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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Need a nanny? Here are some pointers…

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Looking for a suitable nanny to look after my children was not an easy task as I had thought it would be. In a household with two parents working full time and two toddlers, a nanny is a necessity. First of all, will be cheaper than a daycare and secondly the kids will feel more at ease in a familiar environment. However, finding the right nanny on my own seems to me a tough job.

In the old days, the obvious route to start was to place an ad in the news paper. Normally the results are a nightmare. Dozens of phone calls at all times of the day. The answering machine will be jammed with calls, anybody from grandma’s neighbor to the high school kid down the street. In many cases it is so overwhelming you don’t know where to start. If you are to go through a screening process and meeting with all callers, you would need a vacation after this exhausting adventure.

To begin with, you have to figure out what are you looking for in a nanny. You know she will spend many hours everyday with our children, so you need someone affectionate, open minded, gentle but firm, and most importantly, someone who genuinely loves kids. Someone like… Mary Popins!!! Or maybe just somebody like her… Hey, you know this is almost an impossible task, but at least you have to try, right…?

Second, you have to prepare yourself for the interview: What questions to ask the nanny? What should you look for in a nanny? You may have to consider that she is very nervous during the interview, but how does she handle herself in such a situation? Did she approach the kids during the interview? How did they respond to her? You should also do your homework and prepare some ‘What if…’ questions. These are very important indicators to her ability to handle situations that may occur during an average day with children. … I told you, this is not an easy task.

After the interviews it’s time to make your assessment. Do it as soon as possible after the interviews while your memory is still fresh. Read your notes again on each candidate you met with (you took notes during the interviews, didn’t you?). Maybe now you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The other way is to call on a nanny agency. That should make things a lot easier to find a nanny. You call the agency, they send a candidate and… voila, you have a nanny - end of story. Well, not quite… As it turned out, you still have to put some work in this matter, before and after the actual hiring. How come, you say? Well, here is how it goes…

You start your search on the internet. You are looking for a reputable agency, preferably in business for several years. The best way is to ask about their experience. What happens if the nanny doesn’t work out? Are there any guarantees? Then, ask them to provide you with reference. Call on their customers and find out if their service is satisfactory.

Tell the agency what you need and they will know what to do. Provide them with a detailed description of so called “Mary Poppins” and let them do the job.

So, that was the easy part. Now, assuming the agency has done the preliminary screening of the candidates, you need to meet only a handful of candidates for a personal interview. After I put somebody else in charge with finding a nanny I can relax and watch another hockey game.

Good luck.



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