10 Expert Tips for Choosing the Perfect NannyCasi Densmore-Koon
Did you know it’s National Nanny Recognition Week? I know one thing, I don’t know what I would do without my nanny, who happens to be my younger sister. You can read all about her here. Lucky for me, I was able to keep it in the family, but if my sister ever decides she needs to move forward in a career, I would immediately resort to online services.
I caught up with Katie Herrick Bugbee, senior managing editor of Care.com, to discuss her tips for choosing the perfect nanny. In her role, Bugbee focuses on global content for parents, caregivers, pet owners, and families in need of senior care. As a mom of two small children, the grandchild of an ailing grandfather, and an all-around pet lover, Katie connects to these topics and works diligently to provide the best advice and resources for Care.com readers.
Haven’t heard of Care.com? Well, let me give you a little background. It’s the world’s largest online care destination is the perfect place for finding the perfect care giver for your little one. You can enter your own search criteria so you see results for what you need in your area. It’s a great go-t0 place for finding a nanny. But — it’s a tough job finding someone to play your role when you can’t. Finding the perfect nanny can be a daunting task no one wants to take on, but with a few tips, you can make the job a little easier for yourself.
Click-through 10 tips for choosing the perfect nanny for your family!
Choosing the Perfect Nanny for Your Family 1 of 11
Hiring help to take care of your kids can be a hard task. Click-through these tips for choosing the perfect nanny to make your job a little easier.
Make a List 2 of 11
You've got to-do lists, Christmas lists and shopping lists. But this list isn't one that can get lost in the trash. Compile the qualities you want in a sitter or nanny. For example, do you want your nanny to be college educated, CPR-certified, or maybe a Tinkerbell-enthusiast, or a T-ball pro? Keep all these things in mind! Ask your friends with nannies for help. What do they love about their hire and what would they change? This will help you create a job post that should narrow down the good fits from the not-so-good fits.
Calculate Your Budget 3 of 11
Use Care.com's babysitter calculator or nanny tax calculator to figure out what your nanny's take-home pay will be. This tool will tell you what the going rate is in your neighborhood , based on the number of kids you have and the experience you are looking for. Compare it to what you can afford on a weekly basis. If you need to negotiate, consider offering more paid vacation and holidays.
Get the Word Out 4 of 11
Whether you use a site like Care.com, email friends, post on a message board, or work a combo, you'll want to use your list info to describe your family — and what you're looking for. I suggest putting this in your "friendly-yet-serious" voice. (Not your "boss" voice.) You want to create a tone for your writeup that's similar to how you'll be working with your nanny — and it becomes so much more of a partnership than a business experience.
Narrow Down the List 5 of 11
How do you sort through them all quickly? Well, some people will send you emails with a "call me," and I'm like, "Why should I? Delete." It's that easy to start weeding people out. Send them a "No thanks" email, and focus your time on the candidates who sound genuine from their first sentence. As in, they didn't send you a stock letter they've simply copied and pasted into the body of an email, and sent around to multiple employers. Call the people who clearly got you and your family from the job post you created. Call the people who had you from "Hello." And there will be those people. And if you don't know that reference, you're too young to have children!
Cold Call 6 of 11
Your phone call is the first interview. Did they answer while driving? No thanks. Did they answer while babysitting other kids? I'll pass. But if they seem engaged and remember your job right away, ask them a few questions about their experience, their love for nannying, the activities they play with the kids. Does this person feel like she'd fit with your family? Remember, she'll eventually be part of your daily routine and know all your dirty laundry. So make sure she seems like someone you'd enjoy working with as well as supervising.
Also, make sure from this call that you're on the same page about nanny taxes. Believe it or not, nannies aren't actually considered Independent Contractors by the IRS, they're employees (learn why). Consider this as part of your budget and offer. And make sure she's on board before you meet in person.
Meet and Grill 7 of 11
Narrow down your applicants to about three people you want to meet face-to-face. Then pick a date, time and place sans kids. You'll want to focus on all the questions around her experience, and her availability. One of the major perks of hiring a nanny is flexibility. If your 4:00 meeting runs late, she can stay (you'll need to pay, of course). Just make sure she knows this is part of the deal. I like to gauge responsibility and cleverness with situational questions. Ask how she'd get a picky eater to eat his veggies. Ask how she'd handle a kid's bad fall with a bumped head. Ask how she'd respond if she gets locked out of the house with the baby and cell phone inside.
If you don't like the in-the-moment answers, you won't like her real-time reactions either.
Once you've asked the tough stuff, you can have the kids do the next interview to test their chemistry.
Run Checks and References 8 of 11
Getting a thorough background check on your top candidate might be the best money you can spend. Along with this, call her references. But don't stop at the 3 she provides. Ask for a recent professor, coach or neighbor who can vouch for her as a responsible person not just a nanny. Do a Google and Facebook search on her. If you like what you see and hear, start planning your offer.
Create a Nanny Contract 9 of 11
Yes, this sounds formal. But it really helps clear up any possible miscommunication, especially about vacation, overtime and holiday pay. Check out this sample nanny contract.
Make the Offer 10 of 11
When you make your offer, lay out post-tax salary, vacation time, benefits and hours. Then send your nanny contract for her to review and sign.
Check-In 11 of 11
It's not a bad thing to ask mom friends and other nannies you know to look out for your new hire. In fact, it's smart. Also, come home early, or work from home a few times to see and hear her interact with your kids. It's always a nice, reassuring feeling to see them laughing, playing and having a good time without you.