As most working parents know, you can't hold a job without good child care. Recently I have found myself giving advice for finding -- and keeping -- good nannies? Although I have a steady nanny now for five years, I have endured my share of turmoil. Even now, I am always on the lookout for good sitters to fill in gaps if necessary. There's no right answer to the best way to find a nanny, or keep one. My advice to friends:
* Do whatever it takes to keep your nanny/sitter happy. Buy her special lunches, pay her overtime, keep her favorite soda stocked in the fridge.
* Find one with as few personal problems as possible: transportation issues, their own child care issues, immigration problems.
* Don't be cheap. If you underpay, your nanny will leave you. For average nanny salaries, check out the International Nanny Association's 2006 Salary Survey
, which breaks out results by region. Salaries ranged from $300 to more than $1,000 per week. In South Florida, the going rate can be anywhere from $300 to $400 per week.
In the survey, most nannies reported making roughly $12-$15 an hour, with incremental overnight pay of up to $100 per night. The survey was based on 1,119 respondents.
* Consider a nanny placement agency. There are several good ones in South Florida. Ask friends with nannies for recommendations. My sister found a great nanny by befriending a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESOL) courses at a nearby high school.
For night time sitters, I have found teenagers to be the best. Now is a perfect time to find them. I typically scour the summer camps for teens who like to care for children. I also chat with women in my neighborhood when I walk my dog, especially if I suspect they have teenage children. And, I always ask babysitters about their teenage siblings. If you have any suggestions, feel free to contribute your tips.