Babysitters and Nannies

 

If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas and would like to bring your little ones with you, don't hesitate because there are lots of activities you can enjoy together as a family. But let's be realistic. You will also want some alone time away from the kids. Perhaps you would like to enjoy adult activities like gambling in the casino, going to a show or club that would be inappropriate for kids, or being pampered in a salon or spa, or you might simply need to relax and unwind. But you won't be able to do any of those things without first making sure that your children are safe, well cared for, and content.

Obviously, leaving your kids unattended in the hotel room is a big no-no. In fact, we are not recommending that you neglect your kids and simply go off own your own as you please at all hours of the day and night even if you have someone available to look after them. You need to spend some quality time with your kids. But that doesn't mean you should be with them 24/7 and deprive yourself of part of the reason you are in Las Vegas in the first place to have a vacation. If you place too many demands on yourself, to the point of feeling overwhelmed and frazzled, you are likely to become irritable and short-tempered, which your kids will pick up on, and nobody will have a good time. A much better solution is to take an occasional breather, but not without first making sure that your kids are in good hands. For those times when you and your spouse, partner, or traveling companion will be otherwise occupied, you will need a reliable babysitter or nanny to look after your kids.

If the hotel where you are staying has its own childcare service on the premises, the solution is simple, but only a few hotels offer this amenity. Many other hotels, but certainly not all, can make the arrangements for you through the concierge. You then not only get the convenience of the babysitter or nanny coming to your hotel, saving you the bother of having to travel to another location to drop them off and pick them up, but another big timesaving benefit. You are saved the time and trouble of needing to do your own search to provide a competent, reliable and affordable caretaker for your children.

Because the hotel has its own reputation to maintain, you can be sure that the service that the concierge arranges for you is first-rate, although if you are on a budget it can be expensive. But what if arranging for a babysitter or nanny is not a service for which your hotel can provide any assistance? Then you are on your own, first to find a suitable facility or person to look after your children and then to make the necessary arrangements. This article will summarize your options and provide some helpful pointers for narrowing down your selection. We will also suggest two services which have received favorable reviews on www.yelp.com from other parents who had positive childcare experiences with them on a recent trip to Las Vegas. For additional suggestions, see Part III, Childcare Centers Other than Hotels Where You Can Drop Off Your Children. And Part V, Childcare for Children with Special Needs.

Types of Childcare

There are two basic types of childcare you can select:

Drop-off center providing childcare, usually in small groups according to age

    Advantages:
  • The center probably offers a wider range of activities for children of a certain age.
  • Your kids get the opportunity to play and socialize with other kids their age, including kids from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Generally cheaper than having a babysitter or nanny come to your hotel.
    Disadvantages:
  • You have to travel to the facility, which may be inconveniently located, to drop off your children and you will have to return there a second time to pick them up.
  • There are specific and strict age limits. Children who are either younger or older will not be accepted.
  • Not all young children adapt well to a group setting. If you have a special needs child, the center may not be equipped to give him or her the necessary individual attention.
  • Most drop-off centers are not open 24/7 and some are only open during the day. These facilities will probably not work if you need evening childcare.

Babysitter or nanny who comes to the hotel.

Some services give you a choice of either a babysitter or a nanny, or if you will be hiring an individual directly, the person's resume might include one of these terms. The basic difference between them is that nannies are required to have specialized training, both in basic safety and in child development. They are expected to assume more responsibilities, not just supervising the children entrusted to their care, but interacting with them. The hourly rates for a nanny are higher than the hourly rates for a babysitter.

    Advantages:
  • Childcare is available round the clock so you can probably find someone to look after your kids anytime you wish.
  • You do not need to travel out of your way to drop off and pick up your kids. The babysitter or nanny comes to your hotel.
  • Your kids receive one-on-one attention.
    Disadvantages:
  • These services are more expensive than childcare at a drop-off center.
  • Since an individual rather than a staff of people will be providing the service, unless the caregiver is willing to take your kids to activities outside the hotel room, the range of feasible activities is very limited.
  • No opportunity to interact and play with other children.
  • Unless you select a provider that you have used in the past and already know is excellent, you are taking a big chance if you don't you take the time to thoroughly check the credentials and reputation of the agency or individual you are considering.

How to Select a Good Drop-off Center that Offers Childcare

Drop-off childcare centers are primarily used by Las Vegas residents who need a suitable place for their children to stay while they are at work or otherwise occupied. However, some centers also gladly accept out-of-town children for a few hours. If this type of arrangement fits in with your plans, we highly recommend it because it is not only cost-effective, but may be the only opportunity your kids will have in Las Vegas to play with other kids their age. These centers cater to children from a variety of backgrounds, including minority groups and working class families, which can provide a rich cultural experience for your children.

On the other hand, you are the best judge about how well your child will adapt to being with strangers in a group environment. Keep in mind that a drop-off center not only has strict age limits, but may not be equipped to handle children with major disabilities or health or behavior problems.

Assuming that a drop-off childcare facility is a possibility, the following are some important questions you will still need answers to in order to determine if a particular place is acceptable.

  • How long has the center been in business?
  • Is it licensed?
  • Qualifications and experience of childcare staff
  • Hours of operation
  • Range of activities
  • Are any meals or snacks served?
  • Fees, including any hidden fees
  • Reputation of the place
  • Condition, cleanliness, and safety of the facility

Answers to the first seven questions can be easily obtained by a phone call to the facility or reading its website (preferably both). To learn about the reputation of the place, check reputable sites like www.tripadvisors.com or www.yelp.com and read what other parents have to say. Another possibly good source of information is the Better Business Bureau to check if the service is in good standing.

You might not have a reliable answer about the condition, cleanliness, and safety of the facility until you actually go there. If possible, visit the facility the day before you plan to use their services, so in case there is a problem, you can make other arrangements before it is too late. In any case, before you actually leave your kids there, take a tour of the place and make sure it meets your standards.

How to Select a Good Babysitter or Nanny

These services are not cheap, but if they can bring you peace of mind and your children are well taken care of, they are worth every penny. You, as the parent or guardian, have every right to be given sufficient information for reasonable assurance that your children will be safe and well cared for by the caregiver to whom you are entrusting this important responsibility.

Ideally, your hotel concierge can either make the arrangements for you or at least recommend a particular service, but if not, you cannot simply assume that a random service you find on your own should be trusted. Getting the detailed information you need to make the best decision will entail considerable advance research and planning on your part, so you are strongly advised to start exploring the possibilities before your trip.

Your bet is to see if your hotel concierge can recommend a service. Hotel-recommended services tend to be more expensive, but you can be reasonably confident that you will be getting a reliable and qualified childcare provider. Alternatively, you can find names of available services in the Yellow Pages and on Google and individual babysitters and nannies on www.care.com, www.google.com, and sites like Craig's List (but be very careful if you use the latter).

Once you have narrowed down the list of possibilities, all of the following questions need to be answered in order to have confidence that the babysitter or nanny service you are considering will meet your expectations and provide quality care for your kids.

  • If using a professional agency, number of years in business
  • If you are considering an individual, ask for the person's resume and references. Then check references and do a background check.
  • Qualifications and experience of caregiver
  • Licensing
  • Is the caregiver certified to provide CPR and First Aid?
  • Hours available
  • Rates

As with the drop-off centers, agencies that provide babysitters or nannies who come to your hotel can be researched online to check their overall reputation and other parents' experience with them. The websites www.tripadvisors.com and www.yelp.com are good places to start. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau. For individuals, in addition to checking references, a pre-hiring interview (preferably in person, but Skype would also work) is highly recommended. Keep in mind that you are entrusting your children's care to a stranger so you cannot be too careful. A good agency will have already thoroughly screened its babysitter and nanny applicants prior to hiring them, so there is less risk, but you still should not take everything the owner or website tells you at face value without some independent corroboration.

In addition to all of the above, you need to discuss with the agency or the specific caregiver what kinds of activities can be provided and plan a tentative schedule. If you have no objection to the caregiver taking your children outside, e.g., to the hotel swimming pool, or an eatery, movie, or other nearby attraction, inquire if that is a possibility. If you are going to be away for the better part of the day or evening, your kids will probably appreciate the opportunity to get outside the hotel room. If the caregiver needs to provide meals or snacks and/or a put your kids to bed, the specifics like mealtime and bedtime, and what they should eat or not eat need to be clearly communicated. If your child has any allergies or requires any medications, specific information needs to be given about that, too.

A Few Recommended Childcare Services to Consider

The following are a few recommended childcare services you might consider:

Drop-Off Services

In Hotel Services

*See Recommended Childcare in Las Vegas Part III: Childcare Centers Other than Hotels Where You Can Drop Off Your Children

**See Recommended Childcare in Las Vegas Part V: Childcare for Children with Special Needs

Frequently Asked Questions about Childcare in Las Vegas Arranged for by the Parents

How far in advance must the arrangements be made?

The amount of advance notice varies, but some advance notice is necessary, and the more you give, the better assurance you have of getting a good fit for your particular needs. If you wait until the last minute, you risk the possibility of not finding anybody suitable with so little notice, or at the very least, you will probably be charged extra for the last minute booking. Keep in mind that if you are picking a service or individual caregiver on your own, you should allow extra time to thoroughly research that provider's qualifications and suitability. This research should start prior to your trip.

How much will the service cost?

There is no set amount, but a babysitter who comes to your hotel will cost more than a drop-off service, and a nanny will cost even more than a babysitter, at least $30-$35/hour and possibly $40-$45/hour. There is usually a certain minimum number of hours (i.e., 3 or 4), and there might also be a booking fee, so you will probably end up having to spend over $100. A drop-off service, even if your leave your children there all day, will probably cost less than half that amount. However, you do have to make two trips to the facility to drop off and pick up your kids and they will not get the same degree of individual attention that an individual caregiver can provide.

What are the other important considerations in deciding whether to use a drop-off center or a caregiver who comes to the hotel?

Drop-off facilities only accept children in a certain limited age range. Infants may be too young, while If you have school age kids, they will probably be too old, and teenagers are definitely too old. Also, these facilities are usually only open during the daytime or until early evening at the latest, so if you need childcare until late at night, they cannot accommodate you. Hotel services are available 24/7 and for children of all ages. A drop-off facility offers the dual advantage of a wider range of age-appropriate activities and the opportunity to socialize with other kid. However, children with difficulty adjusting to groups or who require extra individual attention due to special needs might be better off with one-on-one childcare provided in the hotel room.

If I need to change the times or cancel altogether, can I do so and get a refund?

Different providers have different policies, so it is a good idea to check beforehand so there are no misunderstandings.

Is it a good idea to discuss the planned activities with the caregiver ahead of time?

Definitely. Find out what kinds of activities can be provided and feel free to offer your own suggestions. The more the caregiver knows about an individual child's special interests, likes, and dislikes, the more likely the time spent in her care will be enjoyable for the child and stress-free for both the child and the caregiver.