Being a nanny for young kids and toddlers can be a stressful test of your nanny supervision. Little ones who tend to wander can unnerve even the most watchful eye. Being a NYC nanny doubles this stress load when traveling on the subway with kids.
If you’re tasked with bringing your kiddo to or from school or after-school activities in the city, chances are you’re among the crowds at some of the peak travel times. Making sure that your charge are safe and in-sight, without resorting to authoritarian tactics, can be a challenge. Here are some tips for travelling on the subway with kids, that will make your journey fun rather than fearful!
If you’re tasked with a little one who tends to wander, it can be scary traveling on busy streets or crowded subways. Holding hands is the best way to make sure you stay together. If your kid is a resistant hand-holder, however, this can be a challenge. If your kiddo is resistant to holding hands, try making it fun for him or her! Place a small ball or toy in between your hands and tell them that you have to keep it safe until the end of the trip! Use a rubber ball or something squishy and they’ll have even more fun giving your hand the occasional squeeze as you travel.
Make it fun!
Whether you’re taking the bus or the subway, space can get tight and this be overwhelming for little children. Long or crowded journeys can make a kid restless or overwhelmed. However, introducing a travel game or activity is a great solution for traveling on the subway with kids. A simple game of I-Spy can last the entire journey, with endless details to catch their attention. Or make a number game, counting down to your stop (ie. Three stops to go! What else comes in threes?).
Teach Safety Tips!
Most importantly, make sure you are teaching your kids about ways to move safely and how to be aware of their surroundings before you even start your journey! Explain to them that traveling on the subway is a screen-free time, because you need to keep your eyes and ears open. If you are wearing a red scarf, point it out to them, and tell them that it is the marker if you get separated. Remind them several times of where you are going and how you are going to get there. Tell them the specific trains you will take, and even repeat their street name or the name of your destination and eventually they’ll remember it themselves!
Have your own tips for travelling on the subway with kids? Share them with us in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
You work hard as a nanny! Long days of activity planning, meal prepping, and potty training can leave you in need of a well-deserved vacation, once in a while. But how will your nanny-family manage without you? Don't worry, we promise they will.
Working long hours without building time for a personal nanny vacation can leave you feeling burned-out and frustrated, and no employer wants that. If you're thinking about using some of your vacation days to go on a trip, just make sure to make an extra effort to prepare your nanny-family for your time off. Here's some tips on how you can make for the smoothest experience possible, for both you and your employers.
Here are Some Tips to Help Prepare for your Nanny Vacation
1. Leave Yummy Provisions and Take Stock
Freeze a few dinners by making a double batch of the children's favorite meals. Lasagnas, soups, breaded chicken, and other items that freeze easily are great things to store away for while you're gone. Make sure anything else your replacement nanny might need is also stocked, such as laundry detergent, diapers, shampoo and conditioner for the children.
2. Give Your Bosses Ample Warning
Give plenty of advanced notice to your employers. Leaving them scrambling for back-up care isn't the best idea when you'll be out for several days, so do what you can to give them ample warning and time to plan for your absence. Don't drop your vacation plans on them a week or two before!
3. Offer to Help Find Back-up Care
Line up some replacements for each of the days you'll be gone, or give suggestions of nannies they could call and interview if they would prefer to take the lead. Ask around if any of your nanny friends can cover any of the days you'll be gone. If your employers would prefer to interview your replacement themselves, ask your friends if you can pass along their contact information. Use your nanny network!
4. Prepare the Children
Encourage the children to show the fill-in nanny just how lovely they truly are. Give them tips on how to make the fill-in nanny feel right at home, and remind them to be on their best behavior while you're gone. Children want to make us proud, and when we have high expectations, they will meet them!
5. Prepare the Fill-In Nanny
Jot down notes of your routines and general day-to-day duties. You don't have to write an entire handbook, but it can be helpful to put into writing what your typical schedule looks like, to make the transition as easy as possible both for the family and for your replacement. Write down some of the children's favorite foods, favorite local parks, or favorite bedtime stories. These tips will go a long way in making your absence as easy as possible for your nanny family. But it will also show them just how much you care about their family and are paying attention to their children.
Are you a nanny wondering how else you can prepare your nanny-family for your time off? Have any words of wisdom of your own? Let us know in the comments section below!
For a parent of a child with even a mild food allergy, it can be extremely daunting to leave your child with a new person, one who may slip and forget what snacks have hidden ingredients, or to double check with the kitchen staff at a new restaurant. For your peace of mind, here are some great tips to help ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to how to feed your children.
Create a Work Agreement
Here at Kith & Kin, we're huge believers in work agreements! Putting details in writing allows both parents and nannies much greater peace of mind, so that uncertainties and misunderstandings don't arise down the road and all expectations are clear.
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, or if you just want to make sure your nanny is preparing a similar diet to what you already have in place for your child, putting the details in a contract can be extremely helpful. If there are certain food items or ingredients that your child must not eat, then lay those out in writing. If you only let your child have a sweet snack on certain special occasions, explain this in the contract.
While this might seem overbearing, remember that your nanny is not a mind-reader, and it always helps to have something to refer back to! Every family is a little different, and the way you approach your child's diet will not necessarily be the same as the family they have worked with before. Laying out all the specifics for your child's diet, will help avoid uncertainty for your nanny. Be sure to give your nanny a copy of the contract, and/or put it up somewhere in the kitchen where they can use it for reference if ever they have a question.
Give your Nanny a Sample Menu
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, you might have learned to prepare specific dishes in order to avoid certain ingredients. You also will be aware of which prepared foods have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous for your child's food allergy.
In order to ease your nanny into the food norms of your family, write out a sample menu for a week or two, and give it to them to refer or add to. Include the dishes that your child is used to, and you would normally prepare for them, along with ingredients and instructions for your nanny.
Providing a menu for the first few weeks will ease your nanny into your lifestyle and food preferences, and get them acquainted with the types of dishes and ingredients your child is used to. Eventually, these dishes and ingredients will become second nature to your nanny. Include suggestions for snacks and prepared foods that are OK with you. Also include a detailed list of foods and snacks that are not okay to feed your child with a food allergy.
Avoid Eating Out
The experience of eating a meal out a restaurant can be so stressful and tedious. Even the most well-meaning kitchen staff might not be aware of every ingredient in their dishes. While it can be easy for a nanny to grab a quick lunch in the middle of their day out with your child, if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you know that sometimes it's best to avoid eating out all-together.
Explain this to your nanny, and make sure you always have meals or ingredients to prepare a quick and easy meal for your child on hand. If you know for certain of specific restaurants or dishes that are safe for your child to eat, write out a list of those and include it in your nanny's work agreement. After all, when it comes to having a child with a food allergy, you can't be too specific with your requests or requirements.
Post Emergency Information
Before the first day of work, make sure your child's nanny knows the specific protocol should they have an allergic reaction. Write down for your nanny the specific instructions that they should follow if your child shows signs of a reaction (and even talk about what those signs are).
If your child needs to be administered an epileptic-pen, make sure your nanny always carries one on their person and knows exactly how to use it - The Red Cross has special trainings for this, and it's prudent to pay for your nanny to attend.
Be sure to write down the contact information for which doctor to call, or which hospital to go to, in the case of an emergency, and have a copy of this in their diaper bag, backpack, and stored in a Note on your nanny's phone - anywhere that is easily accessible.
As with any case of a child with a special need or care, the most important piece of advice is to be, and constantly remain, as prepared as possible, while also preparing others in case Plan A falls through. By following these tips and strategies, your nanny will be ready and knowledgeable about what is safe and what is not. When in doubt, your nanny can pass on an item and substitute it for something else. If you have time to prepare your child's food, do. If not, provide your nanny with clear instructions on what to prepare for your child's meals. Leave many ready-to-go snacks for your nanny to give your child, if they're out for the day.
All of these tips will help set you up for success and ensure there are no misunderstandings or missteps in the event of an allergic reaction!
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, do you have any tips or advice of your own? Do you have any advice on how to get your new nanny on board with your family's dietary routine? Let us know in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
If you've ridden on the subway in recent weeks, you will have noticed numerous ads for the new raise in minimum wage here in NYC. As of December 31st, 2018, New York City employees will see the third raise in minimum wage since 2016. This newest increase is part of a law signed into action by Governor Cuomo, which promised a new minimum wage of $15/hour for all New York State employees by the end of 2019. This new minimum, however, is being enacted gradually and differentially - based on the employer's size and location. We'll break it down to what the new minimum wage in NYC might mean for you, the nannies of New York City!
If you work as a nanny here in NYC, chances are you are the sole employee for your nanny family, or one of a handful of domestic staff. The new minimum wage in NYC for employers with 10 or fewer employees is $13.50/hour. This rate will increase to $15/hr at the end of 2019. But, for now, if you are employed among less than 10 others you can expect to be making at minimum $13.50 an hour. If you are employed among more than 10 other employees, the new minimum wage is $15/hour.
What Does This Mean for NYC Nannies and Housekeepers?
Will Nannies Take a Minimum Wage?
It depends. While the new minimum wage for NYC employees is a commendable move in the right direction for workers' rights nationwide, the fact of the matter is that it is darn near impossible to survive here on $540/week, pre-tax, even with over time in place.
Qualified nanny professionals with experience, extra trainings, and credentials are often considering going the agency route when searching for new employment at a live-able salary, as referrals are often not at the level of professionalism they need, and the reputation of online sitter-services is poor, with the assertion from many being that these sites have normalized low hourly-rates, due to the amount of entry-level nannies using these services.
If you're an inexperienced sitter looking to break into the field and pick up some babysitting on the side, online sitter-services are often the route for you until you become more qualified. However, if you are a professional nanny, looking for a full-time role, then you do not need to compete with entry-level caretakers for cash-positions.
If you've been working as a nanny for at least two straight years, then you are no longer an entry-level employee. If you are CPR Certified, have education coursework, a background in teaching, experience with newborns, or any other marketable childcare assets, then you are well above minimum wage, in the $18-20/hr range.
Working with an agency ensures that your particular skillset and credentials will be highlighted to any potential employers. It also ensures that, at least through KITH & KIN, the families you're meeting will already have a standard of respect for their future employee, know their obligations on a living and viable "gross-pay" wage, guaranteed hours, sick and vacation time, and know from our first conversation that entry-level employees will not make it through our extensive nanny-vetting process. They also understand that they must be willing to give their nanny a certain standard of professional respect.
What if I Can't Afford to Pay a Nanny More than the New Minimum Wage in NYC?
For your job, either the job and experience expectations will need to decrease, or the childcare budget will have to rise. Unable to do one of those two things, some families have looked into nanny-shares, live-in au-pairs whom are younger and less experienced, or whole-group childcare centers. While each of those three options are not as convenient as an experienced career nanny, over the past few years without this rise, it has become, and will continue to become, harder to find qualified nannies whom are able to be vetted fully and still pay $15/hr.
We know first-hand the cost of living and childcare here in NYC is extremely high. This is the reason why so many families weigh their careers and relocation out of the city. It is a tough conversation to have!
If you are a family interested in hiring a nanny in NYC and the greater metro area, and are confused about rates and taxes, get in touch with us here. If you are a nanny with questions about your wages, we may be able to steer you to the right resource, so please get in touch here.
Have any additions questions about the new minimum wage in NYC? Ask us in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
Please note: this blogpost covers domestic employees in New York State. It is intended to educate nannies and housekeepers on the benefits of accepting legally paid salaries; it is not to replace the advice of a lawyer, as the laws that are constantly changing. Please consult a reputable payroll company such as HomeWork Solutions for more information on your specific state's domestic employment laws and procedures.
We here at KITH & KIN often hear candidates state that they only want to be paid in cash, despite being able to accept legal pay, for many understandable reasons. While admittedly, it is the norm for many domestic workers to be paid illegally in cash (an estimated 75%!), there are a myriad of benefits and protections household employees lose out on by being paid in cash, and when accepting cash only for a nanny job, you are also assuming all risks for you and your family's future financial and health situation, especially should you find yourself out of work for a period of time -- a heavy and costly burden to bear!
With the advent of laws like Lulu and Leo's Law and many advocacy groups like the NDWA calling for better protections for both families and workers, the trend will be for more and more domestic workers to be paid in a legal manner. For this reason, we have compiled the benefits of legal pay. Here are our top 10 reasons why nannies and housekeepers should insist on being paid "on the books" right now.
1. "Professional pay" translates to "professional treatment", and further legitimizes your work as a professional career.
When you insist on being paid legally, this demonstrates to a family that you take your job seriously as a professional who needs to be compensated fairly and legally for your work. It shows that you are committed to your work supporting them, and that you are also relying on them to support you as you make a long-term living, just as you would in any other field.
When your employer agrees to pay legally, they are demonstrating their belief that you deserve legal protections and benefits, just as they receive in their work, too! Even though they may be offering a lot of great benefits like guaranteed minimum hours and paid time-off, they also believe that ethically, you deserve an extra level of protection as individual and professional.
2. You have secure income available, even if laid off.
Let’s say that on Sunday night, you get a text from your boss that tomorrow, you are no longer needed because a spot opened at daycare, and their child starts the next morning. Now, most parents would not leave you high and dry without notice, (especially if you have a solid work agreement in place before the job commences!), however you may never know your employer's private financial situation or debts. They may appear to have it all, and then the economy crashes overnight, or they find out they have lost every penny to a Ponzi scheme, and now they find themselves unable to pay you the $2500 buffer you were relying on. Stranger things have happened; you need to be protected from situations that are outside of your control.
While domestic employees in New York are hired “at-will”, meaning you may be terminated without notice or reason at any time, unemployment is there to provide you with a financial buffer while you search for a new job. If you’re laid off due to no fault of your own, and you are able to work in some industry, you are eligible - even in some instances of justifiable firing, you may still be eligible. This is only available to people who are paid legally in their most recent long-term position.
3. Medical costs or loss of income covered via Workmans Compensation if you’re injured on the job (State-by-State).
Even if you are outside of NYS, should you have an injury that leads to a long leave from work, you may be eligible to receive Disability coverage from the government as well. This would cover part of your income, and make sure that you are not in an even larger financial bind. If you are out of work because of an injury, but don't have traceable or substantial income reported, the income coverage would be significantly lowered, if available at all.
4. You are eligible for Paid Family-Leave.
The details and benefits will upgrade year to year, but beginning in 2019, you would be eligible for 10 weeks paid leave per year, up to 55% of your weekly salary, with a maximum of roughly $746/week; By 2021, 67% of your salary may be covered for up to 12 weeks. This is separate from FMLA, and is specific to New York State. For more information, click here.
5. Protection in the event you, or your bosses, get audited by the government.
Any employer who chooses to pay their employee 'under the table' runs the risk of being audited, particularly if all parents are working full-time, and they can't prove payments made for childcare. An audit will have their finances called into question by the government, and if your employer is audited, you too may be at risk for your portion of employment taxes. If your employer doesn't remit taxes on your behalf, you may be asked to account for those taxes by the government. While it is not the law that the employers withhold your portion of taxes in New York for you (you must request that they do this, and the majority do when using a payroll service), it is the law that you pay your portion. If it is not withheld, we recommend setting aside a conservative percentage based on your state in a separate savings account so you have enough to pay at the end of the year.
If you or your employers were to be audited, the government makes a habit of looking back several years, meaning you could be set up on a hefty payment plan to hand over whatever amount you would have owed in taxes from previous years.
6. Provides verifiable, traceable income to rent or buy a home, car or other big-ticket purchases.
Should the day come when you want to make a big "life-investment", be it purchasing a new home or car, or even renting a new apartment, you will often be required to provide proof of income; not just for present time, but also from the past two years! Lenders want to make sure you are a consistent earner and responsible spender, and you will need a paper trail to prove your track-record of financial credibility. Cash-employees will often have a difficult (likely impossible) time providing legitimate proof of income that would hold up to scrutiny. This can be a real hold-up, and potential block, if you are in the throes of purchasing a home.
Not buying a car, home, or renting an apartment now? Think two or three years ahead. Even if your credit is terrible, First Time Homebuyer Loans make this dream possible for more people, so as home prices continue to rise, now is a great time to get on the books and start accepting legal pay!
7. Easier mental leap to start your career with legal pay now, rather than years in.
Take it from us, the people who interview many qualified, career candidates who have been paid cash for years: it is very challenging for nannies and housekeeper to leap from a high dollar cash take-home salary per week to a far lower net wage. When you are not used to this, it will require a large lifestyle adjustment for yourself and family, when that time comes.
Talking to your employer about transitioning from a cash-salary, to an "on the books" salary is going to take a big shift. Essentially your employer will have to make a drastic increase in your pre-taxed (gross) pay-rate in order for you to be taking home the same amount as you were before, and it's possible that financially, they simply cannot swing it, as they will be paying 12-25% more than they are used to, depending on where you live.
If your employer isn't able to increase your rate enough for you to be taking home a net-salary that is comparable to your cash salary, meet in the middle! Start by taking a lower take-home wage, knowing that they are giving you a gross-wage raise. That being said, employees who are paid on the books, will also be eligible for a tax-return at the end of the fiscal year where you would get a portion of that back, so don't be too demanding of your employers if you really love your job in all other aspects.
8. You’re building your Social Security fund, and making sure you’re eligible for disability benefits, too.
The amount of taxable income which you report to the government each year makes up your 'covered income' and directly affects the amount of money you may receive each month when you retire. In other words, if you pay in for 45 years instead of 10, you will have far more to retire on. Therefore, for your future, it's better to start paying income taxes sooner rather than later!
9. Helps better protect you from “bad-apple” bosses.
Finding a boss who is willing to pay you on-the-books, means that your boss is more likely to view you as an employee with certain inalienable rights. A working agreement that is based on a clear contract and a taxed salary can protect you from various instances of employee discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment in the workplace, withholding of overtime, and various other workplace injustices.
Many employers who pay cash may hesitate to put anything in writing to avoid a paper trail of employment in the event they were to be audited -- this translates to no work agreement for you or contract for you to fall back on or reference.
10. Plainly, it’s the right thing to do!
Last of all, paying your taxes is the right thing to do! The money you pay in taxes goes to many places. In addition to paying the salaries of government workers, your tax dollars also help to support common resources that we all utilize, such as safe and well-maintained roads, police and fire departments, post-offices, public libraries and parks, as well as caring for your fellow neighbors and children who presently may not be able to care for themselves.
In conclusion, starting a job with mutual professional respect is the best foot to start on. By you and your employer insisting to operate according to the law affirms that this is a true, professional career, with the commitment to integrity and respect toward both parties.
But aren't nannies 1099 workers? On the family/employer side of things, there is sometimes confusion about the classification of domestic employees and who is responsible for their taxes. However, make no mistake: by law, nannies and housekeepers are classified as household employees of the family, unless they are hired through a company who is paying them as an employee; nannies and housekeepers are not contractors. Families must provide you a W-2 at the end of the year.
Have a question about being paid or hiring "on-the-books" versus in cash? Send us an email and we will do our best to direct you to where you may find your answer.
This year marks the 20th year of the nationally observed Nanny Recognition Week! Since 1998, National Nanny Recognition Week has been celebrated during the last week of September, as a time for families to celebrate the invaluable contributions made by their nannies. It is also an opportunity for nannies to reflect on the importance of the work they do, and celebrate the difference they make in the lives of the families they work for.
This year, National Nanny Recognition Week falls between September 23rd and 29th. If you have an amazing nanny, now is the time to show them how much they mean to you and your family! Below are some ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week!
Five Ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week:
Nannies really do help the world go round! National Nanny Recognition Week is an opportunity to celebrate the important role nannies play in the lives of the families they work for and the wonderful contribution they make in the lives of the children they care for. If you are a parent who employs a nanny, we encourage you to show a small gesture of appreciation to your nanny, to show how much you appreciate them and the contribution they make to your family - nothing fancy needed! These are some of our ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week!
1. Give your nanny a gift card to one of their favorite places!
Does your nanny arrive every morning with a Starbucks cup in hand? Why not give them a small gesture of thanks for their hard work, by gifting them with a small gift card to Starbucks or a local coffeeshop they love! Or maybe a bookstore, if they're a book-lover! National Nanny Appreciation Week is not about giving a holiday-sized bonus so much as showing your nanny that you appreciate them through a small gift or act of recognition.
2. Get the kids to make a special card or treat!
Have your kids put together a special, handmade card or treat to give your nanny
next week! Your nanny will love this
thoughtful gift, and will be touched that the children took the time to make it themselves.
3. Give your nanny an evening off
Why not plan on getting home an hour or two early one night next week, to give your nanny the paid evening off! Let them know in advance that you're planning to cut them loose a little early, as an act of your appreciation for how hard they work.
4. Gift your nanny and individual membership to the International Nanny Association
For a $45 membership contribution, your nanny can join the International Nanny Association, and have the resources and support of a professionally renowned organization. This non-profit educational & professional resource for nannies, serves as an umbrella association for in-home professionals.
5. Treat your nanny to a fun night out!
Brooklyn and NYC have so many
fun things for nannies to enjoy on
their night off, but it can be hard
for nannies to justify a night out if
they have a tight budget! Why not
treat your nanny to a gift card to
their favorite local restaurant, or to
ticket vouchers to their local
These are just a couple ideas for National Nanny Recognition Week! There's so many ways to show your nanny you appreciate them and all that they do. Share some of your own idea for National Nanny Recognition Week in the comments below!
Last month, our founder, Christa, sat down for a conversation with the founder of the Prenatal Yoga Center, Deb Flashenberg, on her podcast Yoga | Birth | Babies. The episode is called NANNY 101. Shared within it are tips and tricks for hiring and employing a nanny or babysitter, whether temporarily or long-term. It's completely appropriate and helpful for nannies, too!
Have a listen here and catch some helpful gems!
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of how to hire a nanny in NYC?
Have you started the nanny search on your own, but need to run a nanny background check?
We are here to help you.
Send us an email and tell us about your family's needs - we'd love to help you hire a nanny in NYC, or help you vet your own candidates properly!
What would you say are the top 3-5 values you hope to instill in a child so that they may carry them into adulthood?
Here are three simple rules to live by to help instill values into children in your care.
1. Toss out the old adage, "Do As I Say, Not As I Do".
Be aware that your child sees everything you do (scary!), the good and the not-so-good. You may tell them to be patient, kind, and understanding, but if they don't see this, they won't practice it. For example...
2. Extend your values to them as well.
A lot of parents and nannies would say that they want to teach a child to respect others, forgetting that the child is also someone who needs to be shown patience, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness and respect, too! The best way to instill values into children is simply by letting them experience what it feels like to receive these things.
3. Admit your mistakes.
Don't be afraid to own up to a misstep. No one is perfect, and to not admit when you've done wrong may lead to your child feeling that they have to hide their mistakes from you for fear that you may reject their error.
Values look different to each family and caregiver.
Of course we all want our children to be high achievers, and have fun in life. We of course want them to be forgiving and kind, and we want them to also be assertive and stand their ground when it's time. We all want them to be respectful, and we want them to also recognize their right to being respected.
The trick for us to successfully instill values into children is finding where the balance lies within in each family.
You want to make sure your caregiver is aligned with these values, and give them wiggle room to do things a little differently than you would. This is where great communication comes in handy!
This is the time of year where nannies are booked frequently for date-night sittings: lots of holiday parties, in-laws in town, and nights out for busy parents! I'd like to share a cautionary tale I read recently, and give you some tips based off of this situation, as well as others we have personally encountered.
Recently in a nanny support group I am apart of, a caregiver had been booked on a popular app by a family to babysit for their family in hotel, as they were coming into New York for the weekend. She offered to talk to them on the phone beforehand to give a mini interview, but they declined and said it was fine - they would provide details when she showed up. She had great reviews, so she assumed they were just trusting the references, which is why the reviews exist in the first place. Exercising safety when babysitting is not just for the parents but for the nannies, too!
When she showed up to the hotel on the evening of the sit, she received a text message that said they were running an hour late. After she waited over an hour, sent a check-in text and gave a phone call, both of which went unanswered. At this point, she checked with the front desk attendants just to make sure they actually had a reservation, but in doing so, she learned that there was no one staying there by the name that was given on the booking. This isn't totally unheard of - some people want their privacy - so she didn't think much of it. However, there other signs that gave her pause, and she ultimately left the hotel after fearing for her safety. These warning signs were what inspired this blog.
Here are our best tips on how to keep safety when babysitting in the forefront of your mind when you've been booked through a babysitting app, instead of a mutual connection or agency.
1. Make verbal contact with the parents before you meet, if possible.
Trust me, I don't like talking on the phone as much as the next person, but sometimes just hearing their voice, their tone and cadence, will reassure you this is a parent and not a creep. Ask them a couple questions about their kids, and ask them if there is any specialized care for their child for which you would be responsible.
For the sitter above who was booked, she thought it was odd that when she would call that day, and over the previous five days before the scheduled day, no one would answer, nor return her call, and there was no formal voicemail. The "family" would only follow up via text. This may not have been a big deal, as she had reviews, and this is common for families to book with minimal effort. Lack of verbal contact before isn't a deal breaker, however coupled with the things below, you can quickly see where there was a problem.
2. Always tell someone close to you before meeting a family for the first time!
Let a friend or family member know the address where you plan to meet and the time you plan to leave by. Keep in touch via text once you arrive to say all is well, and if you are going to be late. Do this even when you are leaving the job to return to your house. Safety when babysitting mostly comes down to covering your bases, and keeping others informed.
3. Look up the names of the parents on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google.
Most parents will have family photos or telltale signs that they are who they say they are. Make sure the story adds up!
The sitter above was caught off guard when no one was reserved in the hotel under the name on her booking. The lack of a voicemail was strike two. They also gave her very common names, so it was impossible to verify who they were via Google.
A way to combat this is to search for them on Google using their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Something is bound to come up to proves they're a real person.
4. Ask one of the parents to come meet you at the door, or in the lobby.
If you are working at a hotel, ask that they come and meet you, if you have any doubts that they are real people in need of babysitting.
If you are working at an apartment in a building with a door attendant, ask the person if the family has children. They may be taken a back by it, but you can explain it is your first time meeting them. If it is a private house and with no door attendant, what do you hear when you come up to the house? Is there laughter? Are there shoes, scooters, or bikes visible outdoors? Is there a large vehicle in the driveway, or a friendly welcome mat?
You can always insist that they meet you halfway in your requests for a personal escort before entering their home - say its a tip for your safety when babysitting that you picked up - no parent will argue with that, and if they are the type to get annoyed or give an attitude, you don't have to work with them again! Your safety when babysitting is just as important as theirs and their children's.
5. Be aware of your surroundings - where are the children?
When you show up, do you hear children laughing, talking, yelling, etc. outside of the room in the hallway, or out in the street? And if not, when the parent opens the door and there are no children present, is there evidence of children in the room, such as children's cups, clothing, shoes, stroller, and toys? If not, do not enter.
Feel no need to be overly polite in this situation - even if your hesitations are wrong and there really is a family (maybe they just checked in and the kids are in the pool), they will absolutely respect you more for being so safety conscious - which will likely lead to you having a better review! Simply say, "I'm sorry, I was told this booking was for x# of children, but I don't see them... Oh, they are downstairs? No problem! I can meet them down there, or just wait out here in the hall or lobby. I insist."
The sitter in the story above was incredibly forward thinking to think about her personal safety when babysitting. The third strike that ultimately lead to her leaving (quickly!) was when she was alert for the entire two hours waiting for them in the lobby to show up (after they kept texting, "10 more minutes"), she noticed no children walking through the lobby and up to the elevator. That, coupled with their unwillingness to escort her up, led her to walk right out. She made the right decision when considering her own safety when babysitting for this new family.
So by now you may be wondering how did the family receive the news that their sitter played hardball and left after they would not call back or come and get her from the lobby... Well, after she texted and explained why she would wait 10 more minutes and if she didn't hear back, she would be leaving after waiting nearly 2.5 hours, they never wrote back to confirm, criticize, or say they understood and respected her reasons.
Had she listened and just went upstairs as they insisted, I'm not sure what, if anything, would have happened to her, though given the high possibility this was not a family, she absolutely did the right thing.
Very few of these tips above are "Deal-breakers," however when they are all coupled together, it can spell trouble. Be aware, and keep yourself safe.
If you have any other safety tips to add below, please do! We can all protect each other.
A member in a local online parenting group I'm a member of posed a question that caused a mild stir. This generous mom employs a nanny whom has no family nearby to spend Thanksgiving with, and she was curious to know other mom's opinions if she were to invite her children's nanny over for the holidays to their big extended family dinner. Another mom chimed in and wondered the same thing about her family's big Hanukkah dinner.
Many moms and nannies were touched by her thoughtfulness, saying how nice it was to think of her. There were some moms who thought it crossed a serious professional line, and many nannies said they would respectfully decline to keep their family life separate. This caused me to consider my own past over the many years I was a nanny, far away from relatives that were not close enough to road trip there.
If you too are considering inviting your nanny or housekeeper over for the holidays, take a moment to consider these points.
Notice of the state and nature of your relationship.
Do you ask about your employee's weekend, or know small details of his or her personal life like their family, or partner's name? Do you laugh about things in life beyond your children and home? Do you view this person with complete trust, just as family? If so, it would not be a shock to invite them to dinner, and they would likely be honored that you thought of them.
Consider the affect of inviting your nanny or housekeeper into a family setting.
If your relationship is a lot more casual and friendly as we discussed above, your invitation and their attendance will likely only bring you closer in the long run. If you view your nanny as a member of the family, this is a great thing! But if you maintain that the nanny reports to your home to do their job and leave her personal beliefs and life out of conversation, and they accept the invitation, would you feel uncomfortable and distracted, and unable to fully enjoy your family time?
Be clear about your invitation.
Be sure to state that this is in invitation to be a guest -- not an employee. Treat him or her as such: offer them a drink, clear their plate, allow them to sit and don't expect them to clean up after the children. If the expectation is that they continue their duties as they usually would, then this isn't an invitation, but a work day (which is totally fine if that is discussed, and they are paid as such).
Only invite him or her if you genuinely want them there, not because you feel sorry.
This goes without stating: a invitation made in pity will be obvious, and won't be given serious thought. Speaking from my own personal experience, if you genuinely give your invitation, your nanny will really appreciate and be touched by the offer, even if he or she declines.
The bottom line is that if your nanny feels like a member of the family, their presence will not feel out of place or inappropriate.
However, if you don't feel quite close with your nanny yet, having your nanny over for the holidays may be a distraction to your family-time.
Neither of these scenarios are bad!
There is no rushing connection and trust.
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