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Advice pls - best set up childcare / housekeeping

(45 Posts)
MNmum Tue 05-Jan-16 11:39:36

Would like some advice please about hiring home childcare / staff as i've never done it before.

I'm expecting my first child this spring and will then be on maternity leave for rest of 2016, after which I'll go back to working full time again. Once I start working, we'd like to have a full time, possibly live in, nanny to take care of little one. My husband and I both have jobs that don't always have set times (can discover during afternoon that its not possible to leave office on time) so nanny would need to be flexible.

While on maternity, I'd ideally like to have someone working at least a few hours a day to help me out and look after little one to allow me to leave the house at day time, catch up on sleep etc and for me and OH to have a night out now and then.

Any full time childcare would have to be willing to travel with us for holiday once/twice per year and then work full time while on holiday (of course all expenses paid).

In addition, we'd need someone to do housekeeping (cleaning, laundry, food shopping, cooking, ironing, basic gardening such as raking leaves etc) during this entire period. At the moment we have a once a week cleaner that cleans and irons.

I could afford to hire someone full time from when baby is born and in an ideal world I would have loved to have one person cover both baby and housekeeping duties, on full time schedule, from birth and onwards. It would drive me crazy to have a nanny that refuses to help me with anything not 100% baby related or who wont, for example, bring me a cup of tea while i'm feeding the baby. We can offer accommodation for a live in, but only a small bedroom and shared bath room. Driving wouldn't be necessary.

Any views on what type of staff i'd be best off hiring to have highest chance of getting good quality service (live in/live out, combined nanny/housekeeper, one nanny and one cleaner, cleaner plus babysitter then swap to nanny etc etc)? We live in West London.

Blondeshavemorefun Tue 05-Jan-16 15:30:34

You need several people

A gardener
A cleaner/hk who will cook
A nanny

Some nannies are happy to muck in but many won't want to do your cleaning /cooking - most nannies happy to make mb a cuppa but again not do all the household duties let alone garden

A professional nanny has gone to college and trained to look after children - not to clean

Don't write off nannies who don't want to travel. Ive been a sole charge nanny 24+yrs and I don't travel with my work familys - it is not a holiday for us and tbh we need a break away from work and you say the nanny needs to work full time on holiday - will you be spending any time with your baby?

Usually if a nanny goes with their family on holiday they may do the wake up shift every other day so parents get the odd lie in and say finish at 2pm
And maybe then bs in eve - or start work at 11am and work the afternoon

It is not a holiday for the nanny but neither should they work full hours every day iyswim

Yes nannies are flexible but doesnt mean you /dh can be late back every night. Employers need to be back on time 99% of the time and if you both can't you give as much notice as possible to your nanny and grovel hope they can stay late

We do have lives out of work whether going to gym - out for dinner - chilling at home and obv can't leave the children home alone so have to stay till one comes in - which is fine if one off's but not fine is 2/3 times a week smile

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 05-Jan-16 15:45:12

You need a occasional gardening service and a nanny/housekeeper.

Bear in mind that much like a SAHM with a very small child in tow you will neither be a perfect housekeeper nor a perfect nanny.

If you want to take your nanny on holiday, that's fine with their agreement and assuming their visa if required will allow them to visit your preferred destination. You will still need cover for their 4 weeks annual leave plus Bank Holiday and sick days.

What you really need want from your description is:
A live out housekeeper
A live in night nanny
A live out day nanny
Part time gardener

Should come in around £130-150k per annum grin with holiday cover on top

Alternatively - hire a part time gardener with a full-time housekeeper/nanny but put your child into a nursery setting for a good portion of the day so that your housekeeping can be done.

MNmum Tue 05-Jan-16 16:41:51

Wow. Guess what I want is a housewife/SAHM, perhaps I should suggest polygamy to OH =p

No, seriously, thanks ladies. My experience of house/child staff comes mainly from friends living in HK/Singapore and their childminders all double as housekeepers, so my expectations are probably a bit off (of course those childminders are usually not trained / educated in the way a British nanny is - I recognize that).

Reg travel for holiday, i was fully intending for the nanny to have all of her usual holiday in a year with travels with us being a work week (with overtime pay if required) - intention was to have childcare mornings and evenings as you indicate blondes so OH and I could go out for dinners in the evenings and have some lie ins, so probably fewer actual "working" hours than at home but of course, its not a holiday for the nanny.

What is the norm in terms of hours worked per week for a live in nanny in London (or UK)? Again, my expectations are probably a bit off as my friends' childminders all work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Tue 05-Jan-16 17:05:31

And a very hardworking one at that grin

You will find people particularly in London who will specifically and only employ women from SE Asia specifically for this sort of job description though 6 days a week is still unusual.

If you wish your child to have the benefit of the services of a fully trained and educated professional nanny then you will have to pay more for it. If you wish your child to spend time with someone who is focused only on their care and development and not the state of the kitchen floor before you get home then again it's a question of priorities and balance.

MN is not friendly towards posters who are quite happy to leave their children in the care of someone unqualified and underpaid by comparison with a Norland nanny, but who in reality probably has plenty of life experience and sadly has left their own children in the care of relatives in Asia. For many people this is perfectly acceptable particularly while children are young and as parents it can be argued that if they were to be a SAHP, they would be equally unqualified and inexperienced, prone to use cbeebies as a babysitter on occasion just to get some laundry done and not damned for it on MN.

In reality this sort of arrangement appears to be relatively easy to source but is rife with it's own issues. I can't speak from personal experience but I cant see someone employed to do all the tasks you have listed [if you exclude the garden] having much time to spend playing with or attending classes and toddler sessions with your child. Once they are in school for a good portion of the day it could work fairly well.

writingonthewall Tue 05-Jan-16 21:41:06

All sensible advice. You'll be able to find someone from a developing country who will do all that (maybe not the gardening) for a pittance. But do you really want that for your one year old daughter? Paid help every day during maternity leave is a luxury that really only the most affluent can afford, if that is you then good luck to you - your work sounds full-on so I'm guessing City/law? If not then you may need to adjust your expectations. I'm sure I'm not the only one who had a huge reality check at the cost of childcare.

Callaird Tue 05-Jan-16 23:57:51

I'd never do gardening, I plant/grow seeds with charges but not actually gardening, I don't know a weed from a petunia!

I go on ski holidays with employers, I start late, they ski every day 9 until 2 and then I am free. If I want to ski/board, they pay for everything! I'm happy to babysit 2/3 nights a week as I don't know anyone to go out with! And I charge an inconvenience fee of around £30 per day. I do not go on summer holidays with the family as that should be family time. I will go away for working holidays with them, if they work quite a lot of the time we are away.

I am pretty relaxed about household chores, I'll fold their washing from airier/tumble drier or move it from machine to drier, I will not wash bosses clothes. I'll empty bins and sweep/mop/Hoover floors in rooms we use. I'll run errands for my employers, drop off/pick up dry cleaning, go to the post office/post collection depot/drop off at charity shop. I do the full family shop, at the moment I do it via Ocado, if I have school/nursery going charges, I will go shopping. I currently meal plan for my bosses and prep bits and pieces for their evening meal (charge and I usually have the same at lunch time) However, I won't clean toilets or the bath (quick rinse round before/after my charge goes in) if the bath has short and curlies in it I won't bath my charge! I tell employers this right at the beginning of my employment and most have been very good about rinsing after they use it.

I'm fairly flexible on working hours, I understand completely that sometimes it is not possible to leave the office bang on 6pm, however I do expect some compensation for working late at short notice, a later start when it's possible for my boss or an early finish. It is very much about give and take. My bosses respect me and I them.

One more thing - if any of my bosses called me staff, I'd quit there and then. I am not staff, staff is equal to a servant in my eyes, I'm a nanny and I am an integral part of their day to day life running smoothly. I'm here to make their life easier and making leaving their child/ren as painless as possible. All my references say that I am one of the family and I still keep in touch with almost all of my previous charges, the eldest being 30 and looking after his daughter as and when I can!

WiIdfire Wed 06-Jan-16 00:20:59

Callaird - would you like to come and work with me?

I'm watching with interest as I need the same sort of thing (to a point). My husband and I have the sort of jobs where we cannot get home on time 100% of the time, although it wouldn't be every week. I too was wondering how that works - Overtime I suppose. I also need a cleaner and had come to the conclusion that what I really need is a 1950's housewife. Don't need a gardener though, sorted that issue out by getting fake grass and low maintainable plants.

Some useful advice so far!

ladamanera Wed 06-Jan-16 00:34:54

Caillaird you sound amazing! And absolutely right in setting firm boundaries. If you are London-based and looking for any more work in the next six months, let me know!

OP, Singapore and honkers have dreadful standards of living and few employment rights for migrant workers. I know expats out there like to excuse it away as the "norm", but lets face it, it is only the norm because people living in abject poverty are desperate. that behaviour isn't something to aspire towards replicating in the UK. Once you have agreed to work together, the well-treated nanny makes for the safest, best stimulated, cared for child and the most stable working relationship. The best nannies in London are highly sought after and will go nowhere near a 'workhouse' deal and so beware of anyone who jumps at one- that will impact on the quality of care. Well done for asking questions though- is def best to ask questions!

Not directed at OP but I am in the City and have been surprised, since my friends and I have spawned, how many people who think of themselves as 'good' people think nothing of openly exploiting labour forces in the home- from luring au pairs over and treating them as 24 hr skivvies, to trying to save cash by paying cash in hand without NI payments, not bothering to find out circumstances of the person they employ, expecting free overtime "because she loves our little baby", or just straight diddling the pay of foreigners who dont know to object. It really turns my stomach.

Callaird Wed 06-Jan-16 07:39:23

Unfortunately WiIlfire and ladamanera I have a great job (in SW London) which I love and my bosses are fab and very generous. My charge is ok too!!!

It really is all about getting the right fit for you, write a list of all the things you want in a nanny and what you can out source, we have a cleaner once a week and my bosses have had someone to come and collect/return the ironing, although the cleaner does it at the moment. We have a gardener once a month (small garden!) and a friend of theirs is a local handy man so I call him if something needs doing (or MB and I write a list of things that need doing but aren't urgent and he comes in when we have half a dozen things to do)

I have one night babysitting and one hour one evening to cover tube delays or boss getting ambushed as she leaves the office. DB will try to get home if something comes up for MB. I am also contracted until 7:30 but MB usually gets home at 6:30 2 or 3 times a week and let's me go (texts if she can't get back even though I'm contracted to 7:30!!)

It's really all about give and take, if you do all the taking then nanny with get grumpy and fed up. The main thing to remember is a happy nanny = a happy child (and household!)

One more thing - if your nanny does something that is not in her contract, for example, puts the recycling out on recycling day, takes the bottles to the bottle bank or sorts out the kitchen cupboards (throwing out herbs and spices from 2006!) do not get cross if it's not done again/one week, it's not her job and doing it does not make it her job, just be greatful when she does get round to doing it and occasionally thank her and say that she doesn't need to do it. Same with if the ironing/other nursery duty isn't all done occasionally, if she's had a busy week with the children or feeling under the weather, be a bit pissed off under your breath but don't pull her on it or mutter about it in front of the children, they will tell us!!

WiIdfire Wed 06-Jan-16 08:49:28

Is nannyjob the place to look for a nanny, or are there other good websites too?

MLGs Wed 06-Jan-16 08:52:46

Op, I often wish I had a sahp at home, so feel for you there! In the small experience I have had of doing the traditional wohp who has a sahm role (e.g. oh on holiday from work, or parents kindly looking after DD at theirs while we stayed with them) it is so easy just doing your job and maybe a bit of bedtime!

Can't afford for OH to be a sahp tho

Not going to re iterate what others have said re your op because you have taken on board their advice already.

MNmum Wed 06-Jan-16 14:18:02

Thanks everyone - this is so helpful, it's a bit of a minefield when starting out and not being English (only lived here for 5 years) makes it harder. Callaird - what you describe sounds very close to what I would want so if you fall out with your bosses let me know ;) I would love to have a nanny who could be direct and up front with her expectations and what she accepts and not, it's better for everyone if both parties can lay out their wishes at the start to avoid problems later on. And thanks for the comment about using the phrase "staff" - I had never thought about it that's way, probably not having English as my first language means I miss out on the emotional connotations of the word.

I'm not after a "household slave" who will work around the clock for no money and have no rights, I agree its appalling. I understand that it might be the case that there is no one qualified who is willing to do all that I want for a salary that i can afford, and then thats of course the way of the world and I need to change my expectations / requests (part of the reason for asking here was to get a sense for this so I don't waste too much time in the actual search). I also don't want to leave my baby with an unqualified / untrained "anybody" just to gets cheaper care, I would just ideally like to limit the number of people that work/live in my home and may end up handling the baby and if there is a trained nanny out there who is willing to take on a lot of housekeeping duties (with the support of a once a week cleaner perhaps) provided the salary and other terms are right then I'd be more than happy to pay overtime and above normal rates etc, instead of having two people cover the same work for the same amount of money.

ladamanera Wed 06-Jan-16 18:39:25

Have you thought of a "mother's help"? They tend to be housekeepers or cleaners who have also got experience with children - either their own or someone else's, and are fully checked by the agency like anypne in childcare would be. Many have been on first aid courses.

They understand that they are there to assist the mum in any way possible- be that with the child or with the house, and although they arent trained like a nanny, they have at least got experience and if they have a loving way about them and some commonsense they can grow to be part of the family. They are also more "instructable" as you are not paying for their childcare expertise, so if you are willing to put some time in initially you can make sure things are done how you want them.

They are often people's "starter" childcare resource- and also a lot cheaper than a professional nanny in London, more like the hourly rate of a senior cleaner. Think outside London it's ok but in London there are so many fmailies who can afford a nanny that the good nannies are like gold-dust and not easily relinquished! I even met a mum once who was considering having another child because she worried that with her youngest going to school her nanny would leave the family....!

Artandco Wed 06-Jan-16 19:09:16

The problem is is nanny is housekeeping they won't be spending time with baby. Do you want a nanny who will take baby outside and to places or one who has to leave baby playing alone so she can get all the housekeeping done?

I would say a full time nanny. 10-11 hrs a day

Plus a cleaner/ housekeeper who comes 2-3 days a week and does all the cleaning/ laundry/ ironing/ leaf sweeping etc.

Plus an ad hoc babysitter to take over evenings if you need more than one a week

Blondeshavemorefun Wed 06-Jan-16 20:29:21

It is very hard to find a good nanny who likes to clean - or a good hk who is trained /has patience with babies

Rare to get both esp with young children

Diff when at school

writingonthewall Wed 06-Jan-16 21:25:43

Do you have a budget and have you looked into the cost?

Nannies have an annoying habit of talking in net salary - make sure you put gross in any contract.

If you pay £10 per hour net (standard for outer London, more in central London, maybe a bit less out of London), for 11 hours/day, 5 days a week, and assuming a standard tax code, your overall cost per year including tax and NI will be around £42,000. There are various online calculators where you can play around with these figures. On top of this you'll need to offer a pension (employer's contribution 1% now, rising to 3% soon I think), pay someone to do your payroll if you don't want to do it yourself (£100-200/year) and pay for the nanny's lunch, any mileage, increased heating use at home and entrance to any baby/toddler groups.

The government recently removed the SSP rebate, so if your nanny is sick you will have to pay SSP (£88.45/week) for up to 26 weeks, whilst paying for alternative childcare and holding your nanny's job open for her. If she becomes pregnant, you pay SMP, which is refunded, but she accrues paid holiday during her maternity leave which you have to pay for.

Assuming that you are a higher rate taxpayer and also paying into a pension, you probably take home less than 50% of what you earn, so to pay out that £42,000 you need to earn £84,000 just to pay your nanny.

All this is live out - it's a bit less for live-in as you are offering the accommodation, but you then have to budget for all the nanny's meals, not just food.

writingonthewall Wed 06-Jan-16 21:26:25

I should say some nannies have an annoying habit of talking in net salaries - not blondes, nannynick or any of the other esteemed users of this forum!

Blondeshavemorefun Thu 07-Jan-16 12:09:41

'Polishes halo'

Jengaaddict Fri 08-Jan-16 12:12:01

First of all- just want to be clear- am not an exploitative employer. Employed a nanny for few days a week for a year and will do again shortly. I paid a fair wage, obviously associated costs and NI, holiday etc and we left (change in work circumstances) on extremely good terms. Am still in touch etc.
However, I slightly concerned by posts here as i am about to recruit someone else for 2.5 days a week. I really wanted someone to muck in. Put washing on, put away, cook for children and family and run errands if they are on route. This is what I do when I am looking after mine at home on my days off. I do not provide a poor childcare by doing this. They will only have one three year old at home until school finishes. After school, both children play for long stretches without needing close supervision. Yes they need a bath, tea and a small amount of homework (reading book as reception) Can I really not ask the nanny to do this? Much as the children loved our previous nanny she was not tidy (often 2 hours tidying to get house straight) the idea of coming home to a destroyed house, washing to do after bedtimes etc while working full time long days feels me with dread

Karoleann Fri 08-Jan-16 13:56:00

I had a mother's help after DC3, she was qualified in childcare in Denmark, but had only worked in a nursery.

We advertised for someone who would work 25 hours flexibly over 4 days. I paid for her to do a course in baby care and a first aid course. We kept our weekly cleaner for one day a week. So she would do anything child related and light housework, including cleaning the floors, tidying, vacuuming, emptying the dishwasher etc and I gave her the weekly schedule a week in advance. It all worked out very well.

One tip - I am quite tidy and I always made sure when interviewing potential childcarers that the house was as tidy as I usually wanted it to be. That way it seemed to put off potentially messy nannies or at least made them comment that my house was very tidy and give me a heads up that they possibly weren't as tidy as me! I also made it clear verbally and contractually that the house must be left tidy at the end of the day.

Good luck finding someone.

Artandco Fri 08-Jan-16 14:10:24

The thing is nannies aren't trained to or usually want to just leave children playing all afternoon alone so they can do chores. They are primarily for a child's wellbeing.

So leaving them every day 3-6pm isn't going to appeal to many. Most will use that time to get homework done, school spellings, school reading. Then reading regular books ontop, and getting them some excercise after school. Then they will do the stuff related to children like cook dinner and bath them or put their school uniform in wash. They haven't time to wash floors and iron huge piles

I have two children. Age 4 and 5. Homework and school reading takes 1 hr between them each evening. So if yours finish school at 3, walk home via park, it's probably 4-4.30pm before home earliest. An hour homework and reading help, then dinner prep, occupy youngest at same time and odd bits cleared away and it's time to leave

If your kitchen is spotless in the morning when nanny arrives, it's reasonable to expect her to have it in Same ish condition when you back. So she will sweep kids crumbs, tidy after cooking, wipe table etc. But you can't expect it that tidy if when she arrives the floor is already dirty, dishwasher full, and dishes needing cleaning as she will always be playing catch up.

Jengaaddict Fri 08-Jan-16 16:16:12

I think it's increasingly clear that I need to be clear in my advert what I expect
- house in reasonable state when arrive
- school run
- return put breakfast things away, wipe down if needed, load on
- activity (library, soft play, play group with youngest running errands on way- eg post office etc, drop of dry cleaning)
- back, lunch prep for youngest, nanny and us to eat later (eldest eats full meal at school)
- clothes in tumbler
-wipe down
- activity out or in house
- school run
-back via park - home around 4pm
-do school book with eldest (10 mins)
- quick tea (omelette sandwich or similar), tidy up and mop floor if needed
- put clothes away while kids play in those rooms
-start bath (either me or DH will finish, have eldest read to us. Bedtime).
Am I missing something ?? Is that so unattainable or undesirable for someone? paying gross £12/ hour.
Fwiw- neither our nanny previously or our childminder are fully qualified - they have first aid, safeguarding etc but one had been a professional dancer the other a hairdresser. Kids love then

Callaird Fri 08-Jan-16 23:32:22

Jengaaddict I would do all the things you are looking for, except the cooking for you. I will pop a baking potato in the oven, buy pasta and sauce, maybe marinade meat/fish for a stir fry if I was doing the same for the children. I'm happy to prepare for my employers occasionally but I would hate for it to be expected as that's not my job! I'm a nanny because I love children, if I wanted to do housework, I'd be a cleaner, if I wanted to cook, I'd be a chef, I want to play with, teach and enjoy children which is why I'm (a bloody good) nanny.

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 09-Jan-16 07:34:46

Janga - what you describe is a nanny a basic day and what I did when employed as a nanny

Not sure why you have difficulty in finding someone unless split week?

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