New Mom? Some Tips on Hiring a Nanny!

Our hearts go out to the Krim family of NYC, whose nanny is believed to have taken the life of their two young children.  As a mother of three, here are a few tips for new moms out there who are working and need to hire a nanny or babysitter:

-Beware of Craigslist.  I recommend avoiding it all together when searching for any caregiver.  Ask around…talk to your friends and neighbors.  Try to hire someone with ties to your community.  Someone who has worked for families in your immediate area.  Someone with a paper trail of solid references and ideally someone who lives in the area.

-Stay away from “My Nanny is Available” ads – here is an example I just pulled from Craigslist:

Our nanny/Housekeeper is looking for a new family in th pasaden area. As we canont offer her a full time job any more. She is looking for a live out full time
Monday through Friday job as a nanny and / or housekeeper in ether San marino, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Altadena, Sierra madre or La canada Flintridge.
All hours on weekdays are fine.
She has 16 years of experince with childcare and housekeeping and with children ages from infant to teenagers.
She has her own insured car and clean driving record. She knows CPR, FIRST AID and provide full Background information and exellent reference upon
She has been a reliable, trustgworthy, stable factor for us in our otherwise busy lives over past 2 years and we cannot recommend her enough. Responding to
this posting will put you in contact with her directly.

These ads are almost always posted by the nanny herself (and note the misspellings).   Any good nanny doesn’t stay out of work for long!

-You can’t be too thorough with background checks.  When interviewing, tell your applicant right away that you are performing a background check.  It will filter out bad ‘eggs’ who have reason to avoid a background check.  When checking references, do some simple reverse phone number searches to confirm that the person you are speaking with is the person who is listed as a reference.  These can be done on the internet.  There are many services, that, for a small fee, will let you know who the phone number is registered to.  It is just a simple sanity check. Use GOOGLE!  Look up and read about the nanny and the references.  It is *important* to research who the families are who your caregiver has worked for in the past.  Make sure they are real people…real families with real children.  You might be surprised to find out that a lot of what is posted on Craigslist or even Sittercity is not what it appears.  I once had someone apply for a job who was using her sister as her main reference.  This was apparently someone she had worked with in a long term caregiver role.  This was easily sniffed out via Facebook!  She was listed as a family member on Facebook and additional information was readily available.  Use the tools available to you online! Call all of the references supplied.  Beware that some unscrupulous applicants use friends as references.  This can easily be “sniffed out”!  Ask basic questions about job responsibilities and balancing work/family life and you will soon know if you are talking to a mom or a friend of the applicant.  Take your time.  Any other mother serving as a reference is going to answer your questions. It’s a “mom” thing!  I would never think of rushing another mother off the phone who was calling to inquire about someone who had cared for my children and was a potential applicant.

-Spend the money on a proper background check with an agency equipped to do it the right way.  Social security numbers, driving history and criminal background checks should be done.  These are your children and the cost is worth it.

-This is important!  When setting up interviews via email or the phone, tell applicants to bring photocopies of their license and other key information with them to the interview.  These are all screening steps that let the applicant know that you mean business in terms of checking them.  Have them fill out a basic job history and job application when they arrive.  These are your kids and all of the same screenings should be afforded that would take place in any professional environment.  Plus having a photo ID and key information of your caregiver is important for law enforcement should anything ever happen.  Do not hire someone to care for your children whose address and contact information do not match up with their license.

-Beware of people who don’t have a paper trial of references.  Beware of nannies who have recently relocated and don’t have any local references.  If all of their references are from Florida – and you live in CT – stay away!  Look for local babysitters with ties to the community.

-Use cameras.  Tell your caregiver that your child’s safety is paramount, that you have cameras in your home and that you will be checking on your child throughout the work day.  Any parent has the right to see what their child is doing during the day and any good nanny should be fine with that.  A picture is worth a thousand words!  It’s a great tool.  There are so many programs now that can be easily accessed from your computer, iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, etc. that can allow easy monitoring throughout the day.

-If you are hiring a “baby nurse”, be aware that these are not nurses.  They are not qualified to care for newborns anymore than any other babysitter, nanny or caregiver with newborn experience.  They are not regulated, they are not certified.   Even if you are exhausted and wiped out from a recent labor and delivery, you should still monitor your baby nurse (if you have one).  Keep the baby monitor in baby’s room and take a listen!  Be sure that your baby nurse isn’t checking her phone, texting or talking during the night (that might explain why junior’s schedule is so off!) if she is bunking in baby’s room while you recover.  

-Talk regularly with your caregiver to make sure that everyone is happy.  Communicate.  Set expectations.  

-Trust your gut! Take your time in hiring someone and trust your motherly instincts.  We mothers have them for a reason!  The more seriously you take the process and the screening process, the better your chances of getting the right person.  

Good luck!  ~Melissa Hawks, The Well Appointed House

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