The Traveling Nanny

opinion 1
Hello, I am looking for some counsel. We are an Army family currently in GA. We are heading to VA in June for 2 years. We have a great sitter now. She is sweet and loves our kids and we really like and trust her. She is a young girl, almost 20, who wants to start college. She is looking for a change (parents going through a divorce) so we told her she was welcome to come with us to VA. She can live with us and start school or just take in the sights and help us... kind of our ministry to her as well.

Here is the breakdown: We have 3 kids, 9, 6, & 2. I am a stay at home mom who might get pregnant again. That is when I would need the most help, I get pretty sick, so that might mean drop off and pick up from school occasionally if I'm too sick. But even so, we only go out on dates 1 or 2 times a month, we don't do over-nighters, or do much without our children. I may ask her to keep the youngest once or twice a week so I can run errands but that is really it. She would just be my back up if needed while she goes to school or whatever else. She sells MK and I wouldn't mind if she worked part time or took other sitter jobs... again I am a stay at home mom and do it myself. She loves art like my oldest daughter so I'm sure she would go with us to museums etc... she would have a free place to live and be included in our meals.

I'm trying to find a house where she will have her own room/bathroom and separate entrance, she has her own car already but would use ours if she has the kids. How much would be reasonable pay for this? I know it's a lot of stuff here and we always pay her as much as she asks for but we don't have a lot of extra being Army, and we could never afford a full time nanny. But we really want to help get her started in school if she wants, and she is excited about getting to travel and trying something new and I know this will be a great experience for her as well. Thank you for any help.


Beth said...

You seem very sweet. I'm not sure this is the best idea, but I'm also not sure that it isn't.Maybe the best thing you can do for her is be a support like an older sister. I'm not sure about paying for her schooling or things like that.

Sarah said...

I would have a contract or agreement in place that she needs to commit x number of hours each week at the following times (times when you most likely need her - school runs, homework, meals etc) and for that she will be compensated at $x/hr. Also list her duties and living arrangements etc. I know even at 20, I would have felt uncomfortable not knowing the details of what was going to be going on. I think its great that you're offering her this opportunity, just don't be too relaxed about what you need.

ELam said...

I agree with Beth and Sarah. As much as you love your current sitter, don't forget to have boundaries. It sounds like in the situation you are proposing that it would be very easy for lines to get blurry. Also, it is very kind of you to include your sitter in your meals and all that, but just remember she has her own life and that working AND spending leisure time with your family may not be what she wants to do. In previous positions there were many times the parents would ask me if I'd like to stay for dinner and I absolutely hated much as I loved them and their kids, bottom line is that was my place of work, and at the end of the day I just wanted to go home and relax. But some times I would give in and stay to eat (especially if the kids were begging me to "pleeeeaseee staaaay!!!") so that I wasn't turning their offer down every time.

Also, looking for a house with an extra room/bathroom/entrance is great, but what if she gets to VA and find she hates it and wants to move back? Or she finds she doesn't like being a live-in? Would you find a live-in replacement? You may be paying for extra space you no longer need if it doesn't work out.

I have never been a live-in and I'm honestly not sure of the appropriate pay. But just REALLY think it through before you go forward from here. Make up a contract, set the boundaries. I was offered a very similar position when the family I was working for was moving out of state, but I turned it down because the idea of living with them really freaked me out, to be honest. Make sure you and your caregiver are on the same page with everything.

Anonymous said...

Ministry? This rings false to me. I don't think any good can come of it. Mom thinks she is doing a good deed, and sitter thinks she will have a home and a job. I don't see this ending well.

employment or adoption? said...

Excellent advice above: sounds like the lines could get blurry for both parites. For you, you need to be sure she will offer that childcare that you will need. For her, you need to make sure it is worth it for her to do so.

Get a contract in place regarding how many hours she will work for you per week and how much she will get paid. Keep in mind cost of living: if she is not getting enough hours from you, can she even afford school, car, etc? Will she have the time to take on another position?

You have to ask yourself: are you employing her or adopting her? Because there's a big difference.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

I think you need to treat this as if she were an au pair for your family. Although many people believe au pairs are simply cheap childcare, the actual goal of the program (and what the potential au pairs are told will happen)is to allow young people to live with a family as **a part of the family**. In exchange for that, they provide up to 45 hours of childcare and get a stipend of minimum wage for 45 hours minus room and board. They also get $500 from the family to use toward schooling.

I think, in your place, I would decide on a fair stipend for the MAXIMUM hours you might have her work in a week and base the stipend on her babysitting rates. You also provide room and board (great plan to try to have a separate apartment or studio for her!) and a stipend for college. Whatever you pay her per week, consider whether you could manage on the same pay if you were in her place.

You do need a contract, so that everyone understands their responsibilities and their pay/benefits. I think I might start with a 90 day contract, so that if things don't work out at all you all can go your separate ways. If things go well, you can always extend the contract after that 3 month period.

Best of luck to you all!

Are you serious? said...

Ok- no offense but this sounds like a hot mess waiting to happen. You are talking about her getting a back up job- but what if that conflicts with your back up schedule needs? Are you planning on a contract with set hours/ set monthly salary? Plus she will not have a MK following in VA! You need to be sensible!

Nanny of One said...

Dear OP:
This may sound like a great idea at the time however I would highly suggest that you think more long term!

For example, the sitter gets to the new city, she has zero previous MK clients. Thus, no extra income. She misses back home, and finds that her only outlet is you and your family. You are now living together, and find that you but heads. She lashes out at you, but you do not want to kick her out in the cold knowing nobody yet, she cannot afford to return home nor do you wish to see that. So then you live together in the same household (your household) and its awakard and uncomfortable.

She meets a guy, and moves out with him. Great, a solution... to the confict living together. Oh no, now she herself is pregnant and broke up with the boyfriend and wants to return to live with you as she cannot return home.

Just one possible outcome.

I am not saying don`t do it, all I am saying is to have CLEAR BOUNDARIES, even make up a PROBATION, where after 2 months it isn`t going well then perhaps you both need to reconsider.

Have a contract, that outlines the set hours, and make sure that if any point you have a back up plan. Perhaps a 30-day move out clause.

Not to sound harsh but you don`t want to get into a situation that you yourself caused and then cry wolf.

Money wise, to give an example, I worked as a live in 44hrs per week and was paid $300.00 take home per week or $1200.00 a month for four children! Complete rip off!

Let us know how this pans out!

Nanny of One.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I have heard that it's possible to sell Mary Kay online. If, for example, one was to move and leave current clients behind, then one could sell to those clients online while developing new clients in the new location.

That said OP, I agree that if you expect this girl to find additional work, you need to allow THAT job, which is presumably bringing in the majority of her income, to be her priority. IOW, if her job needs her on a Saturday night when you and your partner want to go out, you don't get a date night.

And that circles back to my suggestion - YOU pay her a decent wage (i.e., minimum wage) for up to 40 hours of work, then YOU get claim on her time. That's $290 a week gross, and the employer portion of taxes will likely run you an additional 10 - 15%. So if you can afford about $330 a week, then you get dibs on the sitter's time. Of course, you could take out room and board if you wanted, but, as I said above, consider whether you could live on 15K a year for your expenses beyond room and board. (Insurance of all types, including renter's insurance, car payments and repairs, clothes, etc.)

Miss TJ said...

I had something very similar happen to me recently with a family I'd been with for years. They moved to VA and I was already at the place in my job where they really didn't need me as much as they didn't want to see me go. The mom wasn't working anymore and the children were older, but one is a special needs child and for a huge chunk of his life, I was the one who took the most care of him (no disrespect to the family, it's the fact working 60 hours a week) and besides, I was/am VERY attached to the child.

I moved with them and now live with them and work for other families outside the home. It works because they understand that I no longer rely on them for my income so have to take the jobs that come, and it works for me because I help around the house and am able to schedule my life around the times when they do in fact need me, after they've given me enough notice.

But mostly it works because I had been like a member of their family for a VERY long time. Hopefully it could work for you all similarly.

Good luck.

Raised too many kids said...

I think you can't look at it as a nanny job situation. You love this girl and she loves your family. You are doing a good thing by inviting her to move with you. I think I would offer her the room and board no strings attached - do this because in your heart it feels right. Then once you've moved, she can look for work or go to school or whatever. At that point, once she knows her schedule, the two of you could talk about some babysitting hours. But only do this if, in your heart, you are inviting this girl out of some sort of maternal duty you feel towards her. She sounds like she crossed the line from employee to family at some point. So treat her like you'd treat a cousin or sibling, or someone moving in. Don't expect anything and don't feel resentful if she can't watch your kids. You're giving this young lady a gift- a chance to explore the world and figure out what's next without anxiety over having no home /no family to lean on. Who knows. Maybe your small help will allow this girl to attend college and begin a career that's more stable. What a gift then!!! Do it if you can look at it in
A no strings attached way. Otherwise, don't do it.