When it comes to the child care industry, a lot of rules and guidelines are left up to you, the child care provider, to figure out on your own. If you’re a nanny or a babysitter, you already know that you are your own best advocate. But why is that? Well, you’re essentially your own boss.

Setting Boundaries

Being your own boss comes with its challenges. Learning to set boundaries for yourself and with the families you work for can be a great benefit in the long run. Setting boundaries doesn’t come easy and it takes a lot of practice. However, if you set boundaries from the beginning with a family, you’ll set the tone for open communication and mutual respect. Setting boundaries can look like a lot of different things, and creating your own personal policies, or consistent standards that you set for yourself, is one way to do it.

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Personal Policies

There are a lot of situations you may come across and think, “how do I best handle this?” Without a handbook, colleagues to turn to, or even set industry standards, it can be tricky. Our Sitter Community group is a great starting point and resource to see what other sitters are using as their own personal policies.

To start, you can create a list of policies you stand by. These policies are a way for you to elevate your own professional work, set boundaries upfront with families, and better manage being your own boss. Policies can be discussed during the interview process and can be a way to see if your expectations align with the family’s expectations. These policies can then be written into a contract or communicated with the families that you end up working for.

Here are some personal policies you could consider having:

Late fee. When families are late, do you charge your normal hourly rate, or is there a flat late fee? What happens if you’re running late?

Overnight sittings. Do you charge hourly or a flat rate?
Hourly Minimums. Would you consider working for shorter periods of time, or do you require hourly minimums?

Travel. Do you charge for mileage reimbursement? What about if you’re traveling with a family, do you change your typical rate?

Social media policies. If you’re taking photos of the children you care for, what’s the policy you’ve worked out with the family in regards to posting photos of their children?

Sick care. Are you willing to provide care to children who are home sick?

Cancellations. Do you have guaranteed paid hours? This can include if the family goes on vacation, or if a child is sick and you have an unexpected day off.

Sick days, vacation days. Again, this is something that may differ depending on the family you work for. However, it may be worth discussing whether you are allotted a certain number of sick days, paid sicks days, or paid time off.

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Just as setting your own rate is individual to your skillset, your location, and experience, your policies will be tailored to you as well. What works for someone else may not work for you. Try getting started by writing a list of all the unique scenarios you’ve come across and how you wish to handle them moving forward.

They’re called personal policies because they’re personal. There are many more policies that you may want to implement, and your policies may eolve over time. You may also come across new scenarios throughout your career as a nanny or babysitter that will grow your list.

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