractors? Yep, whether you like it or not, your nanny has the right to all the benefits of being an employee. If you want to make sure your nanny puts her all into caring for your family, don’t try to get around this. Don’t pay her under the table, don’t pay her less than minimum wage, and treat her with respect.
Again, as mentioned above, you will not save on childcare by hiring a nanny vs. enrolling your kiddos in daycare, so don’t even try to skimp on the important things. See having a nanny as an investment into your children’s lives and be good to her. If you treat her with respect and consideration, I promise she will do all she can to make sure your kids are happy, healthy, and safe.
Use Intuit Online Household Employee
As mentioned, nannies are considered employees so you will need to figure out payroll. There are tons of companies out there that will handle payroll for household employees, but they can cost hundreds of dollars per year. One way you can save on the costs associated with hiring a nanny is to use the Intuit Online Household Employee program. At just $20 a month, you will get all the benefits of a payroll company without the high costs, including direct deposit, calculated and withheld taxes, and yearly W-2s.
Not sure if this program is right for you? Intuit is currently offering a 30-day trial so you can try before you buy. Give it a look-see here.
Go For It!
Hopefully these 10 tips on how to hire an awesome nanny have proven helpful. I know it seems overwhelming – and believe me, it’s overwhelming for the nanny too – but dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s during the hiring process will truly pay off in the end. Remember, you are looking for the best nanny for kiddos, not the cheapest. Always keep that in mind and you will have no trouble finding a wonderful person to watch your littles.