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

I can’t say it enough: the more time you spend on your Family Needs Assessment, the better.  The good news is that we will do it with you, but taking care and attention to make sure we do this right is important.  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.  This is why we make all of our families sign a Nanny/Family Work Agreement upon starting the position.

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 or that she isn’t the right fit for your family.

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 1-3 years down the line.

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.

Remember that when nannies are interviewing with you, <strong>they are also interviewing with other families.</strong> Sometimes we know about it and sometimes we don’t.  If you like someone, make sure that we (and she) know that you’d like to move on to the next step, and give us (and her) a specific timeframe so we all know what to expect.  You want to keep us all in the loop so she knows you’re serious and hopefully will not jump to accept another offer.

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 front-runner may get another offer that you can’t afford to match. You will sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere—and then suddenly we’ll introduce you to 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.