There comes a time in (some) parent's lives when you need a little help. It takes a village, and sometimes you need to pay the help. We came to that point, and learned a few things.
Where to find potential help?
Our best responses from potential people came from responding to ads on craigslist with a form response that said which hours I wanted help and describing my situation. I posted a similar ad (with the hours and my situation) on craigslist and on a local university job board. I got a few responses from the university students, but was hesitant because all those kids will leave in 2-3 years and take vacations for summer etc. but found them to be much cheaper (in the $10-$12 range). Better yet, ask around and see who your friends recommend. I got a lead from someone's synagogue group and someone else's mom's group (neither panned out - maybe because they weren't actively looking for work). There is a group here called Lamorinda Moms (similar to Berkeley parents Network) and these groups often pass around referrals or names of people they have used that are looking for work.
How much will it cost?
Prices seemed to be $10-$14 for people who did childcare between jobs, $15-$18 for a professional nanny (+$2/hr per additional child), and $20-$22 for a preschool teacher. But remember, we live in the SF Bay Area.
Make sure you know about the nanny tax rules when calculating their rate. They will be an independent contractor if they earn below a certain threshold monthly. Make sure you are both on the same page as far as payment schedule and who pays the social security and medicare portion to the government.
How do I do an interview?
I found the job application at the bottom of this post online and revised it a tiny bit and had everyone fill it out then I talked to them. Make sure the kid is at the interview, and watch how they react to him (i.e. that is the real interview). I did a lot of describing our day during the interview and asking if they had done those specific things before. Most answered "yes" or "good idea" or something else affirmative and some I think were lying. I showed them around and offered them water or something to help them relax. I made sure to ask for examples about how they discipline a toddler and what to do when a baby is crying so so so hard. I also wanted to make sure they were willing to do other things besides childcare like dishes and laundry.
I always interviewed on days when my husband was working from home (just because I didn't want any creeps around when I was alone); you could do weekends if you don't have that luxury.
What if I like someone?
Call references! Tell the person you want to hire them and will be calling their references. Ask them to describe the people you will be calling. Then go make those calls.
- Tell me about XXX
- Was s/he on time?
- Did s/he follow your family rules?
- What about XXX (odd thing about them you noticed during interview)?
- How about xxx (what you liked about them during interview)?
- Confirm pay rate, ages of children, amount of time s/he worked there, why s/he left
- What else should I know?
How long will this take?
It took us 4- 6 weeks and I interviewed 8 people. It is a lot of work, and these are your kids. Imagine you are your child. What would it feel like to be with this person for the allotted time period? Take your time and make sure you are comfortable in your decision.
What do I do the first day?
Make sure you check their legality to work in the US and get a copy of this and their CPR certification (if you are requiring CPR certification). Have them fill out whatever necessary paperwork for taxes you need, like a W9 for a contractor and a W4 and I9 for a nanny. You also need to comply with laws for employees regarding new hire reporting for nannies.
We also gave our gal an info sheet that included FAQs and a guide to the house. On it, we included our House Phone #, Emergency Contact Info, Health Insurance Info, Snack/ Meal Ideas, Activity Ideas, How to Potty the Children, Basic Daily Schedule, Extra Notes (specific to each child), and Tips (like wash hands, and some basic parenting ideals [i.e. Describe what they did instead of “good job” (ex: “you drew a red circle”)]. It also included Household No’s (including Do not come to work sick, or if there is a chance you may be sick and no photos or names of our kids on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and a list of Standing Chores. We put this in a laminated sheet into a binder with paper in the back. Every time she comes, we leave her notes in the binder and she leaves us notes in the binder. We find this works for us in case the transition in or out is too hectic ~ we don't want to forget anything.
How do I know Everything is ok?
Ask the sitter. Ask your kid/s. See how your kids are acting afterwards. Does the sitter and/ or children seem frazzled? Happy? Relaxed?
Here is the job application I used (feel free to modify and use it):
- be at least 18 years of age [or have parental permission]
- be able to provide your own transportation
- have experience with children of various ages
- be a non-smoker
- be able to provide 3-4 references (no relatives)
- be CPR certified
- LOVE kids!
Current Drivers License #:
Full Name [First, Middle, Last Name]:
Cell Phone Number [with area code]:
Current Mailing Address:
Past Mailing Address (these may be used for a background check):
Birthday [Month/Date/Year in number format please]:
Classification [freshman, sophomore, graduate, working professional, etc]:
Field of Study [past and/or current]:
Current and/or Previous Job:
Rate/ Pay Schedule:
When are you available to begin babysitting?
What is your current availability?
How long will you be able to commit to babysitting for our family?
Tell me about your experience with children. [How long you have worked with children and/or babysat, types of jobs or volunteer opportunities you have had that involved children, ages of children you have worked with, etc]
What ages of children do you have experience with? Do you have a favorite age group? If so, why?
Why do you enjoy babysitting?
Do you think children enjoy being around you? Why or why not?
What are three words that your friends would use to describe you?
In terms of babysitting….
- What do the words “reliable/dependable” mean to you?
- What does the word “responsible” mean to you?
- What does the word “commitment” mean to you?
What would you do if a baby were crying uncontrollably?
What would you do if a child missed his/her parents?
What would you do if you got sick the day before a scheduled babysitting job?
What would you do if you got sick the day of a scheduled babysitting job?
What would you do if a child felt as if he/she had a fever?
Have you been CPR certified within the past year? [Most certifications are only good for one year]
If so, when does your certification expire?
If not, how do you plan to be CPR certified?
*You must be CPR certified
Do you have First Aid certification/ experience?
Please answer the following with "yes" or "no".
I will be conducting an all inclusive background check which will bring up anything that has ever been on your record, even if it has been dropped. Will anything show up that you are aware of? If yes, please explain.
[It is much better for you to be honest that for me to find out about it without you making me aware of it ahead of time]
Have you received any traffic violations? [DUI, speeding, expired registration tag, no license, etc]
Have you ever participated in, been accused or convicted of, or pleaded guilty to abuse or any sexual misconduct?
Have you ever been convicted of or pleaded guilty to any criminal offense of any kind?
Are you aware of any traits or tendencies that you possess that could pose any threat to children?
Are you using illegal drugs?
Have you ever gone through treatment for alcohol or drug abuse?
Is there anything in your life [past or present] that may affect your ability to provide a safe environment for children?
If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, please explain.
Additional Information you would like to share:
Please list four references of families that you either currently babysit for or have babysat for in the past, or references that have observed your interaction with children [nursery volunteer, principal, etc].
First/Last Name of Family
Ages of Children
Thank you for taking the time to complete the application.