Almost 11 years ago we got married and moved 8 hours away from family. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time….
Until we had our first baby...
And 13-months later, another baby...
Then 2 years later, another baby...
Add another 2 years and along came another baby.
And then… Just kidding, we stopped at 4 munchkins.
We had one family member move to our neck of the woods, but she works often during the time we need childcare the most. Besides, we have 4 little kids and that’s a lot for one grandparent to handle!
We have a date night every week, and Jamie runs a business so we regularly have 2 to 3 childcare teammates at our house each week… If you think you can’t afford a weekly date night (or even bi-weekly) let us know in the comments --- if we get enough demand then we’ll write some tips on how to fit a regular date night into your budget. Jamie and I know that even if our household income was cut in half, we’d find a way to make our date night happen at least once a month. Since most are reading this to get ideas on building a childcare team, let’s move along!
This is version 1.0 on Building A Childcare Army --- we will be updating this, so if you want to make sure you don’t miss version 2.0 be sure to like our FREE Facebook Group Page.
Before you proceed, think about this:
Did you marry the first person you went on a date with? Maybe a few of you can say yes to this but for most the answer to that question is “no”... If you interview only one person to join your childcare team you are limiting yourself too much and will be more likely to settle. If you have one spot to fill, we suggest you interview at least 2 or 3 candidates. If you are looking to add 2 childcare teammates then we’d suggest interviewing 3 to 5 people, or more.
5 Tools To Create A Childcare Army
Tool #1: Care.com*
This is a website that helps connect you to care providers - and for more than just childcare! We have only used it for childcare though, but we have found some wonderful sitters through here. We usually post a job, telling a bit about our family and what we are looking for, but then Jamie also searches through the providers and reaches out to sitters that are listed. Searching them out has been the most effective way for us to find sitters.
* Please note this is an affiliate link - but even if it wasn’t, we would share this website! It has worked very well for us in the past, and we are here to share the information that we know has worked.
Tool #2: Local Churches
If you attend a church, you can start there. Go to your Children’s Director or another staff member and ask if they know of anyone that would be interested in watching your kid(dos). Or, think of your friends at church, and ask them if they know of anyone. Staff members do get bombarded with various requests from church attendees, but remember, this can be beneficial for all - you, the person(s) you hire, and the church staff because it is important to have connections at church. It’s a Win-Win-Win!
Now, you don’t have to be a church attender (I’ve actually not been great at attending church lately -- I’ll write more about that in a later post), but you also can’t expect someone that has beliefs to be in an environment that completely contrasts their beliefs, so be conscientious of that. For example, on our date nights I usually have a glass of wine, BUT I don’t become drunk. If you come home to relieve the babysitter and you are sloppy drunk, I know I wouldn’t allow my daughter to watch your kids (sorry but not sorry).
Tool #3: Local High School & College Students
Although, there are some amazing high school and college freshman, we recommend starting with sophomores, juniors or seniors at school. Why? Because freshman are usually adjusting to their new school schedule (of course this depends what time of the year you are hiring). The top teachers have a following of some of the highest quality students, and they genuinely like to be helpful -- that’s what makes them awesome! If you are looking for childcare for date nights then high school teachers are a great option. If you are looking to build your coverage during the workweek than college professors are the ticket.
On Facebook you could post something like “Who are the top 2 or 3 most amazing teachers at (your local high school or college)?” Then, you’d PM the teacher with a message like, “Hi (their name), we are mutual friends with (mutual friend’s name), and they said you were an amazing teacher. My (spouses name) and I have (how many kids) the ages of (ages), and we are looking for a few students to interview for our childcare team. Is there someone(s) that you would recommend?”
Tool #4: Friends & Family
Ask your friends & family if they know of anyone who would be great at watching your kids. They know your kids, they know others, and they could be very helpful in matching you up with the perfect childcare worker. Also, it is possible they have someone that watches their kids that they would recommend who is looking for more hours. Just make sure if you are using the same sitters, you are respectful of when they usually have them watch their kids and not request those same times/hours.
Tool #5: Think Outside The Box
There are other niches you can target too.
Think outside the box a bit... Hopefully the first 4 tools got your wheels turning! Think of some other contacts or resources you have.
Here are a few Thinking Outside the Box Ideas:
- If you have a strong Homeowner’s Association FB page that you could leave a post on, do that!
- If you have a neighbor with a few kids, ask them how they do childcare.
- If you have a friend/family member in the same boat, take turns doing childcare for each other.
Any other ideas? Post them in the comments below - we love hearing new ideas!!!
Now you’ve cast a wide net and have people to interview… Now what?
Suggest a Brief Meeting in a Public Setting
If possible, we suggest no kids but make the best of it if your kids are there. Prepare the candidates by informing them that your initial meeting will be 15 to 20 minutes long and you may have another candidate or two there at the same time. I’m a fan of group interviews of 2 or 3 candidates as it allows you to see how they interact with each other but more than anything, you are a busy parent and you may not have the time to meet with everyone individually so give everyone a heads-up that it may be more than just you at the brief meeting. And if they are in high school, be prepared for the interviewee’s parent to attend --- as the father of daughter’s, I may someday attend such a meeting to interview the parent/employer.
Do Background Checks
For anyone that passes your initial interview, do a background check on them. Ask them to friend you on Facebook so you can see if you have any mutual friends. Care.com actually has a background check system and most churches with 500 or more weekly members have done background checks on their volunteers --- however, don’t take this step for granted and do your own due diligence. We do background checks online, and we call a few references they have given us.
Invite Them Over to Your House
If they’ve passed your initial 15 to 20 minute interview, and they don’t strike out on the background check, it’s time to invite them over to the house. Perhaps you invite them over for dinner so you can see how they are (do they help you set the table, watch the kids while you are getting dinner ready, how do the kids respond to them, do they help you clean-up dinner, how do they interact with you and your spouse, etc).
Think Outside The Box Tip: If dinner doesn’t work, you could also invite them on a Saturday trip to the park.
I’m going to remind you that you need to cast a wide net… If you only meet with 1 or 2 candidates and follow the steps to this point you will feel too invested and may not feel like going through these steps again. This will set you up on settling for a candidate and that’s not a good thing to do. Cast a wide net and before you start interviewing, have several candidates to start the process with.
Make Your Offer
In version 2.0, we’ll go into greater detail on what your offer is, but I’ll tell you this --- if you are a cheapskate and/or don’t look for ways to create an enjoyable environment for your childcare teammate(s), you will have a revolving door. Pay well and keep your house in order and it will allow you to build a rockstar team of childcare teammates.
Having an agreement written out is good because it allows you to to communicate what is most important to you. For example, for me, it would be a dealbreaker if a childcare teammate had their boyfriend over, period… As obvious as this may seem, the boyfriend may not think it’s a big deal to swing by to drop something off to the person you are paying to watch your babies. You also need to set expectations on cell phone usage and screen time. It’s not fair to your new teammate to assume they know what you want. I don’t want to lose a teammate over something like that could easily be addressed with a 1 or 2 page list of do’s and don’t’s. We go as far as having them sign it and keep a copy --- we can email you our childcare agreement that we’ve used (insert link to clickfunnel).
You may want to test your candidate(s) out a little more before leaving them in charge. Consider having them over for a Saturday breakfast with the family and once you have eaten and cleaned up, you and your significant other could organize the garage or work in your study for a couple of hours. Realize that since they are new and mom/dad are in the other room, your kids may work the system and find a way to be in the same room you are in --- have your new teammate’s back and let your kids know that the new teammate is in charge and that you are only their back-up in the case of an emergency.
Be willing to give your child(ren) consequences if they don’t mind your teammate. I don’t stand for my children disrespecting our childcare teammates and it goes to the “environment that you create” and whether or not you’ll have a revolving door. Again, if my daughter was old enough to babysit your child(ren) and you allowed your child(ren) to not mind her, I’d encourage her to find an employer with better leadership.
You may also get a nanny cam with wifi so you can tune in every hour or so to see what the gang is up to. We haven’t done this but it totally make sense, and I’d probably just get one (maybe two) and put them in the most common area(s). If you’ve done this and have a model you like, leave a comment or send us a message with those details.
There is a lot more we can add to this (specific interview questions, best practices using Care.com, low-cost ways to compensate your childcare team, etc), but we wanted to get this out to you to see what the response was like. If you like what you’ve read, we’d love to have you share it on your social media accounts and join our FREE Facebook Group.