Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter

What Do You Think is the Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter?

A friend of mine told me yesterday she isn't a nanny but just a babysitter because she only works part-time. I was shocked because not only do plenty of nannies only work part-time, she is one of the most caring, responsible and reliable, energetic, and organized in-home childcare providers I know. So, I thought I ought to try to define the difference between a babysitter and a nanny for her.

Typically when I think of a babysitter I think of a high school student working on a Saturday night for parents who are going out for an occasional party or dinner and a movie. While the babysitter is responsible for the safety and care of the child, she or he likely watches TV after putting the children to bed and isn't responsible for setting up playdates or activities or doing household chores like laundering the children's clothes.

In contrast, a professional nanny provides quality care, not just custodial care. Custodial care is defined as just providing the child with their basic needs of warmth, food, and clothing. To provide quality care nannies not only are responsible for the safety, health, and hygiene of the children in their care, she also schedules playdates and age-appropriate activities, helps kids with homework, prepares healthy meals and snacks, and helps with light household chores such as tidying the children's play and living areas.

In an article, Difference Between a Nanny and a Babysitter, Marisa Swanson writes "A babysitter is employed on an as-needed basis. The need for a babysitter comes from a situation in which the parents rely on other caregivers (such as a day care) or themselves to take care of their children's day-to-day needs. A babysitter is not hired to be on call to take care of the children exclusively on a daily and indefinite basis. When parents have a special outing planned, they usually call a babysitter to take care of their kids for two to several hours at a time. Multiple babysitters can and often do serve one household. Parents who use babysitters typically have more than one phone number in the event that one babysitter is not available for the time they need her."

In an another article, Babysitter Vs. Nanny, Alyssa Guzman writes that babysitters are independent contractors. Babysitters typically work out of private households but may occasionally work in hotels, office buildings, churches and other community facilities at a client's request. Babysitters provide temporary childcare for a predefined period of time and follow immediate instructions provided by the primary care provider, such as dietary needs and bedtime routines.

In contrast, the same article explains that nannies participate in many child-rearing activities, including the social, emotional, and cognitive development of the children in their care. Some families employ live-in nannies. Many nannies also perform light housekeeping chores.

Marisa Swanson describes a nanny as an in-home childcare provider that is employed when parents have very little time to devote to the day-to-day needs of their children. This situation can arise when both parents have demanding jobs or when one parent has a demanding job and the other parent has a difficult time handling multiple children. A nanny is employed to spend time taking care of a child in every circumstance that arises when you are unavailable and at any time. This can be every weekday, prescribed weekends or evenings. The nanny is also the exclusive caregiver of your children outside of yourself. It is very rare for a household to employ different nannies to alternate shifts. There usually is one nanny per household.

What do you think is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?


Denny said...

I disagree that it is rare that people employ different nannies for different shifts. I know one nanny who works T/Th and M/W for 2 different families, and I know some families who employ multiples nannies for similar schedules, particularly if one nanny has another job or school that occupies most of her time.

I am both a nanny and a baby-sitter. I have one family that I work for ~45-50 hours per week, every weekday. I also have many families that I work for on weekends and evenings, and some of these have been regular, so I don't know if they may consider me a nanny if I care for their children, say, 6-8 hours a week most weeks, even though one parent and school provide most of the care.

One mom of kids I baby-sit occasionally (it's been twice so far in about 6 weeks) calls their baby-sitters nannies even though it is just a few hours at a time. I correct them because I don't see myself as a nanny in this situation - I don't make as complicated decisions as I do as a nanny or deal with as complicated problems, and I'm only there for three hours anyway.

Some people note that baby-sitters are young. I wasn't a nanny when I was a teenager, but I've been baby-sitting since I was 13, and I still do now, at 29. Yes, I'm also a nanny, but I think that my experience as a nanny and a preschool teacher has made me a better baby-sitter. I also think that, if I were to change careers, I'd still baby-sit on evenings and weekends some, even if my primary career was not child care.

Fiona Littleton said...

A babysitter is paid an hourly rate and don't work regularly. A nanny is paid a yearly salary. Nannies receive benefits from the family they work for and paid vacation time. A nanny may live inside the family home so she can be available for the care of the children at all times.

A nanny is qualified to care for kids and able to do so without supervision.