Looking For A Nanny

This post is part of a multi multi-part blog series under the headline, “Looking for a Nanny?  Why Simply Searching “Best Nanny Agency NYC” Doesn’t Work.”

When Looking for a Nanny, You Must Understand How they Work

One day, I received a call from a woman named Alicia, who lived in Connecticut with her husband, John. She had recently given birth to their first child, and with only three weeks left on her maternity leave, she was faced with the task of hiring her first nanny.

“I’m stressed because I have no idea what I’m doing,” she told me.  “I don’t know what I’m looking for, or where to begin. And I’m nervous, because I didn’t grow up with a nanny. I don’t understand nannies, and I don’t even really want a nanny in my house—but I have to go back to work. Can you help me?”

Many of my nanny agency clients are first-time parents who come to me feeling exactly like Alicia. They’re anxious because even though they’re looking for a nanny, they don’t know much about them, so they don’t know where to start.  The nanny world can be confusing and mysterious: nannies can be as different as night and day, and there’s no nanny “degree” or required certification. Parents are forced to make up the rules on the fly in their own homes, and as a result, often have misguided notions or expectations about what a nanny should or shouldn’t be.  It doesn’t help that for many of us, the nanny we’re most familiar with is Mary Poppins—so we envision spoonfuls of sugar and everyone living happily ever after and are disappointed when a real-world nanny fails to measure up. However, I can assure you that there are many, many wonderful nannies out there who, even if they don’t travel via umbrella, can be immensely loved by both you and your child, contribute to the joys of family life, and enhance your perspective on childrearing in remarkable ways. You just have to understand who they are, how they think, and what to expect from the arrangement.

In this post, I will discuss live-in nanny jobs vs. live-out nanny jobs and what some of the differences are between them.  In a subsequent post, I’ll discuss what a nanny is, and what a nanny is not – since some people often get these things confused!

Live-In vs. Live-Out Nannies

The first big decision that you will need to make when starting to think about who you want to hire is whether your nanny should be Live-In or Live-Out. A Live-In nanny is one who lives with the family in their home for some portion of the week, while a Live-Out nanny commutes to work each day and, after finishing her duties, returns home each night.

Live-In Nanny Jobs

Live-In nannies are the least expensive kind of nanny because you are giving them room and board as well as a salary. Some Live-Ins go home for some portion of the week, and some stay with their employer’s family full-time because they don’t have another residence. A typical work schedule for a Live-In is five full days and nights on, and two days off each week. If you want additional days and hours, you will need to pay for the extra time. The big advantage of a Live-In nanny is that you know you have round-the-clock coverage for those five days: If you and your spouse both travel for work, you have someone to spend the night; if your child is up all night with a stomach virus, you have someone on hand to help; and your nanny will never be late for work because a snow storm hit or the train broke down.

To have a Live-In, you need to be able to provide them with their own private, furnished bedroom and bathroom, and it’s helpful if the space is somewhat separate from the rest of the family.  Live-Ins who drive also typically have a car at their disposal, either for transporting the children or for personal use; they also tend to cost more (average $750 a week) because they are the smallest percentage of nannies and thus are in high-demand.  A lot of parents don’t initially like the idea of having someone else living in their home, but Live-Ins don’t necessarily mingle with the family after their hours are done.  You want to map out your rules for privacy at the start—for example, do you want the nanny to go to her room at a certain time in the evening? Can she have a lock on her door so the children can’t go to her when she’s off duty? Can the nanny have a friend over or go out at night?—so that everybody is comfortable.

The Key to a Successful Live-In Arrangement: Personality

Whether they’re going to be living in for a year or a month, a Live-In nanny has to, by nature, be extremely adaptable and flexible.  Live-In nannies don’t have much freedom, and they can get antsy because they’re stuck in the job for five straight days. A mellower, more accepting nanny will be fine with this, but a nanny with a stronger personality, who is used to working 9-5 and having plenty of autonomy, will have a harder time. I’m always wary when I interview a nanny who says, “I can do Live-In, I’ve done Live-Out for 20 years,” because more often than not, nannies who try to make the switch end up feeling suffocated and quitting because it’s such a huge change.

Live-Out Nanny Jobs

Most nannies are Live-Out nannies who will commute back and forth to your house each day. At an average rate of $15 per hour, they are more expensive than Live-In, and a driving, Live-Out nanny will command $18-20 per hour or more. In general, Live-Out nannies will have less flexibility in terms of hours and schedules; they will expect to arrive at a certain time, work a set number of hours, and then leave at an agreed-upon time as well.

There are some Live-Out nannies who occasionally live in—for example, if the parents go away for a week, the nanny may come to stay with the kids, or if the family goes away for the summer, the nanny may live in at the family’s vacation home for those few months.  But this is something that needs to be discussed and agreed to by the nanny before you hire her.  You should not assume that a Live-Out nanny is willing or able to do Live-In, and I have seen many nanny-family relationships severed because the nanny felt that the pressure of being with the family 24/7—even in a beautiful apartment in Rome—was just too much.

The Key to a Successful Live-Out Arrangement: Reliability

I always tell my clients that Live-Out works best for families with at least one parent who has a fairly predictable schedule. If you both get held up regularly at the office, have commitments after work, or need to travel for business at a moment’s notice, you will need to make sure that your Live-Out nanny has the capacity and desire to cover you during those times. Live-Outs themselves also have to be extremely responsible and reliable, as they are susceptible to commuting problems due to weather and traffic, so you should factor this into your agreed-upon start time, and may want to have a back-up in the wings just in case.

Which Arrangement is Best for You?

If you are still on the fence and have the option of doing either Live-In or Live-Out, it really comes down to your needs as parents regarding those early morning and after work hours. If you both work 60 hours a week and travel extensively for your jobs, a Live-Out situation is very hard to make work. You can do it, but you may end up paying so much for extra, add-on hours and spending so much time arranging back-up that it becomes a challenge financially and logistically.  With a Live-In, you’re saving money and you’ve got the coverage—anything can pop up, any situation can arise, and you’re not scrambling.

We’re always here to help…and if you’re struggling or just want someone to help you through your search, get started by clicking the below button.  You’ll be able to choose the option that works best for you and schedule some time with Tammy!

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