A while back I wrote a post about the common myths about work at home moms. In it, I’d mentioned that some work at home moms have full time child care in home. When I lived in Canada, I used a site called CanadianNanny.ca with awesome results. So when I moved back to the states two years ago, I went in search of the American equivalent and found the Care.com website.
Care.com is almost like a dating site for prospective nannies (or sitters) and their prospective employers.
Caregivers can sign up for free and create a profile that tells people all about them, their qualifications and allows them to detail out their limitations as well – like available hours, whether they’re comfortable caring for special needs children, etc.
Potential employers (i.e. people who need to find a sitter or nanny) must pay to use the site. The subscription fee is $35 which gives you access to the site for a month – though they give deals for 3 month subscriptions ($70) and one year subscriptions ($140). The fee allows you to be able to see full details on and contact the nannies or sitters via the site though you can view limited information via a free account.
We paid the subscription fee and set up our employer profile. This allowed us to give the details of the potential position and we were able to add pictures as well. Then we set out to find nannies that were qualified for our specific situation. Potential caregivers can add pictures of themselves and also accumulate reviews from people they have previously worked for.
We were able to narrow down the huge pool (I was shocked how many profiles they had considering I’m not in a major city) and contact them through the site. The site will also run background checks for you for an additional fee.
We ended up finding “the one” during our first interview and she has been with us now for 16 months. We consider her a part of our family and my children absolutely adore her. Like the Canadian site I’d used previously to find two full time nannies (who were with us for 2 years and 4 years respectively), Care.com did not disappoint.
That said, I’ve learned quite a bit about finding a nanny or sitter through these kind of sites in the last 8 years. Knowing how to make the most effective listing will give you the best chance at finding a true match for your kids (and you).
- Make sure you upload a picture of your child(ren) to your profile.
- Make sure you give information not only about your children in the employer profile, but also about yourself and your spouse (if applicable). People want to know information about who they will be working FOR as much as about who they will be taking care OF.
- Be upfront and honest with your expectations. If you expect your nanny or sitter to do laundry, you need to state so in the ad. This will help ensure you don’t waste time interviewing potential sitters who have no interest in taking a position once they find out light housework is required.
- Be clear on if you’re willing to have a potential caregivers own children in your home. Many people go into nanny work because they want to be with their own children during the day as well. If you’re ok with that, be sure to list it in your ad. If you’re not, be sure to say so as well.
- Check the going rates. You can see what people in your area with the skills you’re looking for are charging on their profiles – be sure you ad sets a realistic price range. If you see most people with CPR certification are charging $12 per hour and you ask for that qualification and set your price at $10 per hour, you’ll likely find you won’t get many qualified applicants. In my experience, you get what you pay for.
- List your expectations for commitment. I.e. some people are looking for summer positions or short term gigs. If you’re looking for a nanny you want to be with you long term, I’d suggest you state as such in the ad. Same goes for if you’re only looking for someone for short term.
- If you have children with any special needs, let people know that in the ad. Some nannies are not comfortable caring for special needs kids and if that’s the case, you don’t want them applying anyway.
- State whether the person needs their own transportation. Additionally, if they will be expected to drive with your kids (such as picking older kids up from school) you should put it in the ad.
- Once you publish your listing, actively make any nannies or sitters you think might be a fit aware of the ad through a private message.
- Don’t interview anyone whose profile doesn’t fit your needs. Applicants not qualified for your needs will likely apply anyway. Double check their profile before scheduling an interview.
- Take important note whether the applicant is on time for the interview. It speaks volumes about whether they will be on time on a regular basis.
- Be clear on all expectations. If laundry is involved, state it again (even though you should also have it in the ad). If doing crafts with your older kids is important to you, let them know you expect them to do that. If you don’t want certain shows being watched during the day, make that clear (like if you expect Nick Jr. to be on vs. shows the nanny may like). Whatever your expectations, set them up front and in full at the door.
- State whether or not you expect them to care for your child, even if your child is sick.
- Will you have a “nanny cam” in the house? I believe this is something you should be honest about if so.
- Think about and be prepared to let them know what holidays they’ll have off. If they have school aged children, they may want school day holidays off – and if that won’t work for you, you need to find out about it in the interview.
- Are you offering any paid holidays? I.e. most people will obviously give their nanny off on Thanksgiving, but will you pay her for the day anyway? Be clear about what is paid time off and what isn’t to avoid hurt feelings later.
- Be prepared to discuss vacation time. Do they go on a camping trip one week every summer? Think about how much time can you allow them to take off and whether are you planning to pay them for those days or not.
- State any random things you think might be an issue. For instance, we have a gun in our home and my husband has a concealed carry permit. We let applicants know this information during the interview process.
- Once you know there are no “deal breakers” involved, let them meet the kids and see how they interact with them. Pay attention to your gut.
- Ask for references. Then actually CHECK THEM.
- When you’ve narrowed it down to only a few applicants, be sure to run a background check before making an offer. $40 now can help save you a lot of heartache later.
Protecting your privacy
A nanny has access to information no typical employee does. They may overhear pertinent business information, especially if you’re working from home. They may witness you and your spouse having a squabble. They might come across a medication bottle and find out someone in your home has a medical condition. The point is, whatever you keep behind closed doors and out of view from the rest of the world, your nanny will likely see and hear. I personally require an NDA to be signed so that they’re legally required to keep anything they may see or overhear about my personal or professional life to themselves.
Once you find a great nanny, be sure to keep them
Once you’ve found a great nanny, be sure to appreciate them. Respectful communication, common courtesy, being on time relieving them each day, a present on their birthday, a holiday bonus, inviting them to your children’s birthday parties (and not expecting them to work during it)… little things go a long way in making sure the nanny you and your children are happy with are also happy with YOU.