Becoming a mom is a joyous yet stressful experience. Everywhere you turn, you worry and question, think and overthink, so that you do the very best for your baby. Finding that perfect nanny and entrusting your child to that person is no different.
When the time comes to return to work or enlist childcare help, it is important for a mother to feel confident about her baby’s caregiver. To help with the process, we have compiled a list of tips for finding a good nanny so that you can find the best choice for you and your family.
- Know your Needs: All too often, parents begin the nanny search but haven’t narrowed down what exactly they need. It’s ok to want what you want and the best way to find it is to list it out. Be specific in the days, times and hours you need. Detail the responsibilities and duties that will be expected. If you need your nanny to drive or run errands, do chores around the house or cook, make it known. Compensation, vacations and other employment aspects should be explained so that there are no surprises. This not only ensures that you are getting what you need but if everything is out in the open, you’ll have a better chance of finding that person who wants to work for your family.
- Fill the Pool: Of Candidates, that is! Once you have the job requirements and details outlined, you want to find a selection of qualified candidates from which you can make some choices. There are many ways to find people – referrals, Moms groups, neighborhood Facebook Pages or agencies and websites. With websites and professional agencies, you have the comfort of knowing candidates have been screened and checked by people who know the business. Of course, referrals from people you know and trust are always good. The main point is that you have what you feel is a group of viable, good candidates from you can begin to compare, contrast and narrow down your search. Settling, especially when it comes to your baby, should not be an option.
- The Screening Process: Having a screening process saves both you and candidates time. Often done over the phone or via email, this step allows you to ask questions that help identify people who do not meet the requirements or check all the boxes fully. Screening also allows you to get a bit more detail and have some interaction, often giving you a feeling of whether you want to move forward or not. Best of all, you have the opportunity to narrow down the candidate pool to those people whom you really want to interview.
- References are for Real: Before you spend the time interviewing someone, you want to check their references. This includes calling past employers, running background checks, driving records and requesting drug tests — even credit reports and verification of the person’s ability to work legally can be part of the hiring process. When you talk to former employers/families, have specific questions such as time in the prior position, ages of the children, reasons for leaving and overall satisfaction level. You owe it to your family to cross the “i’s” and dot the “t’s” – so do it!
- Talk Time: There is no substitute for the in-person interview. When you feel like you have a good selection of viable candidates, arrange individual interviews at your home where everyone can meet and the potential nanny can meet your children. This is your chance to gauge appearance and professionalism, witness interaction with children, ask more questions and get an overall feel for the person. Remember you’re looking for the person who will watch your child; if your gut instinct says “no,” you don’t have to have a reason to follow it. It’s a bit daunting to tell someone “no” or “no thank you” but you want to hire the best person for the job – not win a popularity contest.
- Trial and Offer: A little different than “trial and error,” this is the part when you’ve made a decision, want to make an offer but also have a test run. This is in everyone’s best intention, as you want it to be the right fit. The trial is when the nanny is on the job, taking care of your baby, but you both have the option to sit down and assess after the fact. It’s normal for people to take a little time to get used to each other but a trial period — a few days, a few weeks — gives you both the opportunity to evaluate if it was the right decision before anyone is too committed. If the trial is a hit, make that firm offer, put it in writing and you’re set to go!
There is a reason Mary Poppins was fiction – the perfect nanny doesn’t just show up on your doorstep, umbrella and magic medicines in tow. Rather, it takes diligence, detail and the right plan. After all, we’re talking about your precious baby. While the process can be time-consuming and even tedious, when you do it well, the result can be a win-win for everyone!
- Bayless, Kate. “Tips for Choosing a Good Nanny.” 2013. https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/childcare/nanny/tips-for-choosing-a-good-nanny/
- Kalil, Kimberly D. “How to Hire a Nanny and What Not to Do.” Parenting.com https://www.parenting.com/baby/childcare/how-to-hire-nanny-and-what-not-to-do
- “What to Look for in a Nanny.” January 6, 2019. https://www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/childcare-options/what-to-look-for-in-a-nanny.aspx