The Nanny Decision

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Hiring a nanny to care for the important little people in your world is one of the most life-changing decisions you will ever make. Today, technology has transformed what was once a word-of-mouth search
into a better way to begin asking the right questions.

Family and friends can often provide recommendations and checking local message and college job boards can be helpful. Ask your friends who are parents of older children what they think are the most important qualities in a nanny. Registering with a nanny placement agency is a great way to be sure you make a good choice. Allow yourself at least three months to find the person who’s perfect for your family.

International, professional agencies offer assistance and tips to help make your selection process a bit easier, such as how to narrow the list of candidates, check references, backgrounds and records. Many offer templates to assist with creating an employment offer and work agreement.

If this is the first time your family has hired a household employee, there are many things to consider. Think about what you want your nanny to do on a daily basis. Should he or she have a degree in early childhood development? Tutoring experience? A love of crafts? Experience with newborns, twins or special needs are more traits you may desire for your family. Remember, as in life, first impressions often make or break the deal.

Consider the age candidate you prefer, whether a college student, young adult or older person. Checking references is a must. Agencies, whether brick and mortar or internet-based, offer valuable services, such as up-to-date information about their candidate’s safety verification status, including criminal records, phone and email verification.

This process begins with posting your job on their website, listing your requirements. These should include making sure your schedules are compatible. Make sure the candidate can stay past 5:00 p.m. if you need that. Having her live close by is a plus, for the inevitable emergencies such as snow or sick days.

If you’re hiring without an agency or professional website, check social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and any news stories you can find about them, as you can tell a lot about a person’s life with these tools. In addition, make sure to connect with state and local municipalities to find information about criminal and traffic violations your candidate may have; your candidate will likely need to sign authorization for you to conduct these searches. Keep in mind that these background checks may not always return fully accurate information, and an in-depth interview with the appropriate questions can uncover the information you want.

If possible, get to know families your candidate has worked for in the past. They will give you candid answers and help you make a more informed decision. Also, discuss alcohol and drugs with your candidate and find out how they feel about these. Be aware of the questions you can’t ask, but inquiries about CPR certifications, first aid and lifeguard training are appropriate.

Remember, you know your children best and what they need, from making sure the food doesn’t touch on their plate, cutting crust off sandwiches, chocolate or almond milk and the perfect nap time. You will know when you find the right nanny. Make sure to involve your kids in the decision. Have your candidate come over and spend time with your children, playing and interacting as part of the interview process. Ask the kids how they feel about the person and prepare them to spend time with him or her. Let them know that you love them above all else, but you need to have a little help sometimes when you need to be at work or other places. They need to understand that whoever will be taking care of them will love them and nurture them too.

Try to make your decision long-term and understand that a nanny will care for your child during all stages of childhood and adolescence. The ideal person will grow along with your child and challenge him or her as time passes. This nanny will be there for not only the child, but the whole family.

After your nanny has been with you for a bit, ask the kids how things are going. They are usually brutally honest, and you will find out if there is a problem in some way. Teach them to dial 911 and make sure they know they can call you at any time during the day. This makes them feel in control and safer.

“A well-known agency matched me with the perfect families,” noted Ellen Longley, who has nannied for several children. With a little research, you will find someone who not only cares for your child but also makes your life fuller and more enjoyable. ■

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