Our children mean the world to us, so it’s no wonder that finding the right caregiver is not an easy task.  I mean, who can we possibly trust to take care of our pride and joy while we are away?  While it may not be easy, for many people it is a necessity.  Some need to work to balance their budgets, and some choose to work just to balance their lives.  Whatever your circumstances, here are some tips to help find the nanny that’s right for you and your family.

First of all, let’s look at some basic definitions (at least for the purposes of this post):

Day care is usually a site that exists for the purpose of providing childcare.  There are a wide range of day care services available at a wide range of prices.

Babysitters provide child care, but usually as a part time, occasional, or temporary option.  A babysitter may charge a pretty reasonable rate, but should not be expected to do much more than take care of the kids.  They may interact a lot or a little, and may do a few extra household chores, but are generally there to make sure the kids don’t get hurt, and hopefully have fun with them in the meantime.

A Nanny is generally someone who comes into your home to do childcare, and will likely help with some other basic household duties.  Nannies are usually a little more committed, and may have chosen this as a career or as a longer term job option.  Nannies will usually cost a little more than the other options, but will usually provide more for the money.

 When trying to decide on what is right for you and your family, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Which of the above best fits the definition of what you are looking for?  Consider things like: Location-your home, someone else’s home, or a site?  What services are you looking for in addition to childcare?  What role do you want this person to play in your child’s life?  What is your flexibility if your caregiver is sick or goes on vacation?  Do you need something that will be the same every day, do you have a backup plan for illness, or are you pretty flexible?
  2. Budget: Take a good look at your finances, and see what you think will work for you.  Look ahead, because you don’t want to be having to make changes every few months as bills hit or bonuses come in.  How much can you pay for childcare each week for the next year?  Stick with your childcare budget, and apply that to the category you chose above.  Now, look for options that fit both.
  3. Do you want your child to be around other children?  Obviously with daycares, there will be other children.  Many stay at home moms, or out of work parents are seeking to watch another child along with theirs.  Are you okay with someone bringing another child into your home?
  4. Age.  Does your child do best with younger, maybe college aged caregivers, or is the grandma persona more her style?
  5. Gender.  Do you and your child prefer male or female.  These days, babysitting is not just “woman’s work.”
  6. Lifestyle and appearance.  Sorry, but these things may matter.  Decide what personal attributes, characteristics, habits, and lifestyles are preferable, or bottom line, acceptable to you.
  7.  Other factors to consider: education, faith/religion, experience.
  8. Make time to meet potential candidates before they watch your children.  Have them spend time with you and your children.  If you’re considering them, have them watch your child for a short time while you run a few errands and see how it goes.
  9. Above all, trust your gut!  Mom’s instincts are generally right, so don’t be afraid to go with your feelings.  And never hesitate to change something that isn’t working or doesn’t feel right.

While finding the right caregiver for your children can be tough, you will never regret taking the time to find the right one for you and your child.