But I have heard some moms lament that vacations are just doing the same as home – cooking, cleaning, and chasing the kids – but without the conveniences of being home. It does not have to be that way! Enlist the help of a nanny or babysitter to enjoy your partner, kids and even some you time on your next holiday. Some tips follow.
Finding a babysitter while you away: if you are looking for someone to help with the kids at your destination, pull out the same approach and questions you use at home. If you are staying at a hotel or resort, ask the concierge if they have a service that they regularly use and recommend. This is a good way to go as they will likely have done the background checks.
If you are hiring a Nanny or babysitter at home but who is not a regular with you, it is best to use them a few times before departing on your vacation. This allows you all (both the parents and the kids) to get to know Nanny or Babysitter before the trip, reducing the risk of unwanted surprises while away and making your kids feel more secure and comfortable.
Taking your nanny or babysitter with you: Whether you plan to take Nanny on holiday or not, you need to discuss plans far enough in advance to allow Nanny to accommodate your schedule within her or his own. If you are going out of the country, work with Nanny to make sure all requirements documents (such as passports and visas) are in order. Also, agree with Nanny whether he or she will have a separate room or will stay with the kids.
Kids Camps and multi-family vacations: There are also other approaches to “sharing the load on holiday”. Many resorts have day-care services and/or kids camps. Kid camps are great as they give the kids a unique and age-appropriate experience. Some families always travel in packs with other families, allowing the parents to take turns watching the kids.
Enlisting the family to help: If you want to keep it “all in the family”, grandparents and even aunts and uncles, often welcome a chance to get quality time with their grandkids and nieces/nephews by joining a family holiday. If you have older kids, they might enjoy earning some extra money or gaining “credits” towards a school or friends trip by looking after their younger siblings.
Whatever approach you take, there are some additional considerations you will want to cover:
- Advance planning: Whether you plan to take Nanny on holiday or not, you need to discuss plans far enough in advance to allow Nanny to accommodate your schedule within her or his own.
- Discuss expectations: This is not a paid vacation, rather work as normal but in a different locale. Well, actually, this would be unusual work. Agree what hours you will be expecting - How much day-time coverage and how many evenings.
- Preparing for the trip: If you are going out of the country, work with Nanny to make sure all requirements documents (such as passports and visas) are in order. You should pay any fees to acquire the needed documentation. Be clear about how much luggage is appropriate and who will be carrying it! My father wisely instituted a “you pack it, you carry it” policy in our family.
- Set some rules of engagement: Be clear what is inbounds and out-of-bounds. Can the kids go on public transport? If staying at a resort, can they go out of the resort or should fun be restricted to inside the resort?
- Sleeping arrangements: Agree with Nanny whether he or she will have a separate room or will stay with the kids. An additional hotel room can run up the total costs of the holiday; research alternative options such as apartment and house rentals (check out AirBNB). This approach can make it easier to provide Nanny some private space, not to mention easier to managing kids with the use of a kitchen and laundry facilities. Oh and - be clear about whether your Nanny is allowed to bring guests back to the room.
- “Agree pay”: Whilst you will likely pay the normal amount for working hours, you should agree on any overtime rates and a daily stipend to allow them to cover meals they have without the family and in recognition of their time away from their families.
Be clear about what you will be paying for (travel, hotels, meals, admission to attractions, transport), what should be negotiated (the amount of telephone calls home) and what you will not be paying for (souvenirs and gifts).
Enjoy your V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!!!