I’d like to begin this post with information on the artwork I’ve used called “Mary Poppins” by Shoshana Dubiner. I believe Mary Poppins is the quintessential figure people think of when the word “nanny” is spoken. Look over the painting and you will see that the child is scared, he is getting a new nanny and has no idea what to think of this lady flying in holding an umbrella. He knows not of Mary Poppins’ magical ways; but will soon find out, and he will be enamored with her. When I began writing this post I went in search of images to use, and of course a Mary Poppins figure popped in my head. When I found Dubiner’s painting I was thrilled, not only because I really liked it, but also because the artist is originally from Ohio!
Shoshanna Dubiner is an artist and designer who resides in Oregon, but born in Cleveland, OH and lived there until she was 11 years old. She loved the Mary Poppins series of books when she was a child, and her “Mary Poppins” represents how she felt about her. Dubiner commented to me that she thinks of Mary Poppins as “the Fairy Godmother and the Queen of the Night wrapped into one.” If you’d like to purchase this print, please go here: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/mary-poppins-shoshanah-dubiner.html.
Finding good childcare was and is not on my top ten list of favorite things to do. From daycares to in home daycares to nannies to Grammies, choosing the best fit for the family was challenging and overwhelming. I’ve been home with my children for five years and am going back to school to finish my education degree, which means the kids need a sitter. My husband and I haven’t used many sitters, actually, most of them have been my parents, other family members, or close friends; searching for childcare was uncharted waters for us. We ended up going with a part-time nanny and my mom, and I’d like to share my experience – here’s the skinny:
1. Cried. Okay, got that over with…time to focus.
2. Researched my options. There are daycares, daycares with preschool included, in home caregivers that take X number of children, and nannies. I opted for a nanny because I wanted to disrupt my children’s lives as little as possible, and the idea of having them stay in their own home was appealing to me. Plus, I have a few friends who have had nannies and highly recommended that path.
3. Laid out a budget. Our bank had a spending spreadsheet that helped us see where we were spending our money, how we could cut back, and helped us determine what we could pay her/him.
4. Threw out feelers. I made my decision to get a nanny, now what do I do? I asked friends, used social media, and searched online.
5. Created my job description and posted it in various places, as follows:
- Care.com – highly recommend because you can pay by month to post your job, they provide background checks, and qualifications. It cost me $35 for the month – worth it!
- Craigslist – shocked by the amazing response of qualified individuals. Granted, I had to weed through my emails for the good ones, but this is actually how I found my darling nanny (who was also on care.com). FREE.
- Took out an ad in our local suburban paper. Noone responded – waste of money.
- Word of mouth. FREE.
- There are other great sites out there too, such as: nanny.com, sittercity.com, nannies4hire.com, gonannies.com, and aupair.com. My aunt suggested contacting local churches as well, which I ended up not having to do.
6. Emailed initial questions to candidates I liked. Once I posted the job description it took one day to get a slew of emails. To help me weed through candidates, my friend sent a list of interview questions she used. “Weeding out” questions, such as: Do you smoke?; Do you like dogs (because we have two mini schnauzers that love attention)?; Do you have your own transportation and a good driving record?
7. Asked candidates to come for a first interview. If their answers to my questions were right on, then I asked them to come for a first interview. Some of them wanted to meet in a public place and others had no problem coming to my home. I have my kids with me 24/7, so I preferred someone who could come to me.
I asked my children to play downstairs and put the dogs in the laundry room so I could have time to focus on the person. I began by sharing more about my family and our needs, asked more in depth questions (such as: what would you do if you locked your keys in the car at the library?; Tell me how you show affection to children; What would be a lunch you’d fix the kids?; Are you experienced and okay with potty training?), and then had casual conversation to see, frankly, if we clicked.
8. Do a background check. Read the comment from Ann below to find out why. (Care.com provides that and probably the other caregiver sites, but if you use craigslist or word of mouth, please be sure to do a background check on the person/people you like).
9. Asked the ones I liked for a second interview to play with my children. Crucial – do your kids like them? Do they like your kids? If they don’t seem interested or excited to be with your children – escort them out. Period.
My second interview lasted about an hour and forty-five minutes. She played with the kids for about an hour and then I asked a few follow up questions – more nitty-gritty questions, such as: “How do you like to get paid?” Some nannies like to take out their own taxes and some prefer for the employer to do so. If she/he prefers for the employer to take out taxes, get in touch with your tax person or any local tax agency for guidance.
10. Offered the job. Do this over the phone or in person if you really like them after the second interview. I followed up with an email that reiterated what we agreed upon: hourly rate, start date, etc. We also offered reimbursement for first aid/CPR training for taking the job.
11. Have an initial meeting to go over the household. I am having my nanny come over a week before for a few hours to show her where everything is, discuss more of my expectations, and get to know her a little better. During this time, I am also providing a contract that states our agreement in writing for both of us to sign.
12. Create an informational folder for the nanny. In this folder will be: a copy of her contract, list of emergency contacts, hospital/urgent care information, list of libraries and playgrounds nearby, information about memberships, and anything else that may be of importance.
Please leave me a comment if you have stuff to add or just want to share your story. Would love to hear about your experiences!