The 5 Most Important Questions to ask your Nanny

By Ruth Maurandy

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1)    Tell me why you chose to be a nanny, what brought you into childcare

This is a very important question because you want to make sure that the nanny you hire is nannying your children for the right reasons i.e. she loves children and childcare and not because she just needs to earn some extra money.

2) How would you structure a day for my children, especially on a miserable wet Switzerland day?

Rockmybaby recommends that all parents suggest from the beginning that they want an “active nanny.”   It is very important to hire someone who is proactive, a self-starter and someone who seeks out enriching, educational and fun activities. Switzerland is full of amazing and often free activities. This is a very important question to ask and the nanny should be able to answer it without hesitation. Recently during the interview process a Rockmybaby candidate answered this question by saying “Rainy days are the best days! We do arts and crafts, make our own play-doh, create, rehearse and then perform a show for the parents when they come home from work…”   Her enthusiasm and positive attitude was so obvious and sincere!

3) How would you soothe a baby who could not stop crying in public or a 3-year old tantruming?

We have all had situations when our children cried uncontrollably (I am remembering a transatlantic flight and my daughter crying uncontrollably, so much so that we went into lavatory to give the other passengers a break from the noise) it is difficult, embarrassing and can make any caregiver feel powerless. It is important to know how a nanny is going to handle this situation.   She should discuss the importance of safety at that moment, especially for a tantruming toddler and being certain that the child cannot hurt them or anyone else.   Sometimes a child can be soothed and other times they just need to “ride it out,” but as a parent you need to be sure your nanny can handle this type of situation.

4) What would you do to ensure there is a clear communication between us? 

It is very important that the nanny and parents have a constant and on-going dialogue. Rockmybaby recommends a daily nanny diary to record meals, naps, activities, mood etc., especially in the beginning.   We recommend for the nanny to send photos during the day so the parents can feel connected to their children. Another way to maintain dialogue and contact is a 5-minute weekly meeting to make sure that everyone is aware about what is happening not only with the children but also in each other’s lives.

5) Tell me about your style of behavioral management?

It is very important that you and your nanny or babysitter have a “shared strategy,” when it comes to behavioral management.   The nanny or babysitter you choose is going to be spending a lot of time with your children and there will be times when she needs to manage your child’s behavior. As the parent it is essential that you are on the same page as the nanny when it comes to behavioral management or you will contradict each other and your children will receive mixed-messages and this is a disservice to everyone involved the children, the parents and the nanny

 

A single critical motivator for using a specialist childcare recruitment agency in your nanny search

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Quite often families hesitate to use nanny agencies due the costs involved and rather choose to do so privately through internet sites and social media. Hiring a care giver to take care of your child or children is unquestionably the most important hire you’ll ever make.  It consequently makes perfect sense to entrust a Specialist Caregiver Recruiter with the critical selection process.

Appointing and retaining the right care giver will greatly affect your child’s feelings about himself and the world.  Positive, stable and consistent relations with a caregiver will go a long way in creating and maintaining your child’s feelings of security, optimism and self-worth.

A child who is securely attached to a caregiver will be relaxed and comfortable with that person nearby.  She’ll feel confident exploring slightly beyond her caregiver’s grasp because she knows she can rely on that person to respond in a way that’s predictable and reassuring if she needs help or gets hurt.

Research suggests that children take a significant amount of time to form attachments to caregivers, so they are less likely to form attachments if frequent caregiver changes occur.  It has also been reported that there is a relationship between the number of caregiver losses experienced by a toddler and the likelihood that the child may be more prone to being socially withdrawn or aggressive with peers [Howes & Hamilton, 1993].

Statistics show that the turnover of Caregivers hired via Professional Agencies is significantly lower than turnover of caregivers who are hired privately.

So therefore one should not just look at the costs involved in using an agency but really the overall value to you and your family. 

How Hiring a Nanny can go Wrong

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The pressure of finding a nanny in a hurry can cloud your judgement and make the final decision and hiring process a messy affair.

Finding a nanny using one of the many popular online sites that allow anyone to list themselves as a nanny is also a dangerous gamble for the family.

The best way around the problem is to use a recruitment consultant with expertise in nanny placements which can save you time and money in the long run.

A reputable nanny recruitment agency will  help avoid the following pitfalls when you are hiring your nanny.

1. Insufficient Reference Checking and Background Checks

Taking the time to contact previous employers and families that have been nominated as referees is essential. 
Failing to contact referees and speaking honestly about your needs and their experiences with the nanny is a common mistake.
 Identifying a common thread of ideas and values that have been shared and experienced by previous families is the key to a stress free working relationship with a nanny.
 Not asking for a current Criminal Clearance and verifying that it belongs to the nanny is putting your children at risk and not worth the omission.

 2. Offering a Lower than Standard Rate of Pay

Hiring a nanny can be expensive but offering a low rate of pay will undervalue their worth and commitment to you and the family.
 The old adage,  “you get what you pay for” holds true for this attitude towards the worth of a nanny.
The nanny may find it easier to take a day off or to leave for a better paying job, leaving you stranded and in need of emergency child care!

3. Expectations for Housekeeping and Cleaning

Hiring a nanny is not synonymous  with hiring a cleaner. Being unrealistic and inflexible when considering what the nanny will be doing while the baby has a nap does not mean you need to fill every minute of their day with housekeeping duties.

Light housework IS expected and keeping areas clean tidy and safe are necessary. The kitchen surfaces and food preparation areas need to be kept tidy and clean. And yes a toilet may need to be cleaned if the children have soiled or “missed” the bullseye!
 But expecting the nanny to hang the family washing, mop floors, vacuum and dust the house all in a day is both unrealistic and an unfair working condition.
 Most nannies work independently, without assistance or regular breaks. Their working days can be 8 to 10 hours in length. 
The chance to take a break, have a coffee or make a necessary private phone call will not lead to “bad habits” or a lazy nanny!
 Making an effort to understand their day is an important factor in building mutual respect and a committed employee.

4. Not Providing a Contract with List of Duties and Remuneration Details

Offering a Nanny Contract could be considered overly efficient and even over the top, but you are not making a new friend.
 You are paying the nanny to perform duties and tasks that require a level of skill, and competence that are appropriate to your requirements.

A contract of employment outlining expected duties and remuneration for any extra duties, such as use of own vehicle etc is a simple way to avoid misunderstandings.
 Review the contract regularly and discuss any changes with the nanny. Allow them to also make changes and suggestions.
 Remember to agree on the type of employment and payment schedule i.e. weekly, monthly etc and add this into the contract. 
It’s important that the nanny understands the terms of engagement and the nett or  “Take Home Pay” after deductions etc Signing and dating it will seal the deal.

5. Not Explaining Your Style of Parenting

This can always be an after thought by many parents when interviewing a prospective nanny. The differences in child care styles can be immense and if not discussed, can be the cause of the end of the relationship. Remember to always ask what the nannies view is on discipline and play. Ensure your philosophy on both these areas is clear and understood.
 Your children deserve consistency.

6. Inadequate Orientation and Training

If possible have the nanny spend time with you and the family. This is a great way to orientate and welcome the nanny to your home and routine. Most importantly it allows the children time to get to know and develop  a relationship with their new nanny.

7. Demanding Detailed Diaries and Work List

Asking the nanny to keep a diary of the days events is perfectly ok so long as it doesn’t become your check list to complain and find things they haven’t done. Micromanaging in this way will create tension and frustration on all levels.
Allow the nanny to manage their own day and if some days you receive art work and iced cakes instead of a detailed written account of the days activities it speaks for itself.

When you are planning to hire a nanny Rockmybaby Nanny & Babysitting Agency can offer you the best option to avoid these pitfalls. A professional recruitment consultant, interview tips, guidelines and a personalised planned approach to finding and placing the perfect nanny to suit your needs is the goal of every Rockmybaby Recruitment Consultant.