About to begin, school has started for my kiddos, and somehow my district has a later start date, and I have a few extra days to prepare and to fulfill my mommy duties. This has never happened before that I am actually present for their first few days of back-to-school madness. It’s been nice to be a participant instead of an absentee-mother, which I feel I am throughout the school year when I miss their shows, their special days, their school field days, and even my oldest daughter’s Kindergarten graduation. The storyline of the working mother is not a new one, and the guilt I feel each year seems to never get old.
INSERT IMAGE OF MARY POPPINS IN YOUR MIND HERE–Must be the Julie Andrews version with the black umbrella and magic carpet bag. When I think of finding a nanny the image of Mary floating in on the West wind towards the city of London magically conjures.
With my husband and I working “ships that pass in the night” shifts we have needed a morning sitter to allow me to leave on time for my job and to give my husband time to get home from his. But, finding the right person willing to work the early and limited hours for the price we can afford has not proved easy.
Last year we made an arrangement with a neighbor’s granddaughter who needed money towards school and a car, but who really had no experience or interest in working with kids. I knew from the start it wasn’t an ideal arrangement when she informed me she didn’t know how to change a diaper and really didn’t have interest in learning. I made sure to change my kids before leaving and then hoped they wouldn’t dirty themselves again until my husband got home.
This year I started asking around to see if any of my friends’ college aged children or their girlfriends might be interested. As a college student I would have jumped at a job that paid me to watch kids less than 10 hours a week and offered paid days off and bonuses, but I was raised in a family that had me babysit for friends and family members for free as it was service and built character. Nowadays, people don’t seem to do anything out of the goodness of the heart, money is what spins the wheels and possibly stirs the heartbeats.
I saw an online advertisement for Care.com, and decided to try it out to find a new sitter for the school year. I wrote our advertisement which was short and to the point while trying to portray that our family isn’t perfect, but that we are good to work with, and grateful to involve a sitter into our lives. We would have tried writing an advertisement (I always pronounce that word with a British accent) and tossing it into the West wind if by chance Miss Poppins would have responded personally to our family’s need. But, the online community was the next best thing.
We had enough response to host interviews with nine potential sitters, which we did at a local Starbucks to protect our children and family from any undesirables who might pose as sitters (we didn’t have anyone that fit this category). And I sat down and composed a complete “Job Descrption” including a routine to follow. I also wrote a brief description of each member of our family including any specific needs or challenges they might have. And lastly, my daughter, my husband and I wrote a series of almost 20 questions to get to know each applicant ranging from the essential “What do you do to correct or discipline misbehaviors?” to the probing “What’s your favorite color?” to my personal favorite “Would you be interested in attending our daughter’s dance recitals?” I also wanted to gauge each applicants genuine interest in the position and asked each one to rate her personal interest in the position on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very interested and 1 not too interested.
We had great applicants for the position including a Graduate student in Social Work, an undergraduate pediatric nursing student, a French tutor, a law student, and a make-up artist. All the women were nice and all would have been good candidates. We narrowed the field by the question of interest. The 3s went to the bottom, the 4s to the middle, the 5s to the top. Then we asked our daughter who had been present for her feedback. Once our process was complete we called our potentials and made our offers.
Two candidates were tied for top rank. The nurse and the make-up artist. We looked at which had CPR/First Aid training and went with the nurse as our primary and the artist as our back-up sitters. However, the nurse who’s interest level had been a 5, decided she really wasn’t that interested after all and declined the offer. So, we went with our backup as our primary sitter (she was my daughter’s first choice). Her interest level answer had been 6, which both my husband and I really liked. She proved her interest by calling to let us know she was getting her CPR/First Aid certification online, and that she was very interested in the job. She proved herself to us and her references were good, so we selected our colorful, creative, and sweet-natured sitter.
We are looking forward to this year with our new sitter who my daughter says is pretty like an exotic bird. I’m sure she’ll be very helpful when recital time comes around with my daughter’s hair and make up (not my areas of expertise).
Other positives, we now have a nice list of back-up sitters, and my first grader will begin French lessons next week. All this from trying out Care.com instead of relying on word of mouth or the West wind!