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Children & Parenting
Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By punkgirl59 Comments: 4805, member since Wed Feb 13, 2002
On Wed Jul 31, 2013 07:23 PM

I know there have been a few posts recently about working as a nanny, but I'm on the opposite side of things and I have no idea what I'm doing.

As most of you probably know, I'm a single mom and I have a 3 year old girl. I'm starting a PhD program in a month and I moved to a place where I have no family and don't know a soul. I need somebody to watch my daughter while I'm at school/practicum/externship/whatever, at least 3 days a week. Basically just to show up at my house while she's still asleep, get her up, make her breakfast, entertain her for a few hours, take her to dance/tumbling, and drop her off at preschool. Shouldn't be that hard. Maybe a max of about 5 hours a day.

But...she has never stayed with anyone besides family. When I have worked/been in school in the past, she was watched exclusively by my mom or my sister-in-law. And it absolutely freaks me out to know that she's going to have to stay with a stranger. So I want to go about this the right way.

So, if you've ever hired and/or worked as a nanny, any advice? Where to look, what to advertise for? I've been looking at Care.com and it seems pretty legit and reputable. Does anyone have any experience with it or any other websites? Is there anything in particular I should look for when I'm weeding them out or interviewing? I know I'm looking for someone with their own transportation and a clean driving record, and someone who is CPR/First Aid certified. But beyond that, how can you tell the good nannies from the ones who are going to let your kid watch TV all day or drown your kid in the bathtub (that's morbid, but dude, it happens).

Also, I'm a little lost on what to do financially. Do I hire them as a contracted employee? Pay them under the table? Do I have to deal with their tax deductions? I looked on Care.com to see what the average pay is for my area and I'm able to pay well above the mean, so I hope that generates some interest. Do I need to write up a contract outlining length of employment so they don't walk out after a month? Is that even allowed?

Clearly, I'm clueless. This whole thing is completely foreign to me and it makes me a little sick to have a stranger in my house watching my kid. Blech. And I'm not even a really paranoid/overbearing mom. I'm just so used to having her stuck to my side 24/7...

Anyway, advice? Anything helps.

Please and thank you.

11 Replies to Advice on Hiring a Nanny

re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By TuniePremium member Comments: 1995, member since Mon Aug 08, 2005
On Wed Jul 31, 2013 07:54 PM
Edited by Tunie (138112) on 2013-07-31 20:53:53 added something
I am a nanny, I have no children of my own and therefore have never had to hire anyone, so I apologize if my advice is not what you are looking for.

Care.com is okay but not great. Parents have to pay a fee to send a message to any nannies, I don't know if you knew about that already, because apparently they don't tell you that until you actually try to send someone a message. I also use Sittercity.com. A lot of people advertise on Craigslist, both nannies and parents, there is a section just for child care. Not sure how you feel about that. Care.com has advice sections on paying nannies and taxes, as well as contracts (yes, certainly allowed). Let me know if you need help finding those. You may want to run a background check and request a driving record. Definitely check references

ETA: You don't have to create an advertisement on Care.com. You can search for nannies in your area and send messages to them personally, then you are only connecting with the ones you are interested in. I've had a few people contact me that didn't have any advertisements up. They liked my profile so they messaged me.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Wed Jul 31, 2013 07:56 PM
I am on the other side of the fense so maybe I can help you out a bit.

Pay
I would say there are several nannies I know that work under the table AND officially for the family. For the families that would rather hire them as an official person, they charge more due to taxes. So they might charge $10 cash and $15 if it is a check.
You don't need to worry about their taxes but you guys need to communicate whether or not YOU will be the one claiming childcare expenses on YOUR tax return.

Babysitter Duties
You need to write up clear duties you need her to do. Do you want her washing the dishes after your daughter and she eats. Is she in charge of your daughters laundry?

Personally, I did the cooking, cleaning, laundry and helped homeschool the children I was babysitting. It is REALLY hard for a nanny to know what YOU want and what we are hired to do.

Qualifications
See if you can either get a retired mom who is wanting to fill her time or at least someone who is out of college. I am the first to admit this to my families I worked for, that I am NOT in it for the long haul. I can't make 2 year commitments at a time when I was in college.
If you are looking for someone longer term, you need to seek out people who are already settled in their home etc.
I could make 6 semester commitments, but the schedule always changed for me depending on the semester. Thankfully all the families were very flexible with my school schedule.

Things to look for
1. Does she speak another language? I think it is a plus to have a Nanny who speaks another language. Children pick up languages so quickly! The 2 year old I was a nanny for almost became fluent in Japanese just from the amount of time he was spending with me.

2. Does she follow your dietary needs? I know how to cook organic food, vegetarian food etc. This was SUPER important to a family who was Vegan that I knew how to prep food for their children. Communicate your food preferences to her.

Care.com has its pros and cons. You need to do a 1 on 1 interview with them, and have them come over for about 1 week trial ( paid).
You need to be in the background and see how the person is communicating with your child. Say you need to study in the home office, and stay home the first couple of days that the babysitter is there.

Remember YOU are the mother, and you don't need to be afraid of feeling like you are overbearing.It is your responsiblity to give your child the best, and nannies understand that.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By dancemomtoo Comments: 2643, member since Fri Jan 09, 2004
On Wed Jul 31, 2013 09:37 PM
I think care and sitter city are pretty good. the most important thing I can say is to get AND check references. And see if you can get some from families with children your daughter's age or older-a baby can't report that they watched tv all day. Ask for someone who is interested in crafts-most good sitters have a list of ideas of crafts for preschool kids.

You can write out a contract but that doesn't prevent someone from quitting-although if you get them thru a reputable service and can give negative feedback to the site that may be a deterrent.

I would have a written contract more for just outlining responsibilities, a rough daily schedule with different ideas(ie-craft from 10-10'30-play doh, coloring, puzzles, stringing beads-11-outside play of weather premits-kickball, follow the leader, nature walk) and your contact info and emergency info, including pay rate

Where I live most caregivers are paid in cash.

Also, since this will be a new experience for your daughter too I would ease her into it-perhaps first all of you go to the park together -then call someone and talk on your phone and have sitter play with your daughter at park-your daughter will be happy to have her to play with. Next time be at home but have sitter take daughter to park alone. After that you can just say that you are leaving and sitter is coming to play with her.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 7177, member since Fri Apr 16, 2004
On Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:00 PM
Granted I am 25 now, but I have experience with having nannies as a kid. Of course back then there were no websites so my parents started with agencies and my grandma would come to vet them out. This went very badly, including one who was wanted for vehicular manslaughter in a state on the other coast! That's the worst of it and I think with the internet it would be easier to find that out without having a state trooper as your neighbor....

Anyway, the best luck my parents had was by word of mouth at church. Do you belong to a religion or similar type community (even a dance studio or something could help with word of mouth)? Over the years my parents hired 3 immigrants from Poland. The last one started as just a casual babysitter when she was a young teenager and ended up becoming a full time live in nanny as I got older. She was like my big sister and we are still very close, I have even babysat for her kids!
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By punkgirl59 Comments: 4805, member since Wed Feb 13, 2002
On Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:45 PM
Thank you all for replying! I feel like I'm kind of getting into the swing of things with this whole nanny business.

Tunie, thanks for the advice about the websites. I've been browsing Care.com quite a bit and there are actually a ton of helpful resources. I think it will be a pretty valuable site even if I decide not to use them for hiring.

YYD, all of that was extremely helpful. I hadn't really thought about what she would need from me, so I jotted down all the things you said. I'll definitely communicate to her what I want her to do as far as cooking, cleaning, etc. Also, my daughter has been learning Spanish and German at her preschool, so it's actually a really good idea to hire somebody who can help her with that, because I sure as heck can't.

Dancemomtoo, I've been trying to bust out a suggested daily schedule. I'd really like somebody who comes prepared with things to do. My daughter is entertained very easily, so it'd be nice to find someone who has a list of arts and crafts/games/etc prepared to do with her to fill the time. Truthfully, they won't even be spending that much time at home, because she goes to preschool every day at noon and has dance and tumbling twice a week. But I'm definitely going to take your advice and ease her into it. She takes to new people pretty quickly, and she's very social. But when she wakes up first thing in the morning, she just wants Mommy. She gets pretty grumpy if I'm not there. So I'll really need to prepare her for that.

Moonlite, that is absolutely terrifying. I know the odds of that happening are slim, but holy crap. Glad I have access to background checks. As far as word of mouth, I'm actually Mormon, and the LDS community where I moved is pretty substantial. Really, it's a pretty tight-knit community no matter where you are. So that will definitely be a good resource. I just barely moved in so I don't know anybody here yet, but I'll have to get a jump on that and ask around. Great idea.

So...yeah. Thanks again for all the replies! I'm thinking about ponying up the $37 and posting on Care.com. I looked through their nannies and they have a ton in my area that I think would be a good match.

If you have any other advice, lay it on me!
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Aug 04, 2013 08:18 PM
I wish you were within reasonable driving distance of me, I'd throw my name in the ring. Although since you're mentioning a strong Mormon community, I'm taking a shot that that's not the case. :D
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6414, member since Sat May 15, 2004
On Sun Aug 04, 2013 09:58 PM
I worked as a nanny a few days a week when I was in college. We found each other sort of by word of mouth. I helped my friend do child care for the children of the board of the children's museum while they had a meeting and the mom was looking for a new nanny and liked the way I interacted with the kids. My friend does tons of babysitting and nannying and works through Care.com. I would highly recommend them. If I were interested in nannying again, I would advertise through them (not Craigslist...I think CL for nannying would be creepy both ways...). I was paid under the table. We didn't have a contract at all...mostly because it was just a day or two per week and she had a flexible work schedule so bumps in the road could easily be worked around. A contract outlining what is supposed to happen if she is sick or unable to make it or whatever would be good though. (Give me 24 hours notice if possible). A contract about other responsiblities would be essential if you wanted her to do laundry, housework, etc.

It might be worth it to you to do an in person interview with your daughter. Like on a saturday morning, have them meet and interact and stuff. Absolutely check references, any reputable sitter should be able to provide them.

Also, the family I was with had a" nanny cam". There was only one (that I knew of) and it was in the kitchen directed kind of where the little kid table was (the plastic table the kids ate lunch at). At first I found it really strange and a little intrusive, but really, the mom just loved her kids and liked to see them play and eat during the day (It was hooked up to a livestream she could see in her office). I would not have qualms anymore about nannying for a family with one, but I wish the mom would have straight up told me it was there like "Hey, just want to let you know that this a camera. I don't want you to think I am spying on you, I just miss my kiddo's during the day and like to watch them play in the kitchen."
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By punkgirl59 Comments: 4805, member since Wed Feb 13, 2002
On Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:53 AM
Theresa wrote:

I wish you were within reasonable driving distance of me, I'd throw my name in the ring. Although since you're mentioning a strong Mormon community, I'm taking a shot that that's not the case. :D


Ha, unfortunately I'm nowhere near you, or you'd totally be hired! No interview required. It's actually kind of funny that I said there's a strong Mormon community here, because I moved here from Salt Lake City, and you don't get a bigger LDS population than that.

Uber, I'm so glad you brought up the nanny cam, because I meant to ask about that. I wasn't sure about the legalities of it all (recording someone without their knowledge vs. it's your property so it doesn't count?) I've looked into getting one, but on the flip side, my daughter is old enough to tattle, and I know she would tell me if she watched TV all day/ate ice cream for breakfast/saw the nanny texting and driving. So that's kind of comforting.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member Comments: 8688, member since Sat Jul 10, 2004
On Thu Aug 15, 2013 01:35 AM
^ About the nannycam. If I found out that a family used a nannycam without my knowledge, I would give my 2 week notice as soon as I found out. If you are going to use one, you need to let the sitter know. I am not sure of the legal part but I know I would feel super betrayed if my employeer spied on me.

I think a better way of doing it would be to have a schedule on what you want the nanny to do and a list of foods for her to feed your kid. Have I ever fed a kid ice cream for breakfast? Yes I totally did, because the only other options were things like chocolate bars, vegetables ( that he hates) and wine in the fridge. They forgot to go grocery shopping before I came over. You need to make sure you supply your nanny with the tools for her to use. What if your child refuses to eat ANYTHING but the ice cream? Would you rather your child not eat at all, or would ice cream be the lesser of two evils. You need to make something like that super clear to your nanny.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By punkgirl59 Comments: 4805, member since Wed Feb 13, 2002
On Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:37 PM
I used ice cream for breakfast as an example because it's relatable and the first thing I could think of. It wouldn't actually be an issue because my daughter is a great eater. Also, I obviously stock my fridge with more than candy bars and wine...

There have been times that she has asked for candy for breakfast, even thrown a fit about it, but I have just said no and put something else in front of her. If she wants to throw a tantrum and not eat it, then I guess she can wait until lunch. I don't reward tantrums or pickiness with sugar for breakfast. But, like I said, its a moot point because that rarely happens and I was just using that to make a point: she's old enough that if I ask her a question about what the nanny is/is not letting her do, she can and will answer it truthfully. And that's why I feel like I don't need a camera.

I will be sure to give my nanny clear instructions on what will or will not fly in those kinds of situations. But truthfully, I'm hoping to find someone with enough experience that I can trust them to use their good judgments and just deal with things like that.
re: Advice on Hiring a Nanny
By TuniePremium member Comments: 1995, member since Mon Aug 08, 2005
On Mon Aug 19, 2013 06:06 AM
Just found another website (although you may know about it already): GoNannies.com

It doesn't seem to be very popular though - there are only two job listings within 20 miles of my zip code, and that's without any restrictions other than distance.

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