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A Guide To Hiring A Housekeeper

Independent Workers vs. Staffing Agency
You can hire an independent housekeeper yourself or hire one through an agency. There are pros and cons to both. A benefit to hiring through an agency is that they do the screening to ensure that a background check comes up clean. The agency will also make sure the person they send has the skills and temperament to perform the job as promised. However, if you have the time to search and interview candidates, you can save some money.

No matter which way you go, make sure that the person you hire is licensed, insured, and bonded. Being bonded assures that if the housekeeper breaks or damages something in your home or if the housekeeper gets hurt while on the job you will be covered.

Find a Referral
A good way to start looking for a great housekeeper is to ask your family and friends if they have a company or person that they use. One of the great things about using an agency is that they have multiple people who might work out well for your needs.

Interview Candidates
If you hire an good agency, they take care of this. But if you are hiring an independent housekeeper take some time to come up good questions, and make sure that you’re thorough with the interview. Ask questions about what they enjoy about their work. Why did they choose housekeeping as a line of work? Most important, check references, work history, and criminal history.

Decide on a flat fee or an hourly fee
If you hire through an agency you will get a firm rate that will cover everything from wages to insurances. Most agencies offer their staff people on an hourly rate. However for live-in housekeepers they may offer a salary option. But if you are hiring yourself, one of the things that you should decide is if you want to pay by the hour or pay a flat fee. If you pay by the hour, a lot of people worry that a housekeeper will stretch out jobs to take more time. However, paying a flat rate fee might mean the housekeeper rushes through their work. Discuss the options with your chosen housekeeper.

Decide on Tasks
Certain house-cleaning tasks are standard, such as sweeping, mopping, and scrubbing the showers and toilets. However, you might have to negotiate any additional tasks, such as laundry or dishes, to be done regularly. Sometimes, you can also request to add duties a couple of times per year, such as cleaning the fridge or ovens. This is where it hiring an agency can make it easier. A good staffing agency will discuss what tasks you want done and recommend the right person based on your needs and budget.
A housekeeper’s insurance might limit certain duties; for example, house cleaners aren’t often allowed to clean the exterior of windows. Any tasks that require climbing on ladders to great heights, like cleaning chandeliers or the tops of cabinets might be denied, too. Again, this is an area where a staffing agency can help.
If you are considering hiring a housekeeper to free yourself up this year and would like more information don’t hesitate to give me a call.

How To Minimize Stress Over The Holiday Season. Hire A Personal Holiday Chef

One of the reasons Thanksgiving and Christmas are special to all of us are the family memories. A great ways to make lasting family memories is spend time together. By hiring a personal holiday chef, you won’t have to spend the entire day, preparing for the meal or cooking the food for your family dinners and celebrations freeing you up to spend time with those you love the most doing the things you love to do as a family.

Simplify Things

A good private chef can simplify your busy holiday chores by doing the shopping as well as the cooking. A chef can take the guess work out of when to buy by providing the ingredients for your meal. This assures that you will have the freshest ingredients. As an expert in the culinary arts, a good chef will make sure that the ingredients for your meal are in peak condition when they are used for your meal resulting in an experience you and your family won’t soon forget.

Clean Up

Perhaps the best thing about hiring a personal holiday chef is not having to clean up afterwards. That means you won’t have to worry about these duties freeing you up to enjoy your guests rather than scrubbing pots and pans or directing your household staff. Then you can rest after your guests have left, and everything will be in its proper place in your kitchen in the morning.

Considering hiring a chef for the holidays? Contact us today so we can discuss your needs and schedule you one of our premier personal chefs.

The Employer/Housekeeper Relationship

Whether you have a full time or part-time housekeeper, some simple guidelines can help you get the most out of the person who is caring for your home.

Discussing expectations when you initially hire someone is the easiest way to pave the road for a smooth employer/employee relationship. However, even if someone has been working for you for many years, it is never too late to have a conversation with your employee.

Being open and upfront with topics such as job description, vacation time, and rules inside the home can help alleviate confusion and frustration.

It is important to decide what you hope your housekeeper will accomplish in the hours they spend caring for your home. Be clear about what you want to be completed each week and understand that your vision needs to be realistic for the number of hours they work for you. If you only have someone coming in once or twice a week for a limited amount of time, getting a deep clean throughout the house can be challenging if they need to spend the first few hours searching for the dirt underneath the clutter. A quick pickup of items before they arrive will allow easier access to the floors and countertops so they may be properly scrubbed, dusted and vacuumed.

To remove guesswork on both sides, come up with a list of the days off your employee will be given. Which holidays do they get, will they have a set amount of paid sick or snow days, or do you expect them to make up the work they have missed? Do you want your housekeeper to take their vacation time when you are away, or would you like them to come to work and do special projects while the house is empty so they have extra time and space to take everything out of the cabinets or reorganize messy closets? Remember to give your employee as much notice as possible about when they should take their vacation so they can also plan for their much earned time off.

In today’s world, it seems like many of us are on our phones more often than we are not. You have to decide what policy you want to implement in your home. Many families choose not to allow any electronics during work hours. This is perfectly acceptable, but should be discussed during the interview process or if they are already working for you, take a moment to sit down and explain what is expected in your household. You may want to consider allowing phone time during lunch breaks if it won’t disturb you. Again, each situation is different; you just need to clearly relay the guidelines you wish to be followed. On a personal note, in addition to having a housekeeper I also employ a laundress. One day I went downstairs into the laundry room and had a moment of clarity. I realized that the lady who does my laundry was standing in silence in a small room for hours on end folding, washing, and ironing our clothes. It occurred to me that there was no reason why she could not have music playing or talk on her phone while she was working, so long as both of her hands were free to properly do their job and I couldn’t hear anything from upstairs. Now, every once in a while when I walk by the laundry room, I see her happily singing or swaying to the music. This small bit of daily entertainment has made her a better worker and a happier employee.

I think it is important to understand that we are all human. We all have good days and bad days. Not every day is going to be perfect, but if your employee knows what is expected of them and you treat them with kindness and respect they will always try to do their best for you. Open communication is the key to a positive employer/employee relationship.

Tips For Hiring A Summer Nanny

The kids are on vacation for the summer but you are not. You may have friends or relatives to watch over your children, or maybe you can send them to summer camp. You may also be considering hiring a summer nanny if you want your kids to be a little bit closer to home. Hiring the right nanny for the summer is a great way to make sure your children are cared for in a way that you are comfortable with.
Here are some steps to take when hiring a summer nanny.

1. Think Ahead

You should begin your search a few weeks, or even months, before you need a nanny. Don’t wait to start looking until right before school gets out. At Helping Hands, we see a rise in nanny summer job postings as early as mid-April. Find a nanny now before all the good ones are taken. At Helping Hands we have a good selection of highly qualified professional nannies for families who want a high level of discretion.

2. Clarify Your Needs

The first and most important thing is to think about is your family dynamics and what you will need from the  nanny you hire.
Will the kids need rides to summer day camps or soccer practice? Will there be light housekeeping involved? Will the nanny be expected to entertain your little ones for most of the day and plan trips to the park and local pool? Do you need someone to help them review fractions, practice penmanship, or complete summer homework?
All of these expectations need to be communicated upfront when you write your job description and interview possible candidates. Create a nanny contract to spell everything out.  This will help avoid any confusion down the road.
You also need to make sure your potential nanny knows she is expected to be more than a summer babysitter. Summertime means the kids will need full-time care while you’re at work. A babysitter is great for watching children for a few short hours while you head out for summer date night, but for the entire summer, you need a nanny who will be more involved with your kids’ overall development and entertainment.

3. Talk About Vacations and Salaries

Lots of people travel during the summer. Are you planning any family vacations or long weekends? Do you want the nanny to come on vacation with you? Will you offer paid time off while you are out of town?

Have the nanny mirror this process by writing out her planned absences or vacations as well. You want to ensure that they don’t coincide with times you’ll absolutely need a caregiver. This exercise assures that you and the nanny are both on the same page when it comes to average work hours and days off. It will also give you more time to find backup child care for the days she’ll have off. Add any agreed upon specifics to the nanny contract as well.

4. Consider Qualifications

Summer days are usually spent outside enjoying the nice weather. With this comes extra responsibility on the nanny’s part.

There are lots of safety issues for a child outside in the summer — the nanny would have to protect the child from harmful rays of sun, handle bug bites, playground injuries, protect the child from drowning etc… A summertime nanny needs to be extra vigilant and know basic first aid care.  Other qualities you may want to look for in a summer nanny include prior experience, flexibility as well as CPR and lifeguard certification.

5. Plan a Meet-and-Greet

Since your children will be spending a large amount of time with their new nanny, arrange a family introduction before the start date. A great place to meet could be your local park where everyone can relax, play, and get comfortable with one another. This allows you to observe the interaction between your child and the nanny and gives your kids some time to adjust before they officially begin working for you.

Do the kids enjoy the nanny’s company? Do their personalities click? These questions are important things to consider before summer begins. After all, you want your children to be comfortable with the person they will be spending a majority of their days with.

6. Write a Schedule

Summer schedules can be pretty chaotic. You need to think about what the summer will look like for your family and create a basic calendar to review with your summer nanny. This should be both specific — what will a typical day look like for your nanny — and long term — any summer camps your kids will attend or regular play dates.

Make sure your nanny has any information she’ll need. Locations of local parks, names/addresses of play dates, etc…

7. Brainstorm Fun Activities

Summer is supposed to be a fun time for children, but it’s also easy for kids to wind up sitting in front of the TV or complaining about being bored.
Discuss ideas with your nanny for acceptable summer entertainment. What are your kids’ favorite warm weather activities? Do they like going to the zoo, ice cream shops, or water parks? Other ideas include picnics, play time with friends, or even running through the sprinklers.
Need some ideas? Visit websites like https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g28970-Activities Washington_DC_District_of_Columbia.html and don’t forget to leave room in your childcare budget to give the nanny money to enjoy these summer activities. Talk to her about setting a weekly allowance and balancing both free and low-cost activities.

8. Build a Relationship

If everything goes well, your new summer nanny may be available to babysit when the school year starts and even come back next summer. This will help take the stress out of searching for a new nanny every spring and alleviate any anxiety of introducing a new person into your children’s lives. Making sure your nanny is content ensures your children will have quality care and entertainment for many summers to come.

By following these tips, you’ll have no trouble finding a summer nanny to provide for and have fun with your children while you are away at the office. If you can’t be there with your children every day, a caring, fun nanny is the next best thing!