Finding a match for a husband was easy. We met in high school. We had common interests. He asked me out. I said yes. 18 years later, here we are. Finding childcare for our kids, so said spouse and I could feel comfortable both working full time, not so easy.
Whether you are looking for a babysitter for the occasional date night or a full-time nanny, identifying and selecting the right fit for your family can be a very daunting task. One that we have gone through not once, not twice, but three times since becoming parents. Fortunately for us, we have won the childcare lottery with each of our nannies but we had to kiss a lot of frogs to find our prince each time (go with me on this…three daughters…everything can be related back to a fairy tale).
Our current nanny, a term that doesn’t even come close to describing the role she plays in our family, is a gift from the nanny gods. We knew from our first phone call with her, she was going to be it. After dozens of phone interviews, a couple of less than ideal in person interviews, and review of more resumes than I care to remember, we were drawn to her application. Her experience, personable responses, and the fact that she was from the Midwest like us just gave us comfort that she would “get” us (no offense, Arizonians).
I am often asked how we found our nanny – where did we look? How did she come to be so comfortable with the girls? How do things work from a logistics perspective? As such, I have thought a lot about what has or has not contributed to the successful on boarding of this integral part to our family dynamic.
Leverage multiple resources for your search: post on Care.com (the cost is worth it), utilize social media to let your community know that you are searching for care, tap into mom clubs/neighborhood groups etc.
Be honest with what you are looking for: Share details about your children, unique circumstances, family needs. For example, I made sure all candidates knew I worked remotely from home (meaning I would be in their “work” environment most days) but that I also traveled (which could impact the hours we needed them to work some weeks).
Establish clear expectations from the start: If you need them to use their car to drive your kids around/want them to do laundry/require they have a CPR certification – make this clear early on in the process. The same goes for talking about payment (how much/how often), how you want to handle time off (expected or unexpected), and any other “employer/employee” details that might come up.
Have multiple conversations with candidates you like: I did a phone screening with anyone promising who applied to our post. From there, we had a second phone call with my husband. After that, we did in person interviews.
Involve your kids in the interview process: Children are both insightful and honest. Not only does introducing them to a candidate allow you to get their feedback, you can also see how the candidate interacts with your kids.
Settle for less when the search gets long: We found ourselves considering a candidate who we weren’t totally excited about because she seemed nice and was better than the others we had talked to. Had we jumped the gun and hired her, we would have missed out on meeting our nanny.
Skip the background check or calling on references: Think of your family like a business – you wouldn’t hire someone without those in the professional world, so do that due diligence in your personal world as well.
Be afraid to outline what is best for your family: Write up a contract, create a manual or guide to help them get better acquainted with your kids/home, express things that are important to you (i.e. limiting screen time, paced bottle feedings, protecting nap schedules). They will need space to create their own routines but just like anyone starting a new job, guidance and direction is always appreciated.
Be surprised if they start to feel like a family member: It can be hard to let your guard down initially but it is natural for a strong bond to form as they are in your home and an integral part to your daily life. And in our experience, this doesn’t take away from the focus of the job at hand – it enhances it.
At the end of the day, trust is the most important aspect of the family/nanny relationship so follow your gut. And may the nanny gods be as good to you as they have been to us!