I’ve seen a lot of people ask about hiring a nanny on the Facebook groups I frequent recently. Ironically during the same timeframe, Facebook (I swear they are inside my head sometimes) reminded me that I was asking for similar advice three years ago this week. It quickly brought me back to the hours I spent scrolling through profiles on Care.com, crafting exhaustive interview questions, and doing both phone and in person interviews with the candidates that looked OK on paper or online.
Choosing any child care provider, especially for a soon-to-be mom, is daunting. This isn’t like interviewing a cat sitter or a house cleaner, this shit is real…like not totally fucking up your kid and making sure they don’t die kind of real. Mix in your typical pregnancy hormones and the interviewing and decision making process can be down right terrifying.
Luckily, my story had a very happy ending. We found the best nanny on the planet as far as I’m concerned, hired her months before my due date (less stress), and she’s still with us today – almost three years later!
As my frequent readers know, my husband and I are not having another kid (can you say snip snip!), and so I’m sincerely hoping I will not have to go through this interview process again. But for those of you who will be, here’s my top five points of advice for what it’s worth.
1) Go with an agency. Yes, they tend to be expensive, and yes, not as many potential nannies will see your posting. But they WILL ensure any candidates they refer have sufficient childcare experience, are genuinely interested in your position, and most importantly aren’t serial killers, psychopaths, or hold a bazillion traffic violations. Having all of this figured out up front (by someone else) lessens the anxiety and saves you a shit ton of time that you’d rather spend buying cute onesies and organizing the nursery. I went with Portland Nannies.
2) Post your job on Care.com or similar site too. You never know, you might find a great one without paying the massive placement fee charged by the agency. But most likely, it will simply make you feel justified and glad you will be paying said placement fee. After reading the 20th inquiry from someone who a) thinks that babysitting their little brother as a pre-teen counts as experience, b) needs 20 hours a week vs. the 40 you listed , c) needs two hours off in the middle of the day to take classes, d) expects better health benefits than you have for your own family, or d) didn’t even read your job posting and sends what can only be described as a form email…you give up and delete your account. I know, I know some people find great nannies on these sites, but I wasn’t looking for a part-time job.
3) Plan your interviews. Just like you wouldn’t walk into a job interview without questions and preparation, you should be equally as prepared or more so when interviewing the person that will be helping to raise your child. I had, no joke, two pages of potential questions. The agency I went with provided a great guide and I added and customized it to fit my needs after reading a number of mommy blogs and parenting advice sites.
4) Make sure they are somewhat like you. Of course ask about experience, schedule, vacation, pay etc… But get a little (without being inappropriate) personal. Again, this person is raising your kid! You want them to share many of your family values, your eating habits, your love of the outdoors, art, music, fitness, etc… I was clear in my job posting that we preferred local, organic food, didn’t watch a lot of television, were freaks about physical activity, used non-toxic everything…etc… So make sure to ask about all that stuff, about their discipline style, what they view as a “healthy” lunch, and their perfect play date. Also be sure to ask what they do in their own free time. If you are an animal rights activist (extreme example and no I’m not), you may not want a nanny who spends their free time shooting wild animals. Just saying.
5) Go with your gut. This is not the time to ignore warning signs or overlook anything. Especially for current mommies and even pregnant ladies, your laser beam mommy senses will be on high alert. Trust them. I eliminated a candidate before she even opened her mouth because she smelled ever so slightly of cigarettes. I ended a phone interview when another used several words incorrectly in her sentences (and not because she was foreign). One seemed perfect until in her in person interview said that my daughter would eventually call her mommy too and not know the difference between us. Um…what!?
And of course, when you do find that perfect nanny, treat them well!