Whether you carried your baby under your heart, went through adoption, or had a surrogate – your little bundle of joy is finally here, and you couldn’t be happier. That is until you realize that in a few short weeks you will have to go back to work. Sadly, the US is one of the very few developed countries that does not offer paid parental leave. As a human, as a woman, and as a business owner of a company that provides childcare – I wholeheartedly disagree with that policy. It’s simply not right.
As a parent, sooner than later, you’ll have to face the harsh reality of leaving your (newborn) child in the care of another person. I might not be able to change the laws, but I do hope to help you navigate the process of finding the right for your family childcare option.
Where and when to start?
Finding childcare coverage that works for you will take time. Whether you are interviewing nannies, daycares, or considering another family for a nanny share – give yourself time. Allowing a minimum of three months before you have to go back to work should be enough – two months to do interviews and trial days, and then one month for the trial period.
Which childcare option to choose.
You can’t put a price on the safety and happiness of your child or your peace of mind. And as much as that is true, your budget will be one of the most critical factors in your choice of childcare type that works for you.
Which option is the most affordable and which will cost you the most?
Daycares are usually the most cost-effective, with prices starting around $175/week. Prices though vary greatly depending on the neighborhood, and the kind of daycare – home daycares are generally less expensive than Child Care Centers. Although the most affordable, daycares have some limitations:
– long waiting lists – in some places you need to sign up while you are still pregnant to have a chance for a spot;
– age requirements – some daycares only accept children over a specific age;
– not taking in children if “under the weather” – in those cases, parents need additional coverage;
Hiring a full-time/part-time nanny will be the most costly. The weekly salary for full-time nannies in NYC ranges anywhere from $900 to $1700, sometimes more. Salaries depend on the nanny’s experience, education, language fluency, CPR certification, and the number and ages of children they have under their care. Also important to make a note of is that the weekly wages are paid throughout the whole year, including coverage for sick days, holidays, vacations (both nanny and family) etc.; Nannies tend to say no to full-time jobs that do not offer financial stability and predictability of getting paid weekly.
The hourly rate in a nanny-share scenario is usually higher but split between the two families. Rate here ranges anywhere from $28-$40/h(meaning $14-$20/h/per family) and more. Again, the rate will be depending on children’s ages, nanny experience, etc; Important to consider is also who will be hosting, how will work splitting the cost of necessary double items like stroller, cribs and planning together vacations and time off; Having a backup in this scenario is a MUST! Nanny-shares are the way to go for families who want to save in the long run. An additional perk of this solution is having your little one interact on regular basis with another child – which is incredibly beneficial for both children’s development.
In part-time situations, the tricky part is keeping the nanny for a longer-term. Nannies tend to accept part-time offers while they are on the look for a full-time position and quit as soon as they secure an offer that fits them better. It is more likely that the nanny will stay for longer if you offer more benefits – paid holidays and vacation, paid sick days and personal days, or metro card.
Having a great nanny has a long list of benefits, including your child’s proper development and everyday happiness. The biggest plus, though, is having peace of mind knowing your child is safe. Whichever of the above options might end up working for you, it’s important to also remember that nannies do get sick and have their own families. Making sure they have time to see a doctor or run any necessary errands for their own families will help you avoid the unpleasant surprises of last-minute cancelations and scrambling to find coverage.
You made a decision, picked the childcare option that works for you, and now it’s time to schedule interviews. What should you ask? Depending on the childcare option you are going with, here are some pointers:
Take a tour of the space and ask a lot of questions:
– how is all the staff educated?
– is everyone on the staff CPR, AED, and First Aid certified (both adult and pediatric), and by which institution? (Some companies accept online CPR – certificates; only in-person courses can provide adequate and practical knowledge applicable in emergencies.)
– what is the child to caregiver ratio?
– how often do kids go outside?
– is there backyard access?
– are all smoke CO2 detectors working?
– are all inspections up to date?
No question is silly or irrelevant!
When interviewing nannies, consider not only their work experience, references but also personality traits and lifestyle. The experience itself means nothing if your ideas about raising children, boundaries, or healthy food habits, do not match your nanny’s childrearing views in any way. Most carrier nannies have their own set of rules – and they may not match your standards. A good indicator of the nanny interview going well is the potential nanny candidate pretty quickly switching to talk about “her” previous child and even showing you pictures. Nanny asking permission to play with your child and spending time with them is also something to look for. Be wary of nannies that seem to have all the answers but do not really show interest in the children. There are plenty of carrier nannies in NYC ( big cities in general) that work with families solely to get a paycheck. They tend to be great at interviews but not so much with the kids. (You might not be aware that anything is off until someone who saw your child being mistreated, finds a way to find you and tell you.) Always listen to your gut – if you have any doubts, it’s not worth it.
Here are just a few questions you should ask ( you can download a full list at the bottom of the page):
– how did your previous employment end?
– what is your social media policy?
– would you follow our instructions even if you do not agree with them?
– how would you address any arising issues?
– are you CPR and First Aid Certified?
a) interviewing for nanny-share
In a nanny-share situation, you will need not only to interview nannies but also families; my advice when comes to nanny-share, don’t go into it with your friends, as it is a business situation and sooner then later someone will disagree about something regarding money, time off, boundaries; much easier to resolve issues when the second family is not emotionally connected to you; I’ve seen situations where friends stopped being friends because of nanny-share disagreements;
After the interview process and completed trial month – always sign a written agreement. It is much easier to sit down and go over any issues like the salary, overtime, sick days, or vacations right after the trial month is finished than weeks or months down the road. And if later on, in case any issues do arise, it’s much easier to solve them if you have something written to fall back on.
Another option, when considering childcare, is to hire a nanny agency or babysitting company – like PDN – to conduct the search and/or interviews for you. This will add a bit of a cost but will save you time and give you the best chance of finding a truly great match. If considering a placement agency, choose one that will take time to meet with you in person or at least virtually and get to know you. ( It is a crucial step for PDN – the better we know our families, the better we can serve your childcare needs.) Be wary of how they charge fees. Most agencies can charge both families and sitters a service fee amount equal to or greater than the weekly salary but do not offer rematches or more than two or three possible candidates to interview. Some of the placement agencies can be very pushy with sending you people to interview but not delivering the right candidates. Typical placement agencies usually do not offer any help in solving arising issues.
You can download below a complete list of interview questions and examples of a work agreement that can be tailored to each situation.
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions!