Child care is an insanely personal job—you’re caring for someone’s child and you want to care for them as their parent would to the best of your ability. So finding the family (and job) that’s the right fit is incredibly important for you, the parent, and especially the child. Whether you’re considering applying to a job, or you’re preparing for an interview, here’s how you could determine if it’s the right job for you.
Step 1: Paint a Picture With the Details
The first thing you want to do is to make sure you’re seeing the fullest picture of the environment. Every job has a certain number of details:
- Number of children and their ages
- Schedule & number of hours
- Required responsibilities
- Other details shared in the description
Take a step back and use these details to paint a picture in your mind of what this household looks like right now. Specifically, think about how the age of a child has an impact on what items can be found in certain areas. If there’s an infant, how is the home ordered around them? What about a toddler? A school-aged child? What would the daily rhythms and routines be?
Next, place yourself in the shoes of a parent in that household. Use any context clues from the job description to fill in the blanks:
- What’s the most chaotic time of day?
- What’s demanding the most energy?
- What’s falling through the cracks?
- Is there any built-in downtime?
- What’s the relationship between work life and home life?
Based on the job responsibilities the parent listed and what you can infer from their description, you’ll be able to tap into how this parent is feeling. Why are their feelings important? Because they’re actively asking for help. Rarely in life will you find someone asking for help without any feelings attached to it. Especially with children.
When you’re able to tap into what the parent might be feeling you’ll have much more insight into:
- What the environment of the job could be like.
- Possible questions you can ask to help establish clear communication and expectations upfront.
- Where and when you will most be needed in the home.
In general, when someone’s asking for help, a thoughtful follow-up question is: do you want me to follow your directions or give ideas? This allows the helper to actually give the kind of help that’s needed.
You’ve assessed the details, you’ve imagined the working environment, and you’ve looked at the situation from the parent’s perspective. Now comes the hard part: deciding whether or not it’s the right fit for you.
Let’s face it, every job—child care or otherwise—has parts that can be fun and enjoyable and others that are absolutely not. A job without any “unfun” parts just simply doesn’t exist. So, you have to weigh the benefits of the job against the challenges.
Questions you can ask yourself:
- Is this type/amount of work worth my time at the listed rate? If not, would it be at a different rate?
- How often would I be encountering my least favorite parts of the job?
- How often would I be encountering my favorite parts of the job?
- Have I worked with these child ages before? If so, what were my experiences with them? Did I enjoy working with this age group?
- Is this sustainable for a long time, or would I burn out sooner rather than later?
Remember, at the end of the day you and the family want the same thing: to find the right fit. You’re both on this journey together, figuring things out as you go. Don’t be afraid to talk openly about making sure things are the right fit for both of you. It will encourage them to be more honest about what they need from the start, which makes it easier going for everyone after that.