By definition, a “nanny” is a person hired for childcare. But, what the dictionary should say is “another parent to your child”. The reality is that nannies become part of your family.
For many parents, staying at home full-time is not an option. So, it’s even more of a requirement to find childcare for the day. However, finding a person you can trust is often an intimidating prospect.
Betty Hardcastle, co-owner at Petit Love and mother to two children, says “leaving your kids can make you feel guilty. It’s important to find someone who has similar parenting principles. It’ll give you peace of mind that your children are in good hands.”
Betty recommends Au Pair SA, a nanny company that pairs families with potential childcare givers, based on availability, location and experience.
Kerry Leigh-Cartwright, Petit Love’s Product Lead, agrees, “your nanny becomes a second mum to your kiddies.” Kerry went on gut-feel when hiring her nanny. She feels, “it’s essential for you, as a parent, to like the person and feel comfortable to leave your children in their care.”
1. How, when, where – help! What’s your advice on starting the search for childcare?
It’s important to know your needs before you start the search. You’ll need to know the hours/days you’ll need help (including potentially additional hours in the evenings and on weekends). You’ll also need to do some research on the minimum wage and what your budget is.
Set realistic expectations and responsibilities. Then, you can decide if you’d like to do the recruitment yourself, or go through an agency. The benefit of going through an agency is that all the background checks are done for you however, it can be costly.
Start the process early to give yourself enough time to find the right match. It can take about four to six weeks to find the perfect nanny.
2. What, in your opinion, are the qualities your childcare giver should have?
Nannies must have a loving, caring and gentle nature. They need to be passionate about childcare.
First aid is always a win, as well as having the ability to think on one’s feet in case there’s an emergency.
Effective communication is vital. Nannies should relay incidents, and keep you up-to-date about how the day went. This is important to build a trusting, reliable relationship for both parent and nanny.
3. When interviewing a nanny, what are some essential questions to ask?
There are endless amounts of questions to ask a candidate during an interview! But, start by asking why they chose to become a nanny. You can also ask what qualities they believe make them excellent at childcare.
You can then delve into questions about experience (with certain ages), education and qualifications.
I’d also ask some scenario-based questions such as, “how would you handle a tantrum?” Or, “what would you do if my children hurt themselves?”
I like to end the interview with some personal questions about their lives and future goals. This will give you an overall sense on whether the person will be a good fit in your household.
4. Are there any other important questions to ask that not everyone would think about?
I’d also ask about your nanny’s general health and whether they take medication for a condition that could interfere with their ability to care for your child.
If your nanny will be picking your children up from school, or taking them in the car, it’s essential to check that they have a valid driving license and a roadworthy, insured vehicle. As an agency, we also consider the National Register for Sexoffenders List.
5. What would you say are fair expectations for your childcare giver?
Each family has unique requirements, which means all nannies will have a slightly different focus.
Aside from childcare, nannies may be responsible for other child-related tasks, such as doing laundry, helping with homework, and arranging activity schedules. Household management tasks like running errands or organising are generally added only if a nanny is caring for school-aged children.
This is why it’s a good idea to outline your needs at the beginning of your search and set your expectations so you can clearly communicate this upfront.
It’s always important to have a good contract in place, one that covers the basic conditions of employment. Your nanny must have a copy of this contract as well as be registered for UIF.
For any further information, I’d recommend visiting the Department of Labour Law‘s website which has everything you need to know about employing a nanny.
6. How do you know that your nanny will be a good fit?
The best way to find out is by doing a trial run. Trials can give you a better idea on how the nanny will blend into your home life, how they interact with your children, and the way their skills harmonise with your family’s needs.
It’s an introduction to the household, routines, schedules, and neighbourhood. It smooths the transition process should you decide to employ that person.
7. What advice would you give to parents who are, as Betty mentioned, feeling “guilty” about leaving their children?
You should feel 100% comfortable with the nanny you choose. Anything less is simply not good enough. There’s a nanny for each family, but it doesn’t always feel that way at the beginning of the search. Having someone you don’t know very well look after your most precious bundle of joy is a daunting thought. But, finding the “right” nanny can make all those fears go away.
Your parenting instincts are the most important instincts you have. If something feels wrong to you, make sure to follow up on it. By listening to your instincts, you can work toward finding concrete answers to specific questions you have about your nanny.
Once you’ve chosen your nanny, you may do things like drop in unannounced. If you are unable to do so, due to work, ask a family member, a neighbour or a friend.
Listen to your children, if your children are old enough to talk, listen to what they tell you. If they mention something odd or unusual, like an activity you don’t understand, or a person who you don’t know, ask the nanny about it.
8. Then, just for some fun, who is your favourite fictional nanny, and why?
I like Nanny Mcphee. Initially, she seems terribly strict but turns out to be a beautiful person on the inside. She teaches children real life lessons and aims to bring out the best in each child.
It would have to be Mary Poppins. She is caring, cheery and loves to have fun. Although firm at times, she always aims to be fair. I admire how she is prepared with her carpet bag filled with all sorts of things. She’s practically perfect in every way!
Developed for Petit Love by Kaleidoscope SA.
Photography in blog by Wilma Kotze.
Featured image by Mama Margaritha.