The time has come: you’ll soon be ready to head back to work after leave, but you need to figure out childcare. You’ve decided you’d like to have a nanny. Sure, there are some websites you already know about for hunting for a nanny. But how can you go the extra mile to be sure you get someone great? Think about the ways you can be a good employer.
Choosing a Payrate
First, get an idea of what you can afford to pay. Nannies are the most expensive form of childcare. They cost more than a home daycare or a daycare center because your child gets more individualized attention.
You, the parent, will be the nanny’s employer. In order to follow all the legal p’s and q’s, you’ll need to give your nanny a W-4 when you hire her (or him!) and a W-2 at tax time. And you’ll want to keep in mind that anything over 40 hours requires an agreed upon overtime rate.
Most good nannies do want to have a contract!
Do the math. Determine what you can pay before you start interviewing. I’ve heard many stories of nannies who’ve applied to a job with a pay range that worked for them only to later find out the employer can’t pay that much after all…
Some things to keep in mind while considering their pay rate:
- How much experience do they have?
- How big of a job are they taking on?
- What do you expect the nanny to do?
- What is the average rate of pay in your area?
In most of the US, nannies make between $15 and $25/hour, and will expect a yearly review of their work. This is typically a good time factor in cost of living changes and offer raises based on this and also merit. Sometimes this will be written into the contract signed between the nanny and the employers. Most good nannies do want to have a contract!
In addition to pay that is fair and legal, experienced nannies expect to have guaranteed hours. This means that the employer pays the nanny for a certain number of hours per week, even if the nanny isn’t needed.
There are also many benefits that nannies and their bosses negotiate: health insurance, paid vacation time (a few days to a few weeks are typical), and paid sick days are common. Some employers provide other benefits as well, such as providing a car for the nanny to use. If you do not provide a car, then you probably will need to pay your nanny mileage.
My favorite errand is getting gifts for the kids to bring to their friends’ birthday parties.
You don’t want your nanny to drive the children? Okay, but that is going to lose the interest of many good nannies. Most nannies like taking children to parks, museums, libraries, etc., and want to be permitted to do that. Good nannies want some autonomy in scheduling their day and week with the children.
But what will my nanny DO?
What a nanny does varies a lot depending on the nanny and the employers and the children’s needs. It’s important that you get an idea of what you want your nanny to do with your children, for your family, and around the house. A nanny is not a housekeeper. A good nanny will not want to spend half their time cleaning your house. However, many nannies are willing to cook meals (for the children and/or the family), do laundry, go grocery-shopping, do dishes, supervise the children doing chores, and run other errands. My favorite errand is getting gifts for the kids to bring to their friends’ birthday parties.
You may want a nanny who will spend a lot of time playing with your kids, planning art projects and other activities. Or you may want a nanny who encourages the kids to play on their own more. So, before you start interviewing, get an idea what you want your nanny to do. In order to find the right fit, you’ll need to find a nanny with the strengths and talents to fit your family’s needs.
Don’t forget your STYLE
Another important thing to keep in mind is what your discipline and parenting styles are (or will be, if you have an infant or are pregnant with your first). Are you a fan of attachment parenting? Is free range parenting more your style? Do you believe in gentle parenting? Are you a fan of punishments? What about time outs and redirecting? It’s important to find a nanny whose style fits well with yours.
Respect her, communicate with her, and enjoy seeing how she helps your children grow.
The most important thing to most nannies is respect. Don’t treat the nanny like they’re “the help.” Encourage them to be part of the family. Sure, you pay them, but they will also want to be involved in the kids’ lives.
They have a life too. Try to show understanding and compassion when she’s sick or has a sick family member or an emergency and needs to miss a day. You may or may not become friends in the time you have a relationship together. If you don’t, that’s fine, but show respect for them as a person as well as for their knowledge of child development and of your children’s needs.
Show gratitude for things they’ve done. It makes my day when I’ve gotten an email from one of my bosses thanking me for something I did at work that day or that week.
A nanny friend says that reasonable people act reasonably. Your nanny needs to trust that you will act reasonably in your expectations and in how you treat her. Communicate with her if there’s anything she may need to know – a change in schedule for the day with the kids, etc. While she’s your employee, she helps you parent your children and is an important part of your family. Respect her, communicate with her, and enjoy seeing how she helps your children grow.