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Sitter Sharing

You want to set up a sitter sharing arrangement.  You and your two best friends are on a budget.  You never get date nights with your husbands.  It’s time to do something about that.  Here is how you can set up a sitter sharing arrangement.

First, you and your two best friends need to ask yourselves the following questions.

*Who will chose the babysitter(s) that will be shared?

*Who will be responsible for communicating with the sitter (i.e., setting sitting dates, etc.)?

*Where will the sitter sit?

*How will the sitter’s fee be divided between families?

*Who will pick up and drop off the sitter?

Ideally, all three of you will be responsible for choosing one or more sitters that you all agree on . . . but, if schedules or other obstacles prevent that, those who do not participate in the selection need to agree to support the choice(s) made by those who do participate in the selection.

All three of you should be as involved as possible in the selection process: this includes choosing recruitment methods (i.e., using an online resource such as Care4Hire.com or help-wanted advertising in your local newspaper), what skills you want/need in a sitter, what questions should be asked during the interviews, how many interviews should be given, how many rounds of interviews should be given, what sorts of background checks will be accessed [i.e., reference checks, criminal background checks, checks of the Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services in the states in which the desired candidate(s) have lived, motor vehicle record checks, etc.], who will negotiate the starting pay rate, etc.

One of the three of you should be designated as the primary point person for communicating with the sitter(s) who are ultimately hired.  This designee is responsible for setting sitting dates and times, communicating concerns regarding work performance, etc.  When the other two of you have information to share with the sitter, it should be routed through the primary point person unless the sitter is physically present when the information is to be shared.  In that latter circumstance, the point person should participate in the conversation or be brought into the loop as soon after the conversation as is practical.  This is because the primary point person is the central source for all sitting information.  If the sitter has questions about something that the primary point person knows nothing about, the situation can become tricky rather quickly.

The three of you will need to decide if you prefer the sitter to sit in her own home, in one of your homes, in a third party location, or if she is to rotate sitting locations among each of the three homes involved (your home and the homes of your two friends).

The three of you will need to decide on a fair division of the sitter’s bill.  If you have two children, one of your friends has one child, and one of your friends has five children, you may not want to divide the sitter’s bill into three equal amounts.  Further, if the sitting is to be done consistently in one family’s home (i.e., your home), the host family should receive a discount on the amount paid toward the sitter’s bill.  [Note:  in sitter sharing arrangements, you can negotiate a pay rate that is based on the number of children involved or a flat rate regardless of the number of children involved.  If the rate is based on the number of children involved, a discounted rate should be applied relative to the standard rate for single household sitting.  That price break is the primary benefit of the cooperative effort of sitter sharing.

The three of you will need to decide who will be responsible for picking up and dropping off the baby sitter, if the sitter is unable to provide her own transportation.  Typically, this transportation is provided by the parents of the host family, if sitting is provided in a family home, or by the primary point person, if sitting is provided elsewhere.  As with hosting, transporting should equate to a discount in the proportion of the sitter’s bill paid by the transporting family.

Good communication, agreed-upon expectations, and solid teamwork between the three of you are required to make sitter sharing a sustainable plan, but it can be a wonderful way to have date nights with your husband and friends while staying within your budget.

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