As a parent, childcare is undoubtedly one of your big concerns. This can be especially true if you are a in two-income family, in a single parent family, or in a situation in which you feel as though a little extra help is needed (including when you work from home). Summer is a time when thoughts turn toward nannies, since older kids are no longer in school for large portions of the day. While having a nanny is nice, it is important to carefully consider your options, since you are trusting someone with the care of your children – and with access to your home (and valuables). Finding a nanny requires some time and effort, but if you are willing to do what it takes, you can hire someone who fits well with you and your family.
Do you Need a Live In or Live Out Nanny?
The first thing you need to decide is whether you want a live in nanny, or a live out nanny. A live in nanny is someone who lives in your home full time. A live out nanny comes to your home during certain times, and may accompany when you go on vacation. It is important to consider this in your screening process, since live in and live out nannies require some slightly different arrangements. With a live in nanny, you will need to consider the following issues:
- Privacy: Your nanny will need her or his own living space, including bedroom and probably a dedicated bathroom. It may also be appropriate to provide a small kitchen, or a separate entrance for the nanny. A separate phone line might also be in order. Walk out basements are often good for this purpose.
- Time off: Even if your nanny is living with you, you will need to provide a couple of days off for the nanny, and certain times for your nanny to be “off” and have some free time each day (often after the children are in bed, or during the day while they are at school).
- Meals: Determine how often you plan to provide meals for a live in nanny (and for a live out nanny, for that matter).
Carefully consider what you are willing to provide for your nanny, on top of regular pay, whether live in or live out. In many cases, you can get a higher quality nanny if you are willing to provide a few home comforts, ensuring a happier, more reliable nanny.
If you do not think that you will need round the clock help, or if you don’t feel comfortable with a nanny living in your home, you can hire a live out nanny for those times that you are most in need. If you plan to have your nanny come on vacation with you, you will probably have to pay his or her expenses, and provide ample notice.
Choosing Your Nanny
After you have determined what you need in a nanny, it is time to go through the selection process. You can either go through a nanny finding service (or nanny agency), or you can place an ad on your own. If you use a nanny placement agency, you want to research the agency and find out how background checks are conducted, and talk to others who have used the agency. Also, find out about fees, and what is covered by the fees. Some agencies can be quite pricey. One of the nice things about an agency is that you can often “return” your nanny within a certain amount of time if things aren’t working out, and get another without paying additional fees.
Even if you go through a nanny agency to match up with a nanny, you should still request resumes and interview your top three to five candidates. Interview your nanny candidates in the presence of your children, and provide some time for the nanny to play with your children. You might even bring the prospective nannies on outings, to see how they manage your children. A nanny interview can take anywhere from half and hour to two hours. Some nanny interview questions to ask include:
- Smoking (if you don’t want a nanny smoking around your children)
- First aid certification
- Specific experiences caring for children
- Discipline style
- General feel for whether your prospective nanny’s values align with yours
- Future plans
- Concerns your prospective nanny may have
If you choose to find nanny on your own, avoiding the expenses that can come with using an agency, you will still need to get resumes and set up interviews. You also need to be willing to contact references and discuss your nanny candidates. It is also a good idea to conduct a background check. You will need an employment application, and your nanny will need to sign a release giving you permission to do a background screening. You will need a Social Security Number, driver’s license number, former addresses and employers and birth date. You can go to the International Nanny Association for agencies that can help you perform background checks, get employment forms and other helpful information for nanny hiring. You can also check a potential nanny’s social media profiles on Twitter and Facebook to get a feel for the kind of person s/he is. And don’t forget understanding the employment and compensation laws regarding employing a nanny.
Choosing a nanny is not something to skimp on, in terms of time and cost. Do your due diligence, checking references and interviewing candidates so that you find someone you trust with your children, and someone you feel comfortable making a member of your family.