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July 09, 2012

It's All in the Name: Babysitter or Part-time Nanny

Blog-sitter-part-time-nannyI recently heard from a friend who had found a babysitter on Care.com, but it wasn’t the right fit. There are lots of reasons that a match may not work out all the time, but in this case, the member felt she had done everything right. She had posted a job for someone to take care of her preschooler and Kindergartner 3 hours a day, every day, for the after-school hours. She interviewed babysitter candidates, checked references and background check and hired someone she thought had the best qualities: energetic, good with kids and affectionate. She pictured her kids doing art projects, playing in the yard, reading books, dancing around to the latest Baby Einstein CDs.

So imagine her surprise when she came home early one day to find her babysitter on the couch watching TV, while the kids played with iPads.

So what went wrong? It turns out she just didn't create her job post accurately. She didn’t realize what she wanted from the sitter until she hired someone who seemed great.

But I think the stand-out issue is that she requested a "Sitter" instead of a "Part-time Nanny."

Now, many of you with fantastic babysitters will disagree, but I think of a "sitter" as someone who cares for the child and is ready in an emergency. They’re your date night hires, the must-run an errand hire, the help out here and there person. They will call 911, play games, read stories. But if you’re looking for someone who will grow with the child, challenge him with developmental tools, tutor, plan creative play, I’d advise you look for someone who considers herself a nanny.

So we encouraged this member to post a job for a 'Part-time Nanny' instead of a babysitter and explain what she wanted the person to do in her job description. She's found a better match for her kids — and comes home to great artwork hanging on the fridge.

What do you think? Have you had better experience with nannies…or babysitters?

 

Related Articles:

Babysitting FAQ

Your Nanny's First Day of Work - Checklist

Find the Best Nanny Faster on Care.com

 

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Comments

Jessica

I 100% agree with your advice to the post above. I am a nanny myself and I have over 10+ years experience. In that, I do more than what most "sitters" are asked to do. I perform task as a "mother's helper," engage the children in physical activity, cook, clean, tutor, challenge their minds, arts & crafts...you name it...More than likely we have enjoyed doing it :-) If you expect certain things from just a "sitter" for a few hours, then be gracious with how much you offer as pay. Take also into consideration if you ask them to take your children to the park or anywhere that you allow them around 40¢ for every mile they drive & that way it's helpful. You can have a nice date night IN, but be sure that your sitter has a reliable car & you trust them well enough to be fully responsible for your child/children. I wish for everyone to find someone genuine & who loves their children just as much as I love the ones I nanny for!

dee

I totally agree

It is difficult to get a part time nanny when you only need care on a sporadic basis and this isn't fair to the care giver.

We have had good success for child care , pet care and senior care through care .com
thanks

Rob Emerson

I could not agree more with this article/tip. It is very important to be clear about not just your child care needs, but your expectations of the activities you will want your nanny to perform in your job posting. It's important to provide a realistic overview of your child(ren)'s strengths and developmental needs in the job description. Then you must interview against your expectations. That's is exactly what I did and have been extremely pleased with our part time nanny who cares for, assists with homework and other educational activies for my elementary boys after school and in the summer.

Mara B

I've never hired either. I've always had family to watch my son. But with business becoming so hectic I realize this may be my only outlet soon. The interesting part is I will probably need a sitter just because I'm out mainly at nights when my son is going to be asleep but the breakdown that Sheila gives is truly the image I had. Overnight I would need a sitter and for events I would prefer a nanny that can possibly take my son to TaeKwon Do classes, Swimming lessons and help him with his homework and assure he has his dinner before bed. But signing up and knowing what direction to look in is a great help. Thanks Sheila!

Gemma

I am a former Governess, now single mother. My attempts to find a Nanny on Care.com became somewhat frustrating.

There is clearly a difference between a Sitter, Nanny, and Governess. Each with varying degrees of responsibility and involvement in the children's growth and development. For myself, that was not the issue in screening for child care.

The problem with placing Nannies and Sitters in the same group on Care, is that the Nanny seems to feel they warrant the Sitter hourly fee.

Everything is certainly negotiable; however, I try to educate the Nanny, that the guarantee of a set number of hours is priced as a "job" for the week. A Sitter is a "per diem" situation, and therefore, does not have the luxury of a set number of hours per week. Paying a higher hourly fee is commonplace.

I have actually lost a Nanny due to compensation confusion. As frivolous as that sounds. She felt she should be compensated at a Sitter rate of $15.00/hour for one child, with in-home help from two teens, 30 hours per week with benefits. She referenced to a calculator on this site for her information to ask for a raise.

I strongly feel, there should be some separation on Care.com when searching for a specific type of child care person. Grouping all levels of care into one, is problematic for both parties.

Pam

In my experience this is also important for care providers to consider too. I have interviewed for families advertising for a babysitter, even once for 3 or more days per week! I assumed it was just a different choice of name, but in fact often those parents really are just looking for someone to watch the kids and "keep them out of trouble", with a paycheck to match. I believe kids deserve more than that for a regular position, and have since only applied for jobs looking for experienced caregivers who will engage and stimulate their children.

Mel

I agree. I view a "babysitter" as a one-and-done sort of proposition, or a very short-term engagement, like three days while the regular nanny is on vacation. Babysitters are less skilled and probably less well-compensated. Nannies should be paid better and should have clear expectations and a regular schedule. Sometimes it's hard to find a good nanny if they're calling themselves a babysitter. But you also need to know what you need BEFORE you even post an ad.

Ann

What's in a name?

I find that people who consider themselves "professional nannies" are really looking for full time work - after all, it is their profession. I find that part time after school helpers really consider the selves sitters, as they have classes or other things going on during the day. Folks who consider themselves "sitters" don't want jobs as "nannies" and vice versa. Also, I find that nannies feel entitled to more money, as it is their profession. Sitters, again, have other things going on, be it training for another profession or part time work in their chosen profession. It is important to be clear with whomever you hire about your expectations. Across the board. Period.

Old Fashioned

I think a child should be raised by it's parent!

It's sad when a mother chooses money (big house/new car) over being with her child and raising it!

Old Fashioned

Gemma: $15 an hour?? That's more then most people I know earn for full-time jobs working on their feet all day in a 100 degree factory!

Gail Greener

Hello Old Fashioned. I, too, wished to raise my daughter myself, and be a non-working mom. However, sometimes things happen in life and plans must change. I am in a divorce situation and am forced to work. Today's society feels that if you have an education and a degree, you can work. They will award child support, but not Mom support enough to follow through on teh original agreement made during the marriage. Therefore I must choose the very BEST option for my daughter. Being a child with special needs, it is very important that I find someone experienced and about whom I can feel confident.

shana

Old Fashioned: Most of the reasons a mother chooses to work have NOTHING to do with just choosing money over their child. That is an immature and rude assumption. My husband makes a decent income, but without me working we can't even afford to buy a home, a modest 3 bedroom house in a non-major city. We move almost every year because rent goes up significantly, and prices us out. I would also like to give him some of the things me and my husband never had an opportunity at - international travel, a college savings account, in addition to a loving home.

KSTP

We found two amazing sitters on care.com and have been blessed to have them in our lives. Recently, one of our childcare providers, who considered herself our nanny, graduated from college and I cried when she moved back to her hometown area more than 6 hours away. Our other sitter, who honestly probably fits the description of a true nanny, is still available, but her schedule is becoming more limited. This question is a matter of semantics if you presume that a "nanny" will spend more quality time with children. Personally, I believe the only difference between a nanny and a sitter is the quantity of time a provider spends in your home. It doesn't simply boil down to the title of the job they are given. We've found our "sitters" to be phenomenal and wonderfully engaging with our children when it's the right fit. As with any job, profession or career, you will find individuals who merely collect a paycheck and those that do stellar work; regardless of the importance of the job or the label given. I refuse to get caught up in a title for a childcare provider. Simply be clear with your expectations. A "nanny", a description/title that implies wealth and a service typically afforded to the upper echelons of society, isn't necessarily going to be any different than a "sitter". As working professionals, we feel our experience with sitters dispute testimonials to the contrary.

Mary

Why is "old fashioned" on this site? Just to make working parents feel guilty? I don't, and my Independant, very self confident child doesn't feel bad either. I'm glad to work, interact with people my age and education level and get a break from the stressors of home. On the flip side I'm energized when I get home and the 3-4 days a week I am home I am there 300% as I'm not tired or annoyed or overwhelmed to be there. Please stop judging working parent's whose lives you know nothing of!

Kim

Old Fashioned, please don't generalize. It isn't always about the big house and car. Sometimes this economic situation makes it necessary that both parents work and sometimes the hours aren't the best. You're lucky that you got to raise your kids the way you wanted to but unforeseen circumstances happen.

casey

Wow "OldFashioned" must be nice to sit on your high horse. I think it is unbelieveable how you can sit there & judge people. To say it is sad to choose money over raising your children. In this economy people need to work to survive. Your comment is unreal.

Tina

What is the going rate to pay a summer nanny for 35 hours a week?

mary

This article was very helpful -- I am continually disappointed by very LAZY babysitters. I guess my standards are higher than that and I prefer a part time nanny. Thank you for the article!!

highly favored

I agree with the article. I have also found that sitters are looking for top dollar to sit and do nothing. I looked on the site for assistance for everthing in b/w. I have not choosen anyone off yet, but hoping i can get great use in the future. This blog was a great start. I will say if you feel that you are titled to 15 a hr to sit on your butt and do nothing, try not having a job at all and see will your views change. Nothing is for free in life.

Midge

Old Fashioned, unfortunately not everyone can make ends meet on one paycheck. We live in a 600 sq foot one bedroom apartment and don't own a car. My employer offers a Cadillac health insurance plan that is too costly for most folks I know. I spoke to a financial professional and found out that to pay for college (in-state public university) in 18 years, we have to start socking away $750 a month now!

Shannon

Is there a difference in price though? And what should one expect to pay?

Donna

Your kidding highly favored ...right??? I have been a nanny for 10 years. I am 40. I have loved, nurtured, guided, respected and had to do WAY more then my job description ever asked of me!! Sit on my butt??? Ha!! I spent 8 hrs at Brookfield Zoo with 3 kids ( 2 separate families by the way ), 6 hrs at the field museum and 6 hrs at the children's museum all in one week because the kids were out of school and both families didn't even OFFER gas money let alone, THEY felt I shouldn't of been DOUBLE paid, since the days were TECHNICALLY, in their minds, PLAYDATES!! Yeah, maybe every now and then I get a BREAK, but so do employees who work at Wal-Mart!! I do more with the kids I love then the parents.
That's the sad part....some parents just complain about what they offer and how lazy their caregivers are....but, in all reality, how often are you around to see the boo-boo's we kiss, the kisses and hugs we give and the praise and encouragement we give?? So you offer vacation, personal and holiday pay?? How about your respect?? I am not YOUR personal asst. My job should be to wash the children's clothes, fix meals, make THEIR beds and clean-up after your children!!! NOT MAKE YOUR BED, FOLD YOUR LAUNDRY, PICK UP YOUR DRY CLEANING, GROCERY SHOP FOR YOUR FAMILY OR CLEAN YOUR HOUSE....YOUR THE MOM. My job as a nanny is to make your child smile and nurture them.....not cater to you!! Top dollar??? How do you think in anyway I would be paid top dollar???
Thank-you for hearing from both sides. :)

Mia

Old Fashioned, it's time all mothers stopped the petty bickering about stay-at-home vs. working moms. Every mom tries to be the best she can be, regardless of her profession, economic conditions, and home situation. Give it a rest, and perhpas find something more productive to do with your time than troll on a website where people are obviously seeking caregivers. Volunteer to help somewhere in your community and teach your children to do the same so that everyone can one day enjoy the kind of life they expect, but may not be able to experience. Be supportive of other moms, and teach your children tolerance and understanding of all lifestyles, please!

Meg

I think that even a babysitter should not be watching TV while taking care of your kids!!!! We actually hired a full-time nanny, who instead of taking care of our daughter, was sitting on her butt all day, talking on the phone, texting, and e-mailing all day. And it was all for $14/hour after taxes (including 3 weeks of paid vacation!). And she kept complaining that she did not make enough. We ended up firing her, of course. I think it is a matter of a personality and not if you hire a babysitter or a nanny.

Julia

I had the same experience. I hired a Sitter but wanted a Nanny. It's hard to find a good fit not just for the child but also someone who meets the parents expectations as well. I think it's extremely important to explain in detail what you expect from the babysitter or nanny during the interview process. I am currently looking for a new Nanny for my little girl. This will be her third nanny in a year and a half. It's taken some trial and error but I finally feel like I know what to ask in the interview as well as how to clearly explain my expectations. I also plan to do a 2 - 3 week trial period with my new nanny in-order to make sure everyone meshes well before officially offering the person the job.

Aure

I am curretly a woman who stays at home with her two year old nursing daughter. I attend school online to be with her and cater to her needs. I was homeschooled and had a mother who was at home everyday. While I appreciate her dedication then, I now encourage her to create and accept opporunities to gt out of the house (two of my three younger sisters are in their teens and live at home) and do something just for her. We are women before, during and after we play the role at whatever level of commitment of mother. I am desire to be a midwife and kep learning my whole life through. This may mean hours in other peoples homes. I seek to find loving caregivers for my daughter other than myself and my husband that she can feel comfortable with and willl let us do the works that we are interested in without feeling guilty.

Being a sole caregiver for a child is a choice and not always the most healthy decision for either child or parent. I feel that yes it is important to lay the foundation of love, and nuturing strongly when the child is young so that they know they are loved and internalize that feeling of safety when moving out into the world. I feel that the world could benefit highly from good care in the formative years and then freedom to love different influential caregivers as we grow.

That being said not every woman who allows there child to be loved by someone else for whatever amount of time in a week is bad. She may want to show an example of balance and continuing to enjoy all that she once and still loves about being alive. :-)

Sarah

I love working. I think as women we have to do it all. I a a mother, wife, professional, and student and i love it. "old Fshioned" probably does not have goals in life that she aspires to be other than give birth. Sorry Old fashioned. The fact that i have a Uterus does not mean that i have to give up my dreams. I want to set a great example for my little girl, and I am truly a better mommy when I am home. Good luck to all working and non working parents out there and God bless.

Kristin

I completely agree with this post. I have been caring for the same children for four years, mostly 10 hour days and nothing offends me more than the mother introducing me to others as babysitter.

Christin

I have 10 years childcare experience, as both a babysitter and nanny. I personally prefer being called a nanny. When I am in a families I am the cook, housekeeper, playmate, nurse, pre-school teacher, etc.

My recommendation to a parent hiring a sitter, is to ask the interviewee what a typical day would like should they be hired. Also make a contract.

I go even further as to give my families a monthly calender that shows different activities we will be doing throughout the month.

Kathryn

Hello,
I want to find a sitter or part-time nanny, I'm just not sure which I need/how to define the job in order to get the right person. I'd like your suggestions :)
I have a 5-week old. The kind of help I need is just a few hours a week while I have appointments, errands, or when I just need a few hours so I can sleep. Duties would include following our established feed/wake/sleep schedule, bottle feeding, diaper changing, and playing with my baby (walks, sitting outside, showing pictures, books, etc), I would also like to be able to call upon this person for evenings out as well.
What are thoughts - part-time nanny or sitter?

Jessica

Gemma

I couldn't disagree with you more. I consider myself a nanny, and do not take sitter jobs. I have a bachelors degree and Master's degree and am currently going back to school to complete a nursing degree. I agree with the article in that I do not expect to be ever sitting still. When I am with children I am working and I am working hard! Not only do I come up with activities to both entertain and challenge children I maintain their schedules, making sure everyone arrives at their designated classes, foster relationships with their teachers, friends and friends' parents, make and supervise playdates and since the mother of my family is out of town when I work make sure dad has everything neat and organized when he comes home. I go over what needs to be signed, who has what activities coming up, who is not eating what today, ect.

And for the record with this position I do not have a set working schedule ( I come in whenever the mother travels out of town which is 1-3 times a month) but in my other positions I was there everyday for a set number of hours. If you think that because my schedule is set I should earn less than a sitter who sits on the couch while the kids watch t.v. or sleep I think you seriously need to re evaluate.

I am astounded by the prices some families want to pay their nannies. I consider myself a step in parent and someone who assists the parents with keeping up their household. I help to enforce rules and boundaries, give hugs and cuddles and help raise children in the way that their parents believe is correct. I find this harder in some ways than raising your own children (obviously raising your own children is much more difficult and time consuming I simply mean in the following ways) I need to always be using not only my own judgement but also viewing the situation from the parents. This means getting to know the parents and their beliefs and paying attention to everything going on around you. And I mean everything, from watching them interact with their children, to asking questions about what they prefer, to see what are their little triggers.

You get the quality that you pay for and in some cases I completely understand that there is simply not a large budget for childcare. If you are only making 2500 a month how does 1800 of that go to childcare and you still live. I do understand that but to see people who are simply looking for a great deal or don't think that this warrants a high pay rate I do ask, what is more important than the person who spends all day everyday with your children? Probably not the person who spends a couple of hours a month with them while you go out on a date.

Babysitters

i am completely agree with this post and i love working with children's. i also have 6 year childcare experience so this is so informative for me Thanks so much.

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