This is part two of my thoughts on searching for a nanny. Even if you are used to hiring and firing people on the job, finding someone to care for your little one can be an agonizing process. After all, you are choosing someone who will become a member of your family. Yesterday I detailed how to go about setting up your search and interviewing your top candidates. Once you get past the phone screen and the in-person interview outside of your home, you are ready for the home visit.
Step 6: Schedule the home visit for your finalists. This is a nervous moment for you and your candidate(s). After all, you are inviting a stranger to your home. You are trying to suppress all of the nanny horror stories you’ve seen on Date Line MSNBC. Your candidate is equally nervous. She’s worried your child is going to turn out to be the devil’s spawn or that you and your husband will be ecstasy-snorting swingers. This is a time where you are carefully checking each other out for compatibility and signs that may be red flags. Schedule the home visit for a time when your children will be awake. Keep the visit to about an hour. Show her around your house and where your children eat, sleep and play. Let her meet and play with the kids. See how she relates to them and how they relate to her. Ask her about how she might structure a typical day with your children. And make sure to ask her about her own questions and concerns. Finally, even if she will primarily only be dealing with you, if you have a significant other make sure to let the nanny meet him or her as well to ensure you have good chemistry and a high level of comfort.
Step 7: Complete the reference and background check. By this time you should be down to one or two candidates. This is an important step that should not be skipped. You may also want to drug test your nanny. There are many companies that will do a thorough background check for $200-$300. Believe me, it’s money well spent for your piece of mind. Since most companies do background and drug test these days, you can start by asking your own HR department for recommendations. Alternatively, go to your local DMV and police precinct to check your nanny’s driving record and potential criminal history. If you are using an agency, they will do this for you. You will also want to call all of her references. Ask not just about what they loved about her but what concerns they had.
Step 8: Make the offer and draw up the contract! Once you find the nanny you can’t live without, make her an offer. There are many templates online that you can consult or have your family attorney draw up your own. Your contract will state the work to be done, hours, salary, vacation time and other details of her employment. Give her time to review the contract, ask questions and make amendments if necessary. Once you are both comfortable with the arrangement, sign the contract!
Step 9: Set up a schedule to transition your nanny in. This is a critical step for you and your children. You should plan to have your nanny work side-by-side with you in your home for at least one week preferably two. I had Eva start working half days one month before I went back to work. This time will give your children a chance to get to know the newest member of your family. It will give your nanny a chance to learn your household routines. Most experienced nannies keep a nanny log to track your children’s activities, meals, medicines given and diaper changes (for infants). If your nanny doesn’t have a preferred way of logging the day’s activities, I love this form from Mommytracked.com . You can make multiple copies, stick it in a three ring binder along with your emergency contacts and vital information and give to your nanny.
Step 10: Schedule a brief check in meeting at the end of each week. Like any relationship, yours with your nanny will do best with lots of open communication. Don’t assume she knows what you want. It will take some months for her to get to know your likes and dislikes so don’t leave her guessing. Give her feedback both positive and things she can improve upon. Ask her for feedback as well about how things are going for her and what would help to make her more effective. As a busy mom, you’ll often be rushing around and will be tempted to skip this step but make time at least once week to have a meaningful check in.
Bonus Step: Show your nanny some love. As a mother, you know that watching children (especially young children) is a tough, exhausting job. It takes a special person to find joy in caring for active children all day long. Finding a caring and conscientious nanny is a blessing. If yours is doing a great job, make sure you let her know often through your words and deeds. I could not be successful in my job if it weren’t for Eva who allows me to go to work worry-free while she watches D2. I am grateful for the love and care she provides in my absence.
If you are currently looking for a nanny, please let me know if this post has been helpful. If you’ve gone through your own nanny search, what other advice would you give to parents?