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Friends as Childcare Providers
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Friends as Childcare Providers
Hi, a friend and I both gave birth last month. She will go back
to work in two months, and I won't be working for at least
another year. I do have a need for money, because my husband and
I are living solely on his income (which, though nothing to
sneeze at--bay area living is $$$). We are doing ok, but there
is some financial strain. Perhaps knowing this, plus having the
need for a nanny while she goes back to work, has prompted my
friend and her husband to ask me to nanny for them 9-5, 5 days a
week. I could bring my child, and watch the two babies together
during the day. I would be close to their work, and my husband's
work place--in fact, I could commute with my husband every day.
There seem to be many benefits to accepting my friends' offer,
but I have reservations. My husband and I are very close to
these friends, and something about ''working'' for them seems
strange to me. I can't put my finger on exactly what bothers me
about this situation. On one hand, it seems I could make the
most of being a stay-at-home mom this year, and on the other
hand, I feel it would be slightly demeaning that my income would
come from my friends. Another aspect is that I have no idea how
much to charge, what the going rate is, or even if they would
expect a discount because we are friends. Does anyone have a
perspective on this that you can share? Thank you!
Friend in Need?
I think you are smart for thinking about this proposition
carefully, but I wouldn't steer clear of it simply because they
are friends. I've worked for friends, and I hired a friend to
take care of my daughter when I returned to work. Both situations
worked beautifully for all concerned. If I were you, I would
consider all the issues that would be relevant if you were going
to work for people you didn't know: Is the situation going to be
good for your baby? How much $$ is it worth to you ? (Do NOT give
a ''discount'' because they are friends; they are already getting
an added benefit in that they know you are trustworthy.) Are
these people pretty easy going and supportive? Maybe you could
even stipulate that you're willing to try it for a certain period
of time, but reserve the right to make a change if it turns out
to not work for you (offering of course to wait a bit until they
find other arrangements). If your friends aren't willing to be
flexible in that way with you, you might want to not get involved.
I wouldn't do it. Especially if you're already having
reservations. Mixing money or business with friends is always
very very tricky. I have a small business and have had to learn
the hard way that business and friends just don't mix. It's
always a tough decision, but I think of it this way: what's more
important, the friends or the money. I would let that be your guide.
And if you're interested in being a nanny - post availability and
be honest about your situation. I bet there's someone who would
love to have you watch their kid. I found the person who watches
my little boy this way.
Don't ruin your friendship - not worth it.
If you can make do on one income, then I would try to do
that...not because there is anything weird about making your
income from nannying for friends or anyone. I just think that
the first time Mom thing can be a little overwhelming...but also
very special. The negatives to first time Mom of an infant are
not going to be helped by working as a nanny. You are already
going to be isolated enough without finding a job that makes you
that more isolated.
This is a tough one. It seems to me that, if you decide to do this, you
need to be
really clear about your expectations with your friends, so they don't take
of you by saying to themselves things like ''Oh, I can get home a little
late -- my
friend won't mind.''
Also, you should think a little bit about the characters of your friends.
Do they tend
to be very upright and responsible, or pretty laid back, or even
I had a friend nanny for me (only 10 hours a week) when my son was an
because she was a friend, I went out of my way to make sure she'd be a
the nanny thing was done: paid the going rate, picked my son up on time,
something beyond my control happened -- in short, tried to be
And it did work, beautifully -- I felt much better knowing the person my
with, than I would have if I had to leave him with a stranger. If you
friends would be like this, it might well work out. But if you think your
might end up taking advantage of you, I would not do it.
I think it's all in the attitude and expectations--yours and your
friends'. My brother-in-law works as a ''manny'' for his best
friends. They all feel as though the situation is a lifesaver:
my brother-in-law finds it MUCH easier to exhaust three
rambunctious boys each day (they mostly entertain each other)
versus caring for my nephew alone; their friends trust my sister
and brother-in-law completely and adore their parenting style,
and are SO happy to have a loving, attentive man caring for their
VERY energetic sons; all are thrilled at how close the boys have
become; the extra money keeps my sister's household afloat and
allows her husband to attend full-time and without financial
strain to what he loves the most (his family and his art).
So, I guess I'm just saying that if you feel confident in your
communication style and ability to express your needs and work
things out, anything is possible.
And as to $$$--they pay $18/hour for their two boys, $10 an hour
when it's just one boy, and they also work out babysitting trade
hours, though I don't know the details of that system.
My first baby was born right around the time that a good friend
of mine had decided to go back to work and asked me to nanny
for her 2 year old. I gotta say, it was one of the best
experiences of my life!! I was very close to her little boy to
begin with and the addition of my little guy was such a joy.
We went to her house during the day (which was way better
equiped for 2 kids) and did the normal little kid stuff and it
was a very happy time for us. Choosing a nanny is a very
difficult thing to do so I can't imagine a better candidate
than someone I already know and trust. It really was a great
situation. In order to protect our friendship, we had a
standard nanny contract and negotiated it as any nanny/employer
would (vacation. sick time, etc). And we priced it like a
nanny share (did some reasearch as to the going rate for that)
so I still made a fair wage. I wouldn't have done it unless it
was equitable for BOTH of us. In the end, her kiddo went to
preschool and I went back to being home with my son and, a few
years later, we're still very good friends and enjoy how well
our working relationship worked out and I got to contribute to
our household income while still being with my baby.
It can work!!
You won't be a stay at home mom if you nanny for you friend's
baby. You stated that you would go to their house which would
mean you would have to get you and your baby ready to go
elsewhere for the whole day. That's not staying at home and
enjoying your time with your baby. You will be working for them
full time and they will have expectations. What will you do
when your baby is sick? What will you do when the other baby is
sick and you have to bring your baby there? There are lots of
things to consider, but ultimately if you have a weird feeling
about it, you should listen to your instincts. I know it's hard
because you are thinking about the extra income, but you
decided to take this time off and you may fully regret
committing to this.
I'm looking for advice about how to deal with a childcare
situation with a good friend. I work one day per week, and my
good friend (a SAHM) cares for my 20-month-old son for about
five hours during that time. I pay her $40 each week. She has
a 3 year old daughter of her own. Here's the question- My son
comes home with some kind of injury almost every week. Two
times, the injury has been fairly significant - scrapes and
scabs and swollen bruises on his face. Granted, I know that
kids this age trip and fall all the time. My son is pretty
fearless,, so he's apt to get bumps and bruises easily. My
friend always warns me about the incident before I pick up my
child, but my concern is that it seems like the injury is
usually predicated on her choice of attending to her own
(older) child, rather than making sure mine in safe. Example -
''Danny fell off the slide today. I told him to wait at the
top, because Maria wanted a snack, but he went ahead and tried
to go down himself.'' Second example - ''Danny fell down the
porch steps because he wanted to get to the pool, and I wasn't
holding his hand because I was carrying Maria because she was
cranky. He fell off the steps and scraped up his face.'' My
friend's daughter is a VERY needy child, and my friend has a
fairly lenient and (perhaps overly) attentive parenting style.
Does it seem like she is prioritizing her own child's neediness
over my son's safety? Do I talk to her about this? It feels
really uncomfortable because she's a close friend. Do I
casually find other childcare arrangements? Am I making too
big a deal of this? Any advice?
You're not making too big a deal out of it. Don't talk to her
about it. She's telling you what's happening and why. Find
another caregiver who will give your 20 month old the attention
and safety he needs.
Rather than the symptoms you posted but the explanations your
friend gave I would look for another care giver. Just because
she's your friend doesn't mean she's prepared to care
sufficiently for 2 children. It would be hard for me to do
well and I think it's hard for your friend. Especially w/
mention of a pool, just don't take anymore risk.
Find a new caregiver! It sounds like your friend has her hands full. And you are paying
her less than you would pay for a nanny share. It seems like it's not a good fit, and it
could end up in a bad accident. I think close friendships deserve honesty.
I'd suggest you find yourself another caretaker asap. Your
friend has made it obvious as to who is her priority...Maria,
Maria, Maria!! Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that
out. You say your friend is ''lenient'' but ''over attentive,''
then I wonder why she's not as ''overly attentive'' to your
child? Seems odd. If she's really a good friend, get out of
this arrangement before your resentment destroys your
relationship. If she can't watch your child from getting
bruised and bumped for the time span of 5 hours one pathetic day
a week, OMG ''forget it!!'' God knows what horrifying incident
can loom in the future with this person who frankly doesn't
entirely care for the safety of your child. Sad but true. I
wouldn't leave any of my kids under her care with this weekly
pattern you've described. Pay someone else pronto who is
responsible, dependable, and really wants to take the time to
get to know your child, care for him emotionally and physically,
and spend quality time with him. Good luck!!
Find someone else to take care of your child. end of story.
Does your son get this banged up when you are with him? Or is it
mostly when your friend is watching him? Ask yourself, if this
person wasn't your friend first, if she was a paid nanny in a
nanny share, would you put up with it?
Speaking kindly, I would say your friend can't handle two kids so
you should look for other child care arrangements, especially if
you want to retain the person as a friend. Speaking honestly, I
would be alarmed. How much more serious do his bumps and scrapes
need to get before your friend stops making excuses based on her
daughter and takes proper care to watch both children
responsibly? But I don't know your son and how physically
adventurous he is. If he is very much so and her daughter is very
needy, it may simply be a bad match. Either way, my advice is to
separate the child care and the friendship.
It definitely seems like the reason for your child's injuries is
your friend attending to her own child when yours is at the top
of the slide, the steps, whatever. If I were you I would try to
find other child care and try to save the friendship. I think you
need to have an honest talk with her along the lines of ''Are you
sure you don't mind watching my boy? Is it too much to handle the
two kids at once?'' That will give her a chance to back out of it.
Since it's only one day a week she can't be counting on the money
that much and is probably just doing it as a favor to you. If she
insists that it's no problem, just be honest and say you're
worried about your boy getting hurt all the time. Then she can
either resolve to keep a better eye on him or agree that you
should find someone else to watch him.
i would agree that your friend/caregiver (and that seems to be
the order of priority here) is putting her child first, even to
the exclusion of common sense safety. i would never go further
than arms reach with a 20mo on a slide. i would wait for him to
go down (or take him off), then bring everyone inside. i would
always hold the hand of a 20mo on stairs, or if he refused it i
would stay in front with a hand ready at his trunk to catch him.
i hired a friend to care for my then 15mo, who had a 19mo, and it
lasted exactly one day (about 3hrs, actually, because my husband
was on swing shift that day). she called her husband to come get
their dtr, and quit when i got home. she felt unable to handle
balancing their needs, my dtr cried when she nursed her dtr, etc.
it was difficult to find immediate replacement care, but at least
she knew her limitations.
you need to have a talk with your friend and address your
concerns. try to be calm, stress that you value her friendship
very much, but you feel she is having a hard time balancing their
needs, and you are concerned for your son's safety. and you might
look into alternative care arrangements first, in case she
decides to quit with zero notice.
Find a new caregiver! The word ''pool'' in your post terrified
me. What happens when she tells your precious babe to ''wait''
while she prioritizes her own child's care, and your child
crawls into the pool? Babies don't ''wait,'' and if she doesn't
know that, your baby is not safe in her care. My nanny is now
available mon, tues, and weds, as are LOTS of other reliable,
CPR trained, experienced caregivers. Your baby's safety is your
#1 concern, and whether or not she understands why you
terminate the arrangement is irrelevant.
Until I read your examples, I thought you were making a big
deal out of it. Then I looked at the children's ages: 20 months
(needs a lot of individual attention to keep safe) and 3 years
(needs attention to keep safe, but more physical agile and ABLE
to do things on their own).
In most cases, preference goes to a younger child for safety
concerns - they are less stable on their feet and more likely
to get in a jam.
Leaving your son at the top of a slide to attend to her
daughter? Uh, no. If she has to see to hers, she takes your son
out of a potentially dangerous situation. 20 month-olds cannot
fend for themselves. She abandons your son on steps because her
kid is cranky? That's not a good reason. You can either work
with two children or you can't. I've had those ages before and
yes, it can be difficult, but it can be done. Both children
need to be kept safe at all times. It can be done.
That said, all caregivers should get a chance. This is a
business arrangement - you pay for her service, and can state
your expectations and work with her on it, as with any
employee. Maybe practice how you'll phrase it, but definitely
either address it with her, or if you haven't the guts (I might
not have them, either, with a close friend), make new
arrangements. Don't leave your child in a situation where he
can't get (at bare minimum) attention needed for safety
Your child comes before your friendship
Get a new caregiver. Your friend is not tending to the safety of
Work/friendship can be a tough thing. Breaking off the work
portion of this relationship could be hard on her. No one wants
to be told that they aren't doing a good job. That said, you can
be direct with her -- tell her that you are concerned re: the
safety of the child...or, you can be more vague by citing that
considering how much your child is getting hurt you are concerned
that she doesn't have CPR and first aid licenses. Or, you can
just tell her that a great opportunity just came up at
such-and-such preschool or in this great nanny-share that you
don't want to miss. In any case, find a new situation.
In her defense, I work part-time at a childcare center where all
of the employees bring their children to work (free childcare is
a perk of the job). There is nothing tougher than tending to
another child while one of my own children is tugging at my pant
leg for attention. I do my best to include my child in the
tending of another child (can you tickle the babies toes while I
feed her? Can you hand me a diaper? Can you give Julie a hug,
she tripped on the rug?) to help alleviate their own stress. Not
every parent can do it.
We need childcare just a few hours a week. WE have arranged for
a couple of stay at home mom friends to sit for us. We don't
know how much to pay them. Has anyone done this before and have
Yes. I paid the mom who babysat my baby $10/hour for a small number
of hours (roughly 12/week).
Why don't you ask your friends who are doing the sitting? Each
may have different assumptions. I would not accept payment
from a friend, nor would most of my SAHM friends (oddly enough,
we like our friends that work and want to support them as much
as possible in making the work scenario work for them). Find
out the going nanny rate and offer that to them and let them
accept it, negotiate it lower or refuse it.
this page was last updated: Nov 13, 2008
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