Beyond Business Hours: Is an Overnight Nanny Right for Your Family?

Choosing a sitter

According to the Economic Policy Institute, at least 17 percent of the U.S. workforce has non-standard schedules, which means not every parent has the luxury of working 9 to 5, or even 8 to 6. Doctors, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, retail and restaurant employees, and even IT professionals often face a childcare dilemma during hours that fall outside of typical daycare drop-off and pick-up times. But work schedules aren’t the only issue, and there plenty of other reasons families seek overnight childcare.

Is hiring an overnight nanny right for your family? Here’s what you should consider:

Non-standard Work Schedules
Routines are incredibly important for young children. Not only can irregular work schedules throw off meal times and bedtimes, they also can mean parents are unable to regularly engage children in important developmental activities, like reading, singing songs and recalling the day’s events. For families who are employed or on-call at night, hiring an overnight nanny can mean a child’s routine stays the same, even if mom’s or dad’s doesn’t.

Business Trips
Business trips are a normal part of many jobs, and typically they happen with enough time to plan for a short interruption in a family’s schedule. Other jobs require extensive travel or travel that is less predictable. Either way, even if one parent is home to care for the kids, having an extra set of hands in the evenings and mornings can help families better manage during these periods.

Health and Wellness
Sleep is a huge concern for all new parents, but if mom is at higher risk for postpartum depression, had a complicated pregnancy or delivery, or has other health and wellness concerns, a nanny to help with the overnight needs of an infant may be well worth the investment. Even without a specific need, some families with newborns opt to have nighttime help for the added security of a knowledgeable professional who can support them as they navigate new parenthood.

Other Special Circumstances
There are plenty of special circumstances that can lead families to seek childcare at irregular hours. Overnight nannies can help parents manage multiples, children with special needs or newborns who spent time in neonatal care.

Space in Your Home
If you’re planning to hire a nanny to be in your home overnight, you’ll want to consider the space needs of an extra person. Overnight nannies require their own bedroom, and providing a nanny with use of a private bathroom, while not necessary, can go a long way toward making everyone in the house more comfortable.

The Budget
For many families, the accessibility of hiring an overnight nanny comes down to budget — and like all types of childcare, costs vary depending on the nanny’s experience and special qualifications as well as where you live. Keep in mind that despite the fact that overnight nannies are there while the children are sleeping, hourly rates are similar to nannies who work during the day.

Once you’ve decided that your family needs nighttime childcare, you’ll want to research the types of nannies available. Here’s a quick rundown of childcare professionals who provide overnight care:

Live-in Nanny
Rather than leaving at 6 p.m., a live-in nanny is exactly what it sounds like — a nanny who lives in your home. But just because the nanny lives with you doesn’t mean she is available at all hours. If you need care in the evening or during overnight hours, you’ll need to take that into consideration when determining her schedule.

What is the difference between a live-in nanny and an au pair?
When families begin looking for live-in childcare, the term “au pair” is often used interchangeably with “live-in nanny,” but they are actually very different. An au pair is a young woman who stays with a family as part of an international exchange program. While nannies are career childcare workers with significant experience, au pairs exchange childcare for a cultural experience and room and board. Au pairs also are regulated through government programs, meaning that the au pair is not employed by the family and is subject to the terms of a work visa.

Overnight Nanny
An overnight nanny helps with evening routines and overnight care, as well as in the morning to get children out of bed, fed, dressed and ready for the day. This type of nanny can be a huge asset to parents who work an overnight shift.

Temporary or Occasional Night Nanny
Not all families need a regular overnight nanny. Instead, when travel comes up or a particularly busy time at work prohibits the family from being on a normal schedule, temporary night nannies can be hired to lessen the burden of an unpredictable period of time. They can either live in your home or leave during the day, depending on the situation.

Newborn Care Specialist or Night Nurse
A newborn care specialist, also known as a night nurse, is a highly trained and certified childcare worker who can help parents care for infants, particularly during the overnight hours. Night nurses are common in metropolitan areas.

Regardless of which type of nanny is right for your family, remember that sharing your home at night can feel more intimate than during the day. If you decide overnight care is needed, take the time to find a nanny you feel comfortable having in your space during these hours. 

Keep your options open, post a job today!