So, you have decided that the right decision for your family is hiring a nanny? This is a big step for a family and there are often many decisions to make as you prepare to invite someone new into your life to help care for your little one. While this next step is exciting, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start! Here are our suggestions of where to begin when hiring a nanny:
Clearly Communicated Expectations
The first thing you need to decide is what exactly you want your nanny’s job to be. If you have a partner, take time to discuss and set expectations with them prior to meeting with potential nannies to ensure that you are on the same page. Think through expectations around caring for the baby, baby related household chores, how and to whom you would like the nanny to communicate with, expectations around discipline, and so on. Then, when meeting with potential nannies, it is important to clearly explain all the duties you are expecting of them as well as any ideals around discipline style and so on. Clearly articulating your needs and values will help prospective nannies know if they will be a good fit with your family.
Secondly, it is important to clearly communicate working hours to prospective nannies. This includes overtime, sick days, and holidays. Think through specific protocols around taking time off and sick leave and discuss them thoroughly before hiring a nanny.
Once you have clearly explained the job role and working hours, straightforward communication about payment is an important part of the nanny hiring process, and should be something that is agreed upon together. Remember to consider things like annual raises, Christmas or other bonuses, and so on, so as to ensure no one is surprised later on.
When these things are all thoroughly discussed and agreed upon, a contract should be drawn up. This does not need to be an overly serious exchange, but something in writing that lists out job expectations, working hours and time off, and salary will suffice. This document should be signed by both parties, with each receiving a copy. A contract not only protects both parties, it can also be used as a tool to evaluate performance or discuss unmet expectations if the need arises.
Finally, set a trial period with your prospective nanny– and once that time has passed (whether it’s two weeks or one month or whatever time you have decided on) , really take the time to discuss how the partnership is working out – for both parties. Revisit the contract together to discuss how expectations are being met. Ask your nanny how the job is going and whether it seems like a good fit- no one wants a grumpy nanny looking after their baby!
The second category to consider when hiring a new nanny is safety. When it comes to our little ones, safety is our top priority. Once you have interviewed prospective nannies and decided on your top choice, get a background check done. Some nanny hiring agencies require all of their candidates to complete background checks. But if you are hiring a nanny without the help of an agency, consider using an organization such as Trustline is a California based database of nannies and babysitters that have cleared background checks.
Secondly, before hiring a nanny, be sure to ask for references and really call the references that are listed! Consider the values and expectations you have highlighted in your contract with your nanny, and ask previous employees questions about how your prospective nanny handled similar expectations in the past. Checking references can not only give you peace of mind, but also be a great way to get to know your new nanny on a different level.
Develop a Relationship
The last recommendation is – build a relationship!
Every family will approach their relationship with their nanny differently- but remember when you are hiring a nanny, you are inviting a person to partner with your family in the important task of caring for your child! It’s important to try to take opportunities to build a relationship with your nanny. Of course it is easy to have conversations about the children but it is important to show your nanny you care about them by inquiring about their interests, their day, their significant others, and so on. And don’t be afraid to let your nanny get to know you too!
As you develop a relationship with your nanny, keep the clear communication on-going and ask them if there is anything they need from you or if there is anything that is needed at the house. Give your nanny opportunities to share what is going well with your little one as well as what may be challenging.
Lastly, as you develop a relationship with your nanny, you have to be ready to trust them! Hiring a nanny can be a huge adjustment for some parents, especially those who are used to being the only or main caretaker of their child. It is so important for the parent-nanny relationship that a level of trust exists. No one likes being micromanaged and it can be very difficult for nannies when they are working with overbearing parents. Remember to let go a little and trust your nanny to do a great job! And enjoy knowing that your little one (or ones) have the great privilege of having another adult in their life. Reflect on how wonderful it is for your child to have someone else to play with and to learn from. And most importantly, consider how wonderful it is that your child has another adult in their life who cares for them and loves them.
And finally, when hiring a nanny, the most important thing is to trust your instincts. You know what you are looking for because you know what help you need and you know what your child needs. If you don’t feel good about the first nanny you interview, don’t settle. Listen to your gut until you feel happy and secure with your choice!