Sunday, December 28, 2008

What to Charge on New Year’s Eve

Is it Fair to Ask for More Per Hour Working on New Year’s Eve?

Andrea Flagg, professional nanny and co-founder of Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey asked Best Nanny Newsletter "Is it fair to ask for more than usual on New Year’s Eve?”

We believe, in the spirit of the American way (of capitalism) a nanny can charge more when her services are likely to be in higher demand, such as on holidays. Other professionals working in different occupations do it all the time. Florists charge more on Valentine's Day. But, when working for the same family, suddenly asking to change your rates can be tricky.

Nannies should first check their work agreement to see if New Year’s Eve is considered as a paid vacation day in their job contract. If they are supposed to have New Year’s Eve off then they should definitely ask for time and a half overtime pay (or even double their standard rate) since it is a holiday.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, live-out nannies must be paid at least minimum wage for the first 40 hours worked, every seven days. Then, the nanny must receive overtime pay, equal to time and a half, for any hours worked over 40 in a seven-day period. Live-out nannies working overtime on New Year’s Eve should absolutely ask for the higher pay because it is the law. Minimum wage by state is listed at this link:

Some states require overtime pay for live-in employees as well. For example, states like New York require overtime pay after 44 hours of work per week.

According to The Legal Aid Society of San Francisco, “a live-in employee who works more than nine consecutive hours in a day must be paid overtime (time and a half) for the hours over nine because the employee wasn’t given three hours of free time… In addition, if a live-in employee works more than five days per week, the employee must be paid overtime for all hours worked on the sixth and seventh day (time and a half for the first nine hours, and double-time thereafter.”

But, asking for a higher rate when you haven’t previously is easier said then done. Do most nannies actually ask their employers to pay time and a half overtime for higher holiday rates?

If different parents (other than the family you typically work for) ask you to work on New Year’s Eve it’s easy to simply respond, “Yes, I’d love to work for you on New Year’s Eve. I typically charge $20 per hour when asked to work on holidays like New Year’s Eve.”

It is easier to decline a different family too. If you do not want to accept the offer to work on New Year’s Eve, answer by saying, “I’m sorry I already have plans that evening.”

Many full-time nannies have New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day off as paid vacation in their work agreement.

Back in 1999 the New York Times posted this article:

According to the New York Times back in 1999 babysitters were earning up to $100 an hour, some $250 for five hours, with a 13-year old charging $135 per child. If sitters could earn that much nine years ago, nannies can certainly ask for more than the usual rate when working on New Year's Eve in 2008.

Do you charge more per hour for babysitting on New Year's Eve?

If so, how much more per hour do you charge over your regular babysitting rate? Respond by clicking "COMMENTS" below.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Did The Economy Affect Nanny Bonuses?

We received many responses about the topic of holiday bonuses for nannies after Best Nanny Newsletter was quoted in the Wall St Journal (see below or click this link):

Now that Christmas is over we asked Best Nanny Newsletter subscribers, “If you work as a nanny did the economy affect your holiday bonus or end of year bonus this year?”

The answers of our first 51 email responses are split right down the middle with 26 working nannies responding their bonus was not affected by the economy and the other 25 answering, “Yes,” their bonus was affected by the economy.

Tess Krier, a nanny from Minnesota says, “In the past I would get a cash bonus of $1,000 to $2,000 plus gifts valued at $500 to $1,000 dollars.” Some gifts Ms. Krier has received include, “trips, theatre tickets, a flight to New York, cooking classes, plus nice gifts from the charges.” But this year Ms. Krier explains, “I have not got anything yet. My boss lost his job a month ago. They have not let me go yet. They have cut my hours and are paying me cash. I think they want me to quit.”

Maria Lopez, an experienced live-in nanny, was working in the San Francisco Bay Area until the father she worked for lost his job. Ms. Lopez says, “The father lost his job in October and he has not been able to find a new job. It was a hard decision for the parents and me but I had to move back home with my parents in the Midwest this Christmas.” Ms. Lopez remains optimistic, “The nanny agency that placed me is certain I will find a new live-in nanny position shortly,” says the nanny.

Lori, a nanny from Austin, Texas explains that despite working with the same family for two years she," got no bonus at all.” This nanny feels slighted since she says, “The child's Christmas was not affected by the economy. They spent thousands on the child."

But, still half the responses reported their bonus was not affected negatively by the economy. For example, Kellie Geres a nanny in Potomac, Maryland explained, "No, my bonus was not affected."

Heather, a nanny working in New Jersey answered, “My bonus went up to three weeks pay and some pricey gifts. Even more surprising is that both of the parents that employ me work on Wall Street for companies bailed-out by the government. If anyone should be suffering I would assume it would be them. But they have not cut-back much on their spending habits. If these parents aren’t cutting back on their spending hopefully other great nannies are getting great bonuses too.”

Other nannies, like Marcia Van de Kieft from Orlando, Florida are just cautious, “I think times are tough this year for everyone -- rich or poor.”

If you work as a nanny was your end of the year bonus affected by the economy? Please click "comments" below.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Bonus: What to Give the Nanny?

Best Nanny Newsletter was quoted in the Wall Street Journal:

Recently, we discussed guidelines around gifts for classroom teachers and other folks who help us with our juggles. But if you’re still pondering what to get your child's babysitter, nanny or tutor as a holiday gift, in this tough economy, I have one word for you:


When I asked our family’s tutor what he’d like this holiday season, he asked straight-out for a cash bonus. Even though cash isn’t exactly the most personal gift, as we've discussed before, currency is the No. 1 choice of nannies and sitters too, based on a poll by the sitter-finding site The No. 2 pick was multi-purpose gift cards from such vendors as or American Express, followed by bath and body products, gourmet food items or clothes, writes Genevieve Thiers, SitterCity's CEO.

"Nannies expect at least a week’s salary as a bonus," says Stephanie Felzenberg, executive editor of “Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide.” During these tough economic times, if you can’t afford this Ms. Felzenberg says, you should “speak to the nanny so that she isn’t insulted” or left wondering whether her performance has fallen short. Nannies also like “any gift that could be considered a benefit of the job,” such as help with the car or health insurance.

Among other ideas, says Judi Merlin, director of A Friend of the Family Home Services, Athens, Ga., a placement agency, are spa services, a gym membership or tickets to a concert or show. Other possibilities: frequent flier miles, a tuition payment, a time-share week, a gas card or help buying a computer. If your budget won’t stretch any farther, consider a gift of time; wangle a few hours off work and fill in for your nanny for a while.

Of course, nannies and sitters also appreciate gifts that bespeak their bond with the children — a photo book, scrapbook or locket with the child’s photo, says Pat Cascio, owner of Morningside Nannies, a Houston agency.

Any other good – or not-so-good – ideas as nanny, sitter or tutor gifts or bonuses?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nanny Versus Au Pair Care

Foreign Exchange: Au Pair Care On the Rise

Do our readers agree with the Wall Street Journal on this topic? Comment on this topic below the article.

Posted by Sue Shellenbarger

More families are relying for child care on foreign au pairs – the child-care workers who come to the U.S. under a State Department cultural exchange program. Nearly 22,000 au pairs were residing in the U.S. last year, up 44% from 2004, department data show.

Cost-conscious parents, as we discussed yesterday, are likely driving the trend. In the best cases, au pairs save families money while providing a rich cross-cultural experience. Au pairs’ work hours are limited to 45 a week, in return for wages and an educational stipend, and they can stay with a family for no more than two years.

To secure an au pair, parents must pay a fee of roughly $5,000 to $7,000 to one of 11 agencies authorized by the government to recruit and place au pairs. The total cost to families is usually about $13,000 to $14,000 a year plus room and board, typically less than a full-time nanny. The State Department posts rules and contact information for au pair placement agencies on its Web site.

Growth in the au pair program is one reason use of full-time nannies is declining, industry sources say. Many families employ several au pairs in succession and stay in touch with them for years.

Parents may remember horror stories of the 1990s, involving abuse or neglect of small children by ill-trained or poorly adjusted au pairs. A 10-year-old lawsuit arising from one of those cases, involving British au pair Louise Woodward, was recently resolved. However, regulation, screening and monitoring of au pairs by the government and placement agencies has since improved, and no such incidents have come to light for years.

Would you recommend an au pair as a child-care option?

Monday, December 15, 2008

14 Ways Nannies Can Market Themselves

Best Nanny Newsletter quoted in U.S. News & World Report
Link here:

U.S. News & World Report asked Stephanie Felzenberg, editor of the Best Nanny Newsletter, to share her best advice for nannies who want to market themselves and stand out from the pack:

1. Standout Résumé. The résumé remains the most important way for nanny candidates to market themselves. To stand out among a pile of others, caregivers should include a photo of themselves on their résumé. Including a photo playing or posing with children will help parents take notice. The résumé should be printed on high-quality paper. Nanny candidates should spell check and proofread the résumé to make sure the grammar is perfect and the meaning is clear.

2. Nanny Portfolio. Nanny portfolios can be made in a scrapbook, photo album, or a three-ring binder and should include any information a nanny candidate would like to share with parents. The portfolio should include a current résumé, letters of reference, copies of degrees, and a listing of classes taken, workshops attended, or awards received. Also include a current CPR and first aid certification, a Social Security card, and a driver's license. Photos of activities and projects done with children are a great way for caregivers to show future employers their creativity and enthusiasm for their job.

3. Proof to Work Legally. Parents who do not pay their domestic employees legally are risking their professional careers and licenses. Nannies should have identification and paperwork proving they can work legally in the United States always available for potential employers and nanny referral agency staff. Job applicants should carry their current driver's license, Social Security card, or green card when applying for jobs.

4. Drive. Nannies who have a current driver's license, are willing to drive, and have a clean driving record have an advantage in landing nanny positions over caregivers who cannot drive. Employees who drive can help parents tremendously by taking children to activities and doctor visits and can run errands to the dry cleaners, post office, or grocery store.

5. References. Nothing is more important to landing a great nanny job than great references. Caregivers should ask former employers, parents, teachers, or neighbors to write letters of reference.

6. Remain Competitive. Job seekers should keep their salary requirements reasonable. They should speak with all local nanny placement agencies to determine the going rate where they hope to work. Caregivers should be flexible and professional when asking for salary and benefits.

7. Evaluations. Nannies should have their employers complete a written nanny evaluation every three to six months to include in their portfolios.

8. Contact Nanny Agencies. Reputable nanny placement agencies are nanny candidates' best advocates. Agency staff know how to market nannies. One way to find a good nanny placement agency is by asking other nannies and families which agencies they have used.

9. Nanny Websites. Sign up with nanny employment websites.

10. CPR and First Aid. When working with children, caregivers should take a CPR and first aid course. Nanny candidates should be CPR- and first aid-certified or renew their certification. If the nanny can swim well or has lifeguard certification, even better.

11. Education. Having earned a bachelor's degree or higher is very impressive to parents. Job seekers should let parents know the amount of time and effort they have devoted to earning a degree. Nannies should be sure to list scholarships or awards they have earned.

12. Network. Child-care providers wanting to find nanny jobs should tell anyone who will listen that they are searching for a new nanny position. Some great jobs are found by word of mouth.

13. Use Hobbies to Their Advantage. Caregivers who are strong swimmers or gifted musicians can use these skills to their advantage. Perhaps the parents will pay them extra for swimming or piano lessons for their children.

14. Great Interview Skills. Nanny candidates should dress cleanly, neatly, and conservatively for job interviews. To be considered for the position, they must arrive on time, be polite, and carry with them their résumés, portfolios, and any identification needed to prove they can legally drive and work in the United States when meeting potential employers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


By Andrea Flagg, Nanny and Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey

Consider these tips if you have lost your nanny job. Always keep these tips in mind just in case you lose your job.

1. Severance: Have an agreed upon severance plan written into your work agreement.

2. Unemployment Benefits: One of the benefits of paying taxes is getting unemployment reimbursement. Apply for unemployment immediately if you have lost your job.
Learn more about nanny taxes by clicking the following link:

See an archive about nanny taxes by clicking the following link:

3. Evaluations: Have your employers complete a written nanny evaluation every three- to six-months to include with your nanny portfolio.

4. Resume: Update your resume every few months. Learn more about creating a resume at the following link:
See a sample nanny resume by clicking here:

5. References: Ask former employers, parents, teachers, or neighbors to write letters of reference.

6. Nanny Portfolio: If you have lost your job you have plenty of time to work on your nanny portfolio. If you are currently working, keep updating your portfolio.
See how to create a portfolio by clicking the following link:

7. Contact local nanny agencies: Reputable nanny agencies can be a nanny's best advocate. The best way to find a great nanny placement agency is by asking other nannies and families which agencies they used. Read more about working with nanny placement agencies by clicking here:

8. Nanny Web Sites: Sign up with nanny employment web sites via the Internet.

9. CPR and First Aid: Get CPR and First Aid certified or renew your certification.

10. Education: Use your down time to take child related courses or research current childcare issues. Read more about nanny training by clicking on this link:

11. Network: Tell anyone who will listen that you are searching for a new nanny position.

12. Have a Back-Up Plan: Is there another profession you can fall back on while you search for a great nanny job?

13. Savings: Have a special savings account stashed away that you can dip into if needed.

14. Temporary Jobs: Work temporary and part-time jobs until you find a great full-time position.

To learn more about the Nanny Alliance of New York and New Jersey visit their web site at:

If you have any other ideas to add to this list please post in comments below.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough, Some People Lay Off the Nanny

Financially pinched families are scaling back nanny hours, seeking "nanny shares" or reluctantly adding their children's names to waiting lists at day care centers.

A "nanny share" ad placed by Michael Fields on Craigslist in Los Angeles reads, "The recent economy woes have me taking less of a salary..."

On a recent morning, it was standing room only in the waiting room at DDL Domestic Agency in Los Angeles. Nannies, houseboys and cleaning ladies hungered for work. But "business is dead," says agency owner Doris Dorenbaum, brandishing the only three active employer files. Two years ago, she says, the agency had more families seeking help than she could service.

Read more:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tightening the Belt
Giving Holiday Gifts on a Budget

By Janice St.Clair, Nanny, Boston Area Nanny Support Group

How should nannies choose a gift for their employers without breaking their budget? Many nannies give their employers a homemade gift certificate (or set of certificates) good for one evening (or overnight) free babysitting. Anything handmade (knitted mittens for instance) or home baked is also appreciated.

A good way to reduce the scramble to produce many gifts in a short time is to make certificates promising gifts for the future, such as a dozen homemade cookies per month for a year, or a joint trip to the yarn shop and a handmade scarf of the recipient's color choice.

Many nannies create child-centered gifts, such as photo albums or calendars from pictures they have taken of the children, or a casting of a child's hand print or footprint as a garden decoration using a kit from a hardware store.

It is completely appropriate to give a gift to the entire family rather than individual gifts. Some examples include: a family board game, or a hand-assembled basket containing a family DVD and hot chocolate mix and microwave popcorn.

Alternative gift ideas that you can easily put together from Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE) include shoe box gifts. Shoe box gifts are collections of small, familiar items that are organized around a play theme and presented in an appealing way. They also show that expensive toys in fancy packages are not necessarily the best. See examples in this issue and consult the TRUCE Toy Guide (below) for other suggestions.

You can give a lovely and thoughtful gift that shows you care, without getting caught up in the spending frenzy that has increasingly characterized this holiday season. Your example may help the family you work for to make more financially responsible and emotionally healthy choices in upcoming years too.

We owe it to ourselves and also to the families we work for to remain calm during the increasingly demanding December holiday season. There is a lot of pressure on everyone to do and to buy more than possible or affordable. Try to balance social events with adequate rest and healthy eating. Set a reasonable budget for gifts, and be creative in order to stick to it. If old traditions are driving you and your loved ones nuts, create new ones together that connect you and restore you. If you are overwhelmed with obligations, pass on some of them. For instance, send holiday cards after the holiday, decline some gatherings with a promise to get together after the holidays, and decorate simply -- even if you have lavish decorations.

Tis the season for people of all beliefs to come together and celebrate life, love, friends, family, and spirituality. This should really be a restorative, rather than a draining holiday season. Let's make it so!

Janice St.Clair has been a career live-out nanny since 1991. She is the founder and on-going facilitator of the nine-year-old Boston Area Nanny Support Group (BANSG) and a founding member of the National Association for Nanny Care (NANC).


Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment (TRUCE). TRUCE, PO Box 441261, West Somerville, MA 02144 Email: Website:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Courage of Nanny

Click to read story about brave nanny:

See below for interview with nanny.

To help Moshe, go to

We ought to discuss the Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who rescued the young son of the couple who were killed during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. She is a heroine. Please remember the orphan in your prayers and donations.

See the interview here:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Attachment Parenting

Can a nanny easily work for parents that follow the attachment parenting philosophy if s/he does not agree with the same philosophy?

Hear a video clip and read more about the eight principles of attachment parenting. Click Here:

The Eight Principles:
1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life