Ten common mistakes when hiring a nanny

We speak to nanny employer’s on a daily basis, often when they are hiring or firing a nanny. What common mistakes do we find that families make when hiring a nanny?

  1. Inadequate checking of references and background: Failure to speak candidly to a candidate’s references about your job and their experiences with the candidate has led many a family to make a hiring mistake. This takes time, and in their hurry to staff the position, many families take, and then regret, this shortcut.
  2. Not offering the local nanny rate: Hiring a nanny is expensive. Offering below the market rate not only makes it harder to staff the position, but it also leads to frequent turnover as the nanny leaves for a better paying position.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations for Housekeeping Help: Parents often have to higher expectations of their nanny. They reason that their child naps a few hours every afternoon and the nanny should be able to use this down time to take care of all of the housekeeping chores. It IS realistic to expect that a nanny will leave your house in the condition you left it. Unloading the dishwasher, emptying the full kitchen trash, and cleaning up around the high chair are all realistic expectations. It IS NOT realistic to expect the nanny to spend the hour or two that your child is napping cleaning bathrooms, doing the parent’s laundry, mopping floors, etc. A nanny typically works in a very isolated situation, with little adult interaction and no meaningful breaks away from work. She needs some time in her 9 or 10 hour day to sit down, have a cup of tea, phone a friend, or in some manner take a break before resuming full childcare responsibilites.
  4. Poor Communication about Wages and Taxes: You might believe that the nanny should expect that you will deduct taxes, and when you offer her £500 per week, she will only clear £425 after taxes. Wrong! Many nannies (and domestics in general) hear and understand the salary offer as a take home pay. You need to clearly communicate all wage issues, including overtime, up front when hiring. Miscommunication on wages had torpedoed many a nanny:family relationship.
  5. Hiring without a written Contract: Don’t do it! A well crafted work agreement will spell out all the terms and conditions of the employment relationship, including hours, duties, benefits, and wages.
  6. Disagreement on Childcare Style: The family is very permissive, the nanny believes in boundaries. The nanny believes in disciplining with time out, the family believes in taking away privileges. Talk about this up front. Ask the nanny about how she disciplines. Articulate your philosophy and ask her for feedback. Inconsistency in discipline and childrearing philosophies is not good for your children, and you will not be happy with the relationship long term.
  7. Failure to Provide Training and Orientation: The new nanny does not know exactly how your family operates. A family needs to spend adequate time – from several hours, to several days, acclimating the new nanny.
  8. Micromanagement: This is common with families with new babies, and families hiring their first nanny. It is perfectly legitimate to articulate your expectations to the nanny, and to request that she maintain a nanny diary. It is unreasonable to expect her to have your baby napping from exactly 9:00 – 9:45 and 1:00 – 2:15. Tell her what you need done, and if necessary how you like it done, and then give her the lattitude and flexibility to order her day to accomplish what you expect.
  9. Failure to Pay for Holidays and Days the Family is on holiday: A full time nanny should expect to receive her guaranteed base weekly pay all 52 weeks of a year, whether you need her for all or part of a week or not. Nanny should only be docked for days when she is absent (sick, car trouble, whatever the reason) and there is no flexible leave time (paid time off) available. And remember, pay day should never be delayed – if you will be gone on your nanny’s pay date please provide her pay in advance.
  10. Issues Transporting Your Children: If the nanny is required to use her personal vehicle for work purposes, you need to reimburse her. The nanny may be reluctant to use her vehicle; we always recommend that families provide a vehicle for their child’s transport, including age appropriate safety seats.

As soon as you decide you would like the help of Nurturing Nannies to help you find that perfect nanny, we will help and advise you through the interview process and once you decide on a nanny, we will work with you and your nanny on a contract you are both happy with.