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3 Things to Consider Before Starting Your Nanny Search

Finding the right babysitter or nanny for your children can seem a bit overwhelming, especially in New York City. With so many variables and moving pieces, where do you even begin? Many times, families waste time getting to know candidates that just aren’t the right fit from the start.

Believe it or not, the nanny search can be a smooth, even pleasant, process and it all starts with you. Before starting your nanny search, it can be incredibly helpful to take some time to clearly understand your own boundaries and areas of flexibility. Start with these three factors and your nanny search for the right babysitter or nanny will be more efficient and less stressful:

1. Your personal needs:

Are you looking for a babysitter once or twice a month as plans come up? Do you need a regular babysitter to pick your kids up from school every day? Perhaps you’re looking for help on the weekends? Does your ideal babysitter make meals from scratch, or does proficiency in the art of microwaving suffice? Do you want homework help or a babysitter that can focus on imaginative play? How long of a commitment do you need?

Before you start your nanny search, outline specific job responsibilities and decide on your negotiable and non-negotiable needs. A little flexibility in your ideal babysitter or nanny requirements can drastically open up your candidate pool.

SmartSitting Tip: The more scheduling regularity you can provide, the more likely you are to find a babysitter you can count on. For families looking for a consistent babysitter, we recommend offering a weekly salary or a minimum number of hours per week. Families looking for occasional babysitters with no set schedule should have a team of 3-4 on call babysitters with varying availability.

2. Your start date:

Do you have two days, two weeks, or two months to find a babysitter or nanny? Do you have a definitive start date, or is there some flexibility? Starting a nanny search a few weeks in advance is ideal. Too much lead time can work against you, as most candidates are looking for positions beginning immediately. If your needs are very specific (for example, if you need a nanny fluent in two languages or a regular afternoon babysitter who can commit to 15 or fewer hours per week), start your nanny search as far in advance as possible and keep your start date flexible.

If you need a reliable babysitter or nanny very quickly, use a trusted childcare referral agency that conducts interviews, background checks and reference checks. On short notice, a childcare agency can be a valuable teammate, only sending resumes for qualified candidates that fit your specific needs. Some babysitter agencies will also coordinate your interviews. Making a great match on short notice can be done if you work together and respond to communication quickly. Many agencies, including SmartSitting, conduct searches free of charge – so if you don’t book a candidate through a babysitter agency, you don’t incur any additional costs.

SmartSitting Tip: Always plan a paid trial of at least 3 hours before formally offering a candidate a position.

3. Your ideal budget:

Babysitter and nanny rates in Manhattan and Brooklyn generally range from $12-$25 per hour, depending on the number of hours per week, the number of kids, and the specific job requirements. Employer taxes should be factored in if you plan to pay your childcare provider more than $1,800 per year.

Hourly rates of $15-20 per hour are standard for sporadic babysitting needs. Families should discuss late night travel compensation with their babysitters to make sure they can come and go safely during late evenings.

Regular part time or full time committed positions are most successful when paid with a weekly or annual salary, and an arrangement that allows for a certain number of sick days and paid vacation time. This will attract more experienced, more reliable childcare providers to your position. This also encourages babysitters to stay at home when they are sick – keeping them and your family healthy and happy!

Childcare agencies can help refer qualified babysitters or nannies within days. If you use their services, budget for an additional 15% in annual costs for long-term placements and an additional 30% for sporadic needs.

SmartSitting Tip: While almost any budget can be accommodated, competitive rates give you the benefit of selecting top childcare providers for your children. The most experienced childcare providers are able to pick and choose among many different positions before selecting a family to work with. If you are having a difficult time finding the right babysitter or nanny, consider changing your search perimeters. Flexibility with hourly rates and salary, start and end time, and commitment length can open your candidate pool significantly. For an ongoing, part-time commitment, we recommend a budget of $400-$600 per week. For an ongoing, full-time commitment, we recommend a budget of $700-$1000 per week.

Know your needs and manage your expectations. It’s a winning combination!

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