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Family & Relationships Is Hiring a Nanny About to Get More Competitive?

13:10  12 june  2020
13:10  12 june  2020 Source:   workingmother.com

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The coronavirus crisis is driving a surge in demand for sitters.

a woman sitting on a table: babysitter © Provided by Working Mother babysitter

Concerned about safety amidst the COVID-19 crisis, more families are seeking sitters this summer.

Getty

School is out. Camps are cancelled. So what are working parents supposed to do this summer, when a pandemic makes every childcare choice feel risky?

For Amanda Kraft, a mom of two and management consultant in Dallas, Texas, the solution was simple: Hire a sitter.

“We were nervous to bring someone into our home, but we felt like the tradeoffs of having help—and the happiness of our kids—were worth the risk,” says the management consultant, who recently hired a babysitter for her 6- and 2-year-old.

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Like many parents, Amanda and her husband are both working from home, but months of juggling their jobs with entertaining their children was taking its toll. “Before the help, it was extremely difficult—managing activities, meals, conference calls, naptime. We were both working all hours of the day and night to stay afloat.”

So they posted an ad on UrbanSitter.com, looking for someone who had been social-distancing and wearing masks when out in public.

Amanda isn’t alone. Childcare job posting sites have reported a big jump in ads for summer sitters this year as compared to last.

Care.com is seeing a triple-digit percentage uptick in families seeking in-home childcare this summer,” confirms the company's CMO, Carrie Cronkey.

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UrbanSitter founder Lynn Perkins says her site has also seen a surge in parents seeking recurring care (i.e. a long-term sitter). “In May and June (to date), 76 percent of our job posts have been for recurring care, versus 40 percent during the same time period last year,” she says.

For many parents, hiring a sitter feels like the most low-risk childcare option right now, and infectious disease experts tend to agree.

“One of the benefits of in-home care is that the family can establish standards which meet their specific needs and risk tolerance,” Cronkey says. “They can ask caregivers to take precautions to minimize exposure, require masks to be worn, encourage frequent handwashing, and set other ground rules while on the job. Hiring a summer sitter also reduces the number of contacts children have in comparison to group settings, like summer camps.”

In New York City Facebook groups for moms seeking nannies, a new qualification has become popular: "Has positive SARS-CoV2 antibodies" or "already had COVID" are common requests. The rationale: If they already had the illness, they're less likely to get it again and bring it into your home. (There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection, according to the WHO.)

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Thinking Ahead

Perkins has observed another interesting anomaly in this summer’s job posts that might be pushing more parents toward hiring a sitter: Many moms note the gig could last through the fall if schools are still closed.

That’s part of the reason Melissa Kutzin, a doctor and mom of two in Larchmont, New York, decided to hire a nanny instead of sending her daughter back to her beloved daycare. “They haven’t reopened yet, and there are so many unknowns about whether Sylvie will have remote kindergarten or a hybrid of remote and home,” she explains.

So far, it doesn’t seem like the need for nannies has outpaced the supply, and prices remain as usual. It’s possible more women are looking for care work as the unemployment rate remains high, and an increased supply of sitters is acting as a counterweight to increased demand.

“On the caregiver side, the increase in jobs posted on Care.com presents an excellent economic opportunity for folks looking for work, including furloughed teachers and camp counselors, who can offer high-quality childcare to families in need of care while earning a steady income throughout the summer months,” Cronkey says.

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Perkins says it does seem like parents are trying to sweeten their offer—or at least reassure sitters they won’t be trapped inside all day. “I’ve seen a lot of posts that say, ‘We have a large outdoor space’ or ‘We live in an area with great outdoor activities nearby.’”

Of course, the cost of a private nanny remains prohibitive for many working families. Accordingly, Perkins has also noticed more posts looking for sitters willing to watch 3, 4 or even 5 kids from multiple families. “We’re seeing this trend where families have decided to be a pod together this summer,” she describes.

Infectious disease experts say nanny shares introduce slightly more risk, but overall remain a fairly low-risk childcare option if all of the families involved are practicing smart social distancing.

For Amanda, the status quo of working without childcare was simply unsustainable. Many of her friends remain too scared to spring for a sitter—or are holding out hope that camp isn’t cancelled—but for her and her husband, it was a no brainer. “I am so glad we made the decision to hire a trusted helper. It's made a world of difference, and I still feel like we are able to keep our family healthy and sane.”

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This is interesting!