Many parents are struggling to keep up with the demands they’re up against because of COVID-19. A lot of parents are still working from home, but they at the same time have to homeschool their children or at least facilitate their online schooling.
It could stay that way well into next semester, so a lot of parents are looking for outside help in the form of a nanny or someone to help their kids with their education. This isn’t the same as hiring a private educator, but you might hire a nanny to provide you some relief while working from home.
Some of the elements of hiring a nanny are the same as always right now.
For example, you should do a background check of anyone you hire, and you should check their driving record to make sure they’re going to be safe on the roadways.
Beyond that, what are additional considerations parents have to keep in mind when hiring a nanny or childcare provider during a pandemic?
Be Clear On What You Need
A big mistake parents tend to make, pandemic or not, when hiring a childcare provider is that they aren’t sure exactly what they need. You can’t find the right person for the job if you don’t understand what it is you’re looking for in that person.
For example, do you want someone to facilitate your child’s online education, be a traditional nanny, or simply entertain your kids while you work from home?
What types of tasks do you expect the person to do? Do you expect meal preparation and help with housework, for example?
How Long Will You Need Them to Work For You?
If you’re just thinking you need someone for the semester, perhaps until your kids go back to in-person school, you need to let them know the timetable you’re thinking about. Childcare providers may want longer-term employment, so you want to be upfront with them.
At the same time, a childcare provider might themselves be planning to go back to in-person school or work in a few months, so that timeframe could work well for them.
Talk About Masks and Safety
This is one area where things are different than ever before when it comes to hiring a nanny. You have to discuss mask-wearing and general safety.
It’s a good idea for your children and childcare provider to wear masks if it’s safe and possible for them.
With young children, it’s often recommended they don’t wear masks. It can also be scary for them if their caretaker wears a mask, so this is something to discuss with your pediatrician and also decide about based on the best interests of your family.
If either you don’t want your childcare provider wearing masks, or they don’t want to, talk about it right away before you hire someone.
You should also agree on other safety practices you’ll use in your home, such as handwashing.
Of course, you can’t control who your childcare provider comes in contact with outside of work, so you have to think about this. You can ask your provider how much time they spend with people and whether they do things in groups.
It’s like any other job. Your childcare provider is your employee, and you have some rights to protect yourself and your family, but that person has rights as well.
Having one consistent childcare provider is better from an infectious disease perspective than rotating several different people.
The lowest-risk option if you do hire a childcare provider is to have one person come to your home, rather than taking your kids elsewhere.
Pay Your Babysitter or Nanny Sick Leave
You want to make it clear when you hire someone that if they are sick, they should stay home. If you can afford it, it might be a good idea to pay sick time. If you think the childcare provider might abuse this benefit, then perhaps they aren’t the right person for your family.
Finally, if you are nervous about the potential COVID exposure of having a childcare provider, another option is to do what’s called virtual sitting. This isn’t ideal for every family, especially if you have young kids, but it might work for older ones. It’s hiring someone to virtually entertain your kids on video chat while you’re working. They could also help your kids with things like homework via virtual chat.