Creating a successful relationship between a nanny and a nanny-family can be tricky. Every family has different needs. There is no handbook that provides parents OR nannies all the answers. Given the inherently personal nature of this business relationship, the interviewing process is not only for families to find the perfect fit, but also for nannies to find the perfect family to work with. Knowing what to expect from the interviewing process can be daunting for new families, and without knowledge of industry norms, it can be difficult for parents to navigate on their own.
To help parents attract the best possible candidates, I asked thousands of nannies what they considered to be “deal-breakers” when interviewing with families – and here are the top four.
Being Unwilling to Pay Your Nanny Legally
Of all the “deal-breakers” mentioned by nannies, this one had the largest consensus. Did you know, in the United States, a nanny is considered a household employee? That means it is illegal to pay your nanny under-the-table, off-the-books, etc. Not only can the nanny be penalized by the IRS for skirting tax responsibilities, but the parents can, too. The only correct way to pay your nanny is by providing them a W2. Note: a nanny cannot be given a 1099, as s/he is not an independent contractor.
If you are not tax-savvy, I recommend speaking with a financial consultant or tax attorney, to make sure all bases are covered correctly. There are also payroll services, like HomeWork Solutions, who will take care of the entire process for you.
Not Providing Guaranteed Hours
“Guaranteed hours” means that a family agrees to, at minimum, pay their nanny for “X” number of hours per week- even if they do not use their nanny’s services for “X” number of hours per week. This is desirable because a nanny’s schedule is subject to change based on their nanny-family’s schedule. If a family decides to go on a week-long vacation without providing guaranteed hours, their nanny is left with an income-less week, which is less than ideal. I have witnessed families drop an unpaid vacation on their nanny with a week’s notice, leaving her in a panic over whether she can pay her rent, car payment, student loans, etc.
While it is at the discretion of the family to decide whether they are willing to provide this benefit, consider this: your nanny has made a commitment to your family to work certain hours and keep themselves available, so if your family decides to not take advantage of the services provided, your nanny should not be financially penalized for your decision. If she is available to work, she should be paid whether you use her or not.
Excessive Restrictions on Activities
There is no question that leaving your child under the care of someone you just met can be anxiety-producing. A good nanny understands this and understands that trust is something that is built. Once it is earned, however, most experienced nannies will not be ok with being cooped up in the house 100% of the time. Not only does it send the message that they are still not trusted, it also limits the opportunities for children to socialize and have real-world experiences. Secondly, it can leave a nanny feeling lonely, isolated, and even resentful.
Nannies should respect your routine and home environment, but having a sense of trust, autonomy, and the ability to have at least some control over their daily activities is required before many will agree to take on a position.
Personal Values and Parenting Styles
One of the greatest benefits of hiring a nanny is getting private customized childcare. While there is absolutely a nanny for every family, a nanny who is perfect for Family A could be a nightmare for Family B.
You want a nanny who will be a disciplinarian? Great. Make sure you clearly communicate that, and be sure to look for a nanny who has a similar (or even the same) childcare philosophy.
You want a nanny who will include your religious faith into daily practices? Cool. You can probably find a nanny of the same faith who would be happy to do so.
You want a nanny who completely cuts out screen time? Fantastic. You can have it, if you communicate it. You get the picture.
Basically, just figure out what is important for your family, and PLEASE communicate that to potential nanny candidates. We strongly dislike mind-reading.
- Putting Household Chores Before Children
Some nannies are happy being a house manager/nanny. Others are not. For some nannies, there is no desire to be anything other than a childcare provider. For the record, most house managers do not enjoy being treated like maids or cleaning ladies, either. They are fine running errands,organizing, doing laundry, etc, but they are probably not interested in scrubbing toilets.
- Trying to Get a “Bargain” On Childcare
Hiring a nanny is probably going to be more expensive than alternative childcare options, like daycare. Be prepared for that, and please keep in mind, you get what you pay for.
- No Paid Vacation or Paid Sick Days
Nannies get sick and like some personal time, too. Pretty straight-forward.
- Being Unwilling to Sign a Contract
Not only will drafting up a contract help you cover your bases with communicating expectations, if well written, it also protects everyone Just do it. Via The Village can help you through the contract process. Learn more here.
Best wishes with your nanny search! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to out team at Via The Village for help and guidance.