My friend’s two daughters just served as flower girls in their nanny's wedding. My co-worker’s son gives his nanny a huge hug and says "I love you" when she leaves each day. And my neighbor just started babysitting for a fantastic family who wants to take her on vacation with them at the end of the summer.
All of these are great nanny-family experiences. But I know that sometimes families don't find the best match. And I want to help that.
These friends I mentioned said they "just knew" the nanny was right for their family. They thought her profile picture showed a spirit they wanted their kids to embody. They liked her experience and personality. They asked her questions envisioning her as someone who could challenge their children, teach them, mentor them – not only keep them safe. They even let the kids "interview her" by playing games together. And then they really dug deep into the references.
Sometimes you’ll know the candidate isn't the right fit when you first call her. Is she professional on the phone? Does she handle background noise well? Does she treat the call like a job interview?
Sometimes it takes more digging. I met a woman who said her favorite question to ask a potential babysitter is "What would you think if I asked to be your Facebook friend?" She said she doesn’t really want to peek into their personal lives, she just loves to test their reaction. If they have nothing to hide, they give an enthusiastic "Sure." If they have questionable pictures and updates, the "Sure" isn’t as enthusiastic. (Get more great nanny interview tips.)
Another tip I give is to make sure your personalities match. If you are Type A, but your nanny candidate is more relaxed, her work style is going to irritate you. You'll want to find someone who has similar structure and style. Some questions you should consider are: What do you do on the weekends? What do you do for fun? What has been the highlight of your summer? These might seem like casual conversation, but you’ll be getting a sense of who he or she is outside of work.
Then, call the references. Hearing from previous employers, neighbors or coaches will help you determine if her energy, level of responsibility and personality are what your instinct feels they are.
In the end, you're looking for someone who can grow with your family. Someone who will learn from you – and you can learn from them. Someone you will enjoy seeing every day. Maybe your kids will even be in her wedding – or she could be in theirs.