Monday, October 12, 2009

Be Considerate of Caregivers

Obviously, in the short time that Ada's been around, we've had more than our share of caregivers to help us take care of her. We've always tried to guarantee our nannies and babysitters a set amount of hours each week, or at least a minimum amount of money each week, to help make their job a bit more secure and worth while. Being that we've only needed them three days a week, that was our way of saying "Thanks for being willing to help us out part-time and being flexible with our schedule." The idea was great, I thought. If Ada was sick, or they were sick, or we had to shift a day this week to next week, we tried to keep the same amount going to them each week, with any extra added on that week as well. I understand what it is to be young and broke and counting on a paycheck to pay your bills. But... this last nanny we had really seemed to mess it all up. Yeah, it didn't work the best for us in the end when our nannies decided to move back home or go to graduate school or get a full-time job because we'd always be stuck with a few un-used hours that we had paid for but never redeemed. That was just part of the deal and a price I was willing to pay for the convenience of our arrangement. But the painful part was having to carry over hours needed from one week to the next and trying to make sure we were close enough to even in the end to call it fair.

This time, we tried something new. Try for 29 hours a week but if something comes up or changes, tough cookies. This is a great arrangement for us, but not so great for our sitter. The first week, things were normal. The second week, Ada didn't wake up until 9 or 9:30 each day which cut into our sitter's overall amount of time she had Ada. But it didn't cut into my time I was able to work since I can work from home when Ada sleeps. It was great. I saved six hours that week. A similar thing happened the next week and finally our friend wised up and said something. And I'm so glad she did. I was so caught up in the excitement of getting work done, having Ada get a lot of sleep, and having to pay less each week for our sitter that I failed to put myself in her shoes long enough to realize that all this meant she still had to be ready at 8 am but didn't start until 10 and didn't get paid for those 2 ready hours. My bad.

The good news is that she brought it up. I realized the error of my ways and arranged to have a more flexible situation whereas if Ada sleeps in, we just shift our schedule a bit later since that still works with her schedule and mine.

On top of all that, our sitter is also our friend socially. That complicates things by blurring the lines of what is done as our sitter and what is done in friendship. To solve that issue, we just made a declaration that whenever she watches Ada while I'm at work is considered sitter time and anything else is friend time. We'll watch Will and swap kids back and forth as needed for date-night and whatnot. That way, neither of us feels weird about it and it's a win-win for us both.

Moral of the story: Put yourself in your caregivers shoes and be open with them about concerns or issues. Good caregivers are hard to find but can be easy to keep happy if you keep lines of communication open.

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