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An Easy Guide to Finding a Nanny

Tammy G.
July 24, 2017

As the founder of my own Nanny Agency in Manhattan, and a working mother of three, I am intimately familiar with the issues surrounding nannies and child care because I have experienced them first-hand. While my company offers support and advice for parents on all aspects of raising children, my friends call me the “Nanny Whisperer” because I specialize in what I call Nanny-Family Matching—that is, the art (and science!) of finding amazing nannies and matching them with their perfect family.

As a working parent, I know just how crucial it is to have someone you trust who can love and nurture your child while you are gone, and as a mom, I understand that it’s not always easy to share the responsibilities of “mothering” with someone else. But I also know from my own experience that a good nanny is one of the greatest gifts that you can ever give to your child. When a nanny situation truly works, it not only makes for a happier child, but also happier parents and stronger marriages. You owe it to yourself and your entire family to set the bar high—and that’s what this series of blog posts is about.

This blog is the first in a series dedicated to helping you get started on the journey of how to find a nanny.  Maybe you’re just getting started and need someone to tell you what the appropriate nanny duties are, or maybe you need help writing your nanny job description....perhaps you know these things but need the help of one of the NYC nanny agencies out there...shoot - it’s possible you’re not even sure yet if you want to find a live in nanny or if you want to find a live out nanny!  Well - the good news is, I’m here to help and this series of posts should help get you going!

These days, hiring a nanny to fill your shoes when you are not there has become every bit as essential as potty-training and teaching the ABCs. Whether you are East Coast or West Coast, urban or suburban, chances are that the majority of the parents that you know rely on some form of regular child care. There are more families with two working parents today than ever before, and even moms and dads who chose to be at home or at home part-time often require an extra set of hands to keep up with the pace and demands of modern parenthood. In fact, statistics show that 50% of all U.S. children are in some type of formal childcare arrangement by the time they are nine months old.

Here Is Why Simply Typing “Best Nanny Agency in NYC” or “Nanny Agencies NYC” into Google Won’t Cut it

While there are hundreds of resources available to tell you how to puree your own organic baby food or sleep train your toddler, there are almost none that teach moms and dads how to find a nanny in NYC, or how to work with your nanny effectively.  However, there are countless sites on the internet purporting to offer lists of “the best nanny agencies.”  Sadly however, not all of these are reputable institutions and the ultimate responsibility to vet them and the nannies falls with the parents.  This is exactly why I started my business and wrote my book – to help parents through this journey.

Many of my clients come to me as first-time parents because they are completely daunted by the nanny-search process—how to find their nanny, what to expect, and how much to pay a nanny—but I also get clients who, despite the best of intentions, have been through five nannies in five years and have no idea what they’re doing wrong.  Most parents rely on advice from friends when conducting their search, but without a proven system or strategy to guide them, they end up making mistakes that set the stage for future problems: they prioritize the wrong qualifications, ask the wrong questions, and fail to zero in on what they, as a family, truly need. It doesn’t help that the nanny world is like the Wild West, completely unregulated and often under-the-table; there are no rules, there is no standardized training or hiring protocol, and there is no board or government agency to provide professional oversight. Anyone can advertise themselves as a nanny, and yet I have found that many parents do more due diligence when buying a car than they do when hiring their child’s caregiver. This requirement to perform your own extensive due diligence is precisely why typing “Nanny Agency Manhattan” will only cause you to spin your wheels.

Unfortunately, the stakes are higher than parents realize. Science tells us that 90% of the human brain develops by age three, so any person who cares for your child during these formative years—be it a nanny, a babysitter, or a day care worker—will without question shape your child’s personality. Young children, especially infants and toddlers, learn from their caregivers every minute of every day, which means that everything about your nanny—her demeanor, her physicality, and whether or not she will actively teach and engage your child—will have a direct impact on his or her social, emotional, and intellectual development. If the chemistry between the nanny and child isn’t right, if the nanny is bored or checked out, if there is high-nanny turnover, or if the nanny-parent relationship is strained, there can be real and lasting consequences for the child. Especially during the early years, the difference between an exceptional caregiver and a mediocre one can be enormous.

That’s why I wrote my book and have started to publish more blog posts on the topic. After years of working with families and their nannies, I have created what I call the “Gold Standard” Process so that parents everywhere can finally have a sure-fire prescription for finding their perfect nanny and making a lasting match that will help their child thrive. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of nanny you’re looking for, my book (and these posts) gives you everything you need to achieve the Gold Standard of childcare: a loving, energetic, totally devoted caregiver who is ideally matched—both personally and professionally—to meet your unique needs and those of your child. My hiring process will allow you to take control, avoid mistakes, and hire the right person.  And if you already employ a nanny and it isn’t perfect, the strategies in my book—based on my background in psychotherapy as well as my experience doing Nanny-Family mediation—can help you bring out the best in your child’s caregiver and achieve a whole new level success.

A Brief Background

When I was on my first maternity leave with my first daughter, I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going back to work. There were plenty of days when, after being up all night with a colicky infant, I couldn’t wait to escape and get back to the relative calm and predictability of my previous job. But after the colic subsided and I finally began to experience those wondrous newborn moments, I didn’t know how I could possibly leave her. How could I ever find someone to care for my daughter who would give her as much love and attention as I would? How could I find a substitute for me?

Finding that person, or persons, is never an easy task.  The good news is that, even though the United States still has a ways to go in making affordable, quality childcare available to all parents, we are extremely lucky to have far more options today than we did a generation ago.  All of these options—including nannies, au pairs, and daycare centers—can be excellent if you know what to look for, and parents often mix and match depending on their budget and circumstances.  This and the next few blog posts are designed to give you an overview of the different types of care available to you, along with a candid assessment of each.

Whenever I begin working with a family, I always ask them, “What are you looking for that only a nanny can provide?” Now is the time to really consider this question, and to think about what you envision and what you can afford.  I’ve had many of my nanny placement agency clients who come to me thinking they need a full-time nanny, but end up happily doing a nanny-share or combining a part-time nanny with daycare because it’s more affordable.  So even if you think that you are absolutely sure that you want a nanny, it’s smart to be informed about all the different choices so that you can construct the very best scenario for your family.

So...let’s get started going through all your options.  Let’s start off making sure that a nanny is right for you.  Once we do that, we can go into the specifics of if you should hire one of the New York Nanny Agencies or if you can do this search on your own.

Nannies - A Quick Overview and How much do Nannies Make

Average Salary: $700-1,000 (and up) a week (Live In)/$800-$1,200 (and up) a week (Live Out)

A nanny is someone who cares for a child or children in a home on a regular basis during the parents’ absence. Nannies are usually responsible for everything to do with the care of the child, including feeding, bathing, sleep scheduling, laundry, and tidying up the child’s room or play areas.  Nannies may also have additional responsibilities that help the family, such as errands, grocery shopping, cooking for the children, caring for pets, and light housekeeping. A full-time nanny will typically work 40 to 60 hours a week, and part-time nanny may work anywhere from 15 to 35. Nannies may also be “Live In” or “Live Out”: A Live-In nanny stays overnight with the family for some portion of the week, while a Live-Out nanny commutes to work each day and returns to her own home each night.

The biggest advantage to having a nanny is that your child will be cared for by a single, attentive caregiver in the familiar surroundings of your home.  Aside from having a family member to care for your child, a nanny most closely approximates a parent, and depending on your situation, she may do everything that a parent does—from helping with homework to settling sibling disputes—when you’re not there. A nanny also gives parents maximum flexibility: You get to decide what hours and duties you need, and then hire someone who fits the bill.  Many nannies will even work extra weekend hours, or travel with you on family vacations. The consistency and stability that a good nanny provides is ideal for young children, especially babies and toddlers, and in the best scenarios, the nanny becomes a member of your family who loves your children as if they were her own.

The downside is that nannies are by far the most expensive form of childcare. The average live-in starting rate is $15 per hour, or $700 a week, depending on where you live, and the price goes up with each additional child.  Like most employees, nannies expect a modest annual raise (fifty cents an hour or $25 a week) along with paid vacation days, sick days, personal days, and holidays. It is also considered good practice to give your nanny a bonus at the end of the calendar year (typically 1-2 weeks’ salary), or on her yearly anniversary with you. Some families give their nannies other perks, such as health insurance or transportation costs, and a nanny may try to negotiate for these when you make an offer.  When you decide to hire a nanny, you need to be aware that the costs will almost certainly extend beyond the base salary.

The other factor to consider is that the nanny-parent relationship, while it can be rewarding in many ways, is utterly unique and not always easy. Even if you and your children adore your nanny, it can be strange to have another adult in your house so many hours a week, and even stranger to hear that adult express authoritative opinions about your children and what they need. Most parents, even those who really like or even love their nannies, have a certain amount of ambivalence about the relationship, and it can be challenging to constantly walk the line between personal and professional, and family member and employee. Negotiating that line comes with the territory, and when you hire a nanny, you will need to devote time and energy to the relationship.

Whether or not a nanny works for your family also depends very much on the person you hire. There are plenty of lousy nannies out there, and if a nanny isn’t good, it doesn’t matter if she’s giving you flexibility or providing one-on-one care for your child. If you choose to hire a nanny, you need to commit to taking the time to find someone wonderful and to paying an appropriate salary. If that is not possible, then the structure and safety of daycare or preschool may be a better option.

Pros:

  1. One-on-one care and attention for your child
  2. Close, affectionate bond between your child and the nanny
  3. Schedules and routines can be tailored to your child’s needs
  4. Flexible hours that match your schedule
  5. Additional support (such as household help) for you as a parent

Cons:

  1. Most expensive form of childcare
  2. Someone else living/working in your personal space

Ok...in my coming posts, I will describe:

  1. Should you use a nanny agency in Manhattan?
  2. Finding a nanny in NYC by figuring out your true needs
  3. NYC Nanny Agencies often don’t teach you how to interview a nanny - I will!
  4. If you’re looking for a live-in nanny agency, make sure you really know the kind of personality fit you need with that live-in nanny - I’ll help you figure that out.

Here are some other blog posts I’ve written on the topic of finding a nanny and interviewing nanny agencies.  I hope you find them helpful.

Note: a version of this post originally appeared here: An Easy Guide for How to Find a Nanny in NYC

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