Tips on Hiring A Nanny {In-Home Childcare}

When I was pregnant, figuring out a good childcare situation was a huge concern of mine. I knew I’d be returning to work part time after my leave was over, but the whole process was pretty overwhelming.

I initially thought we’d try to go the route of an in home daycare, as I liked the idea of a cozy environment, and it seemed a bit more budget friendly than a daycare center. However, each home daycare I called was in the same situation – they didn’t have any infant care availability. Next I tried looking into larger daycare centers, but they all seemed too far or too expensive. I have friends that take their kids to both in home daycare’s, and larger centers and they all love the arrangement they have – it just seemed liked there wasn’t much available nearby, and we didn’t want to “commute” too far if we could help it.

A friend of mine had long told me that I may be surprised to find out that I could probably afford to hire someone to watch Oliver in our home. When I pressed her for more details on her own arrangement, it turned out that she was right.

I placed ads on both and Craigslist with the basic details of the job. and how much I was able to spend. Between the responses I received, I decided to interview three candidates. One was a clear no. It was possibly the most awkward twenty minutes of my life, and while the “manny,” (male nanny) was very sweet, if Oliver picked up any of his odd phrases or mannerisms, I’d go bananas! The other two were definitely maybes as I felt good about each of them for different reasons, but didn’t pursue one because she had expressed some strong opposing views (without prompting) on parenting choices I had made and I didn’t want to have to regularly defend myself.

Ultimately, I decided to just ask one candidate, Jessica, to come over to meet my husband and Oliver (I conducted initial interviews at a coffee house JUST in case anyone was nuts). Nick liked her, and Oliver was pretty little at the time, but seemed to do just fine with her at their first meeting, despite being over tired. I took this as a good sign, and we hired her. She came over a few times for shorter periods before I went back to work so that she and Oliver could get to know each other, and I’d run out for a short time. Of course, I was still a wreck leaving him the first day back to work, but I felt better knowing that Jessica was more familiar with his routine and that I wasn’t leaving him with a total stranger.

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{Pros and Cons}

Jessica has been with our family ever since then, and I’m so thankful for the great arrangement we have. I love the convenience of having someone come to my home – no waking up a sleeping baby, no packing lunches, etc. (Basically, lazy parents will do well with this arrangement!) If we need her to come a little early or stay a little late, Jessica is able to work that out (and we don’t have to pay $1/minute that we are late). And of course, Oliver gets lots of one on one attention from someone who has built a really special relationship with him. He has also managed to go two years without an ear infection, and has been pretty healthy, with the exception of getting pnuemonia last year. This may bite me in the butt later if he has to build up his immunity in school, but for now, I’m glad.

There are a few drawbacks to having your child watched in your own home by one person. If the nanny is sick, you’re using a sick or vacation day. If they are running late, you’re running late (luckily this is rare, but it happens to all of us so we understand!). He also misses out on the benefits that come with learning alongside other kids, but we’re lucky that he gets to see kids at other times throughout the week (Sunday school, a toddler class we take, neighbors, and play dates), so for now, I feel okay about this.

Beyond that, I’m really happy with our situation. Oliver loves Jessica and she’s taught him so much that I wouldn’t have even thought of. It took a little getting used to and swallowing my pride to see that Oliver loved someone else other than mom and dad at such a young age. I also struggled to let go of everything being done exactly my way. Jessica did and still does some things differently with Oliver than we do, but I think it’s probably a good thing that he’s flexible, as long as we are all consistent on the important stuff. I’ll be really sad when the day comes that my kids go to school, as we’ve loved having such a special person taking care of Oliver, and I’m glad that our second baby will also be able to have such a great caregiver.

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Beyond what I’ve already said, here are some of my tips on hiring a nanny:

1.  Write an accurate and detailed job description when looking for a candidate. If something is really important to you (light housekeeping, that they love dogs, etc.) be up front about it.

2.  I recommend as you can pay to have a background check completed for a reasonable price, and the peace of mind that comes with that is awesome.

3.  I didn’t do this and it hasn’t been an issue, but in hindsight, I probably would’ve set up a written agreement. I’d suggest addressing things like vacation time/pay, what to do whether either party is going to be late/sick, etc. It’s always good to over communicate, luckily, we haven’t had any problems.

4.  If there ARE any things that your nanny does that differ from what you like, be up front about it and fast. They’re probably not trying to sabotage your parenting skills 😉 just had a different idea about how to go about something. If it’s important to you, the sooner you mention it, the easier the conversation will be.

5.  Be prepared to have your feelings hurt (or better yet, get thick skin). I can still remember how horrible it felt Oliver reaching for Jessica when I tried to scoop him up at his birthday party last year – not only did that pierce my heart, but many of my friends and family were there, and I was sure they must all think that I was a terrible mom if my son wanted to be held by Jessica instead of me. In hindsight, I realize this was ridiculous, but I had a good cry about it that night and really over analyzed it! Now, I realize what a positive thing it is that Oliver loves Jessica so much, and that there will be dozens of times in his life where he’ll prefer to escape mom, but it took some getting used to! Keep in mind that if anything, it’s a good reflection on you that you chose someone your child likes so much!

6.  Try to show your nanny you appreciate him or her. While we aren’t ever going to make her rich, we try to thank Jessica with cash bonuses a few times a year, including Christmas time. Around her birthday/anniversary of watching Oliver, we got her flowers too. Aside from my husband and I, Oliver spends more time with Jessica than anyone, so it’s important that we show that we appreciate what a great job she’s doing in helping us raise our son.

7.  Allow for flexibility when possible. This depends largely on your own work arrangement, but if you’re going to ask your nanny to stay late every now and then, consider trying to let her go early just as often, or asking her in advance if she has any upcoming events where she may need a few hours off. It’s weird to think of myself as any “employer” but I try to treat Jessica as both a member of the family, but also a valued employee.

8.  Ask for input when appropriate. Like all parents, there will be some decisions where you don’t want outside input. But in instances where you’re unsure of what to do – ask for their help and input. If you feel comfortable entrusting this person with the care of your child, you probably value their opinion, and they probably have enough familiarity with kids to offer some ideas.


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