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Top 5 Qualities I Look For In A Nanny/Babysitter

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Long before I was a psychologist and even a parent I was a nanny, and then a “Nanny Spy.” Last week, I shared some red flags to look for during an interview, but today I wanted to share the top five qualities I look for when evaluating a nanny or hiring someone to watch my own children.

  1. Someone with Excellent Recommendations

When you are searching for a sitter, one of the best tips is to network among your friends, family and co-workers to gather a list of sitters that they have used. Sitters who come highly recommended are more likely to be experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy. Think of hiring a babysitter in the same way that you would hire an employee for your business. Would you want to hire an employee who did not have good quality references, and who was not recommended by past employers?

  1. Someone with First Aid Experience

One quality  you should never compromise on is that your sitter have a CPR certification, or at least have basic first aid knowledge. Accidents happen, especially where children are concerned. Your sitter should know how to clean and bandage cuts and scrapes, perform CPR and perform the Heimlich maneuver. If you have a baby or small child, it is important for your sitter to know how to perform these life-saving techniques specifically for infants and toddlers, so that their small bodies are not injured.

  1. Someone who Bonds with Your Family

You want to look for a sitter who has a connection to you and your family. This is not to say that you will have some instant bond, in which a halo of light forms around the sitter’s face, but when you interview potential sitters, you should be able to pick up on which individual will work best with your family. It is best to look for a babysitter who will reinforce your values and belief systems while you are gone.

The interview process should also involve your children spending time with their potential new sitter. You want to make sure that your children feel comfortable around their sitter, and that they are willing to communicate with her/him. Allowing your children to spend time with a potential sitter is especially important if you have an infant, since a baby’s needs are more sensitive, and their schedules are more intense.

  1. Someone who will Follow Your Rules

There is nothing worse than hiring a sitter who will allow your children to gorge themselves on candy and soda, and then allow them to stay up as late as they want. Therefore, it is very important to find a babysitter who will follow your household rules to the letter. It is a good idea to ask your babysitter’s references about whether the sitter is good at following rules, and if they are perceived to have issues with authority.

  1. Someone who is Mature

While there is no standard age for babysitting, it is important to hire a sitter who is mature and responsible, no matter her/his years. For example, it may be best for you to hire a 14-year-old who has helped take care of her three younger brothers and sisters, as opposed to a 16-year-old who has never changed a diaper.

The next time that you need a night on the town and are looking for a babysitter, remember to hire someone who has excellent recommendations, who has first aid experience, who bonds with your family, who will follow your rules and who is mature. Using these five criteria for things you should look for in a babysitter will ensure that you select a sitter who is a right fit for your family.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

10 Warning Signs To Look Out For When Interviewing A Nanny

All interviews are going to be a little bit different depending on your style of communication, what you are looking for and the candidates, but there are some consistencies all interviews with a potential childcare provider should follow. First and foremost, it’s important the person you are interviewing can form a connection with your child. It’s also extremely important that you are able to communicate easily with the person you are interviewing and you feel that person is communicating openly and honestly, as well.

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In another blog, I’ll share some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview and what to look out for, but today I wanted to share what you SHOULDN’T see. Here are 10 Major Warning Signs:

  1. Being Late

When people are late to interviews it shows a total disregard for time management and a lack of respect for your time. If an interviewee is late before she even has a job, what will she do five months from now?

  1. No interaction with your child

It’s very important the person you are interviewing makes a conscious effort to talk to/interact with your child. If your child is a toddler, you want someone to get down at eye level and really attempt to make a connection. You need to know that the person you are interviewing understands that this is the essence of the job – and more important than anything that could possibly be answered with a verbal response.

  1. No clear examples from previous employers

You should ask the person you are interviewing for previous experiences handling difficult situations or times when previous jobs were challenging, rewarding, etc. If you feel the person you are interviewing is giving vague, cookie-cutter answers, or trying to avoid talking previous employment altogether, this could be an indication of a lack of experience or something at the previous job ending badly.

  1. Unable to articulate a clear schedule

You’ll want to ask potential candidates about their flexibility and schedules. For example, do they take classes? Do they have families of their own? Do they have some other type of employment? Do they travel a lot? It’s important to get a sense of how much time someone can actually dedicate to the job and if your family’s schedule can be a priority. If you are interviewing someone and she doesn’t seem to know where she’ll be in school in three months or if she will need to take time off for family issues, you want to make sure you understand the risks involved.

  1. Too much concern with salary and benefits

While this is something that should definitely be discussed and agreed upon (nanny contract) before someone begins working for you, it’s a major red flag if this gets brought up too soon in the interview process. It’s fine to discuss benefits and basic salary, but if it seems the person you’re interviewing is shopping around for the best deal and is totally consumed with the money above all else, it’s a major warning sign.

  1. Extreme nervousness

It’s understandable someone might be nervous on an interview, but you want to get the sense the person you are interviewing can be confident in stressful situations. Particularly if someone seems nervous around your child, you should take pause. Try to notice if any part of the interview, or any question in particular, seems to make the person uncomfortable. This could be a sign of trying to hide something or a lack of experience.

  1. A philosophy that contradicts your own

You’ll want the people you interview to articulate a clear childcare philosophy. This doesn’t have to be advanced, but it’s important to gauge whether someone can enforce and aid you in caring for your child in a way that makes you comfortable. You’ll want to ask about punishment and reward systems, for example, to make sure you are on the same page.

  1. Lack of experience

In general, a lack of experience should be fairly obvious just from a resume, but you’ll also want to make sure someone’s answers back up what the resume says. Ask for lots of concrete examples and make sure the person you are interviewing has experience with children who are specifically your child’s/children’s age.

  1. Off-putting personality

At the end of the day, there is a component of the interview that involves a “gut instinct.” Sometimes, you just won’t think your personality matches with the person you are interviewing. Maybe the person has a sense of humor that makes you uneasy. Be especially tuned in to how you feel talking and being in a room with this person. Is it easy to hold a conversation? Could you see yourself coming in after a long day at work and interacting with this person on a daily basis?

  1. Bad or no questions

Finally, if a potential nanny doesn’t ask you any questions, that’s reason for concern. It’s important for candidates to show an interest in your child, in your schedule, in your rules and philosophy and in your previous experience with nannies. One of the easiest ways to tell how much experience and interest in the position someone has is by how advanced and thought-out the questions are that you get asked. If someone asks a question you clearly already answered, that’s also a warning sign for lack of listening skills.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.