As a mom of three, Katie often talks to families about hiring nannies and babysitters. But recently she had to do her own search and hiring all over again. Here are the new things she learned along the way.
I was on maternity leave with my third baby when my nanny told me she was leaving. She was 4 months pregnant but was giving us as much notice as possible. And while I was so happy for her, I won’t lie – I cried. Blame it on hormones or the irreplaceable closeness she has with my older kids – but I know I also cried for me. This meant I'd be doing more work in the next few months than I'd anticipated. And the reality of replacing such an integral part of my family felt like an impossible feat.
I gave myself 8 weeks to find someone. But it turned out my nanny needed to bump up her last day – and I ended up having three weeks' notice. I think my blood pressure was at an all-time high. (And yes, more stress-crying happened.) So since I've just been through this process, (and have found someone great!), I wanted to share some tips with you (especially since January is a big time for families making care changes).
- Create a job post with a title that stands out. I like adding two personality traits in my posts like "fun and energetic" or "organized and patient." I also add the hours and location. The nannies are getting your job in a long list of other jobs, and it helps if you add some important details that set yours apart. Ex. Energetic and Homework-Savvy Nanny needed M, W, F in Dupont Circle from 3-7pm.
- Make it pretty short. My first job post didn't get a lot of responses. So I shortened it. I kept the personality traits I was looking for, but I abbreviated the responsibilities. It was a bit of a marketing ploy, to be honest. I still said that housework and errand-running were integral parts of the job, but I didn't list out all the chores. I just needed to get the right candidate through the door, have her fall in love with my family, and then we could make sure she was okay with sweeping, cooking and doing laundry on Tuesdays!
- Reach out to certain caregivers. Once I had a post, I could search through caregivers in my area and reach out to particular people with a short summary of my job and a link to the post. FYI: I did not have much luck with this, but I know people who have. I learned that when people don't respond to your initial job post, it's because they're not interested in the job. (Shocker, right?!) But some people did respond asking if my hours were flexible (they weren't) or if I could give them more hours (I couldn't). But you can still try. It did help me feel proactive when I wasn't getting responses I wanted.
- Set low expectations on caregivers who have low response rates. And who haven't logged in for over a week. This is important to keep in mind when you're sending messages to people with your job info. If they have a response rate under 60%, they're probably not actively looking for a job. Care.com also tells you when the last time each caregiver was on the site. If it's more than two weeks ago, it's another good sign they're not eagerly looking.
- Treat a great nanny like prime real estate. Okay, so I learned this the hard way. Once a candidate got through my phone screen, I would set up a face-to-face interview with them on the weekend. And you know what? Two of my favorite candidates got jobs before we ever met in person. Lesson learned: Once they passed my phone screen, I asked them to meet That.Day. And I was ready with an offer if I liked her, contingent on passing the preferred plus background check, a kid test, and reference checks, of course. But seriously, if you like someone (she's smart, mature, responsible, and meets all your qualifications), you need to move fast. Chances are, other families like her too.
- Discuss HomePay up front. This means the tax talk. Also discuss what Paid Time Off you'll be offering, how you handle vacations, sick time and go over all job responsibilities. Also talk about your family dynamic and parenting styles. Do this right at the first meeting so you're on the same page. Make the discussion friendly (no drill sergeant-approach), yet still creating the employer/employee relationship.
- Trust that a new person will love your kids just as much – and your kids have room in their hearts to love another nanny. The hardest thing about making a nanny change is trying to guess and prepare for how this will affect the kids. I was lucky – our former nanny has stayed in our lives as a sitter, she still plans playdates with the kids, and she helped train the new nanny. But I was still very surprised at how quickly the kids fell in love with our new nanny. In the end, I think kids just want to love and be loved and if they feel a person is genuine, and they feel safe with that person, they bond faster than most adults.
If you're making a change in the New Year, I wish you all the best. It's not without stress. Just remember to act fast on a great find, but still do all the checks (get safety tips here), and don't let a fear of change be a deterrent. There are a lot of great people out there who want to help you and want to love your kids. I recently realized this all over again.