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Whenever I think about hiring or trusting a nanny today, images flash to my mind of the funny nanny cam used in the movie “Meet the Parents” to spy on Ben Stiller. Never seen the movie? Not to worry, the point is – how do you trust your caregiver with your child and do you need to be watching them? Basically the majority of my childhood, I grew up with various nannies – some GOOD and some BAD. My first piece of advice as a person who grew up with caregivers…take your time finding one!
Finding the right nanny to care for your most prized little one is one of the first – and hardest – decisions you may make as a parent. There are many things to consider, such as – Do you want a daycare environment or a private nanny at home? Do you have family member who can help part- or full-time? How much can you afford? What kind of coverage will you need? Try to get a clear picture of what is most convenient and fits your family’s structure, and it will help you target your search and cause you less stress during the process.
In regards to the trust issue at hand – it may be that you’re going back to work after maternity leave, or you may be taking on part-time work and need to find someone to watch your children while you are not home. Whatever the case, you can’t just snap your fingers and Mary Poppins arrives. It’s not enough to just wish for Mary Poppins or Nanny 911— you need to do your research.
Unlike other professions, there are no national standards in the United States for nanny training, and there is no state or national group in charge of regulating job performance. Therefore, it is imperative that parents thoroughly interview and screen a potential nanny before she begins caring for their children. The easiest way to verify the background of a candidate is to hire a high-quality nanny agency.
If you can, find an agency that belongs to the Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies, a professional group that requires members to conduct rigorous background checks. Agencies usually charge 10 percent of a nanny’s first-year salary, plus a $100 to $300 application fee. If you decide you are going to do your own background checks, it’s imperative that you know what to look for and what to ask about. And even if you do use a nanny agency, you should know what makes up a good background check.
When hiring a nanny or babysitter for your family, always check references and employment history. Additionally, always TRUST your instincts. Don’t worry if you’re alone in your hesitation; if you’re not feeling completely satisfied with any single aspect of your nanny’s application or it just doesn’t feel right, move on to another candidate.
Below are some good questions to ask or create a DIY application for nanny candidates:
Experience & Training Questions:
- How long have you been a nanny
- How old were the other children you cared for?
- Do you have any formal early childhood development or childcare training?
- Would you be willing to take classes to further your education in childcare?
- Do you have emergency training?
CPR: yes / no First-aid: yes / no
If not, would you be willing to take CPR classes and first-aid training? yes / no
- What would you do if my child was sick or had an accident?
- Would you mind if I ran a background check on you? yes / no
- Why are you a nanny? Why are you looking for a new position?
- What do you like about the job?
- Describe your ideal family/employer.
- What do you like least about being a nanny? Do you have any special peeves about parents/children/pets?
- What are your beliefs about childrearing?
- What do children like best about you?
- How do you comfort children?
- How do you deal with separation anxiety?
- How do you discipline children? Give me an example of a previous discipline problem and how you handled it.
- What are some of the rules you’ve followed in other households that you think worked well?
- Which rules haven’t worked for you?
- Would you be willing to follow my rules and disciplining/comforting strategies even if they’re different from yours?
Daily Routine Questions:
- What will my child be doing on any given day? (Click here for our daily log sheet.)
- What are your favorite activities to do with a child the age of mine?
- If I’m working in the house, will you be able to keep my child happily occupied without involving me?
- Do you have future plans (school, job, marriage, etc.) that would put a limit on how long you expect to be a nanny?
- Do you have a well-functioning car, with appropriate safety belts and room for car seats? yes / no
- Do you want a live-in arrangement? yes / no
- If it’s not a live-in arrangement, where do you live and how would you get to work?
- If it were not a live-in arrangement, would you bring your own food or expect meals to be provided?
- Do you smoke? yes / no
- Are you willing to do light chores while our baby is sleeping? Which ones?
- Do you have any personal responsibilities or health issues that could interfere with a regular work schedule?
- When would you be able to start working?
- Would you ever be available to work evenings or weekends?
- Would you be available to travel with our family for weekends/vacations?
- When do you expect to take a vacation of your own?
- What is your salary range?