Employing a Nanny
No longer just for the rich and famous, nannies are becoming a popular choice for many middle-class families. For busy working mums, the flexibility and often round-the-clock care a nanny provides is unbeatable. It's comforting to know that you have someone in place to look after your children if you have to work late, are stuck in traffic or planning to spend a weekend away. When you find that perfect Mary Poppins, life will never be the same again.
What is a Nanny?
A nanny is someone employed by a family either full-time or part-time to look after their children, including all the domestic tasks related to their care. Nannies can be live-in or live out, either male or female. A nanny can work up to 60 hours or week or more, usually unsupervised. While a nanny does not have to have official qualifications, many do – not only in childcare but also in First Aid, CPR training, health and safety and more.
Nannies are not just babysitters. Usually they are required to look after every aspect of the child's social, emotional and intellectual development, including potty-training, manners, homework, and social skills and development. Nannies have to have infinite patience, a good sense of humour and be fun, loving, energetic and creative – much like a mother!
Is Employing a Nanny Right for Me?
Some families love the idea of nurseries. They believe children do best in a socialised environment with other children of the same age. Other parents believe a childminder is the best option, giving children personal attention while still allowing them to mingle with other children on a regular basis.
Still other parents prefer employing a nanny, someone who can offer personal, nurturing childcare in your own home, almost like a third parent. However, employing a nanny can have its advantages and disadvantages. While some people find having the same person looking after their child day in and day out is comforting and gives children a sense of routine, others don't like the idea of their little angel going to someone else for comfort and support.
If you are thinking of going down the nanny childcare route, it's important to talk the idea over with your child or children, partner, and other family members. Think hard about whether this is the best childcare option for you, and whether it's the right choice for your child and your family as a whole.
Deciding on Your Needs Vs Wants
You'll never find a nanny who's absolutely perfect – well, practically never. It helps to prioritise your wants vs requirements. For example, you may require a nanny who is gentle and nurturing with your five-month-old daughter, yet with enough boundless energy to play football with your six-year-old son and drive him regularly to and from after-school football practice. You might also want someone who cooks Italian food, but that may not be an absolute requirement.
Once you have the specifications straight, it's time to iron out other details. Do you want a live-in or live-out nanny, a female one or a manny? How many hours a week do you require, at what salary? Don't forget you will be required by law to pay their tax, and it's a good idea to draw up an official contract.
Nannies are entitled to time off, including some weekend time, so figure that in. You might also want them to accompany you on family trips abroad, so employing a nanny who can easily obtain visas to the countries you plan to visit may be obligatory. Someone who speaks native English might be important to you, or you might want someone who speaks other languages.
Once you have everything straight in your head, it's time to start looking.
Finding a Nanny
There are many ways to look for that special someone. They include:
- Word-of-mouth. Visiting school or playgroups is a good way to meet other nannies, who may have friends looking for work. Asking other mums is also an excellent idea.
- Nanny agency. Nanny agencies are good is that they can easily provide someone who meets your specific requirements. However, be prepared to play a placement fee.
- The Internet. Many sites offer nannies, while individual nannies often advertise on sites such as Gumtree. The advantage of this is that you can often interview locally.
- Local ads. Sometimes nannies seeking to move on will post adds in the area where they have been living. They will be familiar with the area and experienced – worth a try!
The Interview Process
Following your gut instinct is always a good idea when it comes to employing a nanny. Even if someone ticks all the right boxes, if their personality isn't a good match everything can easily go pear-shaped.
At the interview, ask about their past experience, the ages of the children they previously cared for, and previous responsibilities. Find out about their specific training, hobbies and interests. Try to discover as much as you can about their views on sleeping, eating and discipline, to see if their childrearing philosophy is similar to your own. And have them spend some time with your own children, to see if they get along.
Finally, it is imperative to fully check at least two references to make sure you are getting someone safe. If they cannot provide you with references, there is usually a reason why.