Maternity leave, if you’re lucky enough to have it in the US, can feel like it’s over in the blink of an eye and all of the sudden it’s time to hand off the baby and go back to work.
As a work from home mom I made the choice to hire a nanny and keep baby close throughout the day. Not only could I see Michael whenever I wanted to pop my head in his room, I could hear him laughing with the nanny, breastfeed on demand and didn’t have to worry about exposure to viruses at such a young age. Not all moms have this options and some need that separation during the day to keep their sanity. I haven’t had to research the daycare route yet, but I’m sure I’ll be asking my momma friends for all their advice when the time comes.
Below, I’ll walk through my advice on a step by step basis for nanny scouting. I'll link to a separate post with my best practices/tips. Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions.
Please keep in mind, my nanny searches have been for a baby under one so while most of this is relatable for any age there may be things that don’t apply to you or things you would need to add in addition.
11 Steps for the Nanny Search
(1) Begin your search around a month before the nanny start date. This will give you much needed time to sort through candidates and go through the interview process, as well as trial runs.
(2) Even before researching nanny sites, sit down and write out everything you want the nanny to do, including start/finish times, days of the week, chores, details on your child(ren). Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions for what my needs were, as an example.
(3) Decide what method you want to use to find a nanny. I used Urban Sitter (link) and was happy with my nanny decision. However, I found out later from friends there is a great site called Golden Gate Mothers Group for mommies and people are constantly recommending nannies - so when I need to search again, I’ll use that site. There are multiple options for nanny searches that provide background checks and different levels of quality. 100% ask around and see what your friends have used, do some google searches for your city.
Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions for available nanny finding sites.
(4) Once you’ve narrowed down the sites you want to use, look around at the per hour price ranges. What qualifies people asking for more and what are the ones asking for less not willing to do? In the Bay Area, typical price is around $20 an hour. Decide what you’re willing to spend.
(5) Post your job. Include as much of the details as you can from your “needs” brainstorm session and send the job posting out into the webiverse.
(6) While you wait for applicants, deep dive into the profile listings on the nanny site. See someone that really stands out? Send them a message and ask if they would be interested in speaking. Most of the sites offer you a way to search through potential nannies with the criteria you need (days of the week, time.)
(7) As applicants start coming in, check out their profiles and see who you get a good feeling from. One thing about Urban Sitter I liked is that the users have an option to record a video of themselves - this really helped me get an impression of their personalities and the energy they put out. The woman I ended up hiring had a very bubbly, happy personality on her video that I knew my son would click with. I also looked up everyone that applied on social media - maybe a little overboard, but if you’re going to be caring for my kid I want to know what kind of person you are outside of the professional front.
(8) After you’ve had time to check into the applicants profiles, it’s time to request first round interviews. For this, a phone call is a good way to go. You can get a feel for the applicants personality quickly and if it’s obvious you don’t mesh you don’t have the awkwardness of being in person. You can also talk with a lot more people as it’s easier to set up a call then meet in person. I recommend talking to as many applicants as you can, it will help prepare you for questions in the second round interviews. And be prepared to answer any and all questions the applicant will have. In this interview, try to have the applicant do most of the talking.
Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions for suggestions of first round interview questions.
(9) Try to finish up first round interviews with all the candidates within a week so you can reach out quickly and schedule second round interviews with the ones you liked. I highly suggest meeting with at least three (3) people and try not to stick with one demographic - the young college girl might not seem as great after you meet with the older woman who has four grown children and knows her stuff. Or vice versa.
For this interview, I picked a coffee spot near my home. It allowed the candidate to have a good idea of the commute to my neighborhood and created a more professional/public environment. I also didn’t want multiple people coming in and out of my house right away before meeting them in person.
Definitely bring the kiddos around for this, and your partner/spouse (if applicable.) It’s important now that you all get a feel of the potentials nannies. In this interview, you should be doing most of the talking, explaining exactly what your needs are.
Try to keep these interviews all within the same week as well and let the candidates know when you’ll be making your decision (by the next week? Two weeks? You get the idea.)
Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions for suggestions on second round interview questions and points to discuss.
(10) Reference check (and background check). You should reference check any person before moving to the next step. It might even make sense to reference check after first round interviews to help you prepare for second round. Get at least two references for each candidate. As mentioned earlier, most nanny sites provide background checks which is a huge help.
Nanny Search Tips and Suggestions for reference check conversations suggestions.
(11) Finished interviewing and reference checking? Talk with your family, trust your instincts and set up a trial sitting session with one the candidates you like most. I did a week trial with one woman, who became my nanny - it went well and we flowed naturally into permanent full time. I was up front about everything, basically saying “I really enjoyed speaking with you and would love to setup a week trial to make sure this works for both of us. Are you available next week?” After the week was over, we had a quick conversation double checking we were on the same page and that was that.
If you have someone you really liked, make the offer quickly as good nannies get scooped up.
One last comment on two additional items you should research, a nanny contract and paying the employer taxes (aka the nanny tax.)
I do not have a nanny contract, but my situation is extremely flexible so if my nanny quits I'm not in a bad spot and I am extremely aware of being a fair employer. Also, I'm not really sure how the whole process works - do you need to get it notarized? Do I need to study labor laws? Just a little too complicated for me, but doesn't mean it isn't a smart idea. If you're hiring a full time nanny and need the extra security, it's probably a must do.
Nanny Contract Tips for more information on nanny contracts.
Nanny tax information - Nanny Tax