Being a nanny is a career choice created in a grey zone. In Canada the role has been blurred significantly with the introduction of the “Live In Caregiver Program.” Expectations on both the part of Employers and Nannies alike vary greatly. This miscommunication is the main cause for the high rate of disgruntled Nannies, disappointed employers and abandoned childcare contracts.
When screening a nanny, we look for lots of things. All parents have a gut feeling when interviewing nannies. She could look great on paper and then you meet her and something just doesn’t sit right. You should listen to your voice. It’s the best place to start. You want to find out more about the nanny. You want to find out if she was a good nanny and what kind of duties she preformed for the family.
Many families dismiss the idea of hiring a nanny because they believe it is price prohibitive for them. However, hiring a nanny can be affordable. You just need to be aware what the factors are involved in a nannies salary. Here are some of the costs to think about. Where you live in the country will affect the base rate. ($8 – $15 per hour)
This is the big decision that causes more stress on a family than a new car or even having a child in the first place! Here are a few tips on how to hire a great nanny.
START EARLY . The number one cause for stress and panic when hiring a nanny is an imminently approaching deadline and no great candidates in sight. Starting to interview two or three months ahead is a good idea. Keep in mind September is the busiest month for nanny turnover.
Explore ALL of your options. Craigslist, community posting boards, word of mouth, Facebook, school newsletters, or use a reputable established nanny agency.
Be honest with YOURSELF about what your priorities are. HONESTLY are you looking for one on one play time, educational stimulation, outdoor activities and planned daily outings, or light housekeeping including all of the children’s laundry done. Keep in mind I too would like an ECE graduate, with 10 years nanny experience who will lesson plan, teach piano, do my laundry, wash my floors and do meal prep every night of the week…for $10.00 an hour…but I probably won’t find her. Choose your priorities, write them down in order of importance and then evaluate candidates accordingly. Be hopeful as well as realistic.
Open your mind. What points CAN you be flexible on, or what can you offer that you may not have considered before. Being; flexible with hours or days, willing to pay a nanny as an employee, able to offer a car for her personal use etc. are all great job perks a nanny would appreciate. Have you thought about a nanny share? Longer hours but less days? A bonus for loyalty or completing the contract. The more flexible you are the more nannies may be interested in what you have to offer.
CHECK, CHECK, CHECK. References (plural) get written ones and then verify them verbally, check for a criminal record, check his/her driving record, and check that all certifications are current and real. (First Aid, CPR, Food Safe, etc) Treat your reference checks as if they too are interviews!!
Put it in writing ! Write up a legally binding work agreement. Treat this as you would expect ANY job to be treated. Be specific about holiday time, holiday pay, exact responsibilities, overtime rates, and any added benefits or bonuses. There should be no questions about job description and therefore less chance of ugly surprises down the road. (“Oh I thought that vacuuming was light housekeeping….??)
Schedule time to communicate. Provide on the job orientation where the nanny has an ease in period when you provide clear on the job guidance over the course of a few days. At the very outset schedule a performance review date where you both agree to sit down and discuss how the experience is going. (Three weeks into a contract is a good time for this) Also, be sure to budget at least 15 minutes every day of paid time when you and the nanny communicate about the children’s well being, and voice any questions or concerns either one of you are having. Communication and clarification are more likely to happen if no one is running out the door at break neck speed.
Make a “high level” choice. Choosing a nanny out of a pool of one after one interview is NOT a high level choice. Choosing a nanny out of a pool of four candidates after a four first interviews and two second interviews is.
Plan for your interviews. Have a list of well thought out questions ready and make sure you ask them all. Open ended questions are an important part of all interviews. Make some of the questions specific to the applicants past work history (be sure to read her resume ahead of time) Take notes and wait for the applicant to answer hard questions. Do not rush this part of the process. If you feel you need a second interview or a trial day ask for those.
When in doubt go with your gut. We are all born with instincts, especially where our children are concerned. If everything is checking out and you still don’t feel quite right or aren’t quite sure…move on. This is the benefit of not being in a hurry (go back to step number one)
Your children’s safety and well being is worth working at. Like any important undertaking… planning ahead, doing your homework and following through will make the search less stressful and ultimately more successful. Good luck finding your families’ perfect nanny!!
By Leanne Hume
Leanne Hume has been an on call and placement nanny, a teacher, is a mum and is also the nanny recruiter for Nannies on Call, http://www.nanniesoncall.com/