A guide to gift giving, compensation, and bonuses
It’s time to start thinking about presents, gifts, bonuses, and compensation. “What?” you say. “To whom am I giving all of this hard-earned money?” Caregivers. Your child-care professional has been working with you all year to take care of your little ones, and he or she is likely hoping for an extra thank-you. Many professionals rely on this extra money during the holidays as part of their annual salary, so start saving and planning.
Typically, a small thank-you gift is given to the many people who help you maintain your daily life. These people may include your doorman, the garbage collector, your banker, your child’s schoolteachers and after-school program or specialty teachers and coaches, your hairdresser, your dog walker, your therapist, and more. So why wouldn’t you give a gift to the person who takes care of the most important assets in your life? Truth be told, many parents give bonuses out of fear. They are afraid that their caregivers may start to slack or even quit if they don’t receive a holiday payout. Some may give out of obligation, but holiday cheer is also a nice and positive reason for giving. Regardless of your reasons, it is important to appreciate those around us—especially as Solo Moms who rely on the support and good help of others to keep life sane and moving smoothly. Since this holiday protocol is typically expected, what should you give?
Full-time nannies and au pairs
According to Care.com, a full-time nanny usually expects a holiday bonus of one week’s salary. Some employers will give more and others will give less. Look at your income. Will you be putting yourself in a major bind or disadvantage financially? You can also give a gift, such as using airline miles to purchase a flight to the nanny’s home during the holidays, or a less-expensive but substantial gift, such as an iPad or series of beauty treatments at a spa. These are just a few examples. Use your imagination, and come up with something that works for you. It may be half a week’s pay and a lovely gift. Pick something special to show your appreciation.
You host an au pair during the year, and she or he is living as part of your family while taking care of your children. The nature of the situation is different, and your choice of gift may take on a different tone. Money is always nice, but your young au pair may enjoy a mini-holiday to a nearby city or vacation spot. Gift cards for stores at the mall may be the perfect option for the budding fashionista, or you could give gift certificates to several of his or her favorite local restaurants.
Besides the cash and gifts, a thoughtful present from your children is a lovely added touch. This can be a drawing, card, or craft made by the child showing his or her appreciation. Cookies, cakes, and baking are yummy options, especially if they’ve been decorated by your young ones. Always make sure to write a card. My au pair told me that the notes of personal gratitude she has received from me have always been so special and meaningful to her, and they remind her how much she is loved and appreciated.
Whether you are using day care, a sitter, or a part-time nanny, typically a $25-$50 gift certificate is an appropriate thank-you. Options include their favorite stores, nail salon, coffee shop, or iTunes. A card from you and your children is welcome, as well, and no one turns down baking.
What about vacation time or working during the holidays?
If you haven’t already sorted out paid vacation days during the holidays, note that nannies typically have time off for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Au pairs typically have two holidays off, of your choice, during the year. As a Solo Mom, finding child care during the holidays can be difficult. Respect the holidays by giving your nanny time off if at all possible. If you cannot give your nanny time off, come up with an alternate plan. A minimum of time-and-a-half pay or a few added vacation days at a later date are a good starting point. Prepare in advance, and make sure to listen to the needs of your child-care provider.
Your child’s care is of utmost importance, and it is sometimes difficult to find solid, flexible, and loving people to fit into our unique lives as Solo Moms. Your caregiver works hard and is part of your family unit; treat her or him that way. If you are nervous that you cannot afford the gift you think your caregiver deserves or cannot find the money in your budget right now, look for special ways to say thank you. Tell your caregiver that under different circumstances, you would love to give him or her a cruise or extra week’s salary, but realistically it’s not possible. Your gift should still be appreciated and understood. Remember that communication and appreciation are keys to happiness, and a few extra hugs all around will bring more cheer during the holiday season.
Rebecca Cherry is an accomplished musician, writer, and creative seeker. She is enjoying her new role as a Solo Mom to her baby girl. You can follow her on Twitter at @CherryRebecca and Facebook at Rebecca Cherry.
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