How to Find the Perfect Nanny

Finding the perfect nanny for your family can be a difficult task. You want someone whom you can trust with your child that has similar beliefs and lifestyle, someone that is capable of taking care of your child but also at keeping them entertaining and helping them learn. Depending on your intentions, a nanny can also become like another member of the family. Children are highly influenced by those they spend a large amount of time with and your nanny will definitely fall into this category.

However, though some effort is required, finding a nanny does not need to be difficult, especially in the San Francisco Bay area. Hiring a nanny in San Francisco is a very common thing and therefore there are qualified nannies abound.

Below is a general guideline on how to find the perfect nanny.

Where to Find A Nanny

There are 3 ways to find a nanny – online, through an agency, or via recommendations.

There are several sites dedicated to connecting families with the perfect nanny, such as UrbanSitter and SitterCity. Both sites allow both families and nannies to create a profile about themselves, their lifestyle, and what they are looking for. Families are able to post a specific job for their family detailing the position and expectations and are also able to search through the available nannies in the area to reach out directly.

The upside to such sites is that there is often a wide range of nannies to choose from, allowing you to connect with multiple people. Many of these sites also offer a section for nannies to post references and offer a free background check. Additionally, previous employers are able to leave feedback based on their experience with the nanny.

The next option is city-based nanny agencies. Utilizing agencies allows you to do less of the work – they often vet the nannies and work hard to make a match for you. The downside, of course, is that you have to pay an agency fee.

The final option is to reach out to friends and family for suggestions. Whether they are able to recommend a past babysitter or have a friend looking for work, this can be a great starting point. Nannies looking for work often reach out to “mommy groups” as well.

Interviewing Applicants

At this point, hopefully you’ve found a few potential nannies. I’ve always found it important to set up interviews with several people as occasionally people won’t show up or will find another job. Plus, there’s always the chance that the person you anticipate to be your Dream Nanny won’t be so great after all.

Interviews can be held in your home or somewhere public, like a local park. If only interviewing one or two potential nannies, I recommend holding the interview in your home and introducing the children as how someone interacts with your child the first time is a big indicator of how they will be as a nanny.

Prior to the interview, create a list of exactly what you’re looking for in a nanny. Divide the list into “non-negotiables” and “strongly desired”. Include things like CPR/first aid certification, non-smoking, drivers license, experience, availability and flexibility on the list. Remember that the ideal nanny may have most but not all of these qualities so it’s important to decide right away what is a deal-breaker and what you can potentially work around.

Create a list of questions around your requirements as well as other important questions like –

Why do you want to be a nanny?
What is your previous experience (in detail)?
What would you do in X situation?
How do you handle punishment?
Do you foresee any obstacles (family obligations, etc) that may prevent you from arriving at work?
Do you foresee any schedule changes?
When are you NOT available?
Also remember to inquire about driving record and insurance if the nanny will be required to drive the children around.

When interviewing, there are a few red flags to look out for – they reschedule the appointment several times, acts disinterested when introduced to the children, provides vague answers, etc.

However, perhaps the most important part of the interview is introducing the potential nanny to the children. If you are interviewing several nannies and plan to do several rounds of interviews, this can be saved until the last interview so that the children do not become confused but if you are interviewing only one or two nannies, bring the children in right away.

After all, they will be the ones spending all of their time with the new nanny and it’s important for both you and the nanny to decide whether or not your children will be the right fit.

Making the Decision

Prior to making the final decision, request and call at least 3 references. Be wary of references that are overly positive – too often people provide fake references in the form of relatives.

Finally, after references are checked there are a few more things to consider:

How did the child(ren) react? Does the nanny fit into your lifestyle? For example, if you live a very active lifestyle and eat all organic, it’s probably best to not hire a nanny who prefers to cook boxed meals and let the children watch TV all day.

At this point, it’s best to have one nanny that you believe would be the absolute perfect fit but also hopefully one or two back-ups, in case the first doesn’t work out.

The final step is to call the potential nanny and let them know you would like them to be take care of your children. Make an offer regarding pay but be open to a little negotiation -after all, isn’t it worth a few extra bucks to know your child is in good hands? Be super-clear on what the expectations are so there’s no confusion later.

Hopefully at this point you’ve found the perfect nanny and can look forward to leaving your child in good hands while you work.