Operation: Help Me Find a Nanny

help.jpgI guess I never really realized how powerful the blogosphere was until I took a little break and came back with a vengeance.  I can’t thank you all enough for your thoughtful comments and ideas for me in my search for a new nanny.  I spent the better part of yesterday pouring through online bulletin boards, craigslist and sending out e-mails with lots of apostrophes and capital letters (HELP!!!) to my friends in search of nanny #3.

Oh, you thought I am actually working this week? Ha! Not when there’s a nanny to find.  That’s my main job for now.  And being the Type A I am I now have six seemingly suitable nannies lined up for interviews over the next two days.  Who are they, you ask? An interesting question.  Because just after people stopped asking me if I’m going to quit, they asked me what kind of nanny I want.  Foreign? Young? Single?  I’m not totally above stereotyping the nanny (I love how Tibetan nannies are “in vogue” right now).  In fact, my list of candidates so far is as diverse as the U.N.

  • Polish
  • Belizean
  • Argentinian
  • Mexican
  • Tibetan (see, not above stereotyping)

But I’m not picking on nationality.  I need to know more than where they’re from.  I need to know if they’ve got the goods.  So I’m wondering if you all want to help me by sending me via my comment box some questions you would ask the nannies I’m meeting. I have a few ideas, but since I’ve failed this twice now, I think I might need a little extra help.  And I’m thinking we can take this idea one step further and once I’ve got all the candidates and questions and answers written up you could even help me vote to pick my nanny.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Any takers?  If you send me a good question, I’ll send you one of these funny new “working mom” greeting cards I just read about.  Just kidding- couldn’t someone have come up with a better punch line for life as a working mom?  Like, did you hear the one about the nanny who quit giving two days notice? Oh wait, I forgot, that’s not that funny.


  1. You know, I’m a fan of open ended questions. Just let them talk and reveal themselves.
    Listen for disparaging comments about former employers – usually a red flag. My only gotcha question was: “what’s your approach to discipline?” The correct answer is: “whatever you say it is.”
    You know, the idea being, she’ll carry out your values. The nanny I ended up hiring got that one right.

    The other I-knew-she-was-the-right-nanny moment came when I observedher keychain. It had a Purel dispenser on it – a little mini one. My husband is a serious germaphobe. I’m like, this is a perfect match. It was like I heard the angels singing.

    Good luck!

  2. Good luck with the Nanny search. My best barometer of our nanny
    has been my 2 year old dog. If our dog did not warm up to the
    candidate within the first five minutes (and vice versa) I just
    knew she would not be able to care for my daughter.
    I also asked her a lot of questions about her upbringing (siblings,
    cousins etc.) Our nanny answered the question truthfully and I
    can see the respect she has for her family – something she know
    exhibits within ours.

  3. “Hello, candidate! Do you have a blog?”

  4. Seriously! This is your own version of “America’s Next Top Nanny!” I love it. Too bad there won’t be videos of the interviews for us to nit-pick and make fun of, kind of like “The Soup.” As you see, I am a reality TV junkie. Anyway, I agree with asking questions about the nanny’s upbringing. That is very telling as to how she will behave with your child. My question for her would be: What made you choose becoming a nanny over any other job? (This might help you understand if she is being a nanny for monetary purposes only or if she really does love bing around kids. Good luck and feel free to get all “Tyra” on their butts if needed!

  5. Good luck with the search. Don’t forget to ask for names of prior emploers.
    You can get a little feeling about her by talking to them.
    I think the google search of their names is a great/scary idea as well.
    YOu never know what you might find out.

  6. Ask for references and how long she worked at her last job(s) and how many jobs has she had. If she says a year or less then leaves, forget it. But you can get a really good feel from a reference. Good luck, I don’t envy you at all.

  7. Ask the ages of the kids when she started/stopped with each family. There are nannies that only like babies and jump ship when the kid hits 2; there are ones that don’t have experience with toddlers. So ask.

    Ask her about a typical day. What would her perfect day as a nanny be? Hopefully she talks about some sort of schedule (with meals) and going outside. If you have a schedule, don’t give it to her until after to see if your vision and hers align.

    If you have rigid start/stop times for each day, make sure she is aware of that upfront. Don’t say you are flexible if you aren’t or can’t be because of work committments.

    And I am so impressed that you already have six candidates. good luck!

  8. I’m going to go with a question I heard on one of my new favorite house renovation shows, “Flipping Out” (stay with me here)

    Pose the question, “if you had a really, really important appointment, and while you are getting ready to leave you realize your cat is missing… would you go to the appointment or search for the cat?”

    Of course you are wanting the person to say they will search for the cat (because it implies they are rational and compassionate… and will be so with your child).

    I bet your wondering how this came up on a home renovation show… ignore that for the moment… lol

    Seriously, you could ask any question that would point to their real character… for me that would be a good barometer as to if they would be a successful nanny. GOOD LUCK!

  9. When I was looking into childcare I always wanted to know what they liked and disliked about their job. I also wanted to know how they felt about cell phones since that had become a huge issue for a friend of mine that had a nanny.

  10. I know your little one is little, but I would ask her or him. What is your favorite kids Artist/Song? What is your favorite game? Children’s book? Art project? How do you plan your day? ASk her to read you a story. I know this sounds nuts, but as a preschool teacher this is what I look for in people and these are the things I tell parents about myself. This person needs to relate to your son. Even though he is young there are tons of stuff that she/he can be doing with him. You don’t want someone who sits on the their tush all day, and since you are like me a Type A. You might even want a leason plan. I asked my nanny for a new one every week! Hope it helps!


  11. And this, besides the cost factor, is one reason I don’t have a nanny – I just can’t trust myself to
    pick one. I’m pretty laid back with the housecleaner, unlike hubby, but our new barometer is how
    they are with the dogs. A good question I think is “why do want to be nanny” or some version of
    why they are in this job. If the first words aren’t something about loving kids I’d show them
    the door.

    Oh and that happened to me with the dog – we skipped the outing and searched for the dog, but finally gave
    up and left. I don’t think I’d make a good nanny, I’ll keep my day job 🙂

  12. I am a nanny- and I think a great question to ask nannies is, “Tell me about the last time you handeled a child related emergency. What was it? What did you do? Would you change anything about how you handleeit? ALso I like to tell parents to ask the nanny what child care books she or he would reccommend to the parents. If they give you a few you agree with you know that you might be on the same page. If they tell you they like “Tlevision shows that keep the kids busy while I am pn my cellphone” well, that might raise a red flag. Seriously,good luck. I love you blog and have been lurking for awhile but wanted to send my good nanny thoughts out for you in this time of trial.

  13. I just gave our sitter the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. And it is true – I do want more time with my daughters, and I do think they need me more, especially now that my two year old has added fighting and biting to her negotiation skills. But the other part of the truth is that I wish I had asked her more questions in the initial interviews.

    Questions like, “Will you drive just the teensiest bit too fast? Will I find out more about my toddler’s playdate battles from my older daughter rather than you? Do you think the Doodlebop guys chose to be, um, blue and orange instead of being born that way? Do you think a real man would never act like that? Will you ask me to lie to other employers about your salary? Will you be patient and calm with my girls but never really actually love them?”

    And will you forgive me for wanting you to be perfect and taking a year to realize that you can’t?

  14. I’m the controller for English Nanny & Governess School in Chagrin Falls, OH. Founded in 1984, English Nanny & Governess School has earned the reputation as the finest, nanny and governess training program for nannies in the United States. We are internationally recognized for our unique Certified Professional Nannies and Certified Professional Governess (baccalaureate degree or higher) program, which is approved by the American Council of Nanny Schools.

    We work with families both in the US and internationally, and would be more than happy to assist.

    Please contact (800) 733-1984 and ask for the Placement Office.


  15. I want to be able to help you. I was very anxious about finding a good qualified Nanny for my son. I am glad you are using the term Nanny and not baby sitter, because they really are very different. A nanny is supposed to be an extension of you really, where as a babysitter is supposed to cover the necessaties in you absence. Let me know where you are located.


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