Finding a nanny is not easy. How to find a nanny that we can trust to take care of our own child? Here are a few tips.
I’ve had to get a nanny a few times in my life. On two occasions I had to do it quickly. Once, when our current nanny broke a hand and could not take care of the baby. Again, when an agency-recommended nanny, supposedly great and reliable, turned out to be a person who couldn’t stand a baby’s crying. It drove her up the wall. I’m serious – that person decided to become a full-time carer of an 18-month girl. I was lucky I planned a trial period when I observed the woman at work. After a few days of trial and error, the child became more and more anxious and the nanny began to show symptoms of emotional disorders. Even though I had to return to work in two days, I wasted no time saying goodbye to her.
I’ve also had a wonderful nanny who came to us recommended by a family member. And there was a friend-turned-nanny when she was temporarily out of work. There were also carers through ads. Thanks to them I managed to work while leaving my children well cared for. Looking back at my experience, as well as what I learnt from other parents, I think I can attempt to give a few tips to those searching for a nanny.
1. Begin the search early. If you’re planning your return to work for September, start asking among friends in spring, post on Facebook, or talk to parents you meet at the playground. Perhaps someone knows a good nanny whose charge begins kindergarten in September?
2. Make an account on a nanny finding website. Browse the ads, check the wages and contract types. If you want a nanny to come to your home, look for people who live nearby. If you’re allowing the possibility to drive the baby to the nanny, look for places close to your work.
You may also want to try a nanny agency. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee they’ll find you a modern version of Mary Poppins. Agencies interview candidates, take referrals from previous employers and generally screen them. Of course, all this costs money. Remember though, that while searching for a nanny on your own, you can also ask for references and call the people who gave them.
3. Decide on the scope of responsibilities for the nanny. Are they also supposed to clean the house, cook for the baby, and drive them to classes and activities? How many hours per day and per week is the nanny going to spend with your child? Do you think she’ll need to occasionally stay longer?
4. Calculate how much you are able to pay for the nanny. How do you want to settle with her (per hour or per month, paid once a month or more often?). Read carefully what legal options you have.
Remember that different situations come up and you need to have ready solutions, e.g. the nanny can get sick (how do you settle with them then?), you go, with the child, away (do you pay the nanny for the time when she’s ready and willing to work, but her charge is away?), the nanny goes on holidays (in some countries you are entitled to paid holiday leave).
5. Write down a list of issues that you think are the most important in childcare. For example, for me it was important that my children were not forced to eat and didn’t watch TV – I wanted them to get a lot of fresh air. When interviewing potential nannies, I tried to find out their thoughts on those subjects.
6. Think what kind of nanny you want. A calm, elderly lady? An energetic student? A mother, or they rather should not have their own children? Can it be a foreigner? Remember, changing nannies often has a negative impact on children, so try to find someone willing to work long-term.
7. Begin a more active stage, i.e. start inviting candidates for interviews. If possible, the interviews should take place in conditions as normal for your home as possible. After all, the nanny is going to enter your usual life, and -in a way – become part of the family. Important: if possible, all of you should try to be at the interview (parents and child or children), because not everyone may like the candidate. Generally, one interview per day is enough.
8. Pay attention to details when communicating with the potential nanny. Did they answer your ad quickly and politely? Was it difficult to arrange a meeting with her (perhaps she has other things on her mind?) Was she on time?
When she enters, discreetly observe her attitude towards the child. Despite appearances, people who are experienced with children don’t assault them with cheerful prattle the moment they see them, but rather give them space and time to assess the situation and the guest.
A nanny should wash their hands before touching a child. Other factors should be also considered: how the person smells, if they look clean, or if you can smell alcohol on their breath.
9. Observe your reactions, too. I think that parent’s intuition will tell you what to think about a nanny candidate. How you feel with them? At ease, smiling, calm? Or anxious and unsure?
10. Talk to them for at least an hour – about her, about you, and about the child. Ask about their work experience, why they want to be a nanny, what they like about children and what’s difficult. Try to tactfully ask about their health and family – you have the right to know whether they have a child of their own, or take care of a disabled husband.
11. The nanny-to-be should know first aid (and you should too!). If they don’t, perhaps suggest attending a course.
12. Ask her about her expectations. Listen – and give yourselves time to think. Don’t make the decision immediately during the interview. Stay in touch. And one more thing – check her social media profiles, if available. Checking what content and photos she posts may tell you a lot about the person, and you can tell her not to take photos of your child.
When you select a candidate, you can slowly involve her with the family life. Let her take the child for a walk, stay with them for an hour, then two. Observe your child when you’re back home. At first, they’ll cry when left alone with a nanny, it’s nothing unusual. More importantly, they should be happy after a day with a nanny and gradually grow accustomed to being away from their parents.