Transitioning a Nanny to Part-time

 Transitioning your nanny from being full-time to part-time is a frequently talked about issue with our members. Whether the kiddo(s) are starting school, daycare, or preschool, the transition can raises a lot of questions about pay, expectations, and more as you can piece together many different arrangements. This article summarizes the advice and multiple perspectives of parents who dealt with this change: some kept their nanny full-time in a combination babysitter/ housekeeper role while others decided to do extended daycare, a nanny share or have a suite of sitters on call.  Each experience should hopefully illuminate what option you think is best for you and your family.

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Does this sound like you?

 

"Since my oldest daughter was born 6 six years ago we have had our wonderful nanny to depend on. Next year with my youngest in school full time we can no longer give her the hours she needs. We will need someone for about 13 hours a week (3 days a week afterschool). How have people found it best to find someone for this? I would still love to have the kids fed dinner and bathed but also someone that can help with homework and have play dates w friends after school.
The other question is when do I start posting that she is available for FT work with a new family? Ideally I would like to keep her with us through the summer. How have people timed the search for a new part time sitter and helping their current nanny find a new job?"

 

Key Tips:

 

- Let your nanny know as soon as possible when the situation will change.  

- Honor commitments

- Consider adjusting to a combination of housekeeper/ afternoon Babysitter scenario.

And if you have to let your nanny go…

- Offer severance

- Find a sitter(s) who don’t depend on one babysitting/nannying job as their main source of income (think College Students, Graduates who are looking to supplement their income).

 

Replies:

 

Be clear and considerate:

“My advice is, to ideally be clear with your sitter now/early in the summer if you're going to reduce her hours to a set schedule, and post now/discuss now/give her the chance to find alternative full time work OR fill in with part-time work, and don't be too upset if she moves to another full time job, it may be best for all. And if you don't want to give her a long lead time, consider over-paying for the # of hours during a transition period if you want to "reserve" her while you get acclimated to your new schedule. (it's kind of like a long letting-go or severance period, and it's her livelihood and your sanity).
The best nannies, IMHO, start interviewing in May for September - that's how we found our former nanny. (then again we wanted her for June and she refused to abandon her job until the agreed-on period, Labor Day, to her credit, so we tried to hire someone else and it never felt right so we semi-waited for her and it was worth it) As for finding your own part time sitter I'd ask around amongst friends, on your block, on the listserv's, these hires are often more word of mouth/casual than full-time sitters.
As for what NOT to do, please don't hire lightly and back out - we thought we had a nanny share with another family, had had meetings and negotiated the whole thing, our nanny and we thought we had the perfect setup and our nanny turned down some other part and full time jobs in September and then a week later the other family backed out claiming concern about logistics with preschool pickup (uh, kind of something not to ask at the 11th hour) and played dumb that they hadn't screwed over us and our nanny (the jobs often start to dry up mid-September when that family backed out) - so people considering this option should not say they are "in" with another family unless they really are - I see the other mom around and she seems to have no idea how inconsiderate she was, and playing with someone else's livelihood - mine and our nanny's.”

 

Let your nanny know ASAP:

"We let our nanny know as soon as we knew we would be letting her go and immediately started to help her find a new job. Summer and fall can be tough, as a lot of people are letting their nannies go because of school transitions."

 

It's a normal transition:

 "My understanding is that a lot of nannies expect this possibility (preschool), so if your nanny has had other families, she probably won't be shocked." 

 

Treat your nanny fairly:

I am a firm believer in treating nannies in the manner you would want to be treated, which to me means transparency.  Make sure to tell her that you will do everything you can to help her find new employment.  We also offered our nanny severance, partially to help bridge any potential gaps. Also, if you are comfortable with it, we still meet up with our former nanny occasionally so that the kids can see her and she can see the kids.  She was such an important part of their first two years, and they love her so much--I think she values it."

 

Issues with an on call/ PT nanny:

“Just another viewpoint….  Lots of people transition their nanny from full-time to part time successfully.  You might see whether or not that is an option.  Daycares have many days off, especially during the holiday seasons, so you are strapped with paying extra to the daycare if you need to work and have coverage. Also, if you add in a 'date night' once a week then you are only left with 2 days. Would she be willing to run errands or do housework on another day?
Another thing about daycares is when your kids are sick.  If you don’t work that's fine, but how do you find coverage at the last minute-- having a nanny that can cover those days who you trust would be great.
There is a chance that paying "full time" to have a babysitter "on call" can lead to issues. Sometimes employers feel like they have "banked time" that they then don't pay later because they didn't use the "on call" time. So be careful about that. Also don't "pimp out" your nanny and find her other jobs-- that's lead to lots of issues.”

 

Be realistic with what type of childcare you will find:

“I think it's close to impossible to find a nanny that is looking for part-time after-school hours only.  If it's just after school or part time work many people switch to a "sitter" and get a college student and pay by the hour. It's cheaper but more inconsistent –good to get a back- up sitter in the rotation. Some people switch back and forth from after school programs to sitters. It takes time and requires more "managing" but it's what most people do in lieu of paying a nanny full time salary for part time hours. Good luck in figuring it out! Best to be open to trying a few things out.”

 

Establish a network of babysitters with flexible schedules:

“Try looking for babysitters. Not nannys. College or grad students Are good. Try sittercity website and Craig's list. I have found that nannys usually they want younger kids. And more hours. Otherwise maybe if you can add on hours for housekeeping.”

“When I first moved to NY 10 years ago, I sat for several families in the slope after school - I picked their kids up and stayed til 6 or 7 or 8. I am a dancer/choreographer, but had a lot of childcare experience, and this worked great for me (part time job I enjoyed that worked with my dancing schedule) and for the families (I wasn't looking for full time work). Many dancer friends -- other recent college grads -- did the same. I got the jobs through word of mouth (and then interview), and several friends and I knew the families one another sat for and sometimes backed each other up (the parents coordinated) if one of us had a performance, etc...It was a really nice network of families and sitters. I'm more settled and working only in my field (finally!) and am a mom myself now, so I no longer sit or have the same network. But I imagine there are still similar situations out there. It was a really positive experience for me and I believe for the families. I guess the downside is the sitter would likely only be available for a few years, before moving on to a more permanent, career-oriented job. I am happy to put feelers out among the few recent grads I know if that's appealing, but I'm pretty far removed at this point.”

 

Consider extended preschool options:

“We dealt with this a few years ago when my son was 4. We had a full time nanny for 4 years then our son switched to 5 days/week preschool so our needs were cut in half and we tried but failed to find our nanny another half-time gig and after a few months of paying her full time for part time work, we gave her and us a deadline for switching her to part-time pay for part-time work. She found a full time job and has been there ever since.
Back then we put our son in extended day at preschool through his 4's program, and for kindergarten we had ad hoc extended day coverage at school, so we found a part-time sitter for 1-3 days per week, and ran through a couple of people who either were semi-students and couldn't be consistent or the like. The past 2 years we have had a 2-day per week sitter who isn't really a "nanny" - she's a neighbor with a grown child who is a realtor (aka she has spare time) and she has a decent amount of flexibility so we have 3 days of after-school during the school year and she covers the other 2 days. And we pay a set amount per afternoon, and it's kind of paying for 3-4 hours.
Basically you need to be looking at a different pool of childcare worker - not someone who NEEDS full time work but has to settle for your position, but someone who is looking to supplement, or make up a full time schedule with 2-3 part time gigs. I think people interview for jobs hoping they are more than they are - times are tough.”

 

Use a mix of sitters and camps:

"I would use one of the online services to find a sitter over the summer. Decide on the profile of a person you want and take your pick. I feel there is 2 general pools:
1)College/grad students - may commit to your days/times, but likely to be more short term (I asked for one year min commitment upfront).  I would only hire a sophomore or older.
2)People with part time jobs who need to fill out their week.  Often, home attendants will only work part time doing that to get medical insurance and
will do part time sitting for the extra $.
Either can work depending on what you prefer.
We used mini camps (daily) for school days off.  Their coverage will often end at 3pm or 6pm depending on your needs so your sitter will just have to get kids from a different location that day.
If it was a full daycamp type of thing I generally told my sitters that we will make up the time with a date night (generally  within a month).  Just be upfront about this kind of stuff as you hire them.
Its not as hard to find one, they are just harder to keep."

 

Hire a sitter for longer than you need:

"It can be a tough switch and if you both work a lot I'd recommend building in extra hours so sitter can help keep house running smoothly. Maybe hire sitter for an extra hour or two beyond school pickup so they can do kids laundry, prep dinner, grab some groceries, etc.
I've been thru a lot of sitters via sittercity, etc and there are some good ones but it is a lot of work/time weeding through. After a recent bad experience I'm now working with an agency and getting a higher caliber of candidates. Of course you'll pay a bit more per hour and there are fees involved but they do the searching, vetting, reference checks, set up interviews and only the serious sitters survive. If you are switching from FT to PT your monthly costs will likely still be lower overall so it might make sense."

 

Read More on PSP

 

Tips on ending the Nanny Relationship on a Good Note!

The PSP Babysitter Guide

The PSP Guide to Securing Backup/ Emergency/ Last Minute Childcare