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Magalog Flashback: Finding the Right Nanny

What do you get when you combine a catalog with a magazine? Our magalog, Surprises, is your guide to the best of our baby gear selection and the top toys of the season. But there’s more: each issue of Surprises is loaded with informative articles about babies and kids, and common-sense advice that you can use.

Just in case you missed them, we’re reposting our magalog backlog here on the Spilling the Beans blog. And we’ve got a great new issue on the way, launching in November 2012. Go here and sign up to make sure you get yours!


4 Steps to Finding the Right Nanny
by Katie Bugbee, Managing Editor of Care.com

Wanted: Super-nanny with a heart of gold. Must love kids with every cell in her body, handle an emergency with maturity and expertise, thoroughly understand early childhood development and be present for our family in every way. Must also prep organic, allergy-free meals, fold up a jogging stroller with one hand, do CPR, and find lost lovies and binkies while soothing a screaming child.

The stress of finding such a trusted high-quality caregiver is enough to make you want to throw a tantrum yourself, but it doesn’t have to be so unnerving. The following tips can walk you through the process of getting the nanny – or manny – you deserve.

1. Make a list
Write down the qualities you are looking for in a caregiver. It’s great to use message boards or talk to veteran moms to learn the qualities they loved or wish they had in a nanny. Also think about what you’ll want this person to do during her days with your children. Will she be driving, doing laundry, or cooking? What hours will you need? Considering that your ideal candidate will stay for a number of years, you will want to think about this person meeting the needs of your kids as they grow.

Some ideas to keep in mind:
• Do they need to have nanny experience, or is it okay if they have only taught at a child care center? Is it preferred that they have raised their own children?
• Do they have experience with children of your child’s age?
• How much education would you like them to have?
• What personality traits are you looking for?
• Are special skills like cooking, driving, athletics, or language important to you?

2. Create a job posting
From your notes, write a job description that describes your ideal candidate. It’s also nice to tell potential nannies a little about your family. The more specific you are, the better chance you’ll have of finding the right fit.

Start with a summary. Write one or two sentences about who you are and what you’re looking for, including personality traits, hours, and how many months or years you’ll need a nanny.
Explain responsibilities. List the duties that the nanny must perform such as feeding, bathing, driving to activities, homework, setting up play dates, etc. Also, note other expectations that are important on the job – for instance, if it is necessary to communicate or check in daily with you.
Don’t leave out extras. If you want cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping or other housekeeping assistance, make sure to clarify. It’s important to be as upfront as possible, so you filter for caregivers who are interested in all aspects of your job.
Include house rules. If you have certain deal-breakers like smoking or cell-phone use, include these as requirements. If you’re looking for a live-in nanny or au pair, specify if house rules include no guests or overnight visits.
List requirements and skills. Want a nanny with a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education? Lifeguard training? A safe driving record? Make sure to add these items to the description. Include other preferred skills like soccer coach, Spanish speaking, and healthy food prep.
Want to go a step further? Include what a typical day with your children might look like.

3. Start your search
There are plenty of nanny search websites online, but of course, we’d recommend Care.com! There are two ways to connect with caregivers on our site. The first (and easiest) is to post and sort from the list of nannies who respond to your specific job. The other way is to type in your zip code and read profiles of caregivers within a certain commute. Using site tools, you can fine-tune your search to the type of childcare provider you’re seeking and narrow the results based on needs such as hourly rate, pet-friendliness, and willingness to care for sick kids. You can also use the search tool to type in anything more specific. Then, send the providers you like the most a message about your job opportunity!

4. First contact
Just like any other job-application process, take time to review profiles, request resumes, do research, and interview thoroughly. Get a good picture of who your nanny candidates are, how they would handle an emergency, and how they might interact with your family. Also get a feel for who their references are. Ask for more references than they immediately relay, and be sure to run the free background check that Care.com provides.

Lastly, be polite! For candidates who do not qualify for your position, make sure to follow up with a courteous “no thank you.” As many families will tell you, hiring a care provider is an intimate act. Kids need care, and finding great care requires work. By following our suggestions, you should be able to find your very own Mary Poppins.

Founded in 2006, Care.com is the largest and fastest-growing service used by families seeking high-quality babysitters and nannies, providing a place to easily connect with hundreds of thousands of care providers, share caregiving experiences, and get advice.

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