Being Sole Caretaker for an "Away Parent"

Received Tuesday, March 10, 2010
Perspective and Opinion on ISYN I need some opinions about a potential summer nanny job. This is a pretty unusual situation and I have no idea what the protocol would be for pay/ contract. I haven't even interviewed for the job yet but I know that the father does not know what would be fair in terms of pay either so I thought that before I talk to him I should have some idea what I should be asking.

Here's the summary: The job would be taking care of an 8 year old boy. The father is a single dad who would be basically gone the entire summer, from mid April to July- approximately 15 weeks. I would be pretty much the sole caretaker during that time, 24/7. There is family a few miles down the road who would help and give support when necessary. During part of the time the boy would be in school and I would be in charge of bringing him there, picking him up, cooking, laundry, shopping, taking him to activities. Basically the role of a "parent". During the summer he would be enrolled in some day camps so that would take part of the strain off, but obviously I would still be on duty in case something came up while he was there. I'm not sure about "time off" per say; if that is something I would need to work out with the relatives or if I would be expected to be on all seven days. There are some things I really like about the job, but some things that obviously have me worried- the 24/7 thing for example. I was just wondering how much I should be paid for a job like that? It's live in so I would have room/food/gas.

Please don't just tell me that I'm crazy for even considering it. I understand that it could be a disaster, but I'd like some constructive ideas and advice. Thanks!


Village said...

WOW That is a really good question. If the child is awake 14 hours a day for 7 days, that's $980 a week at $10 an hour. I doubt the father will pay four grand a month.

But at two grand a month, that is $5 an hour, and that doesn't address the time he is asleep.

I'd ask for two grand a month, at least. I think any less may make you resentful. If he wants to pay less, you want weekends off. That may get him thinking about just what he is asking of you.

OzNanny said...

I would be expecting at least 1k per week, I make more than that and have weekends plus a week day off but for high needs infants...24/7 for an 8yr old would be comparable perhaps?

It is a huge responsibility and I am guessing he is being well compensated being in an away position, you should be too.

MaryPoppin'Pills said...

I am not going to touch on the amount of money you should get paid, I imagine you will receive plenty of advice on that.

I just wanted to say that several years ago I took a job very similar... both Parents had to leave for the Summer and I was left with sole responsibility of their 16mo child.

I understand there will be family nearby but my advice to you would be to make sure that any legal documents you might need in the Father's absence are in order so that you can act as proxy and make whatever important decisions on behalf of the child that are necessary such as emergency medical care, etc.

If you choose to accept this job I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did mine... Good Luck!

Momkat said...

It honestly sounds like a fun adventure...and an eight year old shouldn't be too difficult, especially since he'll be in school/camp for a chunk of the time. I would work it out ahead of time that you have access to relatives/babysitters so you get some time off...just like any parent does, when you need it. I wonder how the eight year old feels about the whole thing? That's a lot of time away from his dad. Hopefully, you'll have ways to help him keep in touch with his dad...plus, plan some fun things to occupy the time. Enjoy =)

l said...

whether or not you take the position, please come back and tell us what he offers you: I would love a good laugh! the above posters are right: I would not do it for less than 1000 a week.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

Well, without knowing what this dad does for a living, it's hard to say what he should pay you because we don't know what range he can afford to pay. I wouldn't do the job for less than 1K per week, simply because of the huge time committment involved.

I agree with MPP though that all sorts of legal docs will be needed, including a power of attorney for health care.

Let us know what you decide, and what he wants to pay as well!

nannylora said...

I would also do:
where is the gas and water shut offs,
what to do in case of issues w/ home,
emergency contacts...
I would have a solid contract for this type of job..

The OP said...

OP here...
I talked to the father today, he sounds like a nice guy.

He said that he's not sure what fair pay would be in this situation and that I should do some research and he would do the same and I can call him back later this afternoon or tomorrow with my answer and money requirements.

He made it clear that he's not a rich man but he's aware that good childcare costs money and he doesn't want to skimp on that.

I'll probably say that I can't do it for under $500 per week. It's a huge time commitment and a whole lot of responsibility, especially since part of the time I'll still be in classes.

He said that the family would be a support system if I need a day or two off, but I think that's probably something I should work out before hand, because I know that I tend to not want to ask people for things, especially people I don't know very well.

I really appreciate all the advice, please keep it coming. I pretty much need to decide tonight whether I want to commit to this, and I'm pretty nervous!

500 is too low said...

I think 500 is too low. Otherwise it will not be worth it. Remember it is a temp position, and he needs to understand that.

dadiswrongonthisone said...

anon, you wrote:
"As a nanny i don't disagree that $1000 a week would be fair wage in comparison to what we all normally are paid. But I wonder what stay at home parents, (who choose to have no income and no help from 'a nanny' or the like) feel their time is worth.

I know many child welfare agencies pay for overnight respite, a wage for awake hours, and then a reduced wage for 'sleeping' hours."

come on. really? you are talking apples and oranges here. stay at home parenting is NOT A JOB. It may be a noble thing to do, and a worthwhile thing to do, and a good thing to do, etc. etc. etc. but it is not a job and whatever they think it's worth, it is worth virtually nothing monetarily. That is why it is not a JOB.

To the OP: you would be very foolish if you did this for less than 1000 a week. Don't let this guy take you for a ride.

MissDee said...

A client family of the babysitting agency I go through pays me $10 per hour for the time their child is awake and $50 for overnights. Overnights are 10p-6a. From 6a-10p I get paid $160, plus $50 for the overnight, which equals $210 per day. Personally, I would ask for a flat rate of $1250-1500 per week. I think that is more than fair, especially since you will be caring this child, acting as a surrogate parent. Speaking of parents, where is the mother?

cali mom said...

Jumping ahead, but without being informed enough to suggest a pay scale, I'd say it's an absolute necessity that there be a 2nd available caregiver to at LEAST work one weekend day and be on call in case of emergency. (You get hit by a car while he is in school and are unavailable, at the ER for example). No one can be 100% responsible 24/7 for 15 straight weeks, not even a single parent, who also would need someone to call on in case of dire emergency.

$500/week not enough said...

If you feel $1000/week is too much and you can't do it for less than $500 then split the difference. Ask for $750/week plus food and gas money. Five hundred dollars a week is just not enough money for that amount of time and responsibility. You are not a family member or parent to this child-so you should be fairly compensated for your time. THis is a LONG time to take care of someone elses child-think about how you will have to be there every minute of the day if the child gets sick-you could be up at night, sitting in doctors offices etc...and missing school if you are counting on his daycamp to cover that time. What if the child starts acting out because he misses his father-that will be A LOT to deal with. Don't sell yourself short-I am a SAHM and I think $500/week is just not enough money.

My personal opinion... said...

$500 a week is VERY low! If you're comfortable working for that then, great, more power to you-- but I make about $700 during my 50 hour work week. I surely would not be ok with an arrangement like that for $500/wk unless I REALLY knew the kids and the family, because that would be quite a favour to them!

Lindsey said...


If you don't think being a sahm is a job, you obviously don't have kids, or a house, or a husband.

Just because we don't get paid money (and we shouldn't, it was our choice to have children). Doesn't mean it isn't a job. It's one of the most demanding jobs there is.

About the author said...

Lindsey- I could not agree more. I stay home with my 3 1/2 year old almost all the time. I work nights and weekends very part time and going to "real" work is almost like time off. The last 3 days I've had to deal with my son pitching fits because my husband went back to work from a winter layoff.
Plus I'm 30 weeks pregnant with our second son so it's taking a lot out of me.
So yeah, it's totally a job to be a SAHM. Just because I don't get paid for it in cash doesn't mean I don't get paid for it by raising a beautiful, healthy, smart little boy (soon to be little boys).

Shel said...

500 a week is wayyyyyyyyyyyy too low. you are pretty much taking over the role of the parent for a big chunk of time. you will be doing EVERYTHING.

will you need to clean the house? will you have to grocery shop? will there be money for groceries? will you have to make sure bills are paid? will you have to oversee any repairs?

1000 a week at least. make sure you have a written contract. make sure you have every form/release imaginable. make sure you are left with a credit card or a large supply of petty cash for shopping/emergencies/stuff for summer classes/camps.

know the house inside and out. know who the neighbors are, where the doctor is, phone numbers, etc, etc.

i'm really interested to hear what evolves. keep us updated!

dadiswrongonthisone said...


You are missing my point. Additionally, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

I am a mom. A mom who works from home.

Let me repeat: Being a SAHM is NOT A JOB. A job is something you get paid for doing. Being a "wife" is not a job. It is a relationship. Being a parent is not a job that you get paid for. Otherwise, people could claim that they are a "sister" and that is their "job."

You, Lindsay, and you, Just Me, don't know me at all. My point is that while I never said being a SAHM is not work, it is not a "job." There is NO monetary value. NONE. So you can go around saying it is your job if it makes you feel good, but the fact of the matter is YOU ARE NOT EMPLOYED BY ANYONE THEREFORE YOU DO NOT HAVE A JOB.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

If you offer $500, he'll likely counter lower. Start WAY high, then negotiate down and meet his offer in the middle.

And IMO, $500 is way too low, unless you live in a more "small town" area. You should look at what you could make in a "normal" job, then at least double it.

MissMannah said...

Lindsey and Just Me:

I am seriously rolling my eyes at you two. She obviously meant "job" in the literal sense of the word, as in "employee." I don't know about you, but if I were a SAHM, I would not want to consider myself my husband's employee.


Your wages should be in accordance to where you live. I would accept $500 a week for that job, provided it was $500 net pay plus food, gas, etc. $500 gross is way too low because you won't be taking home hardly anything. But then, I live in a smallish Midwestern city and make $10 an hour, which is considered high wages here.

The OP Again said...

Hey OP here again. I talked to the father again, and after reading all of your responses I decided to ask for about $700 per week. I told him that I had been doing some research into it, and $700 was about the middle range of pay for this type of job.

He agreed and told me that through his own research he figured that $700 was about the average. He told me that he needs to think it over and decide if it's worth going away at all if a large portion of the money he would be making would be spent on childcare while he was gone.

So I guess we'll have to wait and see what he decides. I really appreciate all the advice. I've been writing down the things that you've said about getting paperwork and bills and things so when I go to meet him on Saturday I can bring it all up.

I'll let you know what happens!

About the author said...

When I was going through a nanny agency a few years ago I was told my pay range for 40-50 hours weekly could range between $600-$750. I know this was before the economy went a little sour but still, I'd say $700 is still low for the fact that you'll be caregiver 24-7.
I do hope that you get an iron-clad contract with set days off with help from the nearby family and lots of petty cash for anything you'll need it for, including groceries and such.

Manhattan Nanny said...

In addition to what has already been mentioned, make sure you have the insurance information you will need if you have to take the child to the doctor or ER.
A credit card is a must! Things come up that you don't anticipate, and 15 weeks is a long time.
I hope it works out for you.

TooLow said...

Wow, $100 a day?? That seems way too low. I just went on a 2 week vacation and had the kids 24/7 (the kids are up between 12 and 14 hours a day) and I got paid $6300 for the whole period. I am based in Manhattan but still...

Euro-nanny said...

Accept $700 as an absolute minimum but I agree with the previous posters that you should be looking for at least $1000 a week for this amount of responsibility.

Helene said...

Hi there!

Don't focus only on the money, but also on the fact that you will be taking care of that little boy 24/7 for 15 weeks. That means a total commitment to this child during this period. Can you see yourself not going out or see your friends for 15 weeks? IT'S A HUGE AMOUNT OF TIME!!!
I am 22 y-o au pair but my job is so demanding that I consider myself as a nanny (hard working parents who are barely home for their kids and working at least 60 hours/week), trust me, althought I love the kids, I live for my weekends!
You need some time for yourself as well, I would say at least one day a week + a whole weekend/month.
Also, make sure that you can contact someone in case of an emergency, so you're not totally on your own.
One more thing, if the dad says that you can't go out or anything, forget about this job, you'll be eventually tempted (hey we all have a social life!) and I am sure that you don't wanna be in trouble (kids are the best spies! they ALWAYS tell their parents anything you do!).
Good luck :-)

Mascha Koopmans said...

Live in means stay, food and gas etc. $500-750 sounds reasonable. Only one child, school and camp. As long as you're not in Manhattan and have no other obligations you should be fine. You could sublet your place and make some extra money there.

Make sure you have all emergency info and waivers and the dad should be on Skype or iChat at certain designated times so he can contact his son and you, you can chat, email and even discuss things face to face.
You're saying single dad: is he a widower or is there a mom who could all of the sudden pop over and try to take charge?

Also talk about whatever happens if dad decides to return early which would leave you without a job for the summer.