For many working families, the only way to make it all work is to get nanny care at some stage. James and I are in the fortunate situation with our jobs that we can afford to have a nanny a few nights a week. I realise this post won’t work for everyone as babysitters can get expensive. However, if you’re struggling finding great nanny care then read on.
We have had our nanny, Irene, for 4 years now and we see her as part of our extended family. She picks up the kids from school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and works 3-7pm with us. Irene has seen us at our best and our worst. She’s seen me come home from work at 6pm in a suit, then put my dressing gown on over the top and flop on the couch while she still minds the kids and I sleep. She’s seen our kitchen bench so full of school notices, books and plates that there’s no room to start organising dinner. As a result, I’m very clear that I can only do my job because of Irene’s help.
What we did to find our nanny care
So what’s the practical solution to share with you here? It’s about how I found Irene and we welcomed her into our family. So many of my friends struggle finding a reliable nanny or babysitter. Here is what worked for us in finding Irene:
1. We researched babysitting matching websites. There are loads of good websites out there to find a nanny or babysitter. We did a quick Google search to bring them up and chose one from there
2. We worked out what type of nanny we wanted. Most people post their ad listing of what they want and wait to see who applies. I’ve heard awful stories of babysitters not showing up for interviews or when they do, they have no real interest in the kids or no idea how to mind kids. One potential babysitter told my friend Kate how much she was looking forward to baking cookies with her 8 month old!
Instead of posting a general ad of what we wanted, James and I chatted about what we wanted in a nanny. Here was what we wanted:
- Someone a bit older and female, so we decided we would only interview women over 25
- They lived relatively close by. This was so if we had to call and ask if they were free at the drop of a hat, they’d be able to get there quickly. We decided to only interview people who lived within a 30 minute drive from us
- Someone who was happy to cook and drive the kids
- It was important to us that they wanted to stay with our family long term as the kids grew
3. On the babysitter website we found ~50 women who met our criteria. They were all female, over 25 years old, lived within a 30 minute drive from us us, could drive and happy to cook a bit
4. We read their profiles and saved the ones we liked and that sounded like they were looking for a long term job with us. That got us to a list of ~20 women
5. I spent a few hours crafting “the perfect email” to send to the ~20 women we liked. I explained who we were and who we were looking for. Our email included quotes from my kids of what hobbies they liked. I explained that we wanted someone who was in it for the long haul and wanted to grow with our family. In return, we would treat them like an extended member of our family. I sent the email directly to the ~20 women who met our criteria. Therefore the only thing I changed was who I addressed the email to each time
6. I got responses from ~10 of the women I had contacted. Six had already found other jobs and had forgotten to update their profiles to say they were unavailable. As a result, four were keen to meet and so I scheduled interviews with all 4
7. We interviewed the 4 women who were available to work. Of the 4:
- 1 didn’t show for the interview so was ruled out immediately
- Another 1 met the kids and immediately said how cute my daughter was and how she couldn’t wait to post photos of her all over Facebook. Therefore we decided she wasn’t right for us
- Then we met Irene and another lovely woman. We went with Irene as we all connected better with her and she was also keen to have a steady job for the long haul
Consequently, 5 years down the track I’m so pleased I put in the hard yards screening potential babysitters and writing that email. I hope for those of you struggling to find “your Irene” that my approach here can help.