Are you in the market to find a good nanny? Whether you have decided to go back to work or just want to have some time for yourself, it is essential to find the best caregiver for your child. Most mothers find it nerve racking to leave their baby with someone else, but rest assured, there are some wonderful individuals out there you can trust! Victoria Loveland-Coen, the author of The Baby Bonding Book and founder of LoveBlessings.com, has some wonderful tips to help you get started on your search.
Step 1 – FINDING HER
If you have decided not to use the services of a nanny agency and would like to do the hiring on your own, here are some good places to begin…
- If your city has a college, junior college, state college or a university ~ find out if they have a child development department. Talk to the professors or the administrators and tell them exactly what you are looking for. See if you can find a student who is looking for a summer internship or is looking to receive class credit for work experience. This is ideal if you are on a budget, because you can really negotiate. Here you are going to find somebody who already loves babies and has some background in child development. They know the ages and stages and how to play with the child to stimulate the brain and maximize the child’s development. This is a great place for part time help.
- Put an ad in your community paper in the classified section. You will most likely get a bunch of calls! With this particular method, you are going to have to weed through a lot of candidates. You will find people who generally have some experience, may have children of their own and are actively seeking work. Give it a try.
- Your church, synagogue, temple, etc. Go in and tell the Priest, Minister, Rabbi what you are looking for. Talk to the new members, post a bulletin and just get the word spread. Often times, somebody will know somebody who is looking for that kind of work and is trustworthy.
- Another great resource is your local preschool. This way you can knock out two birds with one stone. If you have a baby, you will need to start investigating preschools soon anyway, so go and check them out. Talk to the teachers. This is another good place for part time help because you will find people who love children and have a wealth of experience dealing with many different types of children and situations that may come up. Usually, these individuals are looking to supplement their income and you can find some really terrific people here.
Step 2- PREQUALIFY OVER THE PHONE
- Once your phone starts ringing, it’s important to prequalify your candidates. Give them some general information up front. Tell them your children’s ages, what hours you are looking for, what pay you are offering and any kind of restrictions they may encounter. For ex: you might have pets they are allergic to or you may have a “no TV” house. Are they comfortable with that? Let them know if you are expecting any light housekeeping. This could disqualify people right away, because they may not be interested in doing housework. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time. New moms have no time to waste!
- Ask questions about their qualifications and background with children. What kind of experience do they have? Let them start talking and really LISTEN. Listen to what they say about their experience and how they felt about their experience. You can learn a lot by listening to the way people talk. You want to ask them if they enjoy babysitting and why? Are they trying to make extra money or do they really love children?
- Find out if they are Red Cross certified and if they have had some first aid training. This is very important.
- They must have a car or reliable transportation.
- References are essential, at least three. Make sure they bring references with them to the interview. If you have gotten to this point and there are no red flags, you’ll want to ask your candidate to come over at a time when your baby is awake or your children are home.
Step 3- THE INTERVIEW
- When your potential nanny arrives, watch the way they interact with your baby. If you have other children, how do your kids respond to them? Is the nanny hands-on? Warm and loving? Are they a little standoffish? Are they talking to you and not paying attention to the baby? Are they holding the baby too roughly for your taste? You want to pay attention to all these factors.
- Ask your candidate how they would handle situations that come up. How would they handle an emergency? Who would be their first call? How would they handle excessive crying? That can really get on people’s nerves. How would they handle temper tantrums? Do they use time outs? How do they discipline and what are their views on spanking?
- Do they have a cell phone? If not, it might be a good idea to supply them with one.
- Discuss the rules of the house. The priority is the baby. If light housekeeping is involved, they should do that when the baby is sleeping. Your children’s needs come first.
- Explain the importance of consistently. You want to make sure your candidate follows the same parenting rules you have worked so hard to establish. If the nanny has her own set of "rules" she could undo all your efforts. Have her agree to be consistent about naptime, discipline issues, feeding, putting on sunscreen before going outside, etc.
- Give them a guided tour of the parts of the house that pertain to the job. For example: children''s bedrooms, playroom, outdoor play areas, and service areas (kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms). Make them aware of the safety hazards in the house: stairs, windows, etc.
- Talk about your values. The nanny doesn’t need to share your values, but they need to respect them. Are you a religious family? Do they have respect for that? Are you a vegetarian family? Are they comfortable preparing tofu? Everyone needs to be on the same page.
- Discuss salary. It needs to be really clear up front what the salary is and your nanny needs to feel comfortable with it. The last thing you want to do is have someone come for a while and your children get attached to this person, and then they leave because the salary was not good enough. You might want to set a timetable for a review… six months to a year and then they will receive a raise.
- Get a commitment of time from the nanny. For full time nannies, 1-3 years is common. Nothing is worse than having someone come in and suddenly quit. That is really tough for the little ones because they are just forming their foundation of trust and relationships. You want some consistency here.
Step 4- CHECK REFERENCES
- Once you have a candidate that you like, it is essential that you call all of their references. Keep your calls and your questions friendly. Most people enjoy helping out another parent. Break the ice and make sure the person on the phone is as candid and as honest as possible. Put them at ease by telling them the phone conversation is confidential. Even if they disclose information that leads you not to hire the nanny, you will not let the nanny know where you got the information.
- Ask them questions like: Was the nanny dependable? What were her strengths and weaknesses? How many times did she call in sick? How did she respond to situations that came up? Did she relate well to the children? Did she stimulate their development? Sometimes your references will contradict what your applicant has said. If all three references pass with flying colors, you have your nanny!
Step 5- TRIAL RUN
- Before you sign a long-term commitment, a trial run is a good idea. It is ideal to be there the first day your nanny comes to the house. If you can be there the first couple of days, even better. This way you can get used to seeing them in your environment. People say you don’t really know what a boyfriend is like until you live with them. Similarly, you don’t really know what a nanny is like until she spends time in your home. Is her main focus on the children or is she chatting on the cell phone? There is no better way to make a decision, than to see for yourself how a nanny is on the job.
Step 6- KEEPING YOUR NANNY
- If you find a truly fantastic person to care for your children, you want to keep her! Your nanny should be well supported. Hook her up with the other stay-at-home moms, and/or other nannies in your neighborhood so they can take the kids to the park together. Make sure your nanny has everything she needs: diapers, baby shampoo, food, etc. It’s important that she is well supplied, because she shouldn’t have to stress out about those things.
- If your nanny needs some time off, you want to be flexible with her. Take care of your nanny, because a happy nanny is the best nanny. She is a very valuable person. To many families, nannies are a true godsend.
Victoria Loveland-Coen is the mother of twins and founder ofLoveBlessings.com, a site that combines free parenting tips and articles with creative baby shower gift baskets that feature organic products for baby and nurturing products for mama.