7 Tips to Find a Nanny – The Gold Standard Selection Process Explained Further. Are all these steps really worth it?
The best nanny agency is one that does the extensive work to truly understand your needs and then proactively finds a nanny that matches those needs. This can take time and it certainly takes a lot of effort. I get a lot of nanny agency clients who initially question whether all these steps to find a nanny are really necessary; they want instant results, and think that a deliberate, multi-step “process” is something for court cases or corporate mergers. But finding a great nanny isn’t something that can be done in a day. My process takes time, but—and this is what I stress to all my nanny agency in NYC clients— you need to make the investment if you truly want what’s best for your child.
There many times in life when it is advantageous to take the short cut or find the faster way. This is NOT one of them. You can cut corners when it comes to getting the “best” $800-dollar stroller or the most expensive, organic crib mattress, but you cannot cut corners when you are hiring a stranger to come into your home and care for your child. Trust me when I say that there is nothing in this world that is more important—not your home, not your yoga class, not even the demands of parenting itself—than making sure that your child has a high-quality caregiver to nurture him during his crucial, most formative years. Can you hire a nanny without doing every single step? Yes–but skipping the steps will prove to be a problem later on. As a therapist, I can tell you that the only way to accurately assess someone’s potential and personality is over time—and when you follow my process, every interaction builds on the one before so that when you finally hire someone, you feel supremely confident in the match. It actually takes more time to find a nanny without my process, because if you don’t have a clear strategy, you will waste hours of time interviewing nannies that aren’t right, reference-checking candidates that you don’t need, and trialing nannies that should have never made it past the initial screening. As with so many aspects of parenting, short-term pain equals long-term gain. You can find the time, the steps are easy, and you can do them at your own pace. Having a plan will help you feel calm and confident, which will lead to better, more reasoned decisions. If you put in the effort now and push to find that amazing nanny, you and your child will benefit in the long run.
MY “NANNY SEARCH RULES” FOR PARENTS LOOKING TO HIRE A NANNY
So you know the steps and you’re ready to go. But before you dive in and begin your search, there are a few final things that I tell parents to keep in mind as they move forward:
Rule#1: Don’t rush the process of looking for a nanny.
When you’re worried about childcare, it’s extremely hard not to rush. Especially if you need coverage immediately, you must force yourself to fight the initial panicked instinct to hire the first remotely qualified nanny and put her to work right away. But the truth is that you need a lot of data points to make a good decision. Rushing leads to stress, which leads to snap decisions and cut corners. You don’t think clearly, and you give yourself permission to overlook things: “She was kind of snippy when she did the bath, and I didn’t that, but it’s probably no big deal.” You want to allow yourself plenty of time, and ideally be under as little pressure as possible so that you can go through the entire process carefully, complete the necessary due diligence, and feel great about the person you hire.
Rule #2: Do the work to figure out what you need.
I can’t say it enough: the more time you spend on your Family Needs Assessment (Step 1), the better. Your nanny will be intimately involved in raising your child, so you want to really hone in on the quirks and nuances of your family, and the nanny personality and skill set that you need. You’re the employer, so you get to create the job and it can be whatever you want it to be. BUT you need to be absolutely clear about the requirements and expectations from the get-go, because it’s when a nanny feels misled, or you feel like you’re not getting what you pay for, or you try to change the job and modify the nanny’s responsibilities along the way that things get complicated.
Rule #3: Have realistic expectations.
There will be pros and cons to every candidate, and every nanny will occasionally make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that she can’t be a wonderful caregiver of that she isn’t the right fit for your family.
Rule #4: Don’t project too far out into the future.
When you sit down with a nanny, try not to think, “Is this the person who’s going to care for my child for the next ten years?” Don’t worry about whether this is a life-long match, or whether you can see her being at your child’s wedding someday. Most nannies don’t stay forever; they typically stay for a few years and then move on as the family’s needs or their needs change. So all you have to decide is whether this person is the right caregiver for your child right now, and whether she will still be able to meet your needs 1-2 years down the line.
Rule#5: Remember that during the nanny interview, your nanny is also interviewing YOU.
Yes, you are choosing to hire a nanny, and yes, as the employer, you are in the driver’s seat. But in the nanny’s mind, she is also deciding whether or not she should work for you, and any really good nanny will have her pick of jobs. Be aware that at any given point in the process, she will be asking herself, “How do I feel about this family? Do I like how they handle things? Do they make me feel respected and understood?” You are two equal parties in every sense of the word, and you want to think about it as an equal relationship from the start.
Rule #6: If you like someone, keep the process moving.
Remember that when nannies are interviewing with you, they are also interviewing with other families. If you like someone, make sure she knows that you’d like to move on to the next step, and give a specific timeframe so she knows what to expect. You can say, “Okay, great, we’d like to meet later this week for an interview,” or “Can you come back next week for a trial?” You want to keep the nanny in the loop so she knows you’re serious and hopefully will not jump to accept another offer.
Rule #7: Keep the faith!
Nanny searches require stamina, and, just like job searches or dating, they can have ups and downs. There will be setbacks: A nanny may do everything right and then be terrible in the trial, or your frontrunner may get another offer that you can’t afford to match. You will sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere—and then suddenly you’ll meet the right nanny and feel that “click.” The key is to be patient and continue with the process. If you stay the course, it does work!