What are the pros and cons of using an online nanny site vs a nanny agency? Your greatest concerns in life revolve around your children and home. When you need some extra help at home, a nanny or babysitter, how should you go about finding the perfect one, the one just right for your family?
Should you go with a ‘do-it-yourself’ online site? Or hire a service to do the sleuthing for you. What are the pros and cons of using an online nanny agency versus a full service agency? We checked with some experts in the industry and have some pros and cons to help you decide which way is best for your family.
Complete control. An online company gives parents complete control over the process. Some parents feel that they know their needs and their family better than anyone, and want to do it all themselves.
Price. An online service is much less expensive initially than an agency. Some online companies charge only $45 per month and a Phoenix nanny agency can be anywhere from $800 to $3,500.
Candidates. There are lots of candidates to choose from. There are outstanding, experienced candidates mixed in with others. Experience levels vary greatly. For example, Care.com requires candidates to have worked in three different homes at least one time each. Most ‘brick and mortar’ agencies require a minimum of one to two years experience outside friends and family.
Convenience. Since it’s all online, a parent can do a lot of the work after hours.
Cons of an online service
Another comment was, “I didn’t realize all the stuff that ultimately fell on my plate.”
And again, “I had no idea that they don’t even meet the nannies. They have a lot of resumes but I gave up after a while. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.”
Pros of a Full-Service Agency
Streamlined Hiring Process: An agency has the ability to determine your needs and send candidates for interviewing within a day or two. Judi Merlin of A Friend of the Family Staffing Corporation in Athens, Georgia, tells us that her vetting process for nannies takes 15-20 hours. “We have found that only 1 in 10 applicants successfully complete our process,” she adds.
There for you during and after the placement. One of the most valuable benefits of going with a nanny agency is being able to work with one person who will guide you through the process. One family in the Breedlove survey stated: ” I liked being able to do a lot of the work online to save time. But I thought most of their nannies were un-hireable and I didn’t have anyone to call when I needed help.” Mimi Brady of Westside Nannies in Los Angeles tells us: “Most agencies always provide ears to listen, even after a nanny has been placed, and this can be extremely helpful in working on glitches regarding training your new nanny and miscommunications.”
Back-up help and support. If a family uses an agency, they can call for a last minute substitute sitter in case of an emergency. If a placement doesn’t work out, most agencies guarantee the placement for three months.
If you have any questions about the process of finding just the right nanny or babysitter for your family, we’re glad to help. You can give us a call at 480-946-3423 or fill out a Family Application to start your personalized search today.
Cons of a Brick and Mortar Agency
Price. It is definitely more expensive to hire a nanny or babysitter though an on-line service, but time and having a stress-free experience are more valuable to many families than the money they would save.
Loss of control. Some parents prefer to be in charge of the whole process themselves.
Pros of a Do it Yourself Website
Each family’s budget, time constraints and priorities are what will determine the best way to go about hiring a nanny or babysitter. The bottom line for every family is the safety and well-being of their children.
|Some families keep their nanny for years, while others go through a string of nannys, leaving children confused. It’s a lot of work finding your dream nanny, but the hardest part is after the hire, developing a strong ongoing relationship. Think about your own work environment and how your boss treats you. Realize that she’s a professional in her own right.1. Does she know you appreciate her? Express your appreciation to your nanny out loud frequently, and give her respect and support, especially in front of the children. Don’t allow your children to be disrespectful to her and never speak unkindly to her. Zoe from Unnecessary Wisdom tells the story of her own part time nanny job and a boss who hosted an executive company Christmas party. She invited Zoe to attend and hired a sitter for the event. She raised a toast and asked her husband and Zoe to stand, announcing: “To my husband and Zoe – the two most important people in my life. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.” Zoe recounts her undying devotion to this family for years afterwards.
2. Are you really Communicating? Take time to establish regular communication routines with your nanny, daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Take 15 minutes weekly to review her plans and schedule for the following week. Share developmental goals, ideas for the household, your frustrations, and listen to hers as well. Initiate a Nanny Log and ask her to make notes daily and actually read them, occasionally leaving notes of your own or give written praise for a job well done.
3. How do you resolve conflicts? Think before you speak. Focus on creating a win-win solution, not on being right. How can she effectively play with your children, dance with them, sing to them, cuddle with them, put them to sleep if you yell at her or give her the cold shoulder? The fingerprints on the microwave may be bothering you. You know it’s silly and not worth mentioning, because you’re OCD, and you don’t want to rock the boat because she’s home with your baby all day. She already knows something is wrong, but can’t get you to tell her. The baby knows too. It could be something more serious, and I know it’s hard for you to bring it up, but after the first time, it gets easier. The process of resolving conflict will actually bond you both closer together when done quickly, before it festers. Take care of it the same day it occurs, or as soon as possible.
4. Are you micromanaging? If you’ve done your homework and found a nanny you can trust, then trust her. It’s not fun being under a critical eye. A good parent draws forth the qualities they envision for their child. Likewise, your faith in your nanny, knowing she’ll do well, creates confidence and a desire to please you even more.
5. Are you adding more duties and hours? Don’t keep adding more chores or hours without additional compensation.
6. Is she bored? Encourage her to get out and go on playdates, trips to the zoo, the park, the Children’s Museum or the Butterfly Wonderland. Being a nanny is isolating. The interaction and stimulation will benefit your child.
7. Is your pay and benefits package competitive? If you’re able, are you giving her raises when you get a raise at your job?
We love spending precious time with our children, but you want and need to get away for a date-night, a wedding, or just a ‘mental health break’. But you can only enjoy your time away if you’ve done your homework and have a trustworthy sitter giving your children an equally enjoyable time too! I’m the preferred sitter for my grandchildren, but I can’t always be there, so they’ve had to find outside help.
Choosing a sitter can be a very intimidating task and there are several aspects to evaluate. Get a list of possible candidates, and start phone screening.
1. Even if the referral is from a friend, follow your gut level feelings during the first phone call. Does she come across as cheerful, friendly, and confident? A babysitter’s most important job is to be a good role model, and if you’re not feeling totally comfortable, move on to the next person.
Call her references, asking behavioral based questions. How do the children feel about her? Does she hug and kiss them? Is she timely, safety-conscious?
Does she live close-by, so if you like her, she’ll be more likely to return? Has she had recent experience with the ages of my children? You don’t even want to bring someone into your home unless they have passed this much screening.
2. When she walks through the door, does she come prepared, with a book or simple activities for older children? Does she get down on the floor to connect with them? Does she ask pertinent questions?
3. Before leaving home, go through the house rules and define any out of bound areas. Jenny, our Family Coordinator, never leaves home without reviewing the Heimlich Maneuver, since she’s personally had so many close calls. Show her how to turn off the water main in case of a busted pipe. Show her where the First Aid Kit is and flashlights in case of a power outage. Leave your cell phone phone numbers plus one or more alternates who live nearby – a neighbor is perfect – as well as your Pediatrician and where you’ll be.
4. After the sitting, do more sleuthing.
What did she do during your absence? Did she bring some creative ideas or crafts that ware age appropriate? A favorite book? Or did they watch TV?
Do the children like her and want her back again? Even an infant can tell you a lot. Was he tense or relaxed? Older children can tell you if she was on her phone or texting.
Was she able to get the children to bed on time without too much trouble with teeth brushed and baths or faces washed?
How did the house look when you walked in?
Did she give you a report of how the evening went including any snags?
5. Find a sitter before you need one. Perhaps you don’t need a sitter right now, but when you do need one, you want to be prepared so you’re not neglecting any steps in the process.
A good sitter is a valuable addition to your family. Getting out and alone for adult conversations strengthens your marriage and gives you a balanced perspective on who you are. We Moms quickly find our significance in our Mothering, but that’s only a part of who we are. Surprisingly, it also gives children immense security when they see you walking out the door hand in hand, even if they fuss a bit the first time.
If you’re in need of a good babysitter, feel free to contact our office. The babysitters we send out on Temp jobs are candidates who we’ve already placed in permanent positions, so we know them well. They have current CPR and First Aid as well as an up to date full background check. They’ve filled out a five-page application, had extensive interview in our office and detailed references checked, which are open for you to peruse. We also have 24/7 phone access for after hours and weekend last minute needs.
Nanny background screening is more than a Nanny Background check. The nanny industry – nannies, nanny referral professionals, nanny background screeners and educators – share an overwhelming concern for the wellbeing of the children being cared for by A nanny in their home. We are all child care professionals. Sadly, there is yet another story makingthe news rounds about a nanny hired from an online venue mistreating the children in her care. The nanny was ‘caught’ on a nanny cam.
The International Nanny Association (INA) and the Alliance of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA) want to inform parents that a computerized background check is quite simply insufficient ‘screening’ to evaluate a nanny applicant. The digital, criminal “background check” creates a false sense of security for families.
True nanny background screening also must include careful, probing interviews, and thorough reference checks. INA and APNA agency members are experts at nanny screening.
The International Nanny Association (INA) is dedicated to helping families find quality in-home childcare. The APNA is a regulated membership organization that establishes standards in the nanny and household staffing industry. Both organizations recognize that families are increasingly turning to online nanny recruiting venues when hiring. The INA and APNA feel strongly that the information above can assist a family to better screen their nanny job applicants. We further recommend that families who are not confident in their interview and screening skills, or simply do not have the time or talent to perform this thorough vetting, strongly consider engaging the services of a professional NANNY REFERRAL agency. “Liking a nanny isn’t enough, we’d would argue your children deserve more,” advises Jami Denis, ABC Nannies.” Hiring a professional nanny agency to walk you through the screening, interviewing, hiring and employment process allows parents peace of mind when they need it most.” APNA member agencies can be found at the online directory athttp://apnananny.org. INA member agencies can be found in the online directory at Nanny.org.
Thank you to our partners at the INA for this guest blog
Taking your nanny on vacation can add a lot to your trip if you plan well and communicate expectations. It’s not a vacation for her. It’s a business trip. If she were on vacation, she’d be with her friends and family. Pay her the regular hourly rate she receives at home, and if she’s working more hours than normal, include a bonus. Expect to pay all her travel expenses, including airfare, lodging and a meal stipend, just as you receive that from your employer when you to travel for them.
Give her some free time and give her extra money to go exploring on her own, just as your employer adds perks to your business trips. Give he a day off after a long day of travel to scope out the vacation spot and relax before she starts sitting… a day apart will be refreshing for everyone. Taking care of children is a lot of work. Plan ahead what hours she’ll be on deck, and when she’s free. Make a calendar and the hours she’s needed.
A private room for her is essential. This will enable you to be alone with your family as well. Don’t expect her to bunk up with the kids. She needs all her energy and mental availability for the daytime schedule. Having a nanny allows you to have some adult time and do some spur of the moment activities and to spend special one on one time with each child separately, maybe go water-skiing with an older child and leave her with the younger ones.
Don’t ask her for more hours than usual, unless you arrange for that and pay accordingly. Don’t pay $50 extra and expect 24/7 availability. Pay her from the moment she arrives at your home until you reach your destination and the kids are settled.
If she enjoys herself on vacation, that’s a benefit to the whole family. It strengthens the relationships and makes her feel good about her job. You may not want to take a brand new nanny traveling, because the adjustments can be overwhelming. You don’t want to damage the relationship you have with your nanny.
It is expensive to bring your nanny with you on vacation but it can be well worth it. It gives you the best of both worlds–family time during the day, and some adult time in the evening! It can be nerve-racking to hire a stranger in a new city, and with all the changes your kids are going through, new surroundings, new activities, it’s comforting to have that familiar face at nap and bedtime. The more you plan ahead and communicate expectations, the more enjoyable the experience will be.
Kids love it when their parents, nannies and babysitters are calm and ‘matter of fact’. It frees them up to take responsibility for their own actions, rather than reacting to their caregiver’s emotional response. Disappointment and anger cloud the real issues. As Hal Runkle affirms in his easy to read, Screamfree Parenting, airline stewardesses instruct passengers to fit the oxygen mask to their own face before helping their children. Parents need to take care of and focus on their own behavior, so they’re able to give their children the help they need.
Research shows that a negative emotional reaction from a parent, nanny or sitter inhibits a child’s ability to manage their behavior, diminishing social skills and academic performance.
We’ve met her at the INA Annual Conference, and now Parenting Expert and board certified family physician Deborah Gilboa, M.D., aka “Doctor G,” has teamed with the INA to present INA’s Fall 2013 Virtual Learning Series based around her 3’R’s of parenting;: Respect, Responsibility and Resilience.
“We live in a busy world. Parents and caregivers rarely get to hit the pause button and learn new skills and information on age appropriate topics. The key to raising kids who can launch successfully, lies in character building,” says Doctor G. “These webinars are intended to further empower parents and care givers. My goal is to validate and appreciate the difference that they make in their kids’ lives through intentional parenting. When parents are effective, kids get healthier!”
Each 90-minute stand-alone webinar focuses on a character trait, rational and real life age specific application of the 3R’s. This webinars series can be experienced individually or as a package. Participants are invited to join one, two, or all three webinars. The three webinars are open to the public as well as INA members. Members may register free of charge by logging into their nanny.org account and completing the form on the “My Home” page. Non-members may participate by either purchasing individual webinar sessions or a package of all three sessions through the INA e-store www.nanny.org/estore-webinars , or by joining the INA.
Webinar dates and topics:
Webinar One: Teach Respect September 15, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Respect. It’s not what you say, but how you say it! Back to school means back to basics with character building skills. Kids and adults both need help to interact respectfully. Doctor G gives concrete tips and tools to teach respectful behavior, towards others and oneself!
Webinar Two: Resilience October 20, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Resilience. Life flows better when we have the tools we need to handle the tough stuff. Setbacks and challenges will arise and Doctor G explains how to lay the groundwork for resilience, while managing obstacles when they occur.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqSHY5kD7sI·
Webinar Three: Responsibility November10, 2013 Time: 9pm EST/6pm PST
Teach Responsibility. A good work ethic can be the difference between surviving and thriving. Doctor G shares activities and tips to pass on a responsible attitude to charges, employees, and loved ones! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzSw5kXwGOE
Doctor G empowers parents to increase their knowledge and activate their existing parenting instincts. Sometimes, these skills get dampened by stress, doubt and guilt with the pace and volume of everyday activities. “We all want to raise kids to be people that we respect and admire,” says Doctor G.
Doctor G is the author of three “little books,” and her upcoming book will be published during Fall 2014 by Demos Publishing. She offers workshops, seminars, virtual events, and more to meet the needs of parents worldwide who reach out with their parenting concerns and questions. A board certified family physician, she is the creator and author of askdoctorg.com, an online resource for parents. Doctor G is a regular contributor to Pittsburgh Today Live, PBS’ iQ Smartparent, and numerous print and on-line publications including Huffington Post and Parents.com. www.askdoctorg.com.