Thursday, June 07, 2007


Episode 156 of the daycare saga: the one with the nanny

What's that, you say? You're dying for another long, rambly post to update you on the endless saga of our search for quality, affordable child care? Far be it from me to deny you the joy of a post like that.

So. Last time you saw our heroine, she had recently had the rug yanked out from under her by the judgemental and unprofessional caregiver who quit by leaving a note in the mailbox after a mere 14 hours with Tristan and Simon, and she had recommenced the time-consuming and exhausting search for child care. (I'm switching back to first person now. The third-person thing was getting rather tedious.)

In the past two and a half weeks (good gravy, has it only been 2.5 weeks?) I've posted four new online classifieds and answered more than twenty of them myself. I've called daycare centres and home-care agencies. I've called phone numbers from posters taped to the mailbox and the community bulletin board at the grocery store. I've handed my business card out to strangers I've stopped in the park and at Tristan's school, after sidling casually up to them and engaging them in conversations that usually go something like, "Hey, great weather we're having, eh? So, do you know any child care providers with open spaces for a 3 and 5 year old?"

I've asked other mothers at my bus stop, asked neighbours over the back fence, and even had an old friend that I ran into in the grocery store - who happens to run her own home daycare - asking around for me. For a relatively shy person, I've walked up to a whole hell of a lot of strangers and started talking to them. I have, in short, been working the hell out of the surprisingly solid network of parents, friends, childcare providers and strangers.

Much as I've tried to shield them from the conversations going on, the boys are aware that Joanne won't be their caregiver anymore and neither will Bobbie. Tristan has taken to evaluating every adult as a potential caregiver, and has broken my heart a few times by pulling me aside and whispering, "Can {so and so} be our new caregiver?" He has shown a preference for people with swimming pools, extensive toy collections, and other 5 and 6 year old boys with whom he can play.

We've decided to try something new this time around. We're going with - as I have alluded to recently - a live-out nanny. We interviewed someone last week, and although I really liked her, what we could afford was less than what she was hoping to make. I made her an offer last week, and she came back with a counteroffer a few days ago. After much soul-searching and wringing of hands, I told her we simply couldn't afford that much, and she came back with a reduced counteroffer, and I simply couldn't say no again. She hasn't gotten back to me since I accepted her counteroffer, but I'm starting to relax into the idea that it will all work out.

We're going to be paying her $382.50 a week, which is more than $100 more a week (ouch!) than we are currently paying. BUT, she has a car and is willing to shuttle Simon back and forth to nursery school three days a week while juggling the same-time pick-up and drop-off of Tristan. It's a hassle, but gives her three days a week with a two-hour midafternoon break. She has a 9 month-old son of her own, and he's the sweetest, gurgliest, chubbiest 9 month-old I've seen since mine were that age.

Having a nanny is a whole new frontier in paperwork, though. She's considered an employee and I'm the employer, so I have to register a payroll account and deduct and remit the payroll taxes and workers' comp premiums and all that stuff. Gah! Good thing I at least know a little bit about this stuff from all the years I worked in the tax centre.

If any of you have any experience or advice about the legalities of hiring a live-out nanny (or "domestic worker" in government parlance) I'd appreciate your insight. I'm drawing up a contract that covers vacation time, stat days, sick time, working hours and the usual. And no, the irony has not escaped me that back in February I balked at half this stuff when looking for a child care provider and now I'm offering more benefits AND more money than I refused back then. But at least she is my employee now and that gives me some control over the conditions of employment - which means at the very least that she can't take on extra kids without involving me in the decision. I'm a little weirded out by her being in my house with my kids when I'm not there - and potentially when I am, most of all. A new adventure for all of us, I guess.

And the money. Oy. In Canada, you can deduct $7000 per child (younger than 7) against your income for tax purposes. Her annual salary will be just shy of $20K, which is $6K MORE than the annual child care deduction limit - and that's not even considering the $155 a month for Simon's nursery school "tuition." Not to mention the fact that it's damn near 2/3 of Beloved's annual salary last year.

We've decided to suck it up for this year. It will be tight, but my heart was so set on this nursery school for Simon and I am frankly feeling so burned by the whole child care search that if we have to make due on a tight budget for a year we can. A little over a year from now, Tristan will be in school full time and Simon will start morning JK at public school and we can re-evaluate everything then. And of course, our lives could be changing considerably this February - but I'm not counting any of those chickens just yet.

Stay tuned - you know there's more to come.