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Is Your Nanny an Employee or Independent Contractor

Is Your Nanny an Employee or Independent Contractor?

FAM, kids By October 3, 2020 Tags: , , 3 Comments

After searching for the perfect nanny, how are you going to pay her?  In determining the nanny’s status as an employee or as an independent contractor, the Canada Revenue Agency does the following tests:

1.    Control: Are you specifying the work to be done? Are you specifying the working hours and are you reviewing the work that was done?

recipe for a play date

Recipe for a play date (that keeps kids & moms happy!)

FAM, kids By January 17, 2011 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

Recently one of my oldest friends, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, got in touch. “We’re coming to town! Can we see you?” I was thrilled – between us we have four boys under five and have wanted to get them together for ages. With our visit being last minute and later in the day than the kids are accustomed to, though, it was mayhem for all of us. Without specific activities set out for them, our little ones bounced off the walls accordingly. My friend and I couldn’t finish a sentence, let alone a conversation. For two families who rely heavily on structure for sanity and functionality, being without a plan took away from the experience. Worth it? Yes! But by the time we were done she and I were exhausted. Here’s our recipe for a play date that keeps kids and moms happy!

In a nutshell, there is a better way. Kids need to know there is a program in place. If you do things in the right order they will be too occupied by what you’ve got them doing to get bored and into trouble. Make a schedule for the play date and plan activities that accommodate their needs.

My suggestion is to start with some kind of exercise. I’m talking about real physical exertion here. The more fun, the better, so if you’re at home, set up a potato sack race or an obstacle course in the yard (no horseshoes, though – you don’t want some poor little person getting winged in the head with one of them). If you’re planning to be out and about there are places popping up everywhere offering both indoor and outdoor “adventure zones” for kids of all ages. If you don’t want to spend money on admission fees, use what you have at home or go to the park. Whether it’s to be a day inside or out, make sure the kids get an opportunity to burn off some steam! They will feel great and it will calm them for the rest of your time together. You should plan to participate in this part of the play date. It’s an opportunity to determine a feeling of safety and set forth ground rules for the remainder of your time together; your young guests should feel comfortable treating you as their go-to grown-up and it’s your responsibility to establish this.

After a workout, everyone will need to rest and refuel. When I host a play date, I always make sure I know if those joining us have any allergies, food aversions or requests. This is not to be confused with being a short order cook – the point here is to make everything easier, not to wait on everyone the whole time. The nice thing about apprising yourself of what people like or dislike is that no one is going to criticize you for ordering takeout or serving store-prepared foods if they know you’ve taken the time to consider them when doing so. Once I have my information, I plan an easy snack or meal and get as much of it done in advance as possible. Fun food for kids is imperative! Involve them in the preparation – make mini pizzas they load themselves or have them spread their own peanut butter and jelly. Put out finely cut fruit or veggies and let them make funny faces on their pancakes or toast. If you want to keep them calm, don’t overdo it with the sugar. Go with bananas rather than chocolate. Make smoothies (you can call them milkshakes!) instead of serving pop. No hard and fast rules, and by all means splurge on burgers and milkshakes from time to time. It’s all about balance.

Now, I am a huge advocate of turning off the damned TV when sitting down to dinner. Playdates can be an exception to this – and no, it doesn’t make you a lousy parent. Getting the kids exercised and fed is hard work and you will need some down time! Turn on Peep and the Big Wide World or put in a Disney movie – something appropriate for all ages present. You can do this during the feeding frenzy, as it may serve to distract them and cut down on the mess, or you can wait until they’re done. Hopefully you’ve remembered to brew the coffee or make yourself a snack too, because now is the time to enjoy the relative lull in activity.

The next important element is to have a few alternatives available for those kids who just can’t sit still. A train set, an accessible book selection, some coloured pencils and paper and a collapsible tunnel would be a great combination of options. The more straightforward the activity, and the less pieces involved, the more it will appeal to kids of different ages. Puzzles, climbing equipment and musical instruments are great things to have around, but as long as there are several opportunities for creative play most children will happily occupy themselves.

Don’t forget the magic! Add some whimsy by having the kids cut and arrange flowers as they set the table, or sprinkle some “fairy dust” (sure, glitter is hard to clean up, but life is short) while they play. You can always turn off the TV and throw on some Raffi instead. Have a dance party. Jump on the bed. Go puddle jumping if it’s rainy; a canoe or trail ride if it’s a beautiful day. These are the moments you will all remember later on.

Finally, the best trick of all: if you can swing it, hire a nanny for the afternoon and let her execute your master plan! If your young guests’ mom is a friend of yours, get out the martini shaker or the chocolate or whatever floats your boat. Then, get the hell out of dodge and take a break! Go put your feet up and have a good conversation. Feed your sanity a little.

Coming soon: further explorations on dealing with other people’s nannies, your obligation to other parents hosting your kids’ play dates, correcting or disciplining other people’s children, and whether you should assume your older child’s sibling is invited to that birthday party!

– Samantha Jeffers Agar loves to get her kids laughing and has even been known to sew the odd potato sack.

Salaries for Live-In Caregivers

FAM, kids By October 2, 2009 Tags: , , , 10 Comments

Live-In Caregiver Salary PayIf you have a nanny or are thinking of getting one, there are a few things you should know.  Linh Tsiu is a Canadian accountant who specializes in Caregiver Tax Services.  She handles payroll for caregivers and instructs families in the financial implications of hiring a nanny.  As always, in parenting there are so many things to learn.  Now that you are an ‘expert’ mother, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, manager and scheduling guru – do you really need to handle the accounting too?


Finding Summer Childcare

LIVE, play By June 13, 2009 Tags: , , , 1 Comment

Summer ChildcareWHEN: Start Early. Beware the ides of March…because after that, before you know it …It’s June 15th.  Heads up,  If you are looking for someone to start in June… you should start your search at the end of March. Great, organized, on the ball nannies/babysitters/employees will also be looking early. If you leave it to the last minute…pickings can get quite slim.


How to Hire a Great Nanny

Uncategorized By April 10, 2008 Tags: , , , , 5 Comments

This is the big decision that causes more stress on a family than a new car or even having a child in the first place! Here are a few tips on how to hire a great nanny.

START EARLY . The number one cause for stress and panic when hiring a nanny  is an imminently approaching deadline and no great candidates in sight. Starting to interview two or three months ahead is a good idea. Keep in mind September is the busiest month for nanny turnover.
Explore ALL of your options. Craigslist, community posting boards, word of mouth, Facebook, school newsletters, or use a reputable established nanny agency.

Be honest with YOURSELF about what your priorities are. HONESTLY are you looking for one on one play time, educational stimulation, outdoor activities and planned daily outings, or light housekeeping including all of the children’s laundry done.  Keep in mind I too would like an ECE graduate, with 10 years nanny experience  who will lesson plan,  teach piano, do my laundry, wash my floors and do meal prep every night of the week…for $10.00 an hour…but I probably won’t find her. Choose your priorities, write them down in order of importance and then evaluate candidates accordingly. Be hopeful as well as realistic.

Open your mind. What points CAN you be flexible on, or what can you offer that you may not have considered before. Being; flexible with hours or days, willing to pay a nanny as an employee, able to offer a car for her personal use etc. are all great job perks a nanny would appreciate. Have you thought about a nanny share? Longer hours but less days? A bonus for loyalty or completing the contract. The more flexible you are the more nannies may be interested in what you have to offer.

References (plural) get written ones and then verify them verbally, check for a  criminal record, check his/her driving record, and check that all certifications are current and real.  (First Aid, CPR, Food Safe, etc) Treat your reference checks as if they too are interviews!!

Put it in writing
! Write up a legally binding work agreement. Treat this as you would expect ANY job to be treated. Be specific about holiday time, holiday pay, exact responsibilities, overtime rates, and any added benefits or bonuses. There should be no questions about job description and therefore less chance of ugly surprises down the road. (“Oh I thought that vacuuming was light housekeeping….??)

Schedule time to communicate. Provide on the job orientation where the nanny has an ease in period when you provide clear on the job guidance over the course of a few days.  At the very outset schedule a performance review date where you both agree to sit down and discuss how the experience is going. (Three weeks into a contract  is a good time for this) Also, be sure to budget at least 15 minutes every day of paid time when you and the nanny communicate about  the children’s well being, and voice any questions or concerns either one of you are having. Communication and clarification are more likely to happen if no one is running out the door at break neck speed.

Make a “high level” choice.
Choosing a nanny out of a pool of one after one interview is NOT a high level choice. Choosing a nanny out of a pool of four candidates after a four first interviews and two second interviews is.

Plan for your interviews.
Have a list of  well thought out questions ready and make sure you ask them all. Open ended questions are an  important part of all interviews. Make some of the questions specific to the applicants past work history (be sure to read her resume ahead of time) Take notes and wait for the applicant to answer hard questions. Do not rush this part of the process. If you feel you need a second interview or a trial day ask for those.

When in doubt go with your gut. We are all born with instincts, especially where our children are concerned. If everything is checking out and you still don’t feel quite right or aren’t quite sure…move on. This is the benefit of not being in a hurry (go back to step number one)

Your children’s safety and well being is worth working at.  Like any important undertaking… planning ahead, doing your homework and following through  will make the search less stressful and ultimately more successful. Good luck finding your families’ perfect nanny!!

By Leanne Hume
Leanne Hume has been an on call and placement nanny, a teacher, is a mum and is also the nanny recruiter for Nannies on Call,