What makes a good nanny?

I’ve been struggling for months to find the right nanny for my twins. When they were newborn preemies, I needed someone with a certain set of characteristics that might not necessarily be the same I look for now that they’re 14 months olds. However, I believe that there are certain qualities that a good nanny must have, regardless of the number of children she will take care of, their ages, their background…

•                Absolute and unconditional Love for children and their job.

It might sound obvious, but in fact, it is not. A nanny must be someone who loves and enjoys the company of children, who is nurturing, loving, warm, compassionate, understanding, and who transmits the right vibe to children. When your babies, kids look forward to spending time with their nanny, they smile when they see her, they share their great experiences with her with everybody and they thrive under her care; you know she’s doing something right. You may find a caregiver who does everything well, but if she truly enjoys being in the company of children, they will feel it and love it. Her love will shine through every day she spends with them and they will be aware of it. A good nanny shows a genuine interest in your whole family.

A nanny should not take her job as a task to be performed; but she should enjoy being with kids and interacting with them warmly and affectionately. I don’t have anything against people taking nanny positions when they loose their jobs, or when they want to make extra money; as long as they do it as they’re supposed to, they are capable of doing it, and they put their mind and heart to it. However, my experience has told me not to hire a highly educated person who was laid off and couldn’t find a job in her field. Why? They feel underutilized, they don’t think they should be doing certain task (cleaning babies’ bathroom, doing the dishes…), they are in constant search for something else, they’re not focused on their job with the children, they have less patience… That’s just my experience, but I would certainly not hire an out-of-job PhD to care for my children.

A great nanny sees herself as a professional, takes pride on what she does, and that shows in her everyday disposition. A good nanny will become part of your family, so they need to be someone who ‘feels’ like someone you would want to be part of the family.

•                Reliable and punctual.

This is a deal breaker in my opinion. Parents, regardless of their job situation (full time out of the home workers, part time workers, stay at home parents, work at home parents…), need to know that their nanny is going to be there when agreed, period. This is true for any job, so it’s true for this one too. A nanny should give the family she works for ample warning when she is going to be unable to care for the children; and always arrive at the agreed time.

•                Good listener, good at following through and detailed oriented.

A good nanny will deal with the children in the way the parents see as the best, so she must be able to listen and follow directions. Whether it is the length of naps, the dietary requirements, the discipline approach or general child rearing, your nanny should be on your same page. She should agree with, or at least understand and respect your child-raising and parenting beliefs and values. Your kids are your kids, and you are the one who should decide how they are raised. That does not mean that you won’t ear any suggestions the nanny might have, but at the end of the day, you make the decisions, and she must be able to follow through.

Some parents are more anal than others, but for those of us, who wants things done a certain (specific) way, the nanny should be able to follow our instructions to the detail.

•                Respectful, well mannered, with good morals and values.

Children learn by example and copy the behavior patterns of the adults around them. This applies to any type of behavior, good and bad. They look up to their parents, grandparents, teachers, and nannies. Setting a good example and being a role model are integral parts of every nanny job. Only a nanny with high morals and proper manners can help the children she cares for grow up with the same characteristics.

•                Patient.

Every parent knows that taking care of children requires a lot of patience. A good nanny is the one who will not lose her temper when a baby cries for hours on end, who does not get mad when a toddler starts tasting boundaries, who can patiently answer endless questions from a preschooler, who can patiently handle a kid who throws a temper tantrum, etc.

•                Dependable, Resourceful, Proactive, Creative and Responsible.

A good nanny will find creative solutions to daily problems and collaborate with you for insight on providing the best care for your child. A committed nanny is the one who creates activities to fill the day and takes the initiative to contribute to the children’s development. Most parents do not want to be bothered with telling their nanny what to do every minute of the day. Keeping the children occupied and entertained while getting the must-do things done in an organized manner is a trait a good nanny.  A great Nanny is resourceful, imaginative and creative. Children relish surprises, and a nanny, who shares that appreciation for discovery, whether it’s a treasure hunt or chalk art on the driveway, is sure to be loved.

A good nanny will take care of the children and everything related to them without having to be told to do every single thing. A good nanny will change the baby’s clothes if they’re wet, dirty, smelly and put them in the laundry bin, she will organize the children’s closets periodically so everything is properly folded and organized, etc.

•                Careful, safe and hygienic.

A great nanny displays good judgment and is always conscious of your child’s safety; therefore, accidents will be very rare. She will also be competent and self-assured in an emergency.

A good nanny will keep your kids always clean and groomed, their room clean and aired, clothes clean, folded and properly organized… without you having to tell her.

•                Able to multitask.

Your nanny might have more then one child to care for and this means several things happening simultaneously. She might be able to cook dinner for the older kids while feeding the baby and helping out with homework problems. Even with only one child, she must be able to do several things at once, so the ability to handle multiple things happening at once is crucial.

•                Good communication skills and open to feedback.

A nanny needs to offer clear direction to the children and relay complete details to the parents about their children. Being able to understand how people like to be communicated with is also something to keep in mind. Some parents may want a written note every day containing the day’s events while others may want to chat with you for a few minutes at the end of the day to go over key points. Open, direct and clear communication is the key to a successful nanny-parent team. Problems, small or big, arise even in the best of relations. The important thing is to communicate them in a professional manner and come together to a proper solution.

Parents want to know what their children have been up to, so the nanny should be able to share with us, all our child’s/children’s accomplishments, all the fun they had, and any rough spots. A great nanny will make an effort to stay connected with the parents and shows initiative in establishing appropriate paths of communication.

•                Good organizational skills.

A nanny must be able to properly organize her time and make sure that all the tasks and activities for the day, take place. She will need to coordinate it all to make sure things run smoothly. Great organizational skills come in handy, especially when she cares for several children and when the children start having busier schedules. The organizational skills that a nanny applies toward planning each day insure that she is at least somewhat productive and that she accomplished what you asked her to.

•                Trustworthy.

Parents would leave their children only with people they trust. One shouldn’t forget that children are their most important possession and the person who spends a lot of time with them must be trustworthy.

•                Appropriate Experience, Educated and Knowledgeable.

A great nanny should understand children’s development stages. For instance when you have infants in the house, you want the nanny to be skilled at changing diapers, giving the baby a bath and preparing formula food for the baby. For toddlers, you need a nanny who can teach them some basic things like manners. And for the school goers you need someone who can even help them out with their homework and studies. Regardless how healthy or sick your children were born, I think it’s a must for a nanny that you are going to leave in custody of your child to have basic first aid training, and to be CPR certified. Finally, she should know how to prepare healthy food and be particular about hygiene.

•                Clean criminal record and background check!

This might sound obvious, but I can’t stress enough the importance of conducting a proper background check on anyone you are leaving at the care of your children. One of the main responsibilities of a parent is to keep their children safe and out of arms way. Before hiring a nanny you absolutely need to do the following background checks: national, state, regional and county criminal (professional court research), sexual offender (nationwide registries), bankruptcy, judgments, tax liens, litigations, alias and AKA names search (criminal records under assumed names), address trace, college education verification, and social security number verification. Check both Married and Maiden names. Full State DMV Driving report to search for reckless, unsafe or irresponsible behavior (this report is critical if the nanny is to be driving your children to and from school or sports activities). There are many private investigators and companies specialized in background checks that will prepare this reports for as low as $150. Believe, it’s worth every penny, for your peace of mind and your children’s safety.

I think a good nanny should meet all and everyone of these characteristics. What’s your take on this? Did I miss anything?

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3 thoughts on “What makes a good nanny?

  1. Hello,
    You have done a great job :-)
    I would add the fact that you need to show a lot of initiative to really help the mum. Do not wait for her to ask you to do something, just do it! Act as if she could have 2 extra hands and be those hands!

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