So it’s time to go back to work after your maternity leave and you need to find someone to look after your precious little bundle.
Or maybe you are in need of new support because your last nanny did not work out or has moved on; either way the decisions to be made are difficult ones. How on earth do you make sure that the person you employ has the skills to look after your child?
Will you feel happy walking out of the door? Will you feel confident that your child is safe? Does your nanny know how to play with, and talk to, your child in a way that will further their development? Where do you start in such an important process?
Firstly, analyse your needs: Start by creating a job description of your ideal care provider. Consider such questions as: Do you need part-time or full-time care? Is their age important to you? Young and exciting, or mature and settled? Will you require them to travel with you? Do you have very set working hours or are you prone to last minute schedule changes?
You will need to define your needs and the role prior to hiring someone.
Now that you have a clearer idea of what it is that you need, the hunt for the perfect candidate can get underway. One of the biggest concerns of most parents relates to safety.
Using a reputable recruitment agency goes some way towards alleviating this concern as they can ensure that police clearance checks have been carried out and references obtained. You could also get professional help from a child psychologist for the short-listing and interviewing stage of the process.
Support before, during and after the interview process can help to ensure compatibility and a smooth transition for you, your nanny and, most importantly, your child.
Some of the things to consider during the recruitment process are: Do they have similar values to yourself? Is their main interest in giving the best childcare possible? Do they have experience of working with this age group? Working with babies and toddlers requires very different skills than those needed for working with teenagers.
Do they seem to like children and will your children like them? Do they have similar views on behaviour management? Do they have good language skills?
Working with your nanny
Once you have found your nanny, it will be important to set up a contract of terms. This should detail what is expected of your nanny and what they should expect from the family.
Be careful not to ask them to perform non-childcare related tasks that will take them away from what should be the main focus – the safety, care, teaching and nurturing of your little one(s).
However, there will be some tasks that are directly related to their day-to-day care, such as: preparing children’s meals, cleaning up after mealtimes, helping with children’s laundry and helping children to tidy up after themselves. Help your nanny set up routines which will work towards the smooth running of your family home and the development of your child.
Your nanny is going to be an important part of your family. Offer them a fair package and make the expectations clear up-front. Show them respect and your children will too. Show support to your nanny when they are disciplining your child using the approach that you agreed.
You will ultimately be the ones to suffer if you give in to your child and revoke the authority of the nanny. If you want well-behaved children, then it is imperative that you have consistency between parents and caregivers with regard to behaviour management; have a plan for discipline. Make sure that you allow time for good communication with your nanny.
Supporting your nanny
For the development of your child/children, it will be important that your nanny has a good skill level. They will need good behaviour management skills, be able to use good age-appropriate language, understand how to play with them, support the acquisition of their social skills and help to promote their motor skills through age-appropriate activities. Unfortunately, not all of these skills come naturally to parents, let alone nannies, and they may therefore need some help in gaining them.
Value your nanny and the support that they can give to your children. Send them on a training course. Make sure that you are confident in the skills of the nanny you are leaving your most precious possession with.
If you work and you leave your child with a nanny, they form an important part of your family. Improve their effectiveness and the benefit they provide to your children’s happiness and development by allowing them opportunities to improve.
If you need to hire someone to take care of your child/children, take the time and effort to pick the right person for the job and then support them to have the skills necessary to make it a successful experience for the whole family. Don’t trust your child’s development and happiness to chance.
Susie Bodden is a chartered educational psychologist.
Your nanny is going to be an important part of your family.