Twice the Work and Half the Fun – What you Need to Know About Vacationing with your Nanny

If you have vacationed with your nanny before, or are considering it, you are likely aware of the unique challenges and tensions this dynamic can present. If you are the nanny, you’re doubly aware (for most of us, it isn’t our first rodeo!). There can be a lot of drama around this topic. Nannies get upset, parents get upset, and not many people know where to turn for answers when it comes to establishing a standard.

For starters, let’s get this out of the way: You are going on vacation, not your nanny.

Your nanny is still working (hence why you brought her). But here’s the most important part – she’s probably working more than usual, not less.|

That plane ride to your vacation destination? She bounced and soothed your fussy infant while entertaining your active toddler the whole way, somehow even getting them to nap. The beautiful resort you’re staying at? Your six month old is refusing to sleep because it’s an unfamiliar environment, and the time zone change has your toddler melting down left and right. Your nanny is balancing nap schedules, dietary needs and restrictions, activities for the kids (often water-based, instantly hiking stress to a Level Orange), and helping to coordinate family outings, all in a new setting, possibly in a foreign country.

Your nanny is not on vacation, trust me.

But she is happy to be there, so long as she is adequately compensated.

This is where it gets sticky. Where the drama and negotiating begin. Parents want (er, need) the help, but struggle with justifying potentially doubling the cost of their vacation. Yes, doubling. These costs include at the minimum standard full-time pay to the nanny plus her traveling expenses. Often this financial prospect results in parents unintentionally shortchanging their nanny, which clearly isn’t fair to her, or conducive toward a communal vacation experience. So how do you know what is fair?

Emily Dills, founder of Seattle Nanny Network, Inc. states that the best scenarios come from employers who do the following

Offer separate accommodation. This is most economical for a family when it simply includes a room in their vacation home or rental, not a hotel room. Your nanny should have privacy and a place to rest. If you are staying in a hotel and wish to have the nanny share a room with the children, then compensation for overnight care should be factored in as well (a reality with infants and toddlers), providing that she is comfortable with this arrangement.

Provide airfare with a clear definition of whether the nanny will be on duty while flying. Unless she is traveling separately and meeting you at your destination, the nanny should be on the clock from the moment the plane takes off (if not earlier!). Most likely she has been juggling the kids through the airport, and either assisting in caring for them or solely responsible for them the entire flight. One client, Ms. Dills recalled, sat in first class while the nanny and children sat in coach. No question as to whether the nanny was on the clock in that situation.

Pay for all meals, period (and don’t be weird about it). Nickel and diming this aspect creates too great a margin for discontent. For example: if you tell your nanny that breakfast and lunch are paid, but she’s on her own for dinner, does that mean she has to leave the family and eat alone, in a strange place? It’s beyond awkward. And speaking of awkward, nanny Lynda M. will never forget her meal experience during a two-week long road trip: “The mom bought one foot long [sandwich] and two drinks for us all to share – mom, dad, me, and the three kids. The mom called it “trough eating” and we all shared [food] and drank from the same drinks. We did this the whole trip.” Just don’t…

Establish a set schedule where parents trade duty with the nanny. Whether you want to drop the kids off after dinner so you can stay out (or in!) all night, or have your nanny take charge during the day so you can socialize with friends or be able to relax guilt-free, it should be clear to all parties from the beginning who is on kid duty and when. Kim S., who worked a vacation with her boss and extended family, recalls of her ten day Vegas trip: “I was the ‘nocturnal nanny/daycare worker’, as I was in charge of all five children from 5pm until 10am the next morning. The parents would drop the children off with me in our rooms at 5pm, along with dinner, and then [they] left to take naps and get ready for their night…Once the parents arrived [the next morning], I…had the choice of joining the families on whatever adventures were scheduled for the day or of going off on my own to do whatever I wanted (often a nap by the pool!), as long as I was in the hotel rooms and ready to go for the next 5pm drop-off.” Chaos, maybe, but organized.

Pay the nanny a rate that everyone agrees to, on top of travel expenses. An hourly rate might seem logical, but this is often abused. Nanny Jill R. shares: “I was only compensated for the hours I was with the baby ALONE, which was minimal since I was basically hired to be the mom’s companion!” Another common approach is to pay the nanny her at-home/salaried rate, but this can be problematic if she is working considerably more hours than her normal schedule, or working with additional children. It is best when families accommodate this accordingly. Kim S., the “Nocturnal Nanny” mentioned above, was compensated by being paid her regular salary, “plus extra pay for taking care of three additional children, extra for working 17-hour shifts, and extra for having to work away from my normal work environment. All of my expenses were paid for by the parents.” It doesn’t make the job any easier, but paying your nanny a rate that recognizes the unique challenges and additional responsibilities of vacation definitely helps make it worth it for her. I mean, you want her to do this again, right?

Navigating the ins and outs of vacationing with a nanny can be a bit daunting, but once you do get to your destination, remember to enjoy yourself! Misty Ewing Belles, Director of Global Public Relations at Virtuoso, the travel industry’s leading luxury network, shared: “Don’t be afraid to let your nanny do her job…I think there’s a tendency to feel guilty watching someone else care for your children when you’re in the same room. However, if…you’re comfortable with her daily care of your kids, enjoy the advantages that come with having some assistance.” Your nanny is there to help make life during your getaway easier, just like she is at home, and you can rest assured that your children are with someone they trust and love.

So sit back, sip that cocktail (how long has it been since you’ve had a cocktail?!) and relax.

You’re on vacation now.

Copyright © 2018 Seattle Nanny Network. All Rights Reserved

10 Reasons to Share a Nanny

Your Pocketbook

Childcare is the second greatest expense behind a mortgage, with costs that often rival college tuition, so it’s no wonder new parents are anxious to economize. When you share a nanny, you not only split the cost of wages, but save in numerous other ways that may not be immediately obvious. One example is the savings of gas and mileage associated with battling daily rush hour traffic to and from daycare.

Consistency of Care

According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, “the childcare workforce experiences an annual job turnover rate of between 25 and 40 percent,”1 which means a revolving door of childcare providers in facility care. A reputable nanny agency requires applicants to commit to a minimum twelve-month contract, with many nannies staying longer.  The stability this offers your children is immeasurable.

Job Security

When your child gets sick in daycare or school, it often means you have to stay home with them or scramble for last minute childcare. This can put a significant burden on your work life, especially if your child has a chronic condition or is prone to getting sick. A nanny comes to work regardless of your child’s health, and can even take them to doctor’s appointments if you are unable.

Outsourcing Chores

In a typical nanny share arrangement, the nanny alternates between the two homes.  When the nanny is on duty, she will be doing the things that you yourself would do around the house.  This includes laundry, washing dishes, and often general tidying. By outsourcing even a few domestic tasks, you buy back precious time in the evening and weekends when the chores would typically land on your or your partner’s plate.

Health

Daycares and schools are a Petri dish of germs, no matter how high the quality. Reducing exposure to illness during the early months and years means healthier children (as well as healthier parents). With a nanny share, you’re able to decrease the risk of contracting nasty cold and flu viruses, while still enjoying the benefit of socialization with the other family.

Flexibility

Unlike daycare, where there are fines for every minute you are late in picking up your children, your nanny will offer flexibility. Nannies usually work longer than a traditional workday, accommodating your specific commute, schedule, and work-related travel

Control

No other childcare arrangement provides you with as much influence over the individual that will care for your child as hiring a nanny.  With daycares and schools, you can select the highest rated in your area, but you don’t have any input regarding who they employ.  With a nanny share, you and the other parents have the opportunity to select the skills and qualities that best suit your families, and personally screen their background. As not all reports disclose the same level of information, it is highly recommended to enlist a search firm bound to FLCRA (Fair Labor and Credit Reporting Act) regulations to guarantee the most accurate information. A benefit to working with a nanny placement agency is that they serve as an intermediary in this process, since as a direct employer you are not allowed to discriminate based on negative information found in a background check.

Ratios

Washington State daycare regulations require one provider per four infants or seven toddlers, and up to ten children of preschool age.2 Family childcare regulations allow for a provider to care for up to twelve infants or children with an assistant.3  A nanny share arrangement between two families with one child each is a ratio that can only be matched by the parents themselves.

No Waitlists

A good daycare can require a deposit and up to a year waitlist. This translates to securing your spot before your second trimester of pregnancy (if you wish to take the standard three-month maternity/parental leave).  While it can take some time to find the right nanny and family in a share arrangement, once selected, a nanny can begin working immediately, providing a smooth transition as you return to work.

Accessibility

More and more services are catering to families who are interested in a nanny share, with agencies such as Seattle Nanny Network providing a Nanny Share Portal for families to meet. If you have found the right family but are still looking for a nanny, a placement agency would be able to provide you with viable candidates, assist in writing contracts, and refer a payroll service.

For more information, or to join the free online community of families seeking to connect with one another to share a nanny, please visit http://nannyshare.seattlenanny.com/

1 The National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies. “The Child Care Workforce.” January, 2012. http://www.naccrra.org/sites/default/files/default_site_pages/2012/ccgb_cc_workforce_jan2012.pdf

2 Washington State Legislature. “WAC 170-295-2090: What are the required staff to child ratios and maximum group sizes for my center?” Accessed January, 2015. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=170-295-2090

3 Washington State Requirements. “Provider/Child Ratio.” Accessed January 2015. http://www.daycare.com/washington/

Copyright © 2018 Seattle Nanny Network. All Rights Reserved

Blurred Lines

Ten boundary busters between nannies and families

Thanks to Fräulein Maria, reruns of The Nanny, and Jude Law’s epic philandering, most people conjure ideas of a romance between the father and nanny when they think of boundaries being crossed in this profession. While it may happen in rare cases, in my experience it is more likely that potential angst on the side of the parent is over the bond between their children and nanny, rather than anything to do with their partner. In this case, the stereotype is (almost always) far juicier than the reality.

The most common situations where boundaries are crossed between a nanny and family are just that – common. It is due to this commonplace nature that so many instances go unchecked, until a simple, usually avoidable breakdown in communication results in a nanny losing her position and a family without childcare.

Emily Dills, founder of Seattle Nanny Network, Inc., says that when clients call with a concern over their nanny’s performance, the first thing she asks is whether the nanny is aware of the issue. Often, they admit they haven’t even discussed it with her. This approach can ultimately result in the parents choosing to fire their nanny over an issue she was completely unaware of. Nannies too, are guilty of concealing their frustrations over work-related grievances, fearing they could jeopardize their position if they spoke up.

So what are some typical examples of boundaries being crossed? Here you go:

No sleeping on the job

Can you imagine if your office job allowed a paid nap break? Nothing says professionalism like your boss finding you drooling on the couch while their four-month-old naps. Baby monitor cranked all the way up or not, you might want to clear that first.

Stop with the “scope creep!”

Almost every nanny has experienced the infamous scope creep: agreeing to a specific job for a specific amount of money, then months later finding the work has magically multiplied while the check has not. It is one of the fastest ways to create job dissatisfaction for a nanny, yet something so completely avoidable. If you as an employer realize your needs have changed, address them with your nanny and pay her accordingly if additional duties are added to her workload.

Keep your clothes on

You’d think this would go without saying, but there are more than a few people who find nothing wrong with walking around in a towel (or less!) while the nanny is on duty. It doesn’t matter if you have abs of steel or look like Jabba the Hut. It’s always inappropriate.

Decline (no, I don’t want to be your friend!)

Social media accounts are very personal, and adding your boss or nanny to your friends list not only blurs the lines of professionalism, but is an open invitation for snooping and over sharing.

Yes, I belong to the 1% and no you can’t ask me for more

Many times nannies will state what their salary range is prior to an interview, then raise their price considerably once they meet the prospective family. Or they will frivolously spend the petty cash or rack up their work credit card because they feel their employer should be able to afford it. Just because an employer is affluent doesn’t mean they throw money around, and their financial status is not something to that should be taken advantage of.

I’m paying you to watch my kids, not your phone

Pretty self-explanatory.

I’m not your therapist

Nannies often get stuck in the position of family therapist, and it is one of the most uncomfortable situations to be in. Whether an employer has had a tiff with their partner, is in the midst of a nasty divorce, or has some other family drama it is not fair for them to dump that on their nanny or even worse, expect her to take a side.

Just tell me if there’s a nanny cam

Fewer things destroy trust levels faster than discovering you’ve been filmed without your knowledge. If a parent feels the need to have a nanny cam, there is no reason why that shouldn’t be disclosed to the nanny. In this digital age of connectivity video monitoring is not only accessible but often welcomed by the nanny, who fully supports your desire to know what the kids are up to when you’re not home.

The playdate is for my kids, not you

Playdates are naturally social for both children and adults, but there is a big difference between a nanny meeting up with other nannies or parents for an actual playdate versus lunching with her girlfriends with her charge in tow…especially if she is putting the tab on her employer.

Who is in charge when everyone’s home?

Both the parents and nanny tend to cross the line on this one. It is crucial to have consistency and mutual support, especially in front of the kids. One of the main ways this gets derailed is when one party undermines the other. If a nanny has worked all afternoon to curb a difficult situation that required disciplinary measures, it can be maddening to have the parents come home and undo all that hard work. It is also a major point of contention when the nanny oversteps her role and tries to tell the parents how to parent.

Every family has different parameters they are comfortable with, which is why communication is so critical. What was allowed and even encouraged with one family might be considered a huge offense to another. Nannies should make sure to ask how their bosses would like things managed, and employers need to set clear expectations and boundaries with their nanny from the start. And most importantly, both parties need to be forthcoming if things develop over time that they aren’t comfortable with, so that issues can be resolved quickly and smoothly.

Success can be had and the vast majority of stories are positive, but clear communication and expectations from the onset are the key to avoiding conflict later.

Copyright © 2018 Seattle Nanny Network. All Rights Reserved

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