8 tips for choosing a good live-in nanny
They are constantly available for your child, allow them to maintain the same routine and familiar environment, and mean that you don’t need to pick your child up on the way home from work. But then there is the issue of finding the perfect candidate! Check out our advice to ensure that your search for a nanny doesn’t turn into an uphill battle.
Make initial contact by telephone
To save time, pre-select applicants by telephone: this enables you to do an initial sift, eliminating those who live too far away from you, whose hours or holiday dates aren’t convenient, who are looking for a higher salary than you can afford, or those you simply don’t have a good feeling about. Shortlist at least three to meet in person so that you can compare.
Prepare for interviews in advance
Draw up a list of questions before you meet the nannies you have selected. Note down all of the practical points to be covered (hours, holidays, rates...) as well as any child-rearing issues that are particularly important to you: how will the nanny manage your baby’s crying, or instances where an older child refuses to do as they are told or is picky with their food? Does the nanny respect children’s natural sleep patterns, or put them down at set times?
Also think about issues which could cause real problems if they are not clarified in advance, for example, does the applicant smoke? Is she allowed to drive your child? Is she able to stay late sometimes if you have an unexpected meeting? Will she prepare your child’s food or will you need to leave ready-made meals? Take time to think over in advance what is important to you!
Ask for references
Childminders who look after children in their own homes must be approved by PMI (Protection maternelle infantile – Mother and Child Welfare Services). This offers a certain guarantee of reliability which is not available for live-in nannies: no qualification is required to be employed in this role. Consequently, you should not only ask applicants about their training and professional experience, you should also – in fact, above all – ask for the contact details of families they have worked for in the past. A quick phone call will be sufficient to gain their opinion of the applicant.
Have an open discussion about what the nanny is prepared to do
While your baby is awake, your nanny will be fully occupied in looking after them. But what about during naps, which can be long when it comes to infants? Some nannies agree to take on minor housekeeping tasks: ironing, cooking, doing the dishes, tidying up... Others only charge 2/3 of their rate for the hours when the child is sleeping (these are often known as “responsible presence” hours). To avoid any dissatisfaction on your part, or that of your nanny, talk about this aspect before the contract begins!
Talk about daily routine
During the week, your baby will probably spend as much, if not more, time while they are awake with the nanny as they do with you. It is therefore crucial that the nanny thinks about your child’s waking hours! Ask her how she envisages a typical day with your child, what activities she will offer them, where and when she will take them out, whether she will take them to places where they can meet other children, etc.
Meet the applicants with your child
Does the nanny address your child directly, or does she just talk to you? Does she seem to be at ease with the child; is she warm, affectionate? Does your child seem to like her or does he or she refuse to go to the nanny? There are some indicators which are always reliable!
One detail which can prove crucial in the event of a problem: remember to ask your future nanny to provide a photocopy of her identification document or residence permit if she is from overseas, as well as a certificate of professional liability insurance. If you agree to allow the nanny to drive your child in her own car, also check that her car insurance policy allows this.
Consider shared care
Although practical and convenient, a live-in nanny is also the most expensive form of child care. To lighten the load, while also giving your child the opportunity to spend time with others of their own age, shared care is often an ideal solution. All the more so since, after the initial months, there is sometimes a danger that your child will get bored if left alone with the nanny... There are a number of websites that put families who are looking to share a nanny in touch with each other, particularly in major towns and cities, so consider that option!