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What Character Traits Should a Child Carer Have?

First, let's state the obvious: Childcare such as nannies, au pairs, babysitters and any kind of childminder must love children. But there's so much more parents have to consider when deciding which character traits are most important. A childcarer is a Parent's Top Assistant, so using the “PARENTS TOP ASST” acronym is a helpful way to remember you have all the qualifications you need.

  • Playful: Parents want a child carer with a good imagination who can create games, activities, and crafts. They don't want child carers popping their children in front of the telly. A playful personality shows parents that you genuinely care about fostering a healthy, fun, and active environment for their children.

  • Active: Kids are high energy and are constantly on the go. A child carer needs to match that energy and must come prepared for however the day or night unfolds.

  • Responsible: A reliable child carer is every parent's dream. Parents want someone whom they can depend on, someone they can trust, and someone who is capable of responsibly caring for their children. Think 5 minutes early, rather than rushing in on the dot of your start time.

  • Experience: Child caring is not as easy as you might think. It takes preparation, confidence, and skill. Having experience with children allows you to gain the skills you need. Parents will want carers who know how to think on their feet when unplanned circumstances arise, stay coolheaded when a child is upset or injured, and negotiate arguments over toys and games. Having real-life situations where your skills are challenged allows you to learn to make the best decisions while you're on the job. You might want to consider getting the experience you need by starting as a Mother's Helper, Childminder’s assistant or Teaching assistant or babysitter to children in your neighbourhood.

  • Negotiable: Parents appreciate someone who is adaptable. Being negotiable means being flexible about schedules, fair about pay rates, and easy-going about nights that run later than expected. You don't want parents to take advantage of your time, but you should understand that plans change. Being flexible will make you stand out. Yet, you should still make sure you're not being underpaid.

  • Teacher: Part tutor, part mentor, child carers engage children, address concerns in a constructive manner, and act as role models. By helping with homework, you show parents you care about their children's performance in school; by helping them work through their issues with friends and schoolmates, you show parents you are compassionate about their children's feelings.

  • Sensitive: People who work with children are sensitive to their needs and put the childrens' wants and wishes before their own. As a child carer, you may not always want to play this game or read that book, but you should want to do whatever makes the children happy.

  • Trustworthy: Being trustworthy is perhaps one of the most important traits that a child carer can have. Parents expect a carer to follow the rules of the household, to keep the children safe, and to pay attention to their children. They don't want someone who’s texting friends or inviting their boyfriend over to the house. This is not a time to socialize.

  • On Time: A child carer should be punctual. Full stop. But be sure to let the family know if you are running late or give the family a week's notice if you are unable to work on a regularly scheduled shift. Being proactive with your schedule gives a family confidence that you will be equally responsible with their children.

  • Patient: Patience is a virtue, and an important one for child carers to have! Just as children need to be reminded to "be patient" and "wait their turn to use the slide," babysitters need to exercise patience with children. Remind them to do their chores; then give them time and space to get it done. Be patient, and continue to offer gentle reminders as necessary.

  • Authoritative: Child caring isn't all fun and games. If the parents have left specific instructions (no telly, brush teeth before bed, eat five bites of veg before being excused from the table), it is a carer’s job to enforce these rules. You should be gentle and kind but you also need to show them who is in charge. It's important that you talk about discipline with the family ahead of time, and learn how to handle bad behaviour in ways the parents have requested.

  • Similar Interests: Although not a "requirement," a carer who shares similar interests with the children can make the job more enjoyable for everyone. Always list your interests and skills in your carer credentials.

  • Skilled: A carer should have certain qualifications, such as First Aid skills. While registered nannies and childminders are required to have these credentials, nowadays, most families expect even babysitters to have these. If an emergency situation arises, you will be ready to help. St John’s Ambulance runs regular training sessions in First Aid for children and young people, and the Irish Red Cross has a babysitter course that you can take to learn First Aid and other important child carer skills.

  • Tenacious: No matter the situation, a child carer needs to keep at it and never give up. Being tenacious is a lifelong skill. Does the child have a daunting history assignment or need to practice piano for a school concert? How can you get him or her to do it without nagging him? How can you make it fun?

The next time you interview for a carer job, emphasise the character traits you possess that would make you the perfect candidate for the job. Parents will appreciate learning more about your personality and experience to assess whether you'd be a good fit for their family.

Tips for Choosing a Babysitter

After you've determined the basic qualifications - and interviewed accordingly - narrow down your favourites using a simple checklist. From experience of the additional duties you require to specific qualifications, your babysitter should be exactly what you need.

Requests References (and more)
Checking references and Garda vetting are a must during any babysitter hiring process.

Consider the References
When narrowing down the top picks for your carer, consider the conversations you had with the families she listed as references. Are the families the sitter has cared for in the past similar to your family? Are the children of comparable age? Did she have similar duties and responsibilities (baths, cooking dinner, homework help) to those you'd like her to do for your children? As with any job, background is key, so if your prospective babysitter has had experience handling responsibilities that are similar to what she'll be doing with your family, then it's likely to be an easy transition for all involved.

Go Over the Interview Questions
Consider the answers you liked best to the questions that matter most to you and your family. We all have standard interviewing questions (availability, experience, age, etc.), but every individual family has its own, unique set of needs, so what are yours? Is it imperative that your children are driven to and from after-school activities? Go back to the answers your candidates gave you about their driving history, punctuality and knowledge of first aid. Do you need someone to prepare meals in your absence? Go over what your top choices said about being comfortable in the kitchen.

While it's great if a sitter gave a good interview, the one who stands out among the rest will be the caregiver who really shined when speaking to you about something near and dear to your heart. You know the one - you love her story about how having the children help her bake her famous chocolate chip cookies is a brilliant way to cheer them up when they're having separation anxiety, or how she absolutely loved spending afternoons playing football with the children she last looked after.

Evaluate Your Children's Strengths & Struggles
If you know your child isn't the strongest swimmer, don't be afraid to ask a lifeguard-sitter to practice with him a couple of days a week. Are science lessons proving a bit of a problem this year? Hire a chemistry degree student to tutor-sit. She can create science-based games whilst babysitting to get your child back on to the path of scientific success. Choosing a candidate with an academic background (like a teacher in the summer or a private tutor by trade), may be the perfect option for both your child and the sitter.

Do a Child Test
Watch her interact with your children. A good sitter won't blink an eye at the request for a trial run. Do you like her style? How about her teaching skills; her playfulness? Are you comfortable with the way she disciplines? How do the children connect with the candidate? After all, they're the ones who will be spending the most time with her, so seeing the child-sitter interaction first hand can be a big help when making your final decision.

Trust Your Gut
There might be a candidate who has a remarkable babysitter CV, fantastic references and perfect answers for all of your interview questions - but something just seems off. You might not be able to put a finger on it, but you don't need to explain it. Trust your instincts.

In the end, it doesn't hurt to have any number of great babysitters and back-up sitters in your contact list. If you had three outstanding options, why not ask the two that didn't quite make the cut if they're still interested in sitting for you every once in a while? No matter how reliable your new go-to babysitter is, there will be times over the course of her time with you and your family, that she'll have to let you down at the last minute. Maintaining relationships with sitters that you've already vetted and feel comfortable with can be priceless when you're in need.

Trusting Your Instincts When Hiring New Care

As a parent, nothing is more important to you than your children’s safety and happiness. So when it comes to entrusting your kids with a new carer, it should be their greatest concern too.

That’s why when it comes to hiring new childcare, ‘mother’s intuition’ is crucial. Even with those candidates who bring years of experience along with excellent references and top qualifications, trust your instincts! If they tell you something is wrong, listen to them.

Below are five questions to ask yourself about trusting your instincts when hiring new care.

  1. Can I Trust My Instincts?
    Kathy Kolbe, an expert on human instincts and author of "Powered by Instinct: 5 Rules for Trusting Your Guts," says that our "instincts are rarely wrong." And when it comes to maternal instinct, your initial impressions should have a greater impact on how you react to a person or situation.

    Tokyo based researchers recently published a study using the results of MRI scanning to illustrate how maternal instincts are hard wired into a mother’s brain.

    If, when interviewing a nanny, you feel that something is 'off' or not right, don't ignore it -- this is your instinct kicking in to protect your child."

  2. Should I Ever Doubt My Intuition
    "By and large, instincts are a wake-up call that something doesn't quite feel right -- and I have yet to meet a person that said 'Golly, I wish I hadn't trusted my instincts,'" Where kids are concerned, erring on the side of conservatism -- of being overly cautious, especially when outside carers are concerned -- is just good sense. You could do all of your homework on someone, but if your spider senses say, 'This doesn't feel right,' then not only is communication critical, sometimes you just need to jump in.

    That said, if you find yourself continually turning away carers and being overly suspicious of everyone you come across, you may need to evaluate your reactions.

    Start by asking yourself if it is truly instinct or a conflict about something else such as not wanting to lose your role as mom. However, by and large -- those instincts tell us something -- so trust them.

  3. Why Do I Second-Guess My Gut Reaction?
    Kolbe notes that it's difficult to distinguish between internal, instinctual messages verses messages that have been pounded into us from childhood. "That internal voice is often replaced by the recording of messages that were drilled into us often from a young age," she says.

    Another reason many people don't listen to the inner voice is that a fear of looking foolish, judgmental or rash overpowers the drive to act. Far too often we 'talk ourselves out' of our instincts -- feeling that we are being 'too critical, too judgmental' -- and those are often famous last words. Our brain's ability to suss out harm in the environment can be quite prodigious.

  4. How Do I Respond to My Instincts?
    When interviewing a potential carer, their responses or the way they delivered them, may trigger gut reactions. During the interview process be sure to be thorough. Ask follow-up questions and prompt for further explanation if you don't fully understand an answer or approach.

    If you're still uneasy after asking questions and communicating you should trust both your head and your feelings. If your gut says there is something wrong, don't hire and/or continue using this person to watch your child.

  5. How Do I Communicate My Concerns?
    Communication is key and you should never assume your carer interprets safety as you do. Spell it all out and write it all down. Stay in regular contact until you are sure your standards are being met. Over time, your instincts will allow the delicate dance of letting go happen -- but initially -- too much information is fine."

    Never make any assumptions - it is those unclear communication spaces where problems happen. And if something doesn't feel right, address it immediately, it's the only way to create lasting change.

Despite thorough background checks, references or even trial days where you're home observing new sitters, if your inner instinct is still waving red flags, you shouldn't ignore it. After all, nothing is more important than making sure your children are completely safe.

6 Things to Do When You're Not Getting Responses to Your Job

Whether you don't have time to weed through the plethora of candidates or you don't have enough to suit your needs -- no need to panic. Here are some easy tricks to finding the help you need on

Note: If you are a family looking to hire someone, this list should help with your needs. But we have a separate list of tips if you are a carer looking for a job that will give you more advice on how to best use the site.

  1. Re-read your Job Advert
    When something doesn't work, start back at square one. Is everything in your original job posting clear? Does it make you want to apply for the job? If you are yawning reading it, chances are that the potential applicants are too.

  2. Be Realistic
    That old saying "treat others how you want to be treated" is definitely true, especially on If you are asking for someone to help with the laundry, prepare dinner and cart your child off to football practice, €4/hour won't cut it. (Besides that, it's under minimum wage!). If you are hiring a babysitter and expect them to perform additional duties, make sure you pay for them. Put yourself in the sitter's shoes: you wouldn't apply to a job advert if there are too many responsibilities and not much pay.

  3. Write Out the Minimum Requirements
    We all have a wish list of what makes up the perfect Mary Poppins sitter. But instead of clogging up a job posting with less important details, focus on your must-haves. For example, make it clear that providers must have completed First Aid training. It's okay to have a specific area for reasonable "minimum requirements" at the bottom of your application. If a sitter doesn't have these requirements, they won't be tempted to apply.

  4. Be Personal
    Tell a little about your family in the advert, not just the job. Talk about your 5 year-old aspiring ballerina or your dinosaur-loving son. It might be nice to hire someone who studied ballet or who knows the best dinosaur books. Those little things, like shared interests, can make a sitter want to apply to a job or not.

  5. Educate Yourself
    Not sure what the going rate for a sitter is? Did someone ask about writing a nanny contract but you have no clue what one is? Thankfully, our team at has you covered.

  6. Advertise Your Job
    While your advert is up on, contact some babysitters to see if they are available and send them the job advert in an email. Visit our babysitters page and search by post code. Message potential sitters you like about the job to see if they are interested.

If you get carers who aren't a perfect fit, make sure you close the loop with them. Nothing is more annoying in a job search than applying to a job and never hearing back. Plus, you may find that the candidate who isn't right for a nanny job might be a good occasional babysitter. It is important not to burn bridges with competent candidates who don't quite fit the bill.

There can be a lot of candidates to look over, but taking the extra time to let your childcare know where they stand is a courtesy and a time saver. The carer can now move on to other job applications (without wondering about the status of yours) and you don't have to respond to follow up messages asking if you are going to hire them.

10 Steps to Giving Great Childcare Interviews

While most busy parents find the hiring process a little daunting, hiring your perfect childcare can be a great new adventure for the family.   To help, we’ve put together 10 tips for interviewing child carers:

  1. Write a Job Description
    Prior to beginning the interviewing process, spend some time clarifying what you expect from a nanny, childminder or sitter. Are you looking for full or part-time help? Mornings or afternoons? Will they be responsible for household chores?

    By spending a little time writing down a simple job description, which includes work days and hours, expected duties and the rules of your home you expect the nanny to follow, you will save yourself a headache in the long run.

  2. Phone Interviews
    Interview your top 10 candidates over the phone. This gives you the opportunity to weed out the definite no’s and also gives you a peek into the personality of potential hires. Keep the call short — about five minutes each. Mention whether you have pets, in case allergies are a concern.

    This is the easiest way to narrow down candidates. For example, you need a nanny who can regularly stay late, but you’re talking to a candidate who must be done by 6 every day. Over the phone, you can also get a feel for someone and a sense of her style and experience. If it clicks, you can move forward to an in-person interview.

  3. Preliminary Selection
    Narrow the pool to between five and seven potential candidates. Keep in mind, not everyone is comfortable speaking over the phone and trust your intuition when weeding out the no’s. If you think someone may fit the bill, but you’re not 100 percent sure, consider a next-step interview to learn more about them and their qualifications. Don’t waste your time or that of a potential hire by asking to meet with someone who doesn’t pass your gut-instinct test.

  4. Meet at a Cafe
    For a first in-person interview, connect with potential hires in a public place, such as a coffee shop. Ideally, this first meeting should include both parents. Pay attention, not only to what the potential nanny is saying, but also to how they are dressed, their connection with you and what is on their resume.

    This meeting should last less than half an hour and yield information that will help you get to the next step. This is your opportunity to get a sense of the person you will be entrusting your children to and ask general interview questions, as well as those most specific to your family. Use this time to nail down the basics of hours and salary, as well as how the potential hire will handle certain situations with your child. Sometimes, it’s the regular conversation and the chemistry you have with a person that brings the most clarity. This is also your chance to ask for a list of references.

  5. Check References
    References are essential! They’ll not only bring you peace of mind, but give you a deeper sense of your nanny. What another family says about her — whether it’s positive or negative — may shed some light on aspects of the job you hadn’t thought of before.

    This is also your chance to get a deeper sense of the nanny’s parenting philosophy, as well as a gauge her work skills and habits, such as chronic tardiness and communication style.

  6. Make Background Checks
    A pre-employment background check will be most beneficial. If the nanny will be required to do any driving, check traffic records for unpaid parking tickets and violations, such as speeding. It’s also is a good idea to check out social media sites like Twitter and look for past rants about other families or signs the nanny’s life is filled with drama or irresponsible behavior.

  7. Next Steps
    Once you’ve narrowed your choice to three or four potential candidates, invite them to your home. Before you schedule this all-important round of interviews, take a few moments to prepare the questions you’ll ask, as well as do a self-check about the traits that are most important to you.

    Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions and write everything down so you’re prepared and include questions about drug and alcohol use, criminal records and their home life both now and as a child. These questions, at first glance, may seem intrusive, but when you are entrusting your child to someone else it’s not the time to be shy. A true professional will welcome and answer questions like these with comfort and ease.

  8. Run an At-home Interview
    This interview will be more in-depth, giving you an opportunity to ask probing questions about discipline style and child-rearing ideology. It is another chance for you to get a sense of your own feelings about this person and how it feels to have them in your space. Take notes to refer to later on.

    You should look to see if she is responsible, caring, organized and loves what she does, but you should also pay attention to how you communicate with each other. Does the conversation flow easily? Are you comfortable? Sometimes the best person for your family on paper doesn’t quite fit in person.”

  9. Bring Your Child
    Once you’re done asking questions, bring your child into the room to meet the candidate. You want to see how the nanny interacts with him or her. Based upon their age, your child may be standoffish. You should, however, be able to gauge the nanny’s comfort level and engagement style with your child.

  10. Listen to Your Intuition
    If that little voice in your head tells you something’s not right, it probably isn’t. A nanny who is perfect for another family may not be perfect for yours, and at the end of this process, you want to have complete confidence in your choice.

Resist the urge to make an on-the-spot offer to any candidate and give yourself 24 hours to think it over. Make sure every important point has been covered, so there are no loose ends. These include the nuts and bolts of salary, benefits, vacation time, evaluations, and also job responsibilities, like dog walking, dish washing or light cleaning.

At this point you should have a very strong understanding of how your nanny will handle discipline issues, reporting, scheduling and the daily routine. Once you have made a choice, it’s time to make an offer to the nanny and to make a brief courtesy call or send an email to the other candidates, thanking them and letting them know you have made another choice.

Hiring childcare nanny is one of the most important decisions you will make. With time, enthusiasm and communication, this all-important hire can become a wonderful asset to your family and supply you with confidence and peace of mind.

6 Checkpoints Before Your Nanny Drives Your Children

We all know that no matter how much you trust or know a nanny, it’s always hard to hand over control of your kids to them. Whatever you decide your nanny’s job entails, it will probably include driving your children around. Whether its seatbelts, driving style or the general road worthiness of the vehicle, there are many things to worry about. Making sure the kids get from point A to point B will forever be a cause for concern.

We’ve put together 6 checkpoints before your nanny drives your children as a checklist to go over with new nannies before they get behind the wheel with your children.

  1. Undertake Background Checks Although we all make mistakes or have become caught in speed traps, you'll have more peace of mind if you hire a nanny with a clean driving record. If your potential nanny's record is marred, take specifics into consideration. If it was 10 years ago when they were first learning to drive, it may not be a huge red flag. How many points have they got on their license? Multiple points may make you want to reconsider hiring them if they'll be driving your kids.

    When you check a nanny’s references, ask whether they drove the children? Were there ever any issues or concerns?

  2. Ask About Insurance
    Regardless of whether your nanny is driving their car or yours, it's necessary for them to be insured. If they are driving your car, ask your insurance company how you can add them to your policy. If they are driving their own car, ask for copies of their license and insurance and keep them up-to-date. Accidents happen. If they have a fender bender in the school car park, you don't have to worry about having to cover it out of pocket.

  3. Give The Motor the Once-Over
    Many families provide their nanny with a dedicated car for them to use or let them drive one of the family's cars on an as-needed basis. If that's not practical for you, and your nanny needs to use her personal car, make sure you give it the once-over. Your kids will be riding in it and you want to make sure it's safe.

    Ask for the details of the latest MOT, check the car seats and that the booster seats fit comfortably and can be securely fastened -- and that your nanny knows how to install them. Look at the tread on the tires -- worn tires can lead to accidents, so make sure the tires are in good condition and properly inflated. Review the car for any other safety features that you would inspect when purchasing a car.

  4. Set The Driving Rules
    Before your nanny gets behind the wheel, establish your driving rules. Detail how often she is expected to drive the children around. Do you want her to solely drive the kids to and from school or is she expected to chauffeur kids to activities and run errands?

  5. Establish Petrol and Mileage Reimbursement
    Whether you want to reimburse your nanny for petrol, make it part of their salary or have her cover the cost, you should both agree to the terms up front. Make sure everything is included in your nanny contract, so you can refer to the agreement if an issue arises. Detail how much is covered, including standard mileage charges, mileage amounts and any other concerns either of you have.

  6. What’s the Alternative?
    If you're still hesitant about letting your nanny drive the kids around, reconsider whether or not you will let her do it at all. If she doesn't have to drive anywhere, then don't ask her to. People who live in walkable towns with abundant public transportation can consider this option, though it may not be a possibility for people who live in the suburbs or countryside.

    In this case, limit activities to only walkable locations. Calculate how much taxis would cost on an occasional basis -- it might be cheaper than adding up the cost of petrol and the insurance if it's only infrequent.

    If they have to transport your kids around, do a test drive to see their road habits for yourself. Or start by having them drive the kids around while you're in the car with them.

Letting someone else take the reins once in a while takes a little courage. If you do your homework before hiring, and do a full screening of your applicants, you can relax and know your kids are in safe hands.

5 Carer Problems With Solutions

It’s inevitable that in any relationship the partners involved will face issues that need to be addressed through open and frank discussion. The same is true of families and carers!

Occasionally at we hear of family-carer relationships which have broken down due to issues that can usually be resolved by employing simple strategies. To ensure that you can address these issues when they appear, we’ve identified 5 carer problems with solutions.

Sticking to the Rules
Employer: If you discover your dog sitter is giving your pup extra treats or your babysitter is letting your kids stay up past their bedtime, reiterate the house rules. You can even post a short list on the refrigerator of the important rules that the entire family and any employees need to follow. It's a great reminder.

Carer: Some employers aren't always consistent with their own house rules. If you feel like things change regularly, or you're not sure what's expected, ask. Work with your boss to put the house rules in writing as part of your contract, so everyone is on the same page.

Being Late
Employer: If your carer is late more than once, discuss the situation right away. Make sure the carer understands what the job's start time is and how important it is that the schedule is kept. This will usually resolve the problem. If she's still running late -- but you love everything else she's doing -- ask her to come 15 minutes earlier than you actually need her.

Carer: And employers should show you the same courtesy of being on time. Occasionally a meeting runs over or your boss hits traffic, but ask them to call you and let you know about the delay. If you find yourself regularly working extra, talk to your employer about permanently extending your hours -- if that suits your schedule. And you should be paid for any additional hours you're working, including overtime hours.

Employer: It would be nice to come home to a tidy house, but keep in mind that your carer is not your housekeeper. A nanny may be expected to put away toys or do a child's laundry, but cleaning your house is an unreasonable expectation. If she's leaving personal trash around or not putting dishes in the dishwasher, mention that you're trying to teach your kids responsibility and how important cleaning up after themselves is -- and it would be great if she set a good example.

Carer: If your employer leaves dirty laundry around the house, assuming you'll take care of it, it may be time for a talk. Take a look at your contract (if you don’t have one, create one now!). Does it mention housekeeping duties? If not, have an honest discussion with your employer, saying you don't mind helping out now and then, but your priority is caring for the kids, pet or aging adult -- and you don't want anything to interfere with that. Set ground rules for what's allowed so you're not taken advantage of.

Employer: Ever had a carer not show -- or call last minute to cancel? If you still want to keep the person on, have a discussion about what to do in this situation. If your carer can't make it, how should she tell you and how much advanced notice do you require? Be clear that if it happens again, you'll be looking for someone more dependable. And, just in case, make sure you have backup care you can call.

Carer: Do your employers regularly change your hours or cancel at the last second? Ask for a meeting to go over the problem and talk about how this impacts your life. You're a professional and should be treated as one. Review your contract again and see if your hours or responsibilities need to be updated.

Pay Issues
Employer: You may not be used to your role as a household employer, but setting up practices for paying your carer is important. Make sure she knows when she will be paid and how. And pay on time, every time. Keep a written log of the hours she works, so there's no dispute. If you need your carer to come earlier than scheduled or stay later, adjust the pay accordingly.

Carer: If you're having trouble getting paid, talk to your employer. Explain very clearly that, while you love what you do, this is your job and you depend on the pay -- just like people do with any other job.

8 Point Plan to a Yearly Childcare Review

If there’s one thing busy mums know all too well it’s that time goes so quickly. While the memory of the past year can seem a bit hazy, hopefully your nanny has provided an invaluable pair of helping helps when it comes to your family life.

With another year behind you and your nanny, it’s time to start thinking about an annual review to help make sure you both agree on the way forward for the next 12 months. While everyone will have different priorities to cover, we’ve identified 8 point plan to a yearly childcare review to get you started.

  1. Review the Year
    You and your nanny or sitter should both take advantage of the opportunity to talk about what is working and what needs improvement on either side. Discuss issues such as safety, cleanliness, punctuality and attendance.

  2. Address Any Changes to Family Life
    The one thing you can be sure of is nothing stays the same. Are you expecting another baby? Planning a move? Possibly, your child is now entering preschool for part of the day or you are bringing a new pet into the home. Whatever changes are coming your way, they will affect your nanny as well. Discuss these changes with her and let her know how you anticipate her role will change.

  3. Revisit the Job Specification
    Your child has grown over the past year and currently has different needs. Possibly, potty training or bottle weaning will begin. Wherever your child is developmentally, different tasks will be required of your nanny. Discuss these changes in depth, as well as ways in which the family and nanny can work together.

  4. Renew the Contract
    Your nanny will likely wish to discuss a raise and other potential changes to her compensation package, particularly if the list of her responsibilities will be growing or changing. It makes sense to look at your budget and know what you can afford, prior to discussing a pay raise. Other alterations in your nanny's responsibilities should be noted in the contract as well.

  5. Levels of Initiative
    "Some families will want their nanny to take a great deal of initiative, and others will prefer the opposite," says Susan Tokayer, co-president of the International Nanny Association. "Do you wish your nanny to be proactive and research activities, such as library programmes and playdates, or would you prefer she take a back seat to making these arrangements? The one-year review is a good time to determine if your nanny's style matches your own or if it needs to be adjusted."

  6. Style of Discipline
    As your child grows, their need for direction and guidance from the adults around them changes. Make sure your nanny understands your expectations for disciplining your child and that these strategies will vary, depending upon the child's age. For example, how should tantrums be handled? Can your nanny stay calm in the face of a tantrum and direct your child to do the same?

  7. Communications
    Determine if your current communication system is working. Some families keep electronic logs of things like feedings and nap time. Others simply share a written list or have a daily conversation. Whatever system works for your family and nanny is fine, just make sure the system is in-place and humming.

  8. Your Child's Development
    Your nanny spends a lot of time with your child and you should let her know her opinions and observations are valuable. Check in with her and ask if she has any concerns about your child's developmental progress, particularly if you have concerns of your own. Compare notes and if necessary, take the next steps to have your child evaluated early.

As your child grows, so do the relationships and good times you all share. Remember communication between you and your nanny is a key ingredient to keeping things running smoothly and meeting the next year's challenges head on.

8 Childcare Choices on a Family Holiday

Going on holiday brings the family together and provides experiences to strengthen the family bond. But going on holiday with energetic children in tow can mean that opportunities for time alone with your partner to relax, reconnect and share intimate moments together can be few and far between. Even parents need some timeout for themselves! The same goes for the kids too – they also need time away from the watchful eyes of mum and dad to just be kids and spend time with other children.

Even a few hours alone over a romantic dinner together is time that you and your partner will really appreciate. So we’ve put together 8 childcare choices on a family holiday:

  1. Bring Your Parents!
    Inviting your parents or those of your partner can turn a trip into a real family holiday. A recent study has revealed that 40 percent of adults are asking their own parents to come on the annual summer get-away in order for the whole family to spend time together. A multigenerational trip can forge bonds far stronger than a simple vacation visit to grandma’s house. Plus, grandparents make great babysitters.

  2. Invite The Nanny
    Already have a regular nanny? Take them along. Ask if they would be willing to come with you on your trip to watch the kids part of the time. Negotiate a salary that works for everyone — maybe a lump sum for the entire holiday. Talk about what is expected: what hours will they work, will they have their own room, what they should do with the kids, etc. Keep in mind that this option can get pricey, as you have to pay for their travel, lodging and food expenses. But in the right situation, it can be a lifesaver!

  3. Find a Hotel with Childminding Services
    Lots of hotels and resorts offer access to babysitters, day care and kids clubs. Even if you’re only leaving your kids for an hour or two, keep safety in mind. Ask the hotel where they find the sitters, how they interview them and if they run background and reference checks. Do they watch the kids in your room, a child care facility or other spot in the hotel? Interview the actual babysitter yourself and take a look at the facilities to confirm they are clean and safe.

  4. Find a Babysitter on Holiday
    If your hotel doesn’t offer a service or you prefer to do the vetting yourself, hire your own temporary sitter for your trip. Use a site like to search for sitters who live in that area. Post a job in the postcode where you’ll be traveling (use your home address when you sign up and create an account).

    Mention in the job title and description that you’re looking for a holiday sitter for your kids and what you want the person to do. If want someone to watch your kids for a few short hours, a babysitter is your best bet. If you want someone to be with your kids for a longer period, take them sightseeing and plan activities, look for a part-time nanny. Make sure you still interview potential sitters (maybe do a Skype video chat) and talk to references before you hire anyone.

  5. Go On a Kid-Friendly Cruise
    Like hotels, most cruise ships offer childcare or supervised activities for children. With the kids safe and nearby, parents can get some worry-free alone time. Since some cruises have minimum traveling ages, make sure your little ones are old enough to hop aboard.

  6. Book a Room with a View — and a Veranda
    Not all families can afford a resort, however, and not all parents can afford or are comfortable turning over responsibility to strangers. In this case a hotel room with a balcony could be just the thing. A bottle of wine with your spouse on the ‘veranda’ once the kids are asleep can be inexpensive and an easy option for getting at least a little alone time while on holiday.

  7. Reserve a House, Suite or Adjoining Rooms
    Children aged six or over may be old enough for their own room. Booking a suite or house swap can keep the family in the same space, but give the parents a separate room (with a door that locks) and the kids their own space (with a TV to keep them engaged). You’ll be able to watch over your kids, but still enjoy some privacy.

  8. Search for All-Inclusive Options
    Family camps have gone beyond cabins of the sort often made fun of on sitcoms. Many theme parks and camps have baby care centers and babysitting services. They also offer lots of options for family fun — including kids-only activities and entertainment.

With these tips, you can have the perfect holiday, complete with ample family time and just enough ‘alone time’ with your partner to remind you both how much you enjoy one another’s company.

12 Steps to Firing a Carer

Terminating your carer's contract will never be an easy thing to do. But sometimes, for whatever reason, it may be necessary. If you face this situation, we've put together 12 steps to firing a carer responsibly:

  1. Pinpoint the Problem
    Before you rush to fire, identify why the carer isn't working out. Are they minor things that you can discuss and work on? Ask family members for input. This list will also give you tools to talk about termination with your carer in a professional, less personal manner. You can't fire someone just because you don't like them - stop and ask yourself what you don't like, such as eye rolling or yelling at the kids.

  2. Establish Clear Expectations
    An employee can't be expected to meet your expectations if you haven't communicated them clearly, preferably in writing. If you haven't already, create an employment contract that spells everything out. Is your carer no longer following what's written down? Or have your priorities changed and you need to update the contract?

    Communication might eliminate the need to make a change. Parents often act out of fear and insecurity, rather than communicate what is expected and conversely, what is inappropriate.

  3. Document Your Grievances
    Document each conversation you have with a carer who isn’t up to par. Then date them and both of you sign them. Let your employee know, after one or two times of discussing the issue, that if the behaviour continues, they will no longer be able to work for you.

  4. Take the Decision
    If attempts to shift the situation have failed and, after careful thought, you know you cannot continue with your current carer, put the pieces in place to make a change. Hire backup care to fill the gap until you can find someone new.

  5. Schedule a Talk
    Schedule time for a short conversation. If you're more comfortable having someone there with you, that's fine, as long as you don't let the carer feel ganged up on.

    The people who should absolutely not be there with you, however, are your kids. There's no need to expose children to this type of adult situation and this could also embarrass the carer.

  6. Strong But Compassionate
    Be sure you’re absolutely firm in your decision. If you’re wishy-washy and you allow the caregiver to talk you out of it, you're setting yourself up for a difficult situation moving forward. But show compassion. Keep the conversation short and have it at the end of a business day. If possible, give notice or severance pay and never withhold payment for services already provided.

  7. Respond to Unemployment Questions
    If you've been paying taxes, your caregiver may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Let her know you'll respond to any inquiries into their application for these benefits.

  8. Arrange Severance Payment
    If you dismiss your carer without giving her the notice they are entitled to either by law or by your contract, your should pay them in lieu of notice. ‘In lieu’ means ‘instead of’. This is also called severance pay. The only exception to this is when you have been dismissed because of gross misconduct. The amount of pay in lieu of notice you should pay will depend on how much notice your carer is entitled to.

    You should pay in lieu at the rate of your normal wages. For example, if your carer is entitled to four weeks' notice, but they are only given one, you will need to pay three weeks’ pay in lieu of notice. They may be entitled to more than this, depending on what your contract says.

  9. Provide a Recommendation
    Unless the termination was for safety issues or gross negligence, offer the caregiver a letter of recommendation. Someone who was not right for your family may be perfect for someone else's.

  10. Request Personal Items
    During this meeting, make sure you also get your keys back, as well as any personal property and credit cards your caregiver has.

  11. Update the Appropriate Parties
    If your nanny or sitter has been picking your child up from school or day care, let the offices or teachers know immediately (both in person and in writing) that a change has been made. Inform your neighbours, if that feels necessary.

  12. Speak with Your Kids
    If the person moving on cared for your children, an abrupt change could be very startling to them. Explain the reasons for your decision, but be prepared for them to still feel upset.

Letting someone go is never easy, but sometimes it's necessary. By showing understanding and professionalism, you can make sure your family is well taken care of and able to move forward in a proactive, positive way.