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Choosing the Most Helpful Childcare Solution for Your Family in 2021

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Ah, January: a time for scoping out the year ahead and getting affairs in order. As your family makes plans for 2021, you may be wondering what kind of childcare solution will be most helpful at this time. Even in more conventional years, circumstances change, and families can find themselves in uncharted territory, looking for new forms of childcare. 

We are here to help. This guide will explain various forms of in-home childcare; what to keep in mind when deciding what setup works best for you; and what may be the best fit for your family’s needs, now and in the future. 

Types of Childcare

Families typically work with one of three types of caregivers: full-time nannies, part-time nannies, and babysitters. They may also work with a combination of these.

  • Full-time nanny: a full-time nanny is someone who works for your family 35 hours or more per week. This will typically be their primary or sole employment; full-time nannies are usually hired for ongoing, long-term positions, with an expectation of at least one year. 

    A full-time nanny’s job responsibilities encompass anything that your child may encounter in a day and generally include cooking, doing their laundry, and following the necessary care for all stages of development. 
  • Part-time nanny: a part-time nanny works with your family on a regular schedule that is not full-time. This position can be ongoing for an extended time, depending on the scope of the position. It is often at least 6 months, or a school year for after-school sitters. Because it is not full time, part-time nannies usually combine different positions or pursue other activities and careers while working with your family. 

    Part-time nannies also handle most things in the day-to-day care of your child. After-school sitters’ responsibilities are more often concentrated to pick-up, after-school activities, homework, dinner, and bed-time, depending on the length of a shift.  
  • Babysitter: a babysitter helps your family occasionally, when you need them but not on a regular schedule. This may be a date-night sitter or a sitter for families whose needs change frequently, requiring complete flexibility in childcare. On-call babysitters are called in last-minute, perhaps if your regular childcare is unexpectedly unavailable. Babysitters often work for several families and pursue other activities. 

    For many years, SmartSitting has helped families build reliable rosters of fantastic on-call babysitters. Due to the pandemic, we are currently only working with families looking for a minimum of one week, for at least 20 hours. We handle all the employment details of these temporary requests. We hope to resume our on-call babysitting service later this year.

Additional types of Childcare

On top of these three positions, childcare providers may work in capacities that span a little of each, This includes as short-term nannies who work a regular schedule but for a limited time, or fill-in nannies who may be taking over for your usual nanny for a week or month while they are away. 

Additionally, in the last year, many families have relocated or spent extended periods of time in second homes. This means some caregivers have transitioned to work as live-in nannies. We discussed important things to think about regarding live-in positions in this post last spring. 

To consider when choosing your childcare

In general, a full-time nanny and nannies in heftier part-time positions will oversee everything regarding your children’s care. It’s no secret, however, that circumstances are a little upside down right now. The role of someone you hire now may look different this spring versus summer or into fall. This makes it important to consider whether it is more valuable to you to have the same person stay with your family long-term, or if a short-term solution for spring with someone who can navigate virtual schooling and the presence of a home office is the ticket. 

The closer to full-time your caregiver’s position is, the more likely they are to commit long-term and be able to be flexible to your family’s needs. This has obviously been particularly important in the last year. It continues to be so, as families and caregivers are dedicating themselves to the safety of people in their lives. If this is a top priority for you — even if you typically need fewer hours on a flexible schedule — consider offering your childcare provider a regular weekly income or higher hourly rate. This will enable them to provide this security to your family. 

For more information about hiring a caregiver based on your schedule, this previous article gives some helpful examples and tips. If you want further guidance, our experienced client team is always here to talk through your specific needs and find the caregiver who is just right for you.

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