How to Take the Stress Out of Hiring a Nanny - Baby Chick
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How to Take the Stress Out of Hiring a Nanny

Hiring a nanny? This step-by-step guide will take the stress out of finding an amazing care giver for your little ones.

Updated July 16, 2024

by Guy Maddalone

Household Employment Expert

Hiring a nanny can be overwhelming and time-consuming; two words, parents (or parents-to-be) never want to hear as they may already be inundated with work and family obligations and crunched for time.

We’ll break it down step-by-step, so you can take the stress out of the process of hiring a nanny and finding a great caregiver for your children.

How to Take the Stress Out of Hiring a Nanny

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Plan on at least four to eight weeks to find a nanny. If you rush the hiring process or skip vital steps, you may bring on board the wrong employee and will find yourself back in the nanny market.

Figure Out What You Need

Do you need a full-time nanny to work a Monday-Friday schedule? Or part-time for just a few days a week? Do you need schedule flexibility, such as care for nights and weekends? Will your nanny be live-in or live-out?

Determine Qualities You Want in a Nanny

Do they need to know basic first aid and CPR? Are you seeking someone with a background in early childhood education? Do they need a college degree? What kind of experience do you want? Do they need to have a clean driving record?

What Else Do You Need the Nanny to Do?

Do you need your nanny to do housework, laundry, prepare meals, or other duties? A nanny will typically prepare meals for your children, do their laundry, and clean up from their day. If you need more than that, you may be looking for more of a nanny/housekeeper, and that may exclude more qualified nannies from working for you.

What is Your Budget?

The more qualifications you want, the more you should be willing to pay for an hourly rate. A nanny needs to be paid at least minimum wage and receive time-and-a-half in overtime pay. Consider the cost of back-up care when your nanny takes time off or calls in sick. You will also need to pay employment taxes and possibly purchase workers’ compensation if required in your state.

Write a Detailed Job Description

Include the qualities you want in a nanny, such as level of education, discipline techniques, special skills like art or music, and experience. Detail the hours and schedule the nanny is expected to work as well as the hourly rate. Provide the ages, gender of your children, and the location of the job.

Get the Word Out

Friends, neighbors, family members, and colleagues may have referrals for you. Post to local parent groups. Use a placement agency to help find qualified applicants for your position. Online job sites will help you reach the largest pool of candidates but expect to weed through many unqualified job seekers.

Start the Interview Process

Candidates should provide a list of families they’ve worked for in the past and education, certifications, and related child care experience.

From there, narrow your applicant pool to less than 10 and start to screen them. A phone call is the best way to start judging candidates, but email and text can be effective as well. How responsive are they? Do they act professionally? How well do they communicate?

Cut your list to four or five potential hires.

Meet Face-to-Face

Set up a time to meet your top candidates. Look for professionalism and communication skills. Talk about their opinions on discipline, education, and child raising and what a typical day with your child would be like. Understand how they will get to your home. Do they have reliable transportation, or will they use public transit? Ask about past employers. What did they enjoy or not like about these families?

Invite Your Best Candidates to Your Home

After these initial meetings, invite the top two or three candidates to meet and interact with your children. Do they seem comfortable in your home and with your children? Try to give them space and observe from another room if possible.

Check References

If you’re down to one or two candidates, start checking their references. These should be former employers and not relatives or friends. Ask your candidate’s former nanny families about reliability, communication skills, performance issues, handling certain responsibilities, and more. Confirm dates of employment.

Conduct a Background Check

Suggested background checks include driving records, social security, credit history, criminal convictions, drug testing, and sex offender registries.

Review a candidate’s “digital footprint” on social media sites. You may find inappropriate images, evidence of drinking or drug use, disparaging words about a previous employer, or discriminatory comments that could lead you to reject a candidate.

At the same time, you may find a professional online persona or signs of a personality that would be a good fit for your family.

Decide on a Candidate

You’re ready to make a hire. One last check . . . your gut. Although you’re also not hiring someone to be your friend, you still need to feel comfortable with this person looking after your children. Remember your top priority is hiring a professional caregiver.

Make an Offer

When making a formal offer, always propose an hourly rate based on gross pay. This is the total amount they will earn before taxes, and other deductions are taken out of their pay.

Create a Work Agreement/Nanny Contract

Establish a clear understanding regarding duties and responsibilities. A detailed nanny contract reduces the likelihood of issues. Include work hours, duties, wages, pay schedule, benefits, paid time off, sick days, and paid holidays. You and your nanny should review and sign the agreement and have it in place before their first day on the job.

If this seems like a lot of work, well, it is! The time and preparation you spend during the hiring process will pay great dividends down the road with a confident, comfortable, and engaged nanny caring for your children.

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Guy Maddalone
Guy Maddalone Household Employment Expert
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Guy Maddalone, widely-recognized as the nation’s foremost household employment expert, is the author of How to Hire a Nanny: Your Complete Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Retaining Household Help, which… Read more

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