As parents we fret over every decision we make for our children, and childcare is no exception. Who do we trust to watch our children when we cannot be there?!
Regardless whether we need help daily or occasionally, all day long or for a few hours, leaving our children in the care of someone other than us is one of the toughest decisions we will make – EVER.
My name is Tove & I blog at Mama in the Now… my husband and I have four kids and we both work full time outside of the home. Over the past six years, we have had full time live-out nanny help, which was the childcare answer for our family.
Our current nanny has been with us for almost four years. We have used the website Sittercity * on and off for the past 6 years, and it has been a huge help to us. (* Affiliate link) We have hired both nannies and babysitters from the website, and have always been impressed with their quality of candidates and background check. Now with that said, you still have to go through your own thorough screening process.
Do not reply solely on a clean background report. We have over time used this 8 step process to find the best baby sitters & nannies!
Finding good caregivers is hard, always remember to listen to your heart – respect your intuition. Keep in mind that someone who worked well for your friend’s children may not be a perfect match for your family. There are so many dynamics at play in finding the perfect caregiver, which is why I stick to the same 8 step screening process for everyone.
1) Identify what qualifications are important to you:
age (do you want someone young, your age or older than you?), childcare experience (do you prefer to train someone, or should they already have worked with children?), transportation (will they be driving with your kids?), availability (what hours do you need their help?), hourly rate (do you want someone cheap, or are you willing to pay top dollars?), parental status (do you prefer someone who is a parent or grandparent themselves?), CPR (do they need to be CPR certified?) , education (should they have any specialized training, medical knowledge or tutoring skills?), location (do you prefer someone local?).
2) Find prospective candidates for the job:
I rely on three methods of finding qualified candidates: word of mouth (I let all my friends know that I am in the market for childcare assistance), local Facebook groups (we have a number of parenting FB groups here in the area, and I will post the job in all those groups), Sittercity (as mentioned previously, we have used the site for years, and actually found our current nanny of almost 4 years there). I do NOT recommend using Craigslist – for safety reasons. (you have NO prior knowledge of anyone replying to Craigslist posts)
3) Correspond or talk with the candidates via email, text or phone.
Eliminate the ones who are not professional, personal, well-spoken, out-spoken – it all depends on your requirements. If something doesn’t seem right with a candidate don’t waste your time meeting with them. Use this time to ask them about the criteria that are important to you (see the above list of qualifications).
4) Schedule an initial meeting outside of your home, without children present.
I normally meet at a local Starbucks. It is a great neutral location, plan on spending 30-45 minutes getting to know the person. Have an open dialog about the job, the requirements (hours, duties and pay) and learn about the candidate’s experience and personality. Hopefully you will connect, so you can proceed with the interview process.
5) Call the candidate’s references.
Yes! You must call – all of them. Preferably you were given 3 or 4 names and current phone numbers. Note that candidates without job related references might provide you with character references instead.
6) Invite the prospective nanny/ babysitter to the house with the kids present.
Try to schedule this meeting away, FAR AWAY from nap time or dinner time – for your sanity’s sake. We have scared one or two candidates away by having them come to visit right at dinner time – BIG MISTAKE! Or maybe you want the person to see your family at their wildest and craziest… it’s your call!
7) Playtime with the kids:
During this meeting I normally excuse myself and let the prospective nanny/ babysitter play with the kids without me breathing down their neck. I have learned A LOT during this time, to me it is the “make it or break it” time. I don’t expect someone to work miracles with my kids, but I do want to see that they are naturally comfortable around them.
8) Trial babysitting session:
If the candidate has made it this far in the interview process, I have them come over for a quick babysitting session, and I pay them for this one of course.
My husband and I will go out locally for a bite to eat during a time where all she has to do is play with the kids and have fun. This trial run is not scheduled at dinner time, but rather perhaps late morning on a weekend or after dinner time, but before bedtime during the week. After that we are off to the races of either hiring her as a nanny or babysitter – or continuing our search.
I always keep my Sittercity membership current for a few months after hiring a new caregiver, just in case things don’t work out. I can easily get right back on the site to post a new position, if necessary.
I feel that our interview and screening process is rather thorough, but it will never take the place of following your instincts and listening to your inner voice. Always keep an open mind and remember that there is a right person out there. You may just have to go through a few candidates, but do not settle for less than perfect.
(Please note that this article contains an affiliate link. This link does not cost you anything extra, it is simply a way for the company to thank me for referring your business. I do appreciate you using these links and being a loyal reader!)