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Nanny Spy Confession: The Importance Of Awareness In Choosing A Nanny

I talk a lot about awareness because I believe as parents, and as people, it is one of the most important parts of growing and thriving. This is a story about a client (I’ve obviously changed a lot of details and the name) I worked with who was looking for some advice on hiring a nanny.

When Karen first came to me she was eight months pregnant and was really excited but also very nervous and anxious about the idea of hiring a nanny when she had to return to work. She didn’t even know where to begin and would ask me questions like, “What should I look for in a nanny?”

I had to get her to answer that question for herself, so I started asking what values were most important to her and how she wanted her future child to be raised. I also asked what her biggest fears were when it came to someone else looking after her child.

As we discussed these questions, a lot of her family history came up. Her biggest concern was finding a stable support system, for both herself and her children, as she had moved cross-country to NYC when she was 18. When Karen was 15 years old, her mom was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died a few years later. Her dad was an alcoholic during her childhood and she had lost contact with him since. Karen had to grow up at a very young age and, consequently, one of the biggest factors she was looking for in a nanny was stability and support.

Another question I asked was, “What do you fear most about hiring a nanny?” Karen revealed that she was terrified of hiring the wrong person – someone who would put her child in harm’s way. When she thought of what could go wrong, her mind would spiral. Eventually, it came out that when she was younger, there was an incident at a playground where she fell off a slide and had some very serious injuries involving stitches. It became evident that this had translated into high levels of anxiety for her future child’s safety.

The child wasn’t even born yet and she was scared to death of a nanny taking her eyes off her child and something terrible happening. While safety and consistency are two very important characteristics to look for in a nanny, in Karen’s case, she needed to work through some of her own fears and understand that what had happened to her was an accident. There is no way to protect your child from every single cut and scrape.

A child’s exploration is extremely important. Awareness helped Karen see that while there were some things she would be able to control about her future nanny, she would also have to learn to trust in order to not develop into a mom who hovered over both child and nanny.

As she became aware of her fears and her childhood, she was better able to articulate what she was looking for in a nanny and not just focus on the hyper-vigilant aspect. Throughout this process, she realized she had some unresolved issues. She had never properly mourned the loss of her mom or dealt with her tumultuous relationship with her alcoholic father and his sense of helplessness. These are all issues that would come out eventually, but as she went to therapy and talked through them she realized how important it was to address them head on before they became a part of her parenting style or negatively blinded her to what she was looking for in a nanny.

I also asked her to identify what types of parenting her parents exhibited throughout her childhood. Her father was controlling at times, but in general, he was fairly absent and therefore she didn’t have a lot of rules or boundaries. She was close to her mother, but again, she wasn’t given a lot of structure at a young age. This became something she craved for her own child.

Especially for new parents, I always recommend thinking through your own childhood and putting thought into why you fear the things you fear. This will help put your fears into perspective and keep you from blowing them out of proportion in a way that could negatively affect your children.

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.

child cute little girl and mother holding hand together with lov

Are Your Nanny And Your Child Getting Along?

Signs your nanny and child are developing a secure attachment

“Attachment style” is one of those phrases that gets thrown around a lot by behavioral psychologists, and that’s because it is a very important concept. But what are we really talking about? It’s fairly simple. Attachment refers to the relationship or bond a child has with his or her primary caregivers.

Think back to your own childhood and the important people in your life. The trust you placed in your parents and other caregivers significantly impacted your future relationships, whether you’ve ever taken the time to realize this or not. So, yes, attachment is important. It’s important your child feels confident in a caregiver. It’s important your child feels supported and can place trust in authority figures. This is how your child will grow to maintain strong relationships as well as exert independence.

Attachment starts when your child is just a baby. When the baby gives a cue or signal, such as a cry, outstretched arms or a smile, and the caregiver responds warmly, gently and sensitively, the baby begins to feel secure. The baby is learning, “I can count on this person to meet my needs. And, even though I don’t have words yet, I can tell this person what I need and feel confident that I will be heard.”

How do I know if the attachment between my child and me is secure?

Here are the two main things you want to look out for as a new parent:

1) The baby readily turns to you at times of distress and finds comfort in your arms or in your gentle reassurance; 2) The baby uses you as a “secure base” from which to venture out and explore the environment, periodically touching base with you to renew confidence.

If you’re employed outside the home and have a fulltime nanny or your child goes to daycare, this doesn’t mean you can’t build secure attachments with your child. In fact, research has shown that whether or not a parent is employed outside the home and whether a baby attends out-of-home childcare or not has little influence on attachment styles. It’s all about being emotionally available to your child when you are at home and also making sure whoever else is a primary caregiver is emotionally available.

Signs of Healthy Attachment

Even children who are experiencing attachment strain may show some of these signs of healthy attachment, so you should always be on the lookout for indications your child is not adjusting well to a caregiver. These are the signs you want to look out for when evaluating how your baby and small child is responding to both you and your nanny.

  1. Joyful the majority of the time.
  2. Seeks out primary caregiver for comfort and to meet needs.
  3. Likes to be cradled and held facing primary caregiver.
  4. Makes good eye contact with primary caregiver and initiates eye contact – both close & distant proximity.
  5. When primary caregiver makes eye contact, the child smiles back, showing signs of being happy with the interaction.
  6. Smiles and exhibits pleasure when seeing self in the mirror.
  7. Frequently engages in playful interactions with primary caregiver (interactions initiated by both parent and child.)
  8. Uses different cries to alert primary caregiver of needs and wants; easily consoled by primary caregiver.
  9. Willingly allows primary caregiver to hold bottle, hand feed, and nurture.
  10. Melts into primary caregiver when held; lays head on shoulder; holds on when held; faces primary caregiver rather than away.
  11. Enjoys cuddling, hugs, and kisses given by primary caregiver and initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses without wanting something in return.
  12. Imitates primary caregiver regularly (actions, language, etc.)
  13. Settles quickly when held by primary caregiver.
  14. Prefers close proximity to primary caregiver but not in an anxious, desperate way.
  15. Consistently sleeps well and peacefully.
  16. Wants to please primary caregiver because he knows it will make his parent happy.
  17. Reacts appropriately to pain; wants primary caregiver to nurture him when in pain or sick; easily consoled.
  18. Displays age appropriate anxiety at brief separation from primary caregiver but is able to be reassured.
  19. Reunites happily with primary caregiver with eye contact and physical contact.
  20. Show signs of feeling safe in social situations; able to play and interact with others, but stays close and checks in with primary caregiver regularly but not in an anxious or desperate way.
  21. Gets along with other children & siblings most of the time.
  22. Is okay with primary caregiver leaving the room for short periods of time. Conversely, cares that primary caregiver has left the room and shows happiness when that person returns.
  23. Angry outbursts/tantrums are infrequent, short in duration. Nanny can soothe child.
  24. “Normal” discipline methods/parenting techniques are effective.

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.

Robert Wise Productions

Robert Wise Productions

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.

The Nanny Search

So you know you need to hire a nanny, but where do you begin looking? 

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For many parents, the task of finding a childcare professional can be daunting, even if this isn’t your first time going through the process. For those of you who are new to parenting, or who have recently relocated to a new city and don’t yet have a network of people you trust who you can ask for advice, the prospect of locating, vetting, interviewing and then hiring a new nanny can seem near impossible.  Below are a few tried and true options families can use when approaching their search.

Reach out to friends:  The first place to start is asking friends, neighbors or other acquaintances you know who have children of a similar age, or that have had babysitters in the past. Ask them where they would recommend looking for a nanny, and if they have any suggestions for people they have used in the past that might be a good fit for your family. The best advertising is often through word-of-mouth!

Look within your community:  If you have just relocated to a new area, you may not know people you can ask yet. Or, perhaps your friends weren’t able to provide you with helpful answers.  Either way, your next step should be to reach out to people in your community to ask for advice. If you belong to a church, mosque or synagogue, many times nannies and babysitters will advertise their services there. You can also contact teachers and administrators at local schools to ask for guidance.  he more people you reach out to, the better chance you will have of finding exactly what you are looking for.

Use the internet:  Another great “first step” is always to perform an internet search. Search for terms like “childcare professionals in [your city],” and sift through the results you find. You may find local nanny agencies, ads from nannies looking for work on websites such as Craigslist or CareerBuilder or Mommy blogs that can give you guidelines and advice for how to navigate websites such as Care.com and GoNannies.com.

Whatever method you choose, the end result should be the same. We all want to have as many options as possible when selecting the person who will be caring for our children. The more avenues you have to search, the better your chance is of finding the perfect nanny for your family.  Happy hunting!

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.