In-Home Childcare Options During the Pandemic

Taking Action

Many parents are looking for childcare alternatives, related to COVID-19 concerns. Nannies and nanny shares are popular choices. But hiring someone to come into your home, spend hours with your children, and even share in their upbringing, is a daunting task.  In the case of a nanny share, working out an arrangement with another family is also challenging. However, with the following tips, you can make your search for a nanny a success.

Hiring a Nanny

Get clear on your needs. This step is critical. Do you need a live-in nanny? Would you like your nanny to work part-time or full-time? Do you need them to be available at night? Will they focus exclusively on childcare, or are you looking for someone to cook and clean, too? Answering these questions up front will make your job offer much clearer and save you a lot of time when you start interviewing candidates.

Consider your budget. Determining how much you can spend on a nanny will give you a clearer view of your options. Live-in nannies are much cheaper to employ but will need a private space in your home and will essentially become part of the family. Ask yourself if this option is feasible and comfortable for you and your household; If not, be prepared to pay a little more for a nanny that comes and goes as needed.

Research legal requirements. A nanny will become your employee and should be compensated as such. Laws on payment, taxation, and time off can vary from state to state, so you’ll need to do your research. Be prepared to pay your nanny on the books, offer paid time off for vacation and sick days, and file the necessary tax documents. 

You’ll also need to research your state’s laws on workers’ compensation insurance. Nannies are employees who need protection in case of emergency or injury, just like other types of employees. Find out what your state requires, and as you do, keep in mind the environment in which your nanny will work. If your nanny needs to drive your car to pick up the kids from school, for example, you might need a different insurance plan than if they only take care of the children at your place of residence.

Choose candidates wisely. Word of mouth is an excellent way to find a good nanny, so ask around. Friends and family members may know of an experienced nanny and have insights into how they care for children. No matter how you come across a nanny, you’ll want to do a background check. After all, you will be letting this person into your home and allowing them to care for your child. Ask for references from past employers and find out how the nanny treated children in their previous jobs and why the job ended. You may also want to inquire about other childcare skills too, such as CPR Certification, first aid training, and basic cooking and cleaning.

You can also find nannies through online sources, which generally provide sitter profiles, a list of qualifications, and a background check. Just be sure to search for nannies on reputable websites only. You can look through nanny services near you in the BBB directory to find ratings and reviews and search for BBB Accredited nannies. When using other online nanny finding services ,make sure you are using a trustworthy company or website by checking them in the BBB directory

Arrange a meeting. Making sure your children and the nanny get along is another important step in the hiring process. Arrange a meeting and then take a step back to observe how the nanny interacts with your child. Ask yourself if your child feels comfortable with this person and if they will be capable of being a compassionate caretaker while still maintaining a position of authority when you aren’t around. You can also take this time to show the potential nanny around your home and answer any questions they might have.

Clarify rules and expectations. Before you hire a nanny, you need to let them know what you expect of them. Lay out your house rules clearly, talk about appropriate disciplinary measures, and clarify who is responsible for meal prep and cleaning.

Make a contract. When you’ve found a nanny that seems to be a good fit for your family, it’s time to draw up a contract. The contract should clearly outline how much you will pay, whether or not food or travel allowances are included in the salary, the number of hours they will work, any rooming accommodations you will provide, whether or not the nanny can have guests or use your appliances, how you will handle sick days, paid vacation arrangements, and anything else you have agreed on with the nanny. By outlining all the details clearly, even the ones that don’t seem important, you give yourself and the nanny valuable legal protection. Never allow a nanny to come work for your family without first having signed a legally binding contract.

Include a trial period. Set up a trial period and specify its length. Include this information in the written contract. This will give you and the nanny some time to test out a working relationship with your family. If, after the trial period expires, the nanny doesn’t seem to be a good fit, you can go your separate ways without violating your contract.

Setting Up a Nanny Share

Nanny shares are also rising in popularity these days. The idea is that one nanny cares for the children of two or three families. The nanny gets paid a premium, but the families share the cost. Kids get to socialize with other children, but on a smaller scale than they would in a daycare. Many parents find this to be an ideal alternative to traditional childcare facilities. There are more moving parts to this kind of arrangement, though, and parents should be ready to follow all of the above-mentioned tips, plus a few extras.

Find the other family first. Finding a compatible family is often harder than finding a nanny willing to participate in a nanny share. Look for a family with children in the same age group as yours, and make sure your children get along. Even more importantly, make sure the other family shares your family’s ideas and moral values when it comes to matters like discipline, education, and play time. You’ll also need to determine whether you agree on how to compensate the nanny, as well as how you’ll handle sick days and vacation time. With all these matters agreed upon, finding a nanny will become much easier.

Discuss shared expenses and responsibilities. It’s important to discuss shared expenses, such as snacks, meals, art and craft supplies, and any schoolwork materials with the other family. Who will keep track of the expenses, and how will they be divided between the two families? At whose house will the children be cared for? Who will drop off and pick up the children if needed? Getting clear on the answers will prevent problems down the line. It’s also a good idea to spell out the answers to these questions in the contract, to give all parties legal protection.

Set up time off, vacations, and sick days. If your nanny needs to take a sick day, who will care for the children? When your nanny schedules a vacation, will both families schedule their vacations at the same time? Or will both families seek their own childcare for that time? Good communication will help things run smoothly when your nanny needs some time off.

For More Information

Find a reliable nanny by researching nanny services with BBB..  

Read more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust