Christina is part of our Data team and has a back to school task similar to many of you: she needs a new part-time nanny. Or two of them. Here are her tips for finding – and coordinating – help for the school year.
I am a self-proclaimed expert in hiring after-school sitters. Only because I have 12 years of experience.
My daughters are 8 and 12. Legally, they don’t need care, but I like the idea of someone being in the house with them, keeping them occupied and entertained. And someone who can take them to activities and the kazillion orthodontist appointments they have. Someone who can be there if there’s an emergency.
My daughters have a say in this too. They want someone they like. Someone with a ton of energy who has similar interests. Someone who will show them their college dorm room.
But finding part-time care can be a challenge. Most nannies want a full week of hours, whereas I only have 18 to offer. This means I tend to hire two regular babysitters, one for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The other for Tuesdays and Thursdays. If I’m lucky, they last for more than 2 years in a row (we had two for five years!), but since these sitters are often from local colleges, I’ve also learned how temporary they can be.
So if you are looking for part-time nanny or sitter, here are the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Hopefully they help make your search easier.
Talk to your kids about what they want
Or don’t. My daughters wanted college students, who are awesome role models and super fun for the kids. But if I had just gone with an older person, I might not be finding care so frequently.
Make sure you’re a priority
If you hire college kids, learn what their other priorities are. I once hired an ice hockey player who said her season would soon be over. But then she got into the Playoffs. OMG! We were left finding someone else. Because your job can’t wait for playoffs, their own sick kids or school projects, make sure your applicant plans her workload and personal concerns before or after the hours you need her (as much as possible, of course!).
Have backups in place
Part-time nannies and sitters have other lives besides taking care of mine, I get that. If you’re hiring a college sitter, have plans in place for their breaks (get them upfront). Or if hiring someone who has her own family, learn what weeks and holidays they might need to be off. Then create a list of sitters you can use at the last-minute. Possibly someone from the neighbourhood. I hired a college student who lived locally, so she could still babysit during winter break.
Have a snow day plan in place
Speaking of winter break, have a plan in place for snow days. Maybe it’s a local high school student or a stay at home mom who is more than willing to let the kids entertain each other. But if you can’t work from home, you’ll need a plan in place if your sitter doesn’t want to drive in the snow (and who can blame her?!).
Go over a list of wants and needs
To be honest, I need to be better at this. My next job post is going to ask for someone who can teach helpful studying tips and homework organization strategies. But also someone who will be fun and entertaining (which my kids love). And I could use some help preparing dinner. So I’ll add that too!
Drive with them
I always need my sitters to do school pick-up and shuttle the kids to a few activities or appointments during the week. This means I need a safe driver, so I have them drive me around. I also get a Preferred Plus Background Check that reviews their driving record. I feel better this way.