Things to consider before Hiring a Nanny

Hiring a nanny is in many ways like inviting another adult to become a part of your family. This is a big step to take and not a decision to be taken lightly. It is very important to consider a number of issues before you finally take the plunge and hire a nanny:

– Sit down with your spouse/partner and write down a job description. Include things like: hours that you expect the nanny to work, this may include one or two nights a week babysitting, it may include occasional week-end work and it may include occasional overnight work if you are likely to be away. Decide what you expect the nanny to do as part of her job; will she be caring for the children including cooking their meals, doing their laundry and homework with them, getting involved in school activities and running them around to the various after school activities that they will be involved in if they are old enough? Do you expect her to do other housework as well?

– Decide if you want to employ a live in or a daily nanny. If you want to employ a live in nanny do you have adequate accommodation for her? It will be important to be able to give her a room of her own that will be for her sole use. She will need privacy and time out from the children during the hours that you are not expecting her to work. If it is possible then her own sitting room and bathroom are even better as she will be able to have a little area that feels like her own home. If you are employing a nanny to live in then it is imperative that you have fixed hours that you will expect her to work. Make it clear from the beginning if you expect her to be on call twenty four hours a day, or if you would like to be able to call on her during the hours that she is not supposed to be working, in an emergency. It is difficult to draw the line between work and non work when you have small children and it will not be fair to the nanny if you allow your children to constantly want to visit her room and spend time with her when she is enjoying time off from her job. It is also important if you are employing a live in nanny to decide if you want her to join the family in the evenings if you are all sitting around watching a movie or having a meal. Many families like this time to themselves and it is much easier if the nanny knows from the start that although she may occasionally be invited to watch a movie with the family, or join in with some other activity, generally you would prefer her to keep to her own quarters when she is not working.
If the nanny is living in then you will need to discuss meals, laundry and other practical things that she will need to have access to because your home will be her home and she will need to be able to treat it as such.

A daily nanny is a little bit less complicated to hire because once she has finished work for the day she will be able to say goodbye and go home. It will be important to discuss what meals she will have at your house, and what hours you expect her to work. It is also important to realise that if you ask her to babysit or to spend the occasional night at your house then she will probably expect to be paid extra for this.

– Decide if you want to allow the nanny to have sole charge of your children, or if you want to share their care with her. Whether or not you are sharing the care of your children with the nanny, it is important for them that everyone who is helping to look after them agrees on certain areas such as discipline, boundaries and rules. There is nothing more damaging to children than living in a household where each of the adults who is taking care of them has a different set of rules and regulations that they go by. This leads to very confused and unhappy children.

– Are you going to be able to cope emotionally with the bond that will probably develop between the nanny and your children? If you employ a good nanny then she will treat your children as her own and will probably grow to care about them and even love them. This is difficult to watch as a parent because it is very easy to start to believe that your children love the nanny more than they love you, or they behave better for the nanny than they do for you. If you employ a nanny then you need to expect that your children are very likely to try to play you off against the nanny. They are also excellent manipulators and if they sense that you feel like you are in competition with the nanny for their love and affection they will play this trump card to their advantage.

– What manners, morals and discipline methods are important to you for your children? You will need to be able to discuss with the nanny what you expect of your children, what your boundaries are and what you will and will not tolerate behaviour wise. You will also need to remember that your nanny’s manners, morals and personality will affect your children as they grow and develop.

– Can you afford a nanny? Apart from a salary, which will not be cheap if you employ a good quality nanny, you will need to pay taxes and possibly a pension to the nanny. You will also need to allow her to have holidays and time off for illness or appointments. During this time you may need to employ a temporary nanny if you cannot look after your children your self.

– Never hire a nanny until you have carried out very thorough reference checks on her. Employing a nanny means trusting someone who will be given total access to your children, your house and your possessions. It is also a good idea to invite the nanny to spend a day with you and your family so that you can all spend some time getting to know each other and seeing how well you are able to work together.

– Draw up a contract that you and the nanny that you employ will both agree with and sign. Allow for a trial period as part of the contract so that both you and the nanny will have some time to decide if you are really suited to each other. Specify when the contract will be reviewed and stick to this. Although a nanny is like a member of the family, you need to maintain a professional relationship with her and having a contract will help you to do this.

– Decide how you will approach the nanny if she is doing something that you do not agree with. It is important that you have open lines of communication with the nanny so that you are comfortable talking to her about the way that she is doing the job, anything that you do not like, or anything that you are particularly pleased about. Make sure that she feels that you are easy to approach if she has some issues as well.

– If your nanny is going to be living in, will she be allowed to invite friends around to visit her when she is not working? If you are giving her access to a car, is this only to be used when she is working for you, or will she have access to it during her time off? Will the nanny be able to take the children out shopping, on outings and trips, on holidays, whenever she decides to, or will she have to get your permission for anything that she plans on doing with the children that means being away from home?

Some of these things sound like really trivial issues, but they all contribute to making the hiring of a nanny a success for you and the nanny. They will also help to ensure that your children are cared for by the best possible person when you are not able to do it.