The Ins and Outs of Hiring a Nanny

For parents who hire a nanny, they are entering into one of the most complex, yet rewarding working relationships that exist. Nannies are hired by parents to provide customized and personalized high quality childcare to the couple’s children in the family’s home.

Unlike with daycare and other childcare arrangements, parents who opt for private, in-home care actually become the employer of their caregiver and as such become their nanny’s boss. This means that the parents have the authority to determine the nanny’s working hours, outline their caregiving expectations and have their children cared for according to their preferences and caregiving style.

Since nannies work in their employer’s home, the employee and employer relationship naturally tends to be more intimate than in other employment situations. Nannies are privy to sometimes sensitive and personal information about their employers, their lifestyle and the joys and struggles they face as they support them on their parenting journey. And naturally since parents want to really know who is caring for their kids, parents may delve a little deeper into their employee’s pasts and personal lives.

For the nanny and employer relationship to be successful there has to be a solid relationship between both the parents and the nanny and the nanny and the children. Parents who hire a nanny need to invest time and energy into developing a trusting and caring relationship with their caregiver.

When parents hire a nanny, they engage in the most flexible childcare arrangement. Unlike in daycare centers that charge per minute late fees, nannies understand that scheduling flexibility is required. Nannies are able to provide early and evening care and even provide overnight care or travel with the family when necessary.

And unlike daycare where you have to keep a child home if she has a mild fever or illness, nannies are accustomed to providing sick care for mildly ill children, which results in fewer absences from work for parents and consistent care at home when the child isn’t feeling like himself.

But the benefits of having a nanny aren’t limited to the parents. Children cared for by nannies receive personalized and customized care. Unlike in a daycare setting, your nanny’s only responsibility is meeting the unique needs of your children. Nannies can customize their days to meet the child’s needs and engage them in age-appropriate physical, social and educational opportunities that boost her development.

Since nannies can control a child’s social interactions, children cared for by nannies are sick far less often than those in daycare. Nannies can limit a child’s exposure to sick children and germs, which can decrease his likelihood of getting sick, which in turn can even decrease the need for antibiotics.

The key to having a successful nanny experience is hiring the right nanny for your family. Even the most qualified nanny will not be the right nanny for every family. All nannies should have previous childcare experience and a general understanding of early childhood development. They should be certified in CPR and first aid and know how to handle an emergency should one occur. They should be well versed in the best practices in childcare and strive to create an age-appropriate stimulating environment for the child that focuses on the unique physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs of that specific child. Nannies should be nurturing in nature, in addition to being honest, trustworthy and able to make at least a one year commitment to the family. Nannies should have a clean criminal background, solid childcare references, a good driving record and be in good health.

But even amongst qualified nannies, some will be a better fit with a family than others. Parents must consider their parenting style, the discipline approach and their lifestyle when hiring a nanny. For the relationship to work, the nanny must complement the family. She does not have to be an exact clone of the parents, but she must be able to fully support the parents’ childrearing philosophy, practices and the principles that govern the family unit.

Parents should consider nanny candidates for hire whom they connect with. It’s important that parents and nannies have a genuine connection. This connection may manifest though feelings of being at ease around each other, an unexplained level of comfort with each other and genuine desire to be around each other. Parents should pay attention to their gut instinct and carefully consider any feelings that they have about a potential provider.

During the interview process, in addition to learning about the nanny’s experience, skills and training, parents must inquire about the nanny’s caregiving style and practices. Parents should ask open ended questions that provide the nanny an opportunity to share how she’s handled specific circumstances in the past. A nanny interviewing to care for a newborn, for example, should be asked to tell about a time where the baby was hard to calm down. Parent should ask situational questions to better gauge how the nanny has responded in past similar situations. Parents should conduct both phone and in-person interviews as they strive to learn as much information as possible about the potential provider. Once parents have decided on potential nanny hire, they should run a complete FLSA compliant background check. The more information parents have about a nanny they wish to hire, the more educated and informed their hiring decision will be.

While the parents must connect with the caregivers, the children need to connect with her two. Before hiring a nanny, have a working interview so that the nanny and children can spend some time together. Observe their interactions and see if there is a connection that’s worth developing.

Once parents find the nanny they wish to hire, they should make a formal job offer. A verbal offer followed by the first draft of a written work agreement will send the message you are serious about hiring the nanny. While parents don’t need to offer benefits, parents who offer a competitive salary and benefits package are better able to attract and retain a quality caregiver.

Having a mutually agreed upon written work agreement that outline’s the each parties duties and responsibilities, as well as the nanny’s schedule, salary and benefits will go a long way in starting the relationship off on the right track. It should also include any house and transportation rules and how often the nanny and family will meet to discuss concerns,  issues and changes to the agreement.  A written document outlining the agreed upon terms of the working relationship will prevent miscommunications and misunderstandings and help to ensure that both the parents and nanny have a clear understanding of what their working relationship entails.

While it takes some effort to maintain healthy boundaries and create a trusting relationship with a nanny, doing so will yield many benefits. The relationship started will blossom and grow and likely develop into a lasting friendship that spans beyond the years of the working relationship.