Great tips on hiring a nanny

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Choose the best care for your baby.

Keeping your baby at home and bringing the care to him means you don’t have to wake a sleeping infant, dress and feed him for the trip to the daycare centre or the caregiver’s house. Baby can sleep peacefully while you get yourself ready for work. Providing one-on-one care for an infant is one of the key reasons many parents choose to hire a nanny who will come to their home.

A nanny is generally considered to be someone who lives in your home. Some nannies may have received child-care training, usually in a foreign country. But many young women want to travel to a foreign country, to improve their English skills, and to find a position as an au pair with a family. Some women take jobs as nannies in order to immigrate to Canada; they must first be employed for two years to become eligible for landed immigrant status, so they will look for a long-term commitment from you.

One difficulty in hiring a nanny directly from another country lies in checking references. Although it’s possible to make inquiries and check out references, it can be time-consuming and costly in long distance telephone bills. Private agencies that match nannies with potential employers do some of the legwork, but you pay a finder’s fee for their service. It’s important to note that, should you sponsor a nanny from another country, you need lead time of approximately six months to complete all the government documentation. Citizenship and Immigration Canada offers a kit, “The Live-In Caregiver Program,” for parents wanting to employ a non-Canadian nanny.

You may find it simpler to hire a nanny who has already worked in Canada and has local references you can check. To find a nanny, ask friends and neighbours if they know of one who is ready to leave the family she’s with, check newspaper classified ads for nannies looking for work, or place your own ad. Child-care resource centres are also a good place to begin a search. Read the bulletin boards carefully and consider posting a copy of your ad there.

Some families choose a nanny because they’re looking for someone who will also clean house, run errands, and do the cooking — in short do everything the parents might do if they were home. But it’s unrealistic to expect a stranger to fill your shoes. Before you hire a nanny, set out a list of her most important duties — they should all centre around childcare. Don’t expect her to be maid and chauffeur, too.

Live-in help has lots of advantages. If you work shifts or stay late at the office, you can count on the nanny to be home. Children who are cared for at home are exposed to fewer viruses so they’re sick less often. Even when they do get sick, a live-in nanny will be there to take care of them. If you have more than one child, a nanny can be an economical alternative to enrolling two children in daycare. But remember, she’s going to be living in your home. That means you’ll be giving up space and privacy.

One of the objections to nannies is that, in a one-on-one situation, there is no other adult present in the home to make sure that the caregiver is doing her job. You’ll need to plan spot-checks. You and your partner may want to stop in at home at different times of the day to see how things are going. One woman who did that got an unpleasant surprise. She discovered her eight-month-old daughter peacefully asleep in her crib. The nanny, however, was nowhere to be found. She had put the baby down for a nap and gone out shopping.

Becoming an employer

As soon as you hire a nanny or caregiver to work in your home, you become an employer, subject to many of the same rules and regulations that govern any employment situation. Revenue Canada requires you to report your employee’s income, making all the proper deductions in a timely fashion. The paperwork may be an annoyance, just one more task for you to do in an already hectic schedule, but it’s essential.

Hours of work and wages are set by the provincial Ministry of Labour. Most provinces require employers to pay nannies at minimum wage.  Depending on where you live in Canada, you may also have to pay an employer’s health tax. And don’t forget vacation pay and statutory holiday pay. The deductions you make on behalf of the nanny are determined by Revenue Canada. Prior to the end of the first month of employment, you must visit a Revenue Canada office and fill in an application. You will be assigned a business number. After you file your first tax remittance, Revenue Canada will automatically send statements to you each month to fill out and pay by the fifteenth of each month.

Maybe you can’t turn your home into a daycare, but it’s worth taking a safety lesson or two from licensed daycares. To begin with, write out your street address and telephone number. Should a caregiver have to make an emergency call, she may become confused and forget the house address. Also list all emergency information at each telephone in the home. Include the numbers to call for police, fire, and ambulance. The list should include the full names and job titles of both parents, a number where each can be reached and the name of both employers. Add to the list the names of baby’s doctor, and family members or friends who can be called in an emergency.

Post a menu detailing feedings and make sure the nanny knows how to operate a microwave. However, formula should not be heated in a microwave because it heats food or liquid from the middle out; what tests warm on your wrist can, in fact, be dangerously hot for your baby.

Childproof your home and backyard, Spend some time with the nanny showing her the neighbourhood, including the location of parks and libraries. Discuss where she is permitted to take your baby and let her know that you want to be informed beforehand of outings. One mom discovered her baby was making a cross-town trip on the streetcar several times a week. When the nanny was asked about it, she explained that she took the baby with her to visit friends who lived several blocks away.

Introduce her to the neighbours. Let her know who in the neighbourhood is likely to be home during the day if she runs into a small problem and needs assistance. Last of all, set down the house rules. While you can’t regulate her life outside of working hours, it’s important that she show up for work cheerful and well rested. Above all be sure she knows her job description — what you expect her to do and to not do.

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