While hiring the right childcare can be tricky at the best of times, doing so as a divorced parent can come with its own set of concerns.
Will both parents have equal say in hiring childcare? What rules relating to the divorce would the caregiver need to follow? What if both parents don’t agree on certain childcare issues?
To help you navigate the process we’ve provided 9 tips for divorcees hiring childcare:
1. Put your child first
It sounds obvious, but the biggest challenge divorced parents face when choosing a carer is being unwilling to compromise. Enlisting the help of a neutral third party, such as a mediator or counselor, can help if the decision process isn’t going smoothly.
2. Create a budget together
What will you pay your nanny? Find out what the going rate is in your — and your former partner’s — neighbourhoods. Then figure out who pays for what according to your child support agreement. And don’t forget to factor in extra expenses that crop up, like overtime when a meeting runs late, paid holidays, occasional nights out and holiday bonuses.
3. Decide who the employer is
This is an important distinction to make, as it will impact one person’s tax liability. Generally speaking, the parent with custody of the child should be the employer, as the care will most likely be provided at their home and they will claim the child as their dependent. This means they’ll be responsible for keeping track of the nanny’s payroll.
4. Make a schedule
What is each parent’s work schedule and when will you need care? Do you need to hire a full-time nanny to watch your child while you’re both working? Do you need a part-time nanny who can care for your child after school? Will you need to bring your nanny on vacation? What happens if your nanny calls in sick or takes a vacation? Plan out a sample schedule, so that you know what you need and when.
5. Search for one carer
It can be hard for your child to have two homes and multiple carers – find one nanny who can switch between the two homes, so you don’t need two different nannies. That way your child will have more consistency in a potentially complicated schedule.
6. Decide on childcare together
Discuss what you both want in a nanny and write the job description together — so you’re both a part of the process. If there’s contention about which candidates to contact, go through the applicants separately and each pick out your top five. Then call each person on the list and start to narrow down candidates together. If your ex refuses to engage constructively with you, you must reconcile yourself to this reality. It may be better to accept the other person’s choice of caregiver or hire two separate nannies for each home than to engage in endless battles.
7. Search for experience
You may want to hire someone who has already worked for a divorced family. Children often play one parent against the other during and after divorce and then will try to get the caregiver to side with one parent or the other. That is why it is good to have someone who has experience with divorce and is willing to set clear boundaries with the children.
8. Address specific rules and schedules
Establish a calendar that clearly indicates when the other parent can pick up the child. Your nanny will need to know what’s allowed during their watch. In fact, a calendar outlining all activities, chores and free time — including TV time or computer access — that applies to both homes helps your child maintain a consistent schedule when traveling back and forth. If your ex tries to pick up your child at another time, the carer should be instructed to call you and determine if it’s okay to make an exception.
If there is a restraining order against the ex, supervised visitation only or other rules, the carer should know about them right away. Likewise, if you don’t want your child talking to your ex or specific relatives from the other side, let the carer know.
9. Discuss sensitive subjects
When you’re interviewing potential nannies, be clear about how you want them to handle the subject of divorce. What should they say if your child comes to them with questions? What issues should they be sensitive of? Let them know to be on the lookout for signs that your child is having trouble handling the divorce.
Most of the rules for hiring a new nanny are the same — whether you’re single, divorced or married. Focus on what you need and what your child needs. Then find someone who can make your life easier.