Shift Workers – Different Options for Finding Childcare

It is becoming more and more common to hear of parents working different schedules and varying shifts.

Think about all the Doctors, Nurses, Police Officers, Firefighters, Chef’s, Teachers and Factory workers that you know. It really starts to make sense that finding a caregiver for your children can be a difficult and daunting task if you don’t work the traditional Monday – Friday, 9-5.

Wherever possible, try to offer consistent days. Those that are seeking part time work, usually have other part time jobs which will limit their flexibility and availability.

If you can’t offer consistent days, the best way to work around rotating schedules is guaranteeing a minimum number of hours per week or month. You will be paying for hours that you don’t need, but you will need to compensate them for their flexibility. For example, if someone needs between 30-40hrs per week but the days will vary, you could offer a guarantee of 120hrs over 4 weeks, which will allow you to move the hours and days around. It is important to include the potential shifts that they nanny can expect to be working, as well as if there is any weekend work required.

If you can offer more hours, you can ask your nanny to expand her job description based on their comfort level. Sometimes you don’t realize what someone is willing or capable of offering until you sit down with them to discuss the ‘extras’. This extra tasks can be morphed  into a ‘Household Manager’ or ‘Personal Assistant’ role. This is typically a live out position.

Some common additional tasks when the children are not around are:
* Grocery Shopping
* Running Errands (picking up shirts from the drycleaners, bringing back library books)
* Family Meal Prep
* Family Laundry
* Planning activities such as swimming lessons, camps for summer etc
* Housekeeping (be sure to be very detailed so as to share your expectations)
* Buying birthday presents
* Planning parties (birthdays, anniversary’s, dinner parties etc)
* Organization – sorting through pictures, swapping summer clothes for fall

* Booking travel

            * Arranging appointments such as dentist, dr, renewing a driver’s license etc.

Other options:

Nanny Share – sharing your nanny with another family that either has different needs on different days, or that have children living close by. Be sure to be very detailed in your contract regarding rate of pay (with all children or just some), location of where the nanny will be working (and the different duties at each home), what happens when the families take vacation at different times and whether each family pays the nanny individually or not.

Au Pair – hiring someone from a different country that wants to live with a family for a short period of time (typically 2-6 months) in exchange for learning the culture and exploring the city. They will usually work between 25-35 hrs per week and can accommodate the different demands of parents schedules, as well as assisting with small, everyday tasks. Keeping in mind that this person would not be asked to do much else than what is similar to the other members of the family (emptying the dishwasher, cleaning their room etc) and would be participating in many family activities and special events. Expect to build long lasting relationships with the au pair that comes to stay with you.

Live in Nanny –  hiring a live in nanny from overseas under the live in caregiver program will offer you the flexibility of different hours per week. Be sure to discuss your schedule in advance, don’t take advantage of the nanny having a life outside of the family home, and that you are offering a fair compensation package. Live in nannies bring a great

Whichever route you decide to go, it is important to do your research and have a contract in place with the person you choose to hire. You will be required to hire this person as an employee so it is imperative that you make sure that you are withholding and remitting the correct taxes on their behalf, as well as paying an employer portion. This varies from province to province.


Lisa Bruce has been successfully placing nannies in family homes for over 10 years. She has extensive experience with negotiating and drawing up contracts and understands the needs of parents as she is a mom to 2 awesome kids, ages 11 & 7 yrs.