Inside: Discover the best tips on how to find a nanny and feel confident that you’re making the right choice for your family.
Are you stressed, frazzled and hanging on by a thread? Do you know in the back of your mind that your child deserves better care, but you just don’t know where to start?
Then, you may need a nanny.
Admittedly, my husband and I didn’t think much about childcare before my son was born.
Since I don’t have a regular job any more, we just figured I’d be a stay-at-home mom. We quickly realized the amount of physical and emotional strength that goes into you caring for a baby all day long. While I can hack virtually anything, I would be a weak shell of my former self.
We also toured a couple daycares. But since I can’t drive, my husband would be responsible for dropping off and picking up Asher everyday. This didn’t seem realistic based on his work schedule.
With these things in mind, we decided that a nanny was our best solution for childcare. From our experience, I decided to put together How to Find a Nanny: An Ultimate Guide.
A nanny is a great way to ensure that your child is getting individualized attention on your terms. You may be weighing out all your options, so let’s start with the pros and cons of having a nanny.
- Your child will have one-on-one attention.
- You have more control over how your child is cared for.
- It helps your child develop secure-attachment with an adult.
- Most nannies will help out with other things around the house like laundry, making bottles and light meal prep.
- You can arrange flexible hours based on your schedule.
- The nanny will come to you, so you don’t have to worry about getting to and picking up your child from care.
- It’s convenient.
- The cost. Nannies are one of the most expensive forms of childcare.
- You may not be comfortable with having someone in your house
- Your child will have limited interaction with other children.
- You’re responsible for equipping the home with educational resources.
- Your nanny may quit at any time, leaving you without childcare.
- You have to manage an employee.
How to Start Your Nanny Search?
So you’ve decided that a nanny is the best option for you, but how do you get started? The first thing that you need to do is assess your lifestyle and determine your must-haves.
For instance, maybe you want your nanny to be available for date nights with advanced notice. In this case, it may be more advantageous to go with a younger nanny without kids of her own.
Maybe you travel a lot for work and want a nanny who has a passport and a flexible lifestyle?
Furthermore, while most families prefer a nanny to stay with them for years, this may not be realistic for someone in their early 20s. In this case, you may want to opt for a slightly older nanny with a more stable lifestyle.
A helpful place to start is by looking at available job openings posted on agency websites. Reading these will give you an idea of what other families are offering and where you fit in.
What Can You Afford?
Once you have an idea of your requirements, determine the pay range that you would feel comfortable offering. Consider factors such as how many kids, the kids ages, the household duties and any overtime hours that you may need.
To find the typical pay range for your area, check the care.com calculator (although, I think this is a little deceiving since most of the pay ranges I’ve seen are closer to $16 – $22 for one child).
I believe the term “nanny” is used too liberally. There’s a big difference between a babysitter and a nanny, especially when it comes to their contract. For most professional nannies, benefits such as PTO and healthcare are expected.
Each family will offer a different contract depending on their needs. Typical time off includes 10 days PTO with paid holidays. The guaranteed weekly hours will usually range from 35 – 45 depending on the family. In most cases, the pay will increase depending on the amount of children. You’ll also need to pay taxes.
Where to Look for a Nanny?
Because of our time constraints, we decided to go through a nanny agency. However, this may not be the best route for some families. Here’s a list of the places below to look for a nanny.
Nanny Agency – Going through a nanny agency is the most expensive option, but the benefit is you won’t have to do your own background checks, as the candidates have been fully vetted before they’re presented to you. It’s the least amount of work on your part and probably the best option if you’re looking for a professional nanny with lots of experience.
In our case, we paid a $500 fee to the agency, and then once we found a nanny, we paid the agency 8% of her salary (the $500 went toward the 8%). One downside to going through an agency is that the candidates will usually want full-time schedules. In my experience, it’s been harder to find part-time nannies through an agency.
Caregiver Listing Sites – You can also go through websites like Care, Sitter City and Nannies4Hire. Each website includes different membership packages for access to job postings and candidates. This is a cheaper option than going through an agency, but will be more work on your part. Also, you won’t have the satisfaction guarantee that you would with an agency. In our case, we pay $30 a month to the agency in the event that our nanny doesn’t show up and we can receive a replacement nanny that day.
Local Message Boards – You can also check local message boards in your area. In most cases, there will be a Facebook group local to you that will have sitters and nannies postings. This is the cheapest option to find part-time help, if you don’t mind doing your work own background checks. The downside of hiring from a local message board is that the candidates may have less experience. This is a good option for families simply needing hours covered and not expecting the nannies to teach educational activities or help with housework.
What About a Nanny Share?
In my experience, most professional nannies will prefer to have a full-time 40 hour/week schedule. However, it’s definitely possible to find a nanny who wants less or more. In our case, we gave 30 hours per week to our first nanny. We offset the hours by allowing flexibility in her schedule if she chose to get a second job.
A nanny share is a great option if you don’t need 40 hours a week or want to offset the cost. This way you can split the cost (and offer more to the nanny) and only pay for what you need. A nanny share offers more flexibility and socialization for your child.
One downside of a nanny share is compromising on your child’s schedule and not having control over the environment, if the care takes place at the other family’s house. Check out this care.com article to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of a nanny share.
Things to Look for in a Nanny?
The most important thing to look for when searching for a nanny is how much experience the person has and the ages of the kids they previously nannied for.
It’s also critical to check references. Learning a little about the families that your potential nanny has previously worked for will help you determine if she’ll be a good fit in your home.
Sometimes it’s hard to assess how well a nanny will fit into your family, because it’s hard to know what makes your family different from others. For example, some parents may be disciplinarians, while others may be more free spirited—But how do you know, if you don’t have anything to compare yourself to?
My advice is to think about your relationship with this person. Do you have similar communication styles? For example, would you prefer that the nanny takes care of your child somewhat independently, or would you prefer that a nanny OK everything with you first?
You know your kids best. If your child can be a challenge at times, do you need a nanny who has a well-developed discipline style or would you rather have a more passive nanny and you handle discipline?
Whatever caregiver style you prefer it’s important to remember that you’re still the parent, and thus responsible for your child’s development. Having a nanny doesn’t mean you pay someone to take over all parental duties.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Nanny?
The first time we interviewed a nanny, I had no idea what questions to ask. I let my husband take the lead since he works in education and has interviewed many people throughout his career.
After interviewing several nannies at this point, here are some basic questions to ask:
- How long have you been a nanny for? (Of course, you should have some idea based on their resume.)
- What’s your favorite part about working with children?
- What does your ideal family look like?
- What is something frustrating you’ve had to deal with and how did you overcome it?
- Tell me about a time that you handled an emergency.
It’s also a good idea to ask about long-term goals, as this will give you an idea on the length of time they’ll spend with your family.
During the interview, you’ll be able to get a feel for the candidate’s personality and if they’d be a good fit for your family. Once you find a nanny that you feel may work, it’s a good idea to schedule a trial run. This will help you feel more confident that you’re making the right decision.
One thing to note, I think it’s a red flag if the potential nanny doesn’t ask questions about your child’s development or ask to meet your child during the interview. Of course, this is more subjective. However, if the candidate wants to meet your child, I believe this is a sign they’re taking the interview seriously.
Negotiating the Contract
In most cases, the job description will contain the hours and hourly rate, but sometimes a nanny will want to negotiate the terms. Nannies are in high demand and will sometimes have other options.
You’re responsible for this part of the process even if you’re working with an agency. It’s important that you feel the pay offered meets the job expectations. You don’t want your nanny to grow resentful. For help with structuring a contract, check out my FREE nanny contract.
As far as negotiating the contract, check out available job openings on other websites to see if your offer is competitive. I’d recommend posting the lowest rate on your description, knowing that there is wiggle room for the right candidate. Another idea is to offer more PTO if your job allows for this. You can also offer health care, an annual raise or a signing bonus.
If you can’t agree on the terms, it’s OK to walk away. You don’t want to go into the arrangement with hard feelings on either side. For example, we recently had a nanny do a trial run, and we didn’t agree on what the contract should contain. Ultimately, we chose not to give an offer. I’d rather wait for the right match then start on the wrong foot with someone.
Final Thoughts on How to Find a Nanny
Once you’ve gotten through the negotiation, you’re ready to hire your nanny! Congratulations!
When we first started out, we had no idea what we were doing. After going through the process for a little while now, I feel more confident in how to find a nanny.
Hiring a nanny can be tough, especially when you don’t know where to start. Follow these simple steps in the Ultimate Guide on How to Find a Nanny and feel confident in your decision.
I hope this helps you find the best match for your family! Finding childcare can be stressful, but you’ll eventually find the right fit for your family.
Have you hired a nanny? What tips would you give? Let me know in the comments below!
Allie Schmidt is a rare disease advocate and disabled mom living with motor neuron disease. She founded Disability Dame in 2020 to provide tips to other moms living with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
In her spare time, you can find her traveling with her husband (she's been to 38 states and 16 countries!), watching reruns of Survivor, or tending to her near-constant sunburn from spending too much time outside. You can follow her adventures here.