Finding Your Mary Poppins

Huge welcome to my favorite virtual Nanny, Nanny Nita!

As we near the end of January, its a great time to take stock of what's working and what you need to change in your life. For some moms (working or stay at home) that means looking for some childcare! I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce youto Nanny Nita! In today's post, Anita shares what to look for and how to keep your perfect Nanny.  (I will refrain from posting ALL the Mary Poppins gifs I can find. I'll just post one. Okay, maybe two.) (How could I not?) 

When I was asked to write a post for An Organized Life, I was thrilled, but also a little overwhelmed at what to write.  I thought long and hard and then decided that maybe a post about finding the perfect nanny would be a good one to do.  During my career as a nanny I have heard many parents talk about their latest nanny disaster; yes of course they happen, but half the time it is the same family saying it over and over again.  Which makes me think that it is perhaps they are not finding the right fit for them.  Different jobs have different demands, all nannies approach things differently, which may or may not fit with different families.  I often have people come up to me saying “I would love you to be our nanny”, it is flattering, but are they being tempted by an illusion that I would be perfect for them just because I have found the right fit family for me? I have therefore come up with a few tips on helping find (and keep) your perfect nanny.

Don't rush into it

I understand your nanny is leaving and you may have a limited time period to find a replacement, but please don't rush into find one, or go for the first person you think would be good because they have a great CV.  Take your time, get a big enough selection to choose from.  When I am looking for jobs I apply to maybe 10 jobs, by going to a lot of interviews I can get a clear picture of what I want or don't want from a job.  This makes it easier when I need to start cutting it down. 


Do a long interview day

When you have a few possible candidates ask them to come in and do a trail day.  People can keep up masquerades for a few hours, it is very difficult to keep it going for a whole day.  When I first started nannying I had to do a 24hr interview.  It gave me a real insight into how the family worked and also what sort of children I would be looking after.  

Always check the references

I know this is an obvious one, but check as many references as you possibly can.  If possible ask references to ask their children why she/he was a great nanny.  Children see things differently than adults do, they are likely to say things that adults might miss.  For example a previous boss of mine asked this question and the little girl replied “because she is a great teacher, and taught me lots of interesting things.”  That is something no adult has ever said about my nannying abilities. 


Trust your gut

I am a huge believer in trusting your gut.  I always go with mine when it comes to accepting jobs, and so far, touch wood, it hasn’t let me down.  If something feels off, then don’t go with that person.

Now that you have hired someone, here just a few things to help keep that parent-nanny relationship on good terms. 

Remember people do things differently

We all do things differently, if you have a particular way of doing something, like loading the dishwasher (trust me I have had mothers tell me that it must be done in a specific way), then let them know in a calm way.  I have a thing about the way clothes/towels/sheets need to be stored, so I make sure that everyone knows the system.  Which leads straight on to;

Keep the lines of communication open

When the relationship starts to go sour nine times out of ten it is because communication between everyone has broken down.  It is normally the little things that start to niggle which then become big issues.  Catch it early.  If something hasn’t been done or they are doing it in a way you don’t like, let them know.  Doing it in person is always best, not an angry text message sent last thing at night.  Saying that, please remember that your nanny is human, we all make mistakes, we all have off days, and as I said earlier we all do things differently.  Also make sure that you keep the lines open so that your nanny gave raise any issues that they might have.

Honour their time off

This is a major issue that I hear about all the time in the nanny community.  If your nanny has set hours try to make sure that you stick to them.  Obviously things can happen and you may get caught up at work, but as soon as you know you will be late let your nanny know. 

Don’t keep adding to your nanny’s duty

When you hired a nanny your main reason, hopefully, was because you wanted someone to look after and care for your children.  If you keep giving them extra duties then the amount of time that they can actually care for your child decreases.  Of course there are certain things a nanny would expect to do, for example keeping the children’s rooms clean and tidy, doing their washing, cleaning up after their meals etc.  A nanny is not there as a cleaner/housekeeper/PA unless this was all specified in the original job description.  If this is what you want, then you need to make it clear when you hire them that this is what you expect, don’t just suddenly spring it on them. Please don’t expect your nanny to clean up after you after their time off.  I used to dread going back to work Sunday evening and seeing the state of the house knowing that most of my Monday morning would be spent putting things back in order (and that was only the children’s things) before I started on my usual nursery cleaning routine. I hear about this all the time from other nannies, if honouring their time of is important this is right up there next to it of why nannies leave their positions.

I hope I haven’t put you off too much, everyone has stories about bad nanny experiences (just like us nannies have them about nightmare employers), but I do honestly believe that by following these simple points you will be able to find the right fit nanny for you and your children. 

Anita Flynn