DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a young child, and I have been looking for a nanny to help me take care of her when I go back to work. I know a few moms who have nannies, but I’m really at a loss for how to find someone I can trust to watch my child. You hear horror stories about how other people take care of your children. Those stories are getting under my skin, and I am not sure how I should proceed. Do you have any recommendations? -- Need a Nanny
DEAR NEED A NANNY: In different towns, infant and child care is handled in different ways. Sometimes a day care center that has been accredited by the city or state can work perfectly for you and can be more affordable than an individual coming to your home. In other places, a nanny or a live-in au pair is common.
In all cases, you should rely heavily on referrals. Look for someone who has been recommended by people you know and trust. Research organizations that insure their staff and do background checks before they present potential employees to you.
In many cities, people hire undocumented workers or people for whom they do not pay taxes in order to get a lower rate. You should think twice about this. In no way am I condemning these people as being untrustworthy. But the downsides for you include your inability to get that legal background check and the liability that you will have for hiring someone illegally.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been freelancing in my field for about 10 years now. I have built up a few key clients, but it is tough for me to make enough money to pay my bills, let alone create a cushion for retirement. I learned about a full-time job opportunity that looks promising, but I am worried. The salary is not very high, even though it does offer benefits. I wonder if I get this job and have to walk away from my freelance clients, what happens if the job doesn’t last? Then I will have to start all over. This makes me nervous. Do you think I should go for the interview? -- Testing the Waters
DEAR TESTING THE WATERS: Consider this opportunity as a wonderful moment to evaluate where you are financially and in your business and to map out a plan for the future. What do you need to be financially comfortable in 10 years? Are you on a trajectory now that will get you there? How viable are your current clients? What strategy can you put in place to grow your client base?
Can this job be advantageous? Make a list of pros and cons of the job. How much money can you save? Will the included benefits be a financial relief for you? What is the potential for growth in this company?
No matter what you ultimately decide, go for the interview. This will help you to learn how valuable you are in the marketplace. If you decide to accept the job, give it your all and don’t worry about how long it will last. Your focus, expertise and enthusiasm will help you to succeed.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)