The following short essays are some informational tidbits on how to optimize your nanny experience.
Source of Referral ______________________________
· What is your experience with children?
· How did you get involved in childcare work? Why have you chosen this type of work as opposed to other types of work?
· For how many other families have you worked long-term as a regular nanny?
· How old were the other children you cared for?
· Describe your last childcare experience and why it ended.
General (Pick those that are age appropriate to your child or children)
· What do you like about this work?
· What appeals to you about taking care of children in their own home (vs. a day care center or your home)?
· What kinds of activities do you like to do with children? What would a typical day involve with a child my child's age?
· How do you feel about play dates with other children? Are you open to playdates arranged by the parents?
· Do you know any other babysitters in the neighborhood that you would see regularly?
· How would you handle challenging situations? What was your worst experience in childcare and how did you resolve it?
· How do you handle a crying baby?
· How would you handle a temper tantrum in a grocery store? In our home?
· What are your views on discipline? Do you believe in spanking and time outs?
· How do you feel toilet training should be approached?
· What types of educational activities would you engage a child this age in?
· What indoor activities would you engage a child this age in?
· What methods of limit setting or discipline do you find effective for this age?
· What television shows do you feel are appropriate for this age child?
· Are you willing to take our child to gymnastics/activity groups which may or may not require your active participation?
· Are you comfortable reviewing and assisting with homework?
· Are you willing to supervise friends of our child who are invited to our home while you are in charge?
· Do you like to read? What is your favorite children’s book?
· What is your personal situation? Do you have children?
· What do you like to do in your free time?
· What television shows do you enjoy watching?
· How do you think your closest friends would describe you and your personality?
· Tell me about your childhood and your current relationship with your family.
· How feel about working with me at home (if applicable)?
· How feel about my involvement in keeping an eye on how much she's eating, sleeping, etc.?
· What are some of the arrangements or rules in other households that you think work well?
· Which arrangements or rules haven't worked for you?
· What qualities do you look for in an employer?
· Do you have any pet peeves about parents or children you've worked for in the past?
Other Possible Qualifications
· Do you have CPR or First Aid training?
· Can you swim?
· Can you drive? Do you have a car?
· Would you travel with the family if needed?
· Do you know your way around Brooklyn and Manhattan?
· Are you a legal worker in the US?
· Do you smoke?
· Issues with pets? Allergies? Other health conditions? Dietary restrictions?
· Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
· Would you consent to a background check?
Discussion of Employment Terms
· When are you available to start working?
· What do you expect to earn per hour or week?
· Do you expect to be paid on or off the books?
· What is your availability in terms of days and hours?
· What is your flexibility in case we arrive home late?
· Where do you live? How will you travel here?
· What household tasks are you willing to perform (i.e., laundry, dishes, shopping, cooking for children, other cooking, other cleaning tasks)?
· Do you ever care for more than one child at the same time? How do you feel about the possibility of doubling up occasionally?
· Discuss in advance which holidays would be paid and how many vacation days and personal days would be paid
· Discuss in advance what would happen if your sitter needs additional time off beyond paid vacation and sick days
· Discuss in advance policy on your vacation time - would it be paid at full rate, part rate or not at all
· Discuss which meals (if any) you would provide for your sitter
Name(s)/Age(s) of Child/Children _______________________
Dates Worked _______________________
Phone number/email address _______________________
QUESTIONS TO ASK REFERENCES
· How long have you known the applicant?
· Is the babysitter currently taking care of your child?
· How long did the babysitter care for your child/children?
· How old were your children at the time?
· How many hours did the babysitter work? If regular, what was the schedule?
· Why did babysitting arrangement end?
· What were the babysitter's weaknesses or faults?
· What was good about the babysitter?
· How did the babysitter interact with children in general?
· What kinds of activities did the babysitter do with your children?
· How did the babysitter discipline children?
· Was the babysitter reliable? Reachable by phone? On time?
· Did the babysitter miss work for illnesses?
· Did the babysitter handle any emergencies? If so, how?
· How has this babysitter compared to others they've had?
· What kinds of responsibilities did the babysitter have for you?
· If you needed a caregiver now, would you hire this babysitter? If no, why not?
The most common questions about nannies on the Park Slope Parents listserv are about basic compensation. For more detailed results, see the 2008 Survey which are summarized below:
Full time: $12-13 (Average hrs. worked/wk = 46)
Part time: $13-14 (Average hrs. worked.wk = 22)
Salary when you are paying on the books: If you decide to pay your nanny on the books, you will pay about 12% of her salary (your share of Social Security and Medicare, and Unemployment taxes). NOTE: The LAW indicates that you should pay your nanny "on the books" if compensation is more than $2500 in a calendar year.
Most nannies who are willing to go on the books at your request ask that their take home salary be commensurate with nannies who don’t pay taxes. If you do this, expect to pay your nanny a salary about 25% higher than the going rate stated above. This is in addition to your tax obligation. For more information about paying on the books, check our section about Paying a Babysitter on the Books. This is a significant added expense, but it does leave you and your nanny better protected.
Raises: Raises tended to be 5-10% after 1 year. Some give larger bonuses instead of raises.
Bonus: 1 week’s salary. Some give the week off between Christmas and New Year’s in addition. Many families also give a personal gift from the family or a small gift from the child or children.
Raises for a new child: $2-3/hour or $100 more per week. It generally works out as a 20-25% raise. Some families gave smaller raises when they had an older child spending a significant amount of time in school.
Vacation: 1-2 weeks off at nanny’s choosing is the norm. In addition to that, most families pay for the time that they are on vacation. Some families that take several weeks of vacation (at least 4) give the nanny that time off, and no vacation days of her own choosing.
Overnights: If you need your nanny to stay overnight to care for your children, expect to pay from $100-150 in addition to her regular salary.
Sick time: 75% of families that I surveyed provide sick days. 3-5 sick days per year is typical. Many families did not have a set number of sick days, but felt that it was not an issue since their nanny never asked for them.
Personal time: This varies. Some families combine sick and personal days, giving the nanny 1-2 weeks worth of days off to use at their discretion.
Holidays: Most families give the nanny the holidays off that they get at their jobs. It is best if these days off are determined and documented up front when you hire the nanny.
Other perks: The most common non-monetary perks were cell phones, metrocards, extra vacation days (3 or 4 weeks), half-days, food provided for lunch and dinner (if there late).
Nannies for a Fickle Schedule
Need a Nanny at the last minute? One member asked. We took the responses and consolidated them into this short essay.
Getting a babysitter at the last minute is no easy task. Especially if you already have a steady nanny, she may not want to be on-call all the time. Or, you may not be able to find a nanny who is willing to come in at the last minute with little to no advance notice.
So what is a parent to do? Some of our members responded to a member's inquiry about freelancing. Here are some options:
- Use your networks. Ask around the PSP group, or the nanny circuit when you get a freelancing job (this is less last-minute, and more short-term scheduled babysitting).
- Websites like nownannyny.com or sittersinthecity.com provide resources for parents who need last-minute babysitters.
- Utilize your Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) friends (politely and respectfully, of course). As one SAHM says, "My suggestion to you is to find a SAHM in your area who has a child close in age to your son who would be willing to bring him home with her and her child. Granted your child won't get that one on one attention. But when I'm not working I watch my friend's child and it seems to work out great for both of us. I guess the trick is to find someone of the same mindset. You'd be surprised at how many SAHM wouldn't mind a little cash. Plus this would be easier than finding a new nanny all the time."
- Use email blasts to potential last-minute babysitters that you trust. One respondent came into contact with a group of NYU students to whom she puts out an email call whenever she needs someone to watch her daughter at the last minute.
As with all nanny-related situations, there are pros and cons to having a live-in nanny. A live-in nanny obviously has the flexibility that a live-out nanny does not, yet privacy is compromised.
One debate has been on whether it is acceptable to pay a live-in nanny less than you would a live-out nanny, given that you are providing room and board in a city as expensive as NYC. However, keep in mind that your nanny may be sending money back home or otherwise supporting family in NYC. Additionally, she may be sacrificing her time with her own family in order to live with your family. Each individual situation is different, so make sure you communicate with your nanny to find a compromise that is good for both parties.
Responses from the Yahoo Group cited salaries of around $140 up to around $500 per week for a live-in nanny. Compensation should vary according to how many children the nanny will be responsible for, and what other tasks and responsibilities she will have (ie: will she do the family laundry? Prepare dinner? Act as a driver for the kids?)
Check out the nanny compensation section for more information.
With a live-in nanny, it can be easy to assume or expect your nanny to be there "all the time". Make sure there are clear expectations on both sides about hours and pay so your nanny doesn't feel like she is being taking advantage of, creating tense situations.
Laying off your Nanny
(Taken from responses from the PSP Yahoo Group)
Terminating your relationship with your nanny can be a delicate situation. There are many reasons to do so, both from your end and from your nanny's end. Sometimes a nanny's schedule doesn't fit with what you need, sometimes she decides that the job isn't a good fit for her, etc.
If your nanny leaves, there is no need to offer severance pay, but if you initiate the release, you should strongly consider giving her a couple week's pay. Two weeks severance pay is standard, but one week severance pay is generally considered acceptable for nannies who have been with you for less than a year.
You are not under legal obligation to give your nanny severance pay, and oftentimes how much severance pay you give your nanny may depend on the reason for her termination and her job performance. It is, however, generally more professional to do so in cases in which the nanny did not violate any expectations or do very unacceptable things while on the job (ie: if it was just a bad fit and wasn't working out).
Tools for Building a Positive Working Relationship with Your Nanny
(Suggestions from nannies about making the employer/employee relationship work, compiled by Pam Potischman of The Nanny Bridge.)
It often seems that parents and the caregivers who watch their children are worlds apart. But in order to support their lives outside of the employers’ home, this relationship needs to succeed. When it does, parents feel confident when they go to work that their children are being well cared for by someone they can rely on, and caregivers can enjoy their work and provide financial security for themselves and their families. At Childcare Solutions, I work with parents and caregivers to improve how they work together. An effective collaboration with your caregiver is the most important factor in good care for your child.
In that vein I have been talking to parents and nannies about which experiences have supported the working relationship and which have undermined it. In this article, I discuss what the nannies have to say. I spoke to about 30 local caregivers and compiled this list of working conditions that they felt supported their work and job satisfaction.
There are two main areas of concern for caregivers. The first is about the compensation package and job expectations. I highly recommend that you write up a work agreement detailing these elements. It will protect you and your nanny. Too often there is a miscommunication that could easily be cleared up if there is a written document to go back to. (For a sample contract, go to http://www.4nannies.com/forms/workagreement.pdf .)
The other area of concern is more personal. It is a sense that the employer appreciates the work being done and respects the person who is performing it. What I discovered is that little things really count and can greatly impact job satisfaction.
Fair pay Fair pay is the basis of a lasting working relationship. Nannies talk to each other and know what everyone is getting paid. This does not mean you must pay the highest rate, but it is wise to at least pay within the norm of the neighborhood. Still childcare can be prohibitively expensive for many families. If you feel you can only pay on the lower end of the fair wage scale, you may want to negotiate more time off, certain days with shorter hours or provide lunch, for example. Yearly wage increases are expected.
Benefits Sick days and vacation days go a long way in making the relationship secure. A babysitter doesn’t have to worry about getting sick and losing pay. As well, you do not want a babysitter coming in when she is too sick to work.
Vacation time is expected. Nannies feel they should have at least one week of vacation at their choosing. They should also be paid when the family takes vacation or does not need her to work. When you set up a salary, you are guaranteeing that the nanny will be available to you during those contracted hours. That also means, you are guaranteeing pay for her during those hours, even if you don’t need her to work.
Medical insurance is a wonderful benefit that is greatly valued by nannies. Unfortunately, the extra cost is out of reach for most families. But if you can afford it, it provides a great deal of security for your employee. Here is a link to one provider of insurance www.workingtoday.org.
Paying on time This may seem obvious, but it is enough of an issue that several nannies mentioned it.
Coming home when expected, or letting the nanny know in advance when coming home late. An overwhelming number of nannies complained about parents often returning home late. They report that this is a problem that often grows slowly over time. The slow and subtle change can make it very hard for babysitters to address this problem. Be honest with yourself and your caregiver from the beginning about what time you can get home. If you tend to work late, let them know and negotiate hours and pay with that in mind. If you have an unpredictable work schedule, hire someone who can stay late on short notice, or can work late for periods at a time. And be conscious of when you return home. If you realize that 6:30 has become 7:00, try to come home at the time you originally agreed on or discuss changing the hours.
Overtime On a related note, nannies spoke well of getting overtime. Particularly if you have negotiated a weekly salary, you should discuss how your caregiver will be compensated for work beyond those hours.
Clear job expectations Many nannies say that they feel that they are given more responsibilities than they initially had agreed on. Running errands or doing laundry may not have initially been part of the bargain. When hiring someone, or reviewing a contract, be honest about your expectations and negotiate around them. If you find that you need more help keeping things in order than you thought, talk to you baby sitter about it and how you can work that out in your arrangement.
Petty cash and emergency cash When kids have play dates, they often get snacks or go to places that need payment. This is something you may want to discuss if you have concerns about how the money will be used. Will it be for the occasional lunch out with a friend from school or music class? Is it for a book at Barnes and Noble? Should it never be used for candy? Find out from the nanny what she feels she needs it for and let her know what you want it used for and work out general guidelines. You can certainly expect an accounting of the petty cash.
Courtesy and consideration Many nannies said that a little courtesy goes a long way. A lack of courtesy can be felt as an insult and lack of respect. For example, several nannies told me that they felt very demoralized when their employers neglected to greet them in the morning. Over and over again, nannies mentioned how much this can mean to them. Letting her go home if you come home a little early, offering a cup of coffee or having some food in the house that the nanny likes shows that she is included in your household. And that tends to result in them feeling more giving of their time and energy to the children and parents.
Support for the nanny when there is conflict with the children When parents do not back up the babysitter in front of the children, it undermines her authority when you are not there. It also feels disrespectful. If you disagree with the way she has handled something with the kids, you can discuss it in private. This is important for many reasons. It projects to the children that you trust the person that who cares for them when you are not there. It helps the nanny be more effective with the children; it is important to work toward being a united care giving front.
Gratitude Acknowledging hard work goes a long way toward keeping a babysitter happy in the job. It shows that you notice what she does and that you appreciate what goes into it.
Communication The babysitters who said that they had open communication with their employers reported more job satisfaction. When you are concerned about something or you need to make changes, be direct and discuss it. When problems are left unresolved, or changes are made without discussion, bigger problems and feelings of resentment on both sides can arise. Try to set up regular meetings to share thoughts about the kids and to make adjustments.
In summary, here are the most important factors for a successful working relationship from the care givers’ perspective: fairness, clarity, and consideration. Fair compensation is important. But so is the interpersonal relationship. A little consideration goes a long way to job satisfaction for all concerned.