One of my goals as a mom and blogger is to give mother’s another way to make money, while still spending each day with their children. I do this myself as a nanny, caregiver and blogger. Most blogs you look at with ideas for extra income mention child care as a simple way to earn extra money. While child care can be simple if you are just doing a few hours while mom and dad are out, if you are going to take this on as an every day task, it’s just not as simple.
There are many considerations to make before you before you decide to tackle child care as an every day job.
1. Number of children and ages. While you think you may be able to handle five children are you certain? Will there be older children or will there be mostly younger children? Just the other day I ended up caring for five children. The ages were 6, 4, 4, 2 and 1. This was an accident, I wasn’t supposed to have all these children on one day, but I knew I could handle it. The older children were self-sufficient and played well together and my focus was on the younger children. If I had five children who were all one year old, it would have been impossible. Whether you are going to do in-home care or care in the families home, you need to know your ratio and ages. Do not set yourself up for failure by taking on too many children.
2. Safety of the home. Again, whether or not you are caring in your home or the families you need to make sure the home is safe. Currently, for the families where I provide care I am overly cautious. When I enter the home I make sure all exits are locked. Their father joked that it is Nanny 101, but he is right. At this home there are eight exits, EIGHT chances for the children to get out of the home and become harmed. They also have a pool. Fortunately, they have a fence, but I always make sure it is locked and that there is nothing near the edge the children could use to climb over the fence. It is my job to keep the children safe and I take that very seriously. If you are doing the care in your home you need to make sure your home is a safe place. If you have pets, they need to be locked up and your yard needs to be inspected for safety, along with the entire house.
3. In-home care licensing. If you are going to do care in your home, you need to be licensed. Yes, you can put an ad online and start in-home care without licensing, but I would not recommend this. When you do the licensing you are ensuring that your home is a safe place, that you are safe and children can be trusted in your care. This process can be lengthy and will incur costs to you, but it is worth it.
4. In-home care work is in your home. This is obvious, but I am saying this just as a reminder, your work will be in your home every single day, or almost every day depending upon your schedule. This can be frustrating for some people. Personally, I cannot do this. My home is my sanctuary and I do not want it to be thwarted with my work, constantly. Sure, I do work from home now, but it is on my time. When you are caring for other children you are on their parents time. They will not always be on time picking up and dropping off, some payments will be late. Life happens. Your home is where the children will play and sometimes things will break, they will go into your rooms. They’re kids, they get into things, that’s what they do. Be prepared for this. You will not be able to sit at home and do whatever you want, you will be working your butt off in your home every day.
5. You will need a safe sleeping environment for everyone. Again, this is true in your home or the families, but is much easier to accomplish if you are in the families home. Odds are, in the families home, they have a crib set up for their baby and bed for their older child. However, I have worked in homes where the parents co-sleep and the cribs are not set up. As a nanny, I had to get creative. I have had to co-sleep/lay with them or set them up in another safe environment. If you are doing care in your home do you have enough cribs? Make sure babies are sleeping on their back and NOTHING is in the crib with the baby. When I say nothing I mean absolutely nothing, except the sheet on the mattress. No bumpers, no blanket, no stuffed animals, nothing. Also be sure to check on the babies often. I have seen a few deaths in in-home care locations and the parents have stated that the children were in unsafe sleeping environments such as car seats and swings and then not checked on by the provider. Make a point to check on the babies. You are not just caring for a child to make extra money, their life is also in your hands.
6. Food and allergies. Again, as a nanny this is not as difficult, usually. The food is provided in the home and is what the family would like their children to eat and is not usually food they are allergic to. However, there may be times when you need to bring your own food. I have worked for Vegan families and I am not. Fortunately, they did not mind if I brought meat, but some families might. Ask about this when you interview. If you are doing care in your home you will need to be aware of allergies and provide food. If you are not providing food, you need to let families know and also be aware that sometimes lunches are forgotten. I have a friend who was dropping her son off at an in-home care facility and she was told he would be fed breakfast. She found out he was not actually being fed. YOU CANNOT DO THIS! You have to feed the children in your care. Failing to do so is pure and simply child neglect.
7. Transportation. Will you be driving the children? Do you have enough car seats, are you willing to transport to other activities and does the family want you to drive with their children? These are all things to discuss with your employer. You both need to be clear about your expectations and I would recommend a safe driving contract, to protect everyone.
8. Emergencies. Make sure you have an emergency contact and release form for each child in your care. Never, ever give medication without parental permission. If you cannot reach the parent, do not give the medicine, the end. You need to know how much the child weighs to obtain the correct dosage and they may have an allergy. It is always better to be more cautious in this area.
9. Funds. As in any situation where you are working for yourself, there are likely to be expenditures. Gas to and from work, as a nanny. I also take the children for special treats and cover those myself. I am sure the parents would reimburse me, but I do not ask, because I do not mind. For in-home care you may need to cover food costs, licensing, diapers, wipes and any other products you offer to the parents. Consider these costs in your fees. Are they one time? For example, more cribs or car seats or are they weekly snacks? Plan these funds to the number of children you believe you can handle. If they are not enough, this may not be the job for you after all.
I have found child care to be an absolutely rewarding career! I think of the children I care for as my second families, but it is not something every person is made to do and that’s okay! I am not made to be a lawyer, for certain, and I do not want to be a lawyer. Knowing your limits allows you to make the right choice when it comes to child care as just a job for extra money or something you may turn into a career.