Trusting someone to care for your child is not easy. Between the horror stories you hear from friends or on the news, and your own personal struggles to separate from your little ones, the process of finding the right nanny is complex to say the least.
My own nanny search began when my grandmother, who watched my son twice a week, headed south this winter. After much consideration (and anxiety, fear and finally acceptance), I realized I needed a nanny. This would be the first time an outsider would be caring for him, and although I could read every how-to-pick-a-nanny article out there, I preferred a holistic approach to find that one person who would offer support, empathy and compassion for me and my baby. It turned out that all I had to do in order to be most comfortable was simply trust my instincts.
Here’s a few tips to guide your own nanny search.
- Think about what you want. When it came to what I was looking for, the long list of adjectives continued to grow, priorities jumbled in my mind. When I was able to focus and go within, the drive to be comforted by her smile started to resonate. Since I was searching for a nanny online, I had solved the first step – look only at profiles that had a picture. Yes, I started my nanny selection based on what she looked like. It felt as if I was on a match.com hunt to finding my spouse, (which coincidentally was a much easier task than this nanny thing), but if I didn’t have a visceral reaction to her smile, I wasn’t interested. Next!
- Set priorities and let them guide you. My son is 17 months old. He is in everything. He is running before he can walk straight. He is lifting heavy objects; he is falling, he is shoveling handfuls of food into his mouth. He is a (delicious) wildman! I needed to feel confident that whoever came into our home had the ability to handle an emergency situation, safely and calmly. I clearly noted on my profile I was looking for someone who has, or is willing to receive, CPR/First Aide training. This was a non-negotiable.
- Be selective! Since I was searching online, I paid attention to grammar and how much effort it appeared they had taken on creating their profile, if their words exuded passion. I wasn’t looking for a kid to babysit. I was looking for someone to have a vested interest in the growth of my child.
- Create an interview strategy that just…feels…right. My strategy wasn’t something I constructed, rather something that revealed itself along the way. Those that made the cut went through the following process:
- Email correspondence. Once she passed this test there was the…
- Phone interview. I dominated this to see how she would react. This wasn’t a part of the process for her to shine; it was a part that allowed me to see how she could handle an overwhelming mama and to get a sense of her responses to my childrearing philosophies.
- In-person interview. This was her moment. I wanted to see that smile in person. I wanted to feel the immediate response it invoked in me. I wanted to hear about who she was outside of watching children (which more times than not completely threw them off guard). I wanted to get a sense that we could coexist since I am a very attentive mama who works from home. I needed to feel her energy, her comfort, her radiance and ultimately her security. If all of these things passed that very strong mama intuition, she went on to the fourth step of…
- Meeting my child. At the end of the day, the nannies I invited to meet him had passed all of my tests; it would be he who would have the ultimate decision. He is his own person, he is very intuitive, and I knew I would get a sense not only from him, but also from my mama gut, who would be the right nanny to join our family.
Only two nannies made it through every step. I called the references, more so to be able to say I did. Watching these young ladies interact with my child, and in turn my child interact with them was all the proof I needed. My grandmother stayed in the room as I intermittently left to deal with “work” as I wanted to see his reaction to me not being there, and subsequently their reaction to his potential meltdown. Seeing them engaged, watching how the possible nanny worked with him, followed his cues, stayed in tune with him, delivered me the comfort that only watching my child with his new nanny could provide.
Once both final interviews concluded, it was very clear who we were to hire. My child responded strongly to both, but one stood out. Luckily for me, it was the same nanny that had set everything immediately inside me at ease.
If there's one thing I learned along the way, it's that just because an expert offers a suggestion, I do not need to conform myself into doing it their way. And same goes for you! If there's one thing you can take from me, it's to trust yourself, listen to your heart, and set that mama intuition free!