I recently hired a nanny/babysitter and I’d like to share my experience with the process I went through to get to this point. Because it wasn’t an easy one.
When did I know it was time?
I’ve been going through a minor, yet high-maintenance health issue that has required me to attend many appointments multiple times a month. And while I’m very fortunate that my husband is able to come home for the majority of these appointments to be with our kids, it started to become a tad unpractical for him to miss so much work. On top of this, I have been working a lot more hours and have been trying to find a new balance between momming and working. I jokingly exclaimed out loud one night, “Man, I need a nanny!” And my husband was like, “Okay!”
My kidding/daydreaming quickly became more of a serious topic and after a few weeks of discussion, it was settled: we’d hire someone to help out with the kids a few hours a week.
Who should I hire?
We dabbled around on Care.com for a bit but the problem I found with “official nannies” is that they didn’t just want a couple of hours here and there, they were looking for less part-time, more full-time work. I found this difficult because by the time I finally narrowed the hundreds of applicants down to a couple I liked, they wouldn’t be interested because it wasn’t enough hours for them to make it worth their time.
I have a few child-loving teenage girls in my neighborhood who have each babysat my kids every few months and I have used them on my busiest days or on days where I have an appointment and my husband couldn’t make it home to be with the kids. One day, as one of them (my favorite) was leaving, I mentioned how I was looking for a nanny. She eagerly reminded me that school was out in a couple of weeks and that she would be interested in the job. Score. She’s 16, so she’s intrigued by having a “steady job” but she also doesn’t necessarily need a gazillion hours a week because she’s still a kid and she wants to enjoy her summer.
How do I know my babysitter is doing a good job?
1. The best indicator that tells she’s doing a good job is that my kids love her. On days she comes over, they are SO excited. I keep waiting for the day when I mention her name and one of my kiddos moans or complains about the fact that she’s coming over again. But that has yet to happen. That’s my best indicator that she’s doing a good job - and from what I can tell, she loves them as much as they love her!
2. She follows my directions! I’ve had experiences where I’ll specifically ask for a babysitter to do or not to do something, and they do the exact opposite of what I’ve asked of them. But the babysitter I have now does exactly as I tell her and the trust that is building has already gone a long way.
3. I’ll be honest, I peek at the camera a few times while I’m locked up in my bedroom or waiting in a waiting room. Not in a creepy way, just in a casually curious way! It’s fun to periodically pop in on them and watch them play.
How often/long do I need a babysitter?
This was one of the trickiest parts for me. Yes, I knew I wanted some help but my work-from-home schedule is different every day and I only have a couple appointments a week. So I wasn’t sure when the best times would be. Ultimately, what I did was let my babysitter decide. I gave her a list of options (2-3 days a week, 2-3 hours per day) each option included how much she would be paid per week and I let her choose which one she liked the best. She picked the option that happened to have the most days/week and the most hours/day. And that doesn’t surprise me at all because that was the highest paid option.
At first, I was a little overwhelmed by this because I wasn’t convinced I would need her for that much time. 9 hours a week seemed a bit much and almost made me feel a little tied down. BUT, it turns out all it has done is give me so much more freedom! If I don’t have to be anywhere or I don’t have work I HAVE to get done, then I’ll fold a load of laundry or clean my bathroom. It has been pretty awesome.
How much do I pay?
On days I’m gone and she’s 100% on her own, I pay her the regular rate I pay 16-year-olds: $12/hour ($6/hour/kid). However, on the days where I am upstairs working and I could be downstairs to assist in a blink of an eye, I pay her half of her regular rate: $6/hour.
How did I get past the mom guilt?
I don’t have that many kids, I don’t work an astronomical amount, and I am certainly not as busy or overwhelmed as a lot of moms I know. So why in the world do I need a steady babysitter? I had to ignore a lot of self doubt and self criticism during this process. And ultimately, I ended up reminding myself that it would be more beneficial for my kids to have my full attention for the majority of the day than to have partial attention all day. And I was right. It has made a big difference in the way I use my time with my kids.
No, these young and busy years with my kids won't last forever, and I could wait until they’re in school and I have more free-time to work from home. But at this point, I would probably go nuts if I didn’t work. I truly enjoy it and I believe I’m a better mom because of it! So babysitter it is.