A Guide to End-of-Year Bonuses

Nanny and child reading a book

Your nanny works hard for your family, and the end of the year is your chance to show your appreciation. ‘Tis the season, after all!

Unlike a corporate job, childcare bonuses are not given just on merit. Regardless of when they clock out, nannies are deeply involved in your children’s lives, and managing kids is way more difficult than managing a team of adults. Bonuses are a way to thank nannies for their sincere efforts and show that you want them to come back! But what is appropriate to give a nanny at the end of the year?

It’s important to tip competitively and fairly. Nanny communities are very much a thing, and if your nanny learns from their peers that you skimped on his or her bonus they might be inclined to look for another job in the new year. Make sure your holiday bonus is in line with the norm, makes sense compared to your nanny’s salary and is an amount you’re comfortable giving!

What is Standard for a Holiday Bonus?

Parents are typically expected to tip their full-time nanny (someone who works 20-plus hours per week!) one week’s pay at the end of the year. I say “expected” because the end of the year bonus has become so customary that many nannies count on it as part of their income. However, this amount does vary from family to family and state to state. The standard holiday bonus for nannies in Illinois is $480-$960.

A key factor in determining your nanny’s bonus is how long they’ve been with your family! If your nanny is relatively new in your home, don’t feel like you need to break the bank. However, you’ll want to take their childcare experience into account. If your nanny has several years of experience under their belt, they’re going to have a good sense of what a standard bonus looks like and what they deserve.

Before you write the check, ask yourself: Does my nanny deserve a bonus? The only reason you wouldn’t want to give your nanny an end-of-year bonus is if you plan on letting them go in the new year for poor performance. A bonus would give him or her a false sense of job security, plus it’s an unnecessary expense for your family.

What if I Can’t Afford a Bonus This Year?

According to Care.com, holiday bonuses for nannies are “recession proof.” Childcare is an important job, and parents need to show their appreciation for the people that love and care for their children! Before hiring a nanny, build the end-of-year bonus into your budget as part of their salary. You don’t need to share this information with your nanny, but planning far in advance can help you work around unexpected expenses that may arise throughout the year.

That being said, there absolutely are circumstances that can impact your ability to give your nanny a bonus. Childcare is a luxury for all parents, but for some families, a large bonus is simply too much on top of the cost of a retaining a full-time nanny. If you’ve had a rough financial year, you have to prioritize what’s best for you and your family! Of course, your nanny would appreciate the extra cash, but I’d bet that they would appreciate a steady job and source of income even more. If the idea of a bonus is making you anxious or you feel it would put your family in jeopardy, save the money and speak honestly with your nanny! If they’re the right caregiver for your family, they’ll understand.

However, you need to be aware that your nanny has to do what’s best for them, too. They may need an extra source of income and have to look for an additional work or a different job. Unfortunately, money has a way of complicating things, but the most important thing to keep in mind is your children. If they love the nanny, the nanny loves them and you can afford to pay your nanny a holiday bonus, do so. If money is tight this year, prioritize your children–and don’t feel guilty about it. Happy holidays!