What is a Summer Nanny and Should You Hire One?

May 7, 2021 | Child Care

hiring summer nanny

As the school year nears the end, it’s time for parents to think about their child care plans for the summer. Daycare? Summer camps? Or in-home child care? A summer nanny may be the answer. Our payroll partner GTM Payroll Services provides a detailed look at what hiring a summer nanny entails.

Ahh, summer. The time of year to sit back, relax and recharge. Unless of course, you have kids. Then summer can be just as hectic and over-scheduled as the school year. When school begins, you could be just as exhausted – or more so – than when the previous term ended. Where did the summer go? And what happened to relaxation?

Part of the summer craziness is finding childcare for school-aged children who are too young to stay home alone. Parents often patch together day camps, vacations, and help from neighbors and relatives just to get through the summer months.

This is where a summer nanny can make your life easier and the season more fun for your kids.

If you think this may be the right childcare option for you, here is how to hire a summer nanny for your family.

What is a summer nanny?

A summer nanny is typically a college student who is home from school and is looking for work before going back in the fall. Or they’re a school teacher who has the summer off but still wants to work during this time.

A college student studying education may look at a summer nanny job as a great way to work with children. And teachers may be seeking to apply their skills or gain experience outside of the classroom.

Either way, these summer nannies tend to enjoy working with kids, being hands-on, coming up with fun and creative activities, and even sneaking in some learning opportunities for your children.

A summer nanny is a temporary position so it may be more challenging finding one rather than a permanent position that may attract professional caregivers.

Demand for summer nannies can also be high as many families with working parents and school-aged kids are looking for seasonal childcare. Even though most summer camps will be re-opened this year and COVID-19 exposure is declining, parents may still decide that a summer nanny is a safer childcare option.

A summer nanny is not a babysitter. That always reliable high-school student who babysits occasionally on date night may not be the right fit for a job that may be all day, everyday childcare.

Why hire a summer nanny?

For many of the same reasons that a permanent, year-round nanny may be the best childcare choice for your family, makes a summer nanny an ideal option.

You are in control of the care provided to your children. You can work with your summer nanny on activities, excursions, and other fun times tailored to your children’s interests.

A nanny is also coming to your home. You do not have to worry about the hassles of getting your kids out the door in the morning and to summer camp on time. Or leaving work early or arranging for a pickup at the end of the camp day (which is always before the end of your workday!).

A summer nanny can take your kids to their swim lessons, sports team practices, music lessons, summer school, and anything else that is on the schedule. You do not have to squeeze everything around your work schedule. A summer nanny gives you and your kids the flexibility to customize their summer.

And that may be just what your kids want during the summer. After a school year of following routines and schedules, they may want a little more freedom to do what they want. This may be especially true after a school year that may have been more stressful due to the pandemic.

When to look for a summer nanny

It is never too early to start your search for a summer nanny. Do not wait until school is almost out to beginning looking for childcare. April and May are prime months to search, interview, and hire your summer nanny from the widest assortment of candidates.

It can be a quick turnaround from search to hire so you may want to find a summer nanny through a local nanny or placement agency. They already have a pool of candidates and can match you with ideal applicants based on your specific criteria.

College job boards; referrals from relatives, neighbors, or co-workers; word-of-mouth; and local parent/nanny Facebook groups could also be good sources of candidates for your job.

What to look for in a summer nanny

Since a summer nanny will likely be caring for older children, their skillset may need to be a little different than a caregiver watching infants, toddlers, or preschoolers.

Your summer nanny should have experience with school-aged kids rather than younger children. The very basic job description: keep your kids happy and safe until it’s back to school.

Of course, you will want a more detailed job description. This will help eliminate applicants who do not meet your experience or skills requirements and cut down on the time to hire.

Think about how you would like your kids to spend their summer days. They are probably old enough to offer opinions too! Hire a nanny that will best meet those needs and one who you are comfortable with caring for your children.

Do you see your kids going to the park, pool, and on picnics? Or trips to the zoo, beach, museum, and water park? Do you want your summer nanny to be active and enjoy being outside? Will they need to know how to swim and/or drive?

Are you also looking for someone to can also add a bit of academics to the summer to help prevent learning loss? Maybe someone who can provide age-appropriate, constructive learning activities.

Your job description should include:

  • Schedule (days and hours they will be working)
  • Pay rate (hourly and overtime rates)
  • Live-in or live-out
  • Certifications (CPR, lifeguard training, first-aid, etc.)
  • Job duties (driving, planning activities, light housekeeping, meal prep, etc.)
  • Your expectations (taking kids to the park, playdates, longer outings to the beach, etc.)
  • Education level (or taking college classes in education or a related field)
  • Experience (as a nanny, teacher, or summer camp counselor)
  • Special skills (sports, swimming, languages, music, etc.)
  • Driver’s license (if they will be transporting your kids)

The rate of pay will be determined by where you live, job expectations, and experience. Your local nanny agency or parenting Facebook group can give you an idea of the going rates for summer nannies in your area.

The job description should also include some details about your children such as their ages, genders, and any special needs.

A summer nanny may not meet all your criteria so consider your “must-have” qualities vs. “nice-to-have.”

Going on vacation with (or without) your nanny

If you have a vacation planned and want your summer nanny to join you, that is something to add to the job description or, at the very latest, bring up in the early stages of the interview process.

Make sure you have considered all factors when deciding to bring your nanny on vacation.

If you are going on vacation without your nanny, that is also something to mention early on. Will you still pay them for that week? If not, letting them know well in advance can help them find work during the week you are away. Or maybe they will plan their own vacation at the same time.

Also, ask them if they plan on taking any time off during the summer. If you are ok with it, then you will need to find backup care for those days.

How to decide on a summer nanny

However you find your candidates – through an agency, social media, or someplace else – you will want to set up a round of interviews.

The first interview can be brief and over the phone or even virtual. Get to know your candidate a little better especially if you have several applicants who seem qualified. Even over the phone, you can get a sense of whether you want to trust your children with this person.

After the phone interviews, schedule in-person meetings with your top two or three choices. You can meet at a park or – if you are comfortable – in your home. Watch how your candidate interacts with your kids and how they respond to your candidate. Ask open-ended interview questions rather than ones that require a simple yes or no.

As when hiring a permanent nanny, you will want to conduct a background check. When working with an agency, candidates are likely to already have been vetted saving you the time of going through that process. Still, ask for and call references no matter how you found your nanny.

After you decide on a candidate

You found a great match for your job and made an offer. Your candidate accepted. Now what?

Even though a summer nanny a temporary position, it is still a professional working relationship. You will want to have a nanny contract or work agreement in place. Some of what was in your job description can be part of the nanny contract such as:

  • Schedule (days and hours they will be working)
  • Pay rate (hourly and overtime rates)
  • Job duties (driving, planning activities, light housekeeping, meal prep, etc.)

Also include:

  • Pay frequency
  • Start and end dates
  • Deductions and withholdings (employment taxes – more on that in a bit)
  • Social media policy (can your summer nanny post pictures of your children to their accounts?)
  • House rules
  • COVID-19 protocols (masks, social distancing, etc.)
  • Non-disclosure agreement

Learn more about writing a nanny contract and download a free template.

About nanny taxes

Nanny taxes do not just apply to full-time, year-round caregivers. Summer nannies can easily pass the “nanny tax” threshold and you will be required to withhold and pay FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) and likely need to pay federal and state unemployment taxes.

Learn more about your nanny tax responsibilities.

The good news is that there are easy ways to reduce and even eliminate your nanny tax obligation. First, if your job offers a dependent care FSA, your summer nanny’s wages count as a qualifying expense. By contributing to your dependent care FSA, you are reducing your taxable income and can save a few thousand dollars in taxes depending on your tax bracket.

Those wages also are considered a qualifying expense for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which can also reduce your taxes by hundreds or thousands of dollars. You may only be able to take advantage of the dependent care FSA or the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Either way, your savings can be significant.

Other considerations

Make sure your nanny has all pertinent contact information for you (mobile and work phone numbers), and emergency contacts (neighbors, relatives, pediatrician, etc.) if you can’t be reached. Provide addresses of parks and any other places they may go during the day.

Safety is always important and summertime is no different – maybe even more so. Your nanny should know how and when to apply sunscreen; treat bug bites, bee stings, and sunburns; and know the signs of dehydration. If swimming and being near water will be a big part of the summer, your nanny should know how to swim and basic water safety rules.

Playdates may be ok. But the fact that you have a nanny does not mean every kid in the neighborhood can come over and play at your house. That is unfair to your nanny who you have employed to care for your children.

Discuss ahead of time how to pay for activities. Will your nanny pay of pocket and be reimbursed? Will you provide petty cash for the week?

Transportation will also need to be discussed. Will your nanny use their own car or a family car to drive the kids? If their own car, how will you reimburse them for gas and mileage?

After the summer

If all goes well during the summer with your nanny, you just started a great, trusting relationship with a childcare provider. If they are local, they may be able to help with babysitting or after-school care. Or if they are a college student, they could help with childcare over breaks. Either way, stay in touch as they could return as your summer nanny next year and your childcare search would then be quite easy.

If you’re interested in hiring a summer nanny, a part-time nanny to help with daycare or camp pickup, an occasional babysitter, or any other type of child care, contact us at (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can help!

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