Back to Work after Maternity Leave? 6 Helpful Tips to Hiring a Great Nanny
I have always believed in the need to hire help at home. I grew up in a house where we always had someone to help; hired, family or distant relative. But despite this, shortly after I had my baby, I started having thoughts that nobody would watch over my child like I would; no nanny, no crèche, not even a close family member.
And so, although I had a corporate job, I had settled that I will not work for at least one year, because of my baby. Like many first time mums, I realized that I only had that mindset because I had read experiences shared on social media and also read countless comments of people blaming career mums who had to return to work for leaving their children in the care of someone while insinuating that no one can care for your child better than you.
This narrative, even though wrong, has led many young working mothers to sacrifice their careers and sometimes their potential to take care of their children. I would agree that many maids and nannies have done extremely bad and unthinkable things. But I have also seen so many nannies that are providing unwavering support everyday to their employers.
In the past year, I have seen quite a number of young, working first time moms who do not have the luxury of resigning or having their mothers or mother in-laws over to help for a long period of time, (mainly because these grandmas are still actively working) suffer immense guilt and fear of what could go wrong. The bad thing about being in this situation is that fear clouds your judgment and makes you act impulsively rather than making wise and well thought-out decisions.
Like I learned, the first thing I say to them is that being at home with your baby is not a guarantee for your baby’s safety. And there have been unfortunate circumstances where babies have been harmed even while with the parents. What is important is ensuring that your child is always in the presence and care of a qualified, experienced and well-trained person; be it in a crèche or in hiring someone to help at home.
Here are a few helpful tips to consider in hiring a nanny and and aiding your transition to work after maternity leave.
1. Hire a Trained Nanny
Many people hire housekeepers in place of nannies because they are more affordable. The problem is, with time, they start to expect them to play the nanny role which becomes a recipe for disaster. Even as mothers, we sometimes get fed up with endless cries and tantrums and feel like running away. How much more a housekeeper who is already exhausted from house chores and has no training whatsoever on how to handle a child? A well-trained nanny will be trained in child behavior, child health and safety, emergency management and so on, while a housekeeper has no knowledge at all of those. So when you are hiring, go for a well-trained nanny.
2. Patronize a Credible Agent
Be wary of ‘agents’ or family members who promise to bring someone with no training. Word of mouth and number of years of experience is not enough in this case. You have the right to demand proof of experience and to check if her experience is relevant to the needs of your home, certifications, and recommendations from previous employers and so on. A credible nanny agency will indulge your reservations, enquiries and requests.
3. Ask Questions
Especially during the interview. Don’t feel guilty that you are asking seemingly outrageous questions. List out everything you can think of as a potential problem and ask questions surrounding it. Be detailed. Avoid asking general questions. Ask direct and specific questions.
4. Separate Housekeeping from Childcare
Nannies are not supposed to do all of the house chores and still attend to your child. They are required to do chores but they should be in relation to the baby. Laundry, washing of bottles, cleaning of baby’s room and bath etc. You can get a housekeeper who would be responsible for general house keeping.
5. Hire Early
Don’t wait till you are about to resume because by then you would be under pressure. Even if you have your mum or a relation with you, it’s helpful to have your nanny resume so she can familiarize herself with the homes, the baby and her responsibilities. This also means that you can watch her and you have ample time to hire another if you are not satisfied. At least six weeks before resumption is a good time to start looking.
6. Form a routine quickly
For both your nanny and your baby. Let sleeping and feeding times be known for baby. Also prepare a work schedule for your nanny categorized into morning, afternoon and night. This will help you keep track of what should be/is being done per time of the day even when you are away. It also provides a first and clear view of the scope of work your nanny is required to do.
Finally, tighten all loose ends to the best of your ability. If something bothers you, then it is worthy of your attention. So, don’t just let the thought of it scare you, start to seek the solution to it. Your anticipation is a pointer to something. Don’t ignore it, but keep it in check to make sure it is not hinged on fear. For example, you can install a nanny cam or request that a trusted friend or neighbor who is around the house go conduct random checks during the day.
Hopefully this encourages you not to be held back by the fear of what could be, arising from a desire to always be in control of everything. Let the unconditional love you have for your child move you to make the right decision in hiring a help not drive you farther away from your dreams/purpose - if it requires you to be away from home daily.
What's your experience with nannies? Please share any extra tips or advice.
When Ore asked if she could write an article about this, I was quite pleased because it's something that I know raises concerns when mums have to go back to work. But it's such a helpful piece and I really like the advice about having a routine and separating housekeeping from child care.
Ore is a domestic staffing expert and she teaches how to find and train the ideal nanny - to avoid any terrible experiences. Please check her out at @maidformee and also her website at www.maidformee.com.