By Jak Burke,
You live in NYC. Your baby will be born in the next few months and soon it will be time to go back to work. You have either hired a nanny or you are about to. But you’re really anxious and you don’t know what to do with those feelings. First let’s look at the facts:
A child is more likely statistically to be harmed/murdered by a relative than a stranger much less a nanny. I know that’s not very comforting. However ‘nanny homicide’ is a very, very, very low incident event. So let’s start with your search and hiring.
- Source your prospective nanny through a reputable, licensed nanny agency. Nanny agencies only retain legal, educated and experienced childcare providers.
- Request that your agency runs a police, a credit and an INS check on all candidates.
- Ask the agency whether their candidates have offered two, local, land-line, references. (A local person/s would be optimum for when you do a follow-up. A land-line will put off potential fraud, such as a nanny using a friend to be a fake reference. A land-line established an address, and an address indicates real credible ex-employers.
- Interview: listen to your own gut and watch the body language of a prospective nanny. How do you feel in her company: warm, nervous, awkward? How does your prospective nanny seem: nervous, arrogant, sullen, warm?
- Look online for an interview and profiling questionnaire, it should list extensive in depth questions. Have these questions to hand when you interview people. Follow up with a separate ‘personality’ profiling sheet.
Interview and trials
- If a nanny interview goes well, arrange for the nanny to do a (paid) trial with your baby. Observe: how comfortable is the nanny with a baby? How is my baby reacting? Am I able after 15 minutes to quietly leave the room? How does my baby react when I return?
- Request then photocopy: passport and driver’s id.
- Now arrange to meet the two local references provided by your nanny. When you meet a reference ask discerning questions, listen to the subtext and body language. If possible ask the children if old enough what they thought of your prospective nanny.
Hiring and training
- Once you are fully satisfied with your prospective nanny, you will want to make an offer of employment. Draw up an agreement or contract that outlines duties, timeline, hourly rate, benefits and termination clauses.
- Install a Nanny Cam/s. Inform a prospective nanny.
- Upon employment offer your nanny full training. This may involve taking some time from work to orient her in your child’s schedule, on how the apartment works, and anything else that makes your child’s transition from care by you to care to a nanny, seamless.
- Monitor your child’s behavior and the Nanny Cam footage on a daily basis for the first 3 months. Any problems your child will potentially have with a new nanny will surface quickly.
- Ask friends neighbors and the building staff to keep a friendly eye out on your new nanny. Ask them how she responds to them, what is their feeling about her. Does she seem happy, friendly and connected to your baby?
- Check in with your nanny regularly. Show her that raising a baby takes a village or teamwork, and that it isn’t an ‘Us V You’ arrangement.
- Appreciate her insights and value her care for your baby. Find out if she has access to medical health care, if not, you may wish to include her in your own plan. Give her perks to show your gratitude and never increase her duties beyond those to do with childcare. Nothing annoys a nanny more than being taken advantage of.
Signs to look out for
- If your nanny changes dramatically for the worse and you suspect that she has major issues, find out why. If your nanny is experiencing financial problems and is constantly tired do not offer her more hours, or offer to find her a second nanny job. Find out why. Suggest debt counseling or debt consolidation but do not offer her money. This will only create further co-dependency upon your family.
- If you believe that your nanny’s financial issues are unsolvable and directly affecting her capacity to properly care for your baby, give her 2 weeks paid notice but do not expect her to work them. Take all keys back and if need be, change the locks. Major depression, a prolonged financial crisis, exhaustion, domestic dramas, a chemical reaction to an SSRI, can all quickly conspire into a deadly threat.
Caring for children requires teamwork. It cannot be a them versus us between parents and nannies. Nanny violence against children is an extremely rare event – thankfully. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of nannies faithfully and diligently rise each morning and head to work. Everyday families are supported by the pivotal and consistent care of a good nanny.
You can be too.