Park Slope Parents recently asked members to give us feedback on their after school babysitter/nanny situations they’ve had. Based on answers members gave us, we’ve put together the answers to your most frequently asked questions as well as best practices, advice, and more.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where can I find an after school nanny?
Asking friends (most cited reason with 60%), scanning babysitting websites (48%), posting to the Park Slope Parents Classified (41%) and also searching the PSP Classifieds (38%) were the most common ways to find an after school sitter.
Which college boards and sitter websites do you recommend?
Does Park Slope Parents have any other ideas for me?
- Ask preschool and after-school teachers, especially junior staffers.
- Ask camp counselors from summer camp.
- See if an after-school nanny share might work with other folks in your school.
- Inquire about older tweens/teens who live in your building.
- Seek out people in your church/synagogue community.
- “SAHMs with younger children might want extra money and a play date for their younger to boot.”
- Consider friends/relatives of friends who may be retired and have extra time on their hands.
Why do these situations work?
Finding someone who is flexible (grad students, freelancers with jobs at different times of day) was key, with college students, freelancers, and artists topping the types of sitters who fill these fewer hours. Also note that these sitters are generally younger than the nannies in our other surveys, with 52% under 28 years old.
What is the typical hourly rate?
“After school sitting always feels like an extravagant expense but the reality is that it's worth it to have someone who can bring the kids home rather than have them at school or activities so late. It's worth "overpaying" a good sitter who is familiar with the kids, the routine and all.”
Member quoted rates, winter 2018:
- "Roughly: $15 if they’re in high school. $20 if they’re college students. $25 if that’s what they do for a living. Hope this helps."
- "We work with a co-op that charges $18/hr (and they are people who do it for a living)."
- "$18-20, plus a cab home after ~8/9pm."
- "We pay ours $20/hour plus cab ride back home, plus dinner (if she decides to eat after or bring her own dinner, we pay $20 for her dinner)."
- "My daughter is a junior and she makes $12 at one job but they round up generously."
- "I also think it depends on the age of the kid(s) and how much work it is. We currently always pay $20 an hour if it's for both of our kids and involves real work like feeding the kids dinner and/or putting them to bed. We also tend to hire people who are very experienced. Once my kids are a bit older, I will definitely feel comfortable hiring a high school student and would likely pay less (though by then, $20 might count as "less"!). Whether we pay for dinner usually depends on time they are baby-sitting, and we usually just let them order from our seamless account - it's easier and they can just choose. And if it's late, they have far to go, and/or it's bad weather we give them extra money for a car. I don't like ordering a car for them, because I really think it's up to them if they want to use the money for a car or take public transit and keep the extra money."
Member quoted rates, summer 2017:
- "We pay our babysitter (not a nanny) $17.50 per hour for one child, $20 per hour for two children. This is for daytime (weekday and/or weekend) and/or evening (date night) sitting. FWIT, our sitter is in graduate school (for early childhood ed) and when she started sitting for us three years ago (as a college student) we started at $15/hour for one child. Would be curious to hear what others pay."
- "My teen boy, very experienced, charges $15 usually You have to know where to look."
- "Most nannies I’ve know who do extra babysitting get the same rate they get doing regular hours—unless it’s over 40 hours (which legally should be paid at 1.5x the normal rate). Depending on when they start there’s also dinner to offer and a car service home. If it’s summer and lighter later you can sometimes get away with not offering a car unless it’s after 9pm. Local babysitters who are teenagers can get paid lower amounts but $15/hour is typical."
Should I give a guaranteed rate?
Two-thirds give the babysitter the same amount each week. Being able to count on a certain amount of money may help give the sitter a sense of security.
How can I save money?
Having an afterschool nanny share is a good way to save money. Trying to find someone close by can save you late night cab fare if she works a longer night.
“If you have only one child then I'd advise considering formal afterschool programs; with more than one, the economics are better with a sitter.”
What are typical after school hours?
People commonly say their sitter works from 3pm-7pm (making it a 20hr/week job if it’s a 5 day/week job). Some schools (e.g., PS 107) have earlier dismissal times, so the length of time needed may be extended.
What can I expect my sitter to do? Babysit or washing windows too?
Most afterschool sitters schlep kids to classes and lessons (73%), organize playdates (59%) and help with homework (56%). Schlepping, prepping and planning dinner and bath is about all most have time for. One in ten do some household related errands (shopping, dry cleaning drop-off/pick-up, walk the dog). Some people mention light housecleaning (picking up, dinner dishes, cleaning out the lunch box). No one stated that their afterschool sitter does any heavy household cleaning or personal assistant type jobs.
What do I do for childcare when there are half-days and school holidays?
Most people have the sitter work all day (75%), but half also take off work/work from home (50%) or arrange other playdates (15%). Since a quarter (25%) of people’s sitters can’t work full days, figure this out up front. Some after school programs cover half days and holidays and some of the local places have holiday camps. If you’re lucky, there are grandparents.
Do I pay them for vacations and breaks?
The majority do pay a regular babysitter for vacations and breaks, unless it was discussed it up front. Be up front about vacations and breaks. Will you pay if it’s winter break? What happens in the summer? If you go away for 3 weeks during the summer do you still pay? If you are paying for only a few days of care, pay them a percentage of the standard 2 weeks' vacation. For example, if the sittter works 2 days a week then give them 40% of 2 weeks or 4 days off. Cover these things beforehand.
Do I pay them for sick leave?
Have a conversation up front about sick leave. Legally you need to give 2 days' paid sick leave after a caregiver has worked a year. That said, you don't want a sitter coming to work sick and 2 days seems a minimun even for an after school sitter.
Do I need to give any other benefits (e.g., metrocard, holiday bonus)?
If you are expecting your sitter to take the kids on the subway/bus to and from work a metrocard is generous. If your sitter isn't using transit with the kids, or works only a few days a week there typically isn't an expectation that you'll buy a monthly metrocard. Giving a holiday bonus is always a nice thing, and most people give a monetary gift equivalent to one week's pay.
Should I have a work agreement?
Yes, even though only 41% of people do, it’s a good idea. This kind of answer just doesn’t cut it—“I suppose I still have the texts archived in my phone.” Having an agreement will give both people a peace of mind; trust us on this one. The agreement doesn’t need to be complicated, but there should be something in writing that outlines pay, hours, holidays, sick days and job responsibilities.
Do I need to pay an after school sitter on the books?
If it’s over $2000* in a year you are required to pay on the books. That’s equivalent to 120 hours if you’re paying $15/hr. If your sitter works 15 hours a week you reach $1900 in about 8 weeks. The overall majority don’t pay on the books, but know that the sitter can claim unemployment even if the work arrangement is off the books.
Should I expect this to be a long-term thing?
Not necessarily. Since sitters are are likely to be students, freelancers, and artists, they are more transient than full-time/career nannies. Plus, over 50% of people say that they agree (or somewhat agree) with the statement “I’m worried that my sitter might quit with little notice.” There were quite a few comments indicating that these jobs are more transient and that a sitter that worked out for two years was a bit of a surprise.
Should I try to get my full-time nanny to cut back the hours or add more household responsibilities and make that work?
Maybe, but it doesn’t seem to happen a whole lot. You could help get your nanny a morning job, but what do you do when the child is sick? Paying full-time for part-time hours can work, but that means you have to let go of the extra money you’re spending and not assume you’ve “banked” extra hours unless this is discussed in advance.
“We added family laundry as a way to give nanny more hours. We discussed the task and found a common ground. It was clear nanny did not want to add "cleaning lady" to job description.”
Is it HARD to find a sitter for just after school hours?
Asking around to friends (most cited reason with 60%), searching babysitting websites (48%), posting to the Park Slope Parents Classified (41%) and also searching the PSP Classifieds (38%) were the most common ways to find an after school sitter?
How can I make the job look more appealing?
You might add other chores and fun to the job description. If you add a date night or flexible-hour errands (shopping, picking up dry cleaning, mailing packages) to increase the total hours it could help you widen the pool of applicants while saving your sanity at the same time!
What are things to watch out for?
Be careful of job fuzziness. If your child has a play date over, does your sitter get paid extra for taking care of an additional child? Work this out. Paying your sitter a few extra dollars to cover the added responsibility and chaos of more children can go a long way to keeping the relationship happy.
Any final advice?
Review emergency procedures. Only two-thirds of people strongly agree with the statement that they “have no worries what might happen in an emergency situation.” This answer should be 100%, so make sure to go through what to do in case of an emergency, get your sitter CPR classes, and make sure you’re confident in your sitter’s judgment and abilities.
- “You get what you pay for. A professional nanny sitter is very different from someone who is juggling school or is a younger person. Not saying that anything is a guarantee but with someone who has to patch a number of things together things often disintegrate.”
- “We pay well for two easy kids, and we tell her A LOT how much we value her. When she needs to cancel work or leave early for an acting gig, we make sure she knows that it's fine. All we ask that she give us as much notice as she can. In short, we give her a lot of respect and praise and ask for the same from her.”
- “Make sure you have home insurance to cover sitter accidents. Our sitter had 2 major hospitalized accidents (purely her own fault) this year while minding our kid and was out sick for many weeks.”
- "When (my son) was 4 & 5, we had many sitters from NYU picking up our son from preschool, taking him to after-school activities or playdates if he had any, and warming up dinner we prepared ahead. They worked from 3-6:15. If someone was inexperienced (couldn't provide us any non-family references), we could usually get away with paying $50. If they had any experience outside family, they would typically demand $60. We also told them we would pay them an extra $10 for every 15 minutes we went past 6:15 to motivate us to get home in time to spend time with our son. I think the students saw this as an opportunity to earn more easily but unfortunately for them we were almost never late. :) I'm not sure how this would change for the additional child, additional duties, and more mature sitter you have, but hopefully this gives you a point of reference.
Related reading on PSP: