Give thanks (a holiday bonus) to your regular caregiver

This post originally ran a few years ago.

I love our very sweet caregiver for Scarlett. She comes to our house three times per week, for five-hour shifts, to allow me to do some of the freelance writing and marketing work that I do.

Around here, it’s pretty common to set up what we call a “nanny share”. In our case, another mom drops her daughter off at my house and our nanny watches both girls. We each pay her two-thirds of what we’d pay if we had her all to ourselves, so she gets to make more money hourly, while we save money.

It is very important to me to keep our sitter happy. If she’s happy at work, she’ll have more patience with my daughter, more flexibility towards me, and we’ll all be happier.

It’s time to start thinking about a holiday gift for all of our caregivers. (We have a different sitter for Friday nights.) Before I had experienced as a mom who employs a nanny, I thought options might be a thank you card, a photo of baby, money, or a gift card for groceries or Target. Now I believe that money is a must.

Money fits everyone.

It gives the person you value the option to do what they want. A gift certificate is thoughtful, but it takes control out of the hands of the recipient. In this special relationship between a parent and a household employee, it’s nicer to just give her the choice.

How much do you give a nanny for a holiday bonus?

If you’re new to this game, here’s what I’ve gleaned from my city’s parenting online community. One to two week’s salary is an appropriate holiday gift. You can pro-rate this for the year, so if you’ve only employed the nanny for 6 months, give half that amount. If she only works 20 hours, adjust accordingly.

Other tokens of appreciation

My friend Lisa has a picture of her nanny with her child displayed among the family photos on their mantle. From an ethnographic study of nannies I did many years ago as a Sociology student, I know that this particular meaningful gesture that is appreciated.

More info about hiring a nanny

For those who have smaller babies and are going back to work in the near future, your relationship with your child’s caregiver is one that you’ll want to take care of. In Oakland, CA there is a wonderful organization called Bananas that provides help to both parents and caregivers. Among their online resources (good for parents in any area of the country) are the following handouts:

  • Employing a Limited-English-Speaking Caregiver:
    Ideas to help parents hire and retain caregivers who are not fully proficient in English.
  • Sample Employment Agreement for Parents and In-Home Caregivers
    I call this a “nanny contract”.
  • Your Rights and Responsibilities as an Employer of an In-Home Caregiver
    How to hire a nanny; how to interview a nanny.
  • Breastfeeding and Working
    Ideas to help plan a schedule to combine nursing with working.

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