People often call to ask if we have ‘people’ (a nanny or babysitter) available to work weekend nights so they can have a date night. Other times we get calls asking for help in general. It appears some folk are not sure of the difference between what we call a nanny and a babysitter. So here are my thoughts on the difference between the two. I also discuss other childcare options that could work for your family, which involve having your kids at home and help with home duties.
A babysitter is merely a ‘supervisory’ role. They may come in on night when you have a function or date; the sitter will ‘supervise’ the kids. They can help put kids to bed, read a book, feed them if need be, then sit on the couch and wait ’til mum and dad get home. Even daytime babysitters are not expected to do anything more. It’s mostly just playing with the kids and ensuring they are safe at all times. Babysitters come in all forms. Ages will vary; level of experience will vary, as will pay rates. Many people ask the girl next door. I remember having 16 year olds look after me when I was younger. It seemed the norm back then, but seems more families are becoming increasingly cautious. We here at CN are about ‘quality care’.
Nannies are different. Nannies are mostly hired by families who choose not to put their children into long day-care facilities or after school care. They hire a nanny so the children have one on one attention at all times, and to have their own private ‘educator’. Given the nanny is the primary carer during the day they help to teach and educate kids through differing activities. That may be arts and crafts in the home or a trip to the museum or local library. Nannies give their undivided attention to the children, and will pick up from school/kindy and take to differing extra-curricular activities. They will also help with homework and assignments.
Nannies not only provide care to the kids, but also look after the parents! Nannies help to clean/housekeep/wash/cook so in effect are helping the parents. When parents come home to happy kids and a clean home they can have those last few hours of the day as quality time with their kids. Parents can then enjoy the kids and not have to worry about putting on washing or worrying cooking dinner. Some nannies will even walk the dog and feed the animals. A nanny is virtually YOU when you are not there.
As you can see, there is a huge difference with a nanny versus a babysitter.
Now, it appears the new trend is hiring an Au Pair. We have families who’ve hired Au Pairs to help with the kids for short periods of time and have them look after the kids on their date night. Au Pairs are a much more affordable childcare option for families, as nannies are paid a much higher rate. Au Pairs are usually foreigners coming here to live with families and embrace the Australian culture. They may differ to a nanny in being very young, non-fluent in English, non-drivers, and lacking the experience/qualifications most nannies possess. Au Pairs are generally employed by families who just need a hand rather than full-time childcare. In return, Au Pairs are given a room, food, and a small weekly wage or ‘pocket money’.
Mother’s helper/nanny share
Some other options to consider could be a mother’s helper. Since you are home with the nanny and they are not a sole carer, ‘nanny-share’ (where you share the nanny and halve the cost) is an affordable option.
So many people want their kids looked after in their own home, which can be done, as there are options for families of all budgets and needs. It’s just a matter of finding the person that suits your family.
I hope this clarifies the difference between a nanny and a babysitter, and which one you need for your kids.