JENNIFER GERSON, THE NEW YORK TIMES (2019)
Hiring a new nanny will take time and effort, but there are lots of places to look — and great candidates to be found.
Talk to everyone you know. Ask people how they found their nanny. Ask people if they know a nanny. Ask people what they wish they had done differently.
Go to an agency. Think of a nanny agency as a matchmaker — someone who prescreens candidates, interviews families and does the work for you by bringing you candidates who seem like a good fit.
- Get online. There are many websites to help families identify candidates who seem worthy of at least an initial interview.
- Get social. Post an ISO (in search of) ad on your social media channels and on parent forums in your neighborhood and city.
- Get in a share. For many families, a nanny share is the best of all worlds: the hands-on care of a nanny, the benefits for your baby of socializing with other children and the savings of splitting the cost with another family.
- Seek wisely. Be a competitive employer, but also trust your gut.
Whether you meet with an agency, swipe through a web-based platform or stake out neighborhood playgrounds to get the inside scoop, you can find the nanny who is right for you. And as with so many things in life, the first step comes in being honest with yourself. Once you determine what you truly want in a nanny — from personality to hours to child care philosophy — you’re well on your way to finding the perfect match.
For this guide, the author consulted the founder of a nanny agency, the founder of a nanny search site and the founder of a popular online community for parents on the best ways to find the right nanny for your child – and for you.
WHAT TO DO
Begin your search early (but be realistic)
Start researching your options almost as soon as you or your partner get pregnant — and definitely get serious by the third trimester. Sarah Davis, the founder of Olive You Nanny — a nanny agency with locations throughout the United States — said that by the time you’re six weeks out from when you’d like your new nanny to start, it’s time to start interviewing.
How to even begin?
“Ask everyone you know — even folks without kids — if they know of a nanny that is looking for work,” said Susan Fox, founder of the online community Park Slope Parents.
John Philip Green, the founder and “Chief Executive Dad” of Toronto-based CareGuide and its nanny search site Nanny Lane — who has been through a few nanny searches himself — also said he would tell anyone to start with word of mouth. But he cautions searchers to be realistic: If this is the only mechanism you use to conduct your nanny search, your pool of candidates will be limited.
“The chance of knowing another mom or dad who knows a nanny available and in your time requirement can be tough — so if you’re really fortunate and you know someone who knows a nanny who has everything you need and is available when you need them, great,” Green said. “But using a service of some kind is the most likely way to go.”
Green’s Nanny Lane and sites such as UrbanSitter, Sittercity and Care.com present parents and parents-to-be with a lot of nanny profiles all in one place, giving nanny-hirers a sense of how candidates present themselves. Green described these sites as the DIY version of working with a nanny agency (see more on that below) — you’ll still identify a series of potential candidates, review resumes and interview, but you’ll pull the candidates yourself from an online pool instead of having someone at an agency do that step for you.
Because there are so many online parenting groups, there are more places to put word out that you’re looking, Fox said. Resumes will hit your inbox, she noted, but it’s good to be at least a little wary of recommendations you get from total strangers. “There are some con artists out there,” she said.
Find a good agency to find a good candidate
Investigate a nanny share in your neighborhood.
The nanny share, when two or more families jointly employ one nanny to care for their children together, is gaining traction, Green said. If you live in a densely populated area, you might want to shift your search to trying to find a family you mesh well with and partnering with them in a share — either by searching for a nanny together or by sharing a nanny they already employ. Many nanny-search sites, including Nanny Lane, allow users to search for other families in their area who are seeking a share in addition to searching nanny candidate profiles. The end result could be a win-win-win: You get to split the cost of a nanny’s salary while your child gets both personal attention and peer-to-peer socialization.
Don’t forget you’re building a team.
“You need your nanny to be on board with you,” Davis said — which means you need to be honest with yourself about who you are and who you need. “If you’re an attachment parent, you’re not going to want a nanny who is more Type A and driven by a schedule,” she said.
Rosalie Hall has worked as a nanny in the Southeast for almost 30 years. She said from a nanny’s perspective, to find a family that’s a good fit, compatibility is key: “Do we think along the same ways? Are we on the same page on things like getting the babies on a schedule?”
Hall, 56, explained that as a nanny, you don’t want to necessarily walk in and say, “Oh, just do it this way”; it’s preferable to find families that you can truly partner with — and that trust your experience. Her current family, first-time parents to twins, she said, are very open to “letting me take the reins and guiding them.”
Green suggests that before even meeting with candidates, you should start to make lists of things that are important to you, like the nanny’s having a driver’s license, and sharing your approach to discipline, so you know your deal-breakers from the start.
Hall pointed out that it’s important both parents and nanny share the same outlook when it comes to child-rearing and family life. When meeting with a potential new family, Hall said she always asks herself: “Are they happy, upbeat, positive people? Or are they stern and strict and serious?” Decades of experience have taught Hall that even during the interview process, she has to “learn to feel if I am compatible with them or not by watching them interact with their kids. If it’s the total opposite of what I would do, then, no — I wouldn’t feel comfortable in this house.”
Be competitive in your offer.
“Ask around,” Davis said. “Reach out to a couple of agencies and ask what the current going rate in your city is. Ask your friends and coworkers what they pay their nannies.”
But also keep in mind that there is no standard salary when it comes to the job title of “nanny.” Davis pointed out that factors like number of children and number of responsibilities (like meal prep, laundry and pet care) will all affect a final hourly rate. If you pay less than the average going rate in your community, “your nanny will find out very quickly that she’s being underpaid,” Davis warned. And you will very quickly find yourself beginning the nanny search all over again.
Green also said that it’s important to understand what you have to offer as an employer, adding that “there are things you can do to make your job look good.” A nice photo in your online or agency posting might catch a good nanny’s attention — whether it be of your children (if you are comfortable with that) or even of their favorite toys and playroom. Because experienced nannies are harder to find in some markets, you need to be up front about the number of children, duties, hours and pay — but you also could include details that show your family’s personality and make your position stand out, Green said.
Trust your gut.
“Frankly, everyone looks good on paper,” Fox said — which is why you have to trust your own parenting instincts. “Is it scary to leave your child with someone you don’t really know? Sure. However, it’s important that children learn to be cared for by different people with different styles of caregiving.” She recommended that parents have quarterly reviews to keep things running smoothly, do unplanned drop-ins at home and places your child will be, and ask teachers for feedback. “If at any time your gut says, ‘Something’s not right,’ listen,” she said.
And you’ll probably feel more secure in your choices if you can have some points of reference. Fox recommended asking coworkers and friends what they would have done differently when they were hiring their nannies — which is an easier question for people to answer than, “Why do you like your nanny?” and one that will provide more nuanced insights.
Founded in Toronto, Canada in 2013, CareGuide matches families with local care providers through a portfolio of vertically-focused services, including Sitter.com, Housekeeper.com, PetSitter.com, ElderCare.com, HouseSitter.com, NannyLane.com, and more. In Canada, CareGuide also operates CanadianNanny.ca & HeartPayroll.com, the largest nanny matching & payroll services in the country.