Establish the kind of help you need
Very early on, you need to assess exactly what your needs are. If you are going through an agency, they will ask you questions to help determine the type of help you require. Do you want someone on an on-going basis or just temporary help? Are the days and hours likely to change? What type of help do you need aside from childcare duties?
Review your expectations
Providing your nanny with a job description is not only compulsory, but it is also a great exercise to review your expectations. Agencies will provide you with one that should cover the following: Level of experience and/or qualification required, personality traits of the nanny, details of your daily routine, list of childcare and household duties among other things. The hourly rate you are going to offer needs to match your expectation and the job description. A qualified nanny with 10 years experience will not be looking for the same rate as a new graduate or a non-qualified nanny. If your expectations go beyond childcare duties and are also covering household management, the rate needs to reflect the extra responsibility.
Conduct throughout interviews
At an interview, you need to ask questions to assess if the nanny’s philosophy about caring for children and educating them is in line with yours. Are you looking for education focused or more nurturing? Do you want a nanny on a strict routine or someone who goes with the flow? Are you looking for a nanny who is very hands on or someone who gives more freedom to the children? There are no right or wrong answers, you just need to find your closest match. At an interview, you need to be very clear with the nanny and give her the most accurate description of the role, your expectations and your family dynamic. If you try to over sell the role or hide things, that will impact your future relationship and could jeopardize the role.
Two interviews are better than one. If possible, carry out the first interview at a time when the children are in bed or away, especially if they are very young, so you can focus completely on the interview. Pick a time during the week when you are not rushed and allow sufficient time for it. If all goes well, plan a second interview, this time with the children, so you can see how easily your nanny and your child would bond.
Carry out the proper checks
If you have not gone through an agency, it is essential to carry out a 5 years’ work history check and go through all of the nanny’s previous placements, discuss them in depth and get the reason for leaving. Try to look for patterns and get a feel for the nanny’s personality. Ahead of the meeting, ask the nanny to provide a valid first aid certificate and copy of any references and qualifications as well as a current police check. Ask the nannies to also pass on past employers’ contact details and follow up. A good reference check will let you know as much if not more than an hour long interview.
If you have chosen to use an agency, the nannies would have gone through an assessment to be in line with the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, including a reference and police check. Check with your agency that they do meet the nannies in person and not carry out phone interviews.
Provide the correct paperwork
Make sure that your contract upholds against NZ law. The rate, days and hours, location should obviously appear, but also the leave entitlement, the conditions for sick leave, transportation, expense reimbursement, use of phone or internet during working hours, notice period, etc. If you are going through an agency, they will provide you with a contract for you to review and sign, based on your verbal agreement with the nanny.
Manage your relationship throughout the placement
Induction is important. Ideally you would have at least one day handover with you or your current nanny. Communication is key, and not just at the beginning. No matter how amazing and in tune with you the nanny is, there are some things she will do differently. If there is an issue, address it right away. Nannies are professionals and are used to adapting to different family cultures. 90% of issues are solved through a simple discussion. But if you do not address it, nothing will change. If your children are under 5, agencies will provide you with a daily diary to help communication with the nanny. They will also carry out regular checks and even do monthly visits with the nanny to support her in her role.
Nannies are amazing. Your children will learn so much from them, be exposed to different things, acquire new skills, go to classes and events and socialize with other children. And even if their role is not to clean but very much to look after the children, you will come home to a tidy home and happy children so you can enjoy being a parent for the rest of the day. So don’t forget to let her know how amazing she is and what a difference she makes to your family life. Even if she has been with you for years