I hire college students for childcare for my 3 kids. It's the best scenario for our family and for the students.

  • While I work at home, I hire local college students to look after my three kids.

  • The college students gain child development experience for their careers.

  • The close bond allows our kids to feel safe and happy as I work.

When I walk downstairs to refill my coffee cup or grab a snack, I hug my kids and hear about their latest painting project. I’ve worked from home as a freelance writer for eight years, and we hire local college students as our nannies. The students come to our home to care for our three kids, ages 5 and under.

My work typically ranges from five to seven hours per day, depending on my projects and client load. My husband and I decided that hiring a nanny would be the best choice for our family, given my flexible remote position. Not every family has this choice, and no childcare option is perfect.

But hiring local college students as our nannies has been a tremendous gift, especially while our kids are young.

I find one or two students each semester to fill the week

I usually post our open nanny position in babysitting Facebook groups, on college job boards, or on sites like Care.com and SitterCity. I also ask family, friends, and neighbors for referrals. I interview the students, call a couple of their references, and have the students come to meet the kids. It’s essential for us to find the right fit for our family and ensure the student feels it’s a fit for them, too.

I typically hire one or two nannies per semester and hope they stay with us for upcoming semesters — if possible.

Some students schedule their classes only two or three days a week, allowing them to work with us on the opposite days. For example, our current nanny works on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays because all her college classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Depending on our needs, the student might work just in the morning or the whole day.

The job isn’t easy, but has big rewards

Because we have three kids, 5 and under, the job calls for both patience and enthusiasm. Our kids are playful, goofy, emotional, and full of energy. They need lots of attention, grace, and, of course, plenty of snacks. Our college nannies have been able to match their energy and bring extra creativity into their days.

The students often have a college major in early education, child development, or another related field (but not always). The job gives them experience working with children at different developmental stages and caring for various needs. Most importantly, we look for students who love children, have babysitting experience, and are excited to jump into our busy family life.

The nannies play with the kids, prepare snacks and lunch, offer educational activities, go on walks, and take them to the library and gymnastics center. Sometimes, the nanny helps with light housework, such as emptying the dishwasher or picking up puzzles after a fun morning.

We’ve hired at least 10 students over the years. Many have graduated and moved on, but a couple have stayed connected to our family and still babysit on occasional date nights. I’m often an employment reference for the students as they move on in their careers.

Once a student has cared for my children, our bond isn’t temporary; it’s forever.

Not only do we form a close relationship, but the students witness the kids move from crawling to walking, from babbling to full sentences. They get to be a part of the kids’ transformation, and that’s an amazing experience.

Even though there are challenges, our family is forever grateful

Just as there are challenges with any form of childcare, there are difficulties with having college students as nannies. It can be hard to find backup help when a nanny calls in sick or is on spring break. It’s stressful when I’m trying to meet a deadline and don’t have the childcare I’m counting on.

We’ve also hired a couple of nannies over the years who weren’t a good fit. Some had difficulty handling the demands of three children or weren’t focused enough on our kids’ safety.

But more often than not, the college students we’ve hired have been responsible, incredibly caring, and patient with our kids.

Because the kids have one or two consistent caregivers, they feel safe and connected. The nannies get to know our children, their preferences, and quirks. The kids get one-on-three attention all day. They feel seen, heard, and understood. I’m so grateful for the students who have worked with our family and given our kids their undivided attention.

When our nanny walks through the door in the morning, the kids run toward her. They’re thrilled to hug her and show her their latest iteration of a game or obstacle course. The joy and laughter I hear are the best gifts. I can relax, knowing my kids are cared for by someone special while I’m away.

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