I love watching Downton Abbey. As the founder of a nanny agency, and former professional nanny, I am fascinated by the relationship between the family and their household staff. Downton is a culture in which people are born knowing how to hire, treat, and keep staff. Although present day New York City is home to thousands of nannies we are very far from Downton.
Whether you are a first time mom of a newborn, or if you are have school- aged children and are going back to work; hiring your first nanny can seem like an overwhelming, confusing and stressful experience. Having someone work in your home and care for your children is an emotional experience that can blur boundaries and make communicating expectations difficult.
My advice to anyone who is hiring a nanny for the first time through an agency or independently, is to approach it with a clear and professional manner. Discuss with your partner what qualities you are looking for in a nanny. Make three different columns of qualities 1. “Necessary” 2. “Plus” 3. “Ideal”. While every parent would love to have a nanny who has a degree in education, is an organic chef and speaks French as a second language- it is important to have realistic expectations for the person you are hiring within the salary range you are offering. Be honest with yourself about what you want your nanny to do. Are you looking for someone to do to only do childcare or are you looking for someone who is going to do equal parts housekeeping and childcare.
If you are working with an agency, they should be able to help you form a clear and concise job description to present to potential candidates. My agency, Niche Placement is driven by the job description and the families’ needs. We do not keep a ‘stock’ of nannies on file; we do a candidate search based on exactly what the family is looking for. If I am working with a client who needs the nanny to travel with the family several weeks a year or spend the summer in the Hamptons- I discuss this with the candidates at great length. What I don’t want is a candidate that has a ‘yes’ or ‘no problem’ knee-jerk response to aspects of a position without really thinking about it.
Many clients express the desire for a nanny who is flexible to do “light housekeeping”, since the definition of “light” will vary from household to household, be very specific about what household duties you would like the nanny to do and make sure they are ok with it. If you do not address this issue upfront, you will ultimately come home to a house that is not as clean as you would like it to be or to a nanny that is overwhelmed with too many tasks.
In part two of ‘Hiring Your First Nanny’, I will discuss the relationship between the stay at home mother and nanny as well as tips on how to effectively communicate with your nanny.
To find out more about Niche Placement:
Niche Placement is a New York based childcare placement agency that focuses on families with children with special needs. We believe that unique family situations require uniquely qualified nannies. Samantha Fillian Younes worked as a nanny in New York City for over eight years, spending the majority of those years caring for a child with profound hearing loss. Through her experience, she saw the need for a highest quality, personalized agency that finds exceptional nannies for exceptional families.
Samantha has spent over 15 years working as a children’s caregiver and educator. Upon receiving her B.A. and M.F.A., she worked as a Montessori School Teacher, then transitioned into a professional nannying career. Her years of experience and knowledge in nannying, guide her in choosing and supporting the highly qualified nannies she places. Samantha is especially passionate about the education and therapy of children with special needs, and advocates for low-income families with children who need extra care and support. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and enjoys practicing yoga and traveling in her free time.