I recently wrote an article about our interview process for hiring babysitters and nannies. It is really true what they say: “good help IS hard to find!”
Once you have found a good caregiver for your children – cling on to them like only a toddler can hang onto a candy bar at the grocery store checkout line. If you have found someone you trust, who your children like, you need to do whatever is in your power now as an employer to keep this person tied to your family. Nanny-poaching is a fierce game in suburbia and you do not want to lose your Mary Poppins to the family down the street simply because they offered her a few extra days off!
Our current nanny has been with our family for four years. She was hired to watch two boys and to say that ‘the job/ family has grown around her’ would be a gross understatement.
The number of children she watches has doubled, but her workload has not – due to school schedules and soccer games.
So what is our “secret” to retaining our family’s nanny for so long? I am a firm believer in “you get what you pay for.” But with that said, “money can’t buy everything.” Now that I have thrown a few great cliches around – what AM I trying to say?!
Here are the solutions to retain the best nannies and babysitters for your family:
- Always remember that you are now an employer! Would you want to work for you?
- Pay in the higher range according to the compensation scale in your geographical area.
- We have been know to pay a little higher rate for last minute babysitting vs. steady regular arrangements. Some may disagree with this strategy, but I wish to compensate properly for the inconvenience of the “little to no” warning.
- Our nanny gets paid vacation and holidays off. My theory is that I get paid vacation and national holidays at my work, so I am simply passing on the benefit to her.
- We also pay for sick days. Now with that said, we can only offer this benefit as long as she does not take advantage of it.
- Our current nanny is SO reliable. She is never late and so rarely asks for time off for appointments. We gladly give her (paid) time off when she asks to leave early so she can attend things like her daughter’s award ceremony.
- Depending on your family’s situation, it may be beneficial for your caregiver to bring her own child to your house, either regularly or once in a while. Be open and flexible, if possible. Our kids consider our nanny’s daughter one of their best friends. She comes along when school is out and I know it helps our nanny tremendously.
- Be respectful of your caregiver’s time by adhering to a steady schedule, if at all possible. If you need to change her hours, remember that she may have logistics issues and obligations on her home front as well.
- When you can’t pay the highest hourly rate, a genuine gesture, such as a birthday present, surprise gift card or other tokens of appreciation can really go a long way. Every year when I buy school supplies, I add an extra of everything for our nanny’s daughter. More than anything it’s the thought that counts.
- Be reasonable about your caregiver’s workload, time constraints and her compensation. If you hired her primarily to watch your children, then any housework and cleaning responsibilities should be secondary. If you are unable to do homework with your kids, clean the house and have a home cooked meal ready every day, then she will probably struggle getting all those things accomplished too. Set clear expectations and discuss her workload on an ongoing basis, especially as your kids’ schedules change.
- You should reimburse your nanny/ babysitter for any expenses she incurred while caring for your children. Pay for her gas and tolls if she has to pick your kids up from school and drive them to their violin lesson. Give her cash for the admission to the show you wanted your daughter to see. Put yourself in her shoes and think about how you as an EMPLOYER should act.
- Have an open (refrigerator) door policy. We provide our nanny with food and drinks during the hours she is at our house. We always make sure to have her favorite drinks in the house, although they aren’t something we would normally buy for our family.
- Give her a year end/ holiday bonus or present. Again, you are the employer in this relationship and you probably recall from your own jobs how much you appreciate a bonus or present from your boss.
These tips are really not earth-shattering new concepts. They are simply just ways for you to treat the person who cares for your children with kindness and professionalism. Remember that the hassle of hiring someone new is not worth it if you can maintain a good relationship with your current caregiver. Your friend may have someone who cooks her dinner every night, or cleans all the bathrooms. But the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. Perhaps her caregiver shows up late every week or is horrible with her children. Most importantly, ask yourself: Would you want to work for your family?!
Hejsa! I am a Danish American mama to four boys! I report live from the trenches of motherhood, surrounded by life, love, laughter and lots of Legos!VVMy husband and I parent from the heart. Please join me in my mission to live in the NOW – to enjoy every phase and step of our children’s lives, even the tiring and maddening ones. I will share our stories with you – please share yours with me, so together we can support each other in this journey to reach a new level of confident intuitive parenting. Find Tove on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.