the nanny chronicles || our story

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I was surprised so many of you wanted to see a post detailing our experiences with nannies... before we start, I want to preface this by saying that Jeff and I discussed numerous childcare options before we decided to go the nanny route, and based on our careers and not having the typical Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm jobs, having an in-home nanny suit our needs best. Just remember friends, do what works best for you AND your family and that's all that matters! 
And also, feel free to comment after you read the post that follows, but I would politely ask you to keep any negative feedback or criticisms to yourself, as I am sharing as this is MY perspective and I am sure many of you out there have had completely different experiences with childcare for your most treasured little ones. 

Where to begin?!?!?! Let's just say we started with the best so it's hard to find someone to compare to our dear Auntie A [AKA Alex]. She was with us for 2.5 years, was there with us through the newborn days when Carson first entered the world, to helping potty train Caroline, to travelling with our family for the girls' first beach vacations, the list goes on and on. 
But last September, she came to us and said she had an opportunity to enter the corporate world, so we wished her well [after many tears were shed] and began our search for her replacement, which proved to be a daunting task. 
And for those who are curious, we still see our beloved Alex every few weeks, sometimes more... she is practically family to us and always will be... sorry Alex, you can't escape us that easily. She's still our go-to babysitter and the girls love their Auntie A. 
Carson, I felt the same way when she told us she was leaving ;) 

Now, back to the issue at hand... why we had to seek out a new nanny after only a few months. Basically, long story short, we used the services of a fantastic local nanny agency, who has a fantastic reputation and has had many successes matching families with amazing caregivers... maybe ours just wasn't the "right fit", which I have been told happens quite a bit by other friends and colleagues who have had to go on a journey similar to ours. 
The jist of the story is this... our former nanny's actions didn't match her words, she was habitually late, absent more in three months than we had allotted for a 12-month period, and it just seemed that her being here with our girls wasn't at the top of her priorities. 
We discussed these concerns with the agency a few times [which they were SO helpful to listen to us and offer suggestions and advice] and also had conversations with our nanny, asking her why she was consistently tardy, what was preventing her from being here, did she have other priorities, etc? 
I honestly felt as though we were doing something wrong, but I could just tell that I wasn't going to be able to change her behavior... things just simply weren't going to improve and we needed to make a change. 
So with that, we said it that it was time to start interviewing other candidates. Friends also sent us other nannies they knew of in the area and I sought out help from acquaintances to ensure we were interviewing a lot of candidates this time around and weren't rushing our decision. 

That's when Mimi stepped in and came up with the end-all list of questions for Jeff and I to use. Tip #1: Ask the Right Questions. Here are just a handful : 
  • How long have you been a nanny?
  • Do you have any formal early childhood development or childcare training?
  • Do you have emergency training? In CPR? In first-aid?
  • Tell me about a time when a child you cared for was sick or had an accident
  • Tell me what you believe is the difference between a nanny and a baby-sitter…
  • Tell me about your ideal family/employer.  What made them an ideal match for you?
  • Give me some examples of unexpected issues that have come up in your previous jobs and how you and your employer worked thing out…
  • What do children like best about you?
  • How do you discipline children?
  • Tell me your views on nutrition for children…
  • What means/methods do you use to track your day and your week?
  • Exactly what chores and/or household responsibilities will you do? (meal planning, laundry, cleaning up, baths, errands, etc)
  • Do you have future plans (school, job, marriage, etc.) that would put a limit on how long you expect to be a nanny?
  • Are there any issues if we need you to stay late (1-2 hrs) on short-notice?  How do you feel about staying overnight?
  • What will your references say about you?
Pretty good, huh?? Mimi came to the rescue yet again! It was so convenient to have a "bank" of questions to pull from when we interviewed potential nannies. From there, Jeff and I each interviewed 3-4 candidates and then both of us met with the top three to have them over to meet the girls. 
From that home meeting, we were able to see how each interacted with Caroline and Carson, how comfortable they felt, etc. Honestly, that was a game changer for us to see who the girls took to, who reached out to them to know more about their personalities/preferences/likes and dislikes/etc. 
Afterwards, we individually reached out to each of their references and that's another piece of advice I wish to offer: Tip #2: Talk to Their References... All of Them! Everyone has different experiences, opinions, pros/cons, and some were very honest with us which helped Jeff and I make our final decision. 

And now to another bit of advice: Tip #3: Meet with Them More than Once. We met with the final two ladies two more times... we wanted someone to"fit" well with our family dynamics as they are practically integrated from the get-go. For us, the answer was simple... Kara was our new nanny! She had completely impressed us, with creating a "daily schedule" for what she planned to do with the girls on a day-to-day basis, she shared her lesson plans with us, etc... she had REALLY listened to our needs, wants, and what we were missing and so we offered her the position. 

Tip #4: Sign a Mutually Beneficial Contract. I know this may sound crazy, but we had a ton of friends who have used in-home nannies tell us to create a contract for both parties to sign. This helps outline responsibilities, show expectations upfront, etc and I know it helped not only Jeff and I feel comfortable, but it helps put everything on the table from day #1... I promise, this is a MUST. 

So, where are we today?? We are a mere 4 weeks in to our new nanny placement, but Kara has been a DREAM to have here with our girls. She's engaged, excited, and plans so many fun lessons and outings with my little ladies and both Caroline and Carson are thrilled to have her here. She's created Reward Charts for each of them to work on cleaning up, being kind to others, etc so that they earn trips to the jumphouse, ice cream store visits, etc. and we have a Daily Check-In/Check-Out sheet that she fills out so that I know what they ate, what they did, how long they napped, etc. 

 nanny report purchased here and then laminated
of course it's a Frozen Reward Chart ;) 

Suffice to say we are still early in our new nanny relationship, but it's been a blessing to our entire family... so I leave you with Tip #5: Go Easy on Yourself and It Will All Work Out. Jeff and I can now focus on family time at night with C&C, we can knock out most of our work during Kara's 40-hour work week, and we feel confident that our girls are being well cared for. All in all, a happy home with a nanny that has made a wonderful difference! 
Hope this helps answer any questions you had... always an open book so feel free to comment with anything else I may be able to better address! 


  1. Excellent advice. I learned the hard way before we got nanny rose! Our prior nanny was also habitually late, called in for the silliest of reasons ( which always left me in a major lurch for work) and fed them mac n cheese, left trash under the couch all the time, and signed in to ALL of her accounts on my work computer AND talked to people on BBST on MY account from MY Facebook! ha can you tell I am still pissed? All that to say, you are completely right about a contract and being REALLY clear on the front end of what is expected. When I tried to fire ours for all of that she made me feel terrible and talked me into a 2nd round which was a mistake. Great post and I am gonna save it for friends. Glad you found a good fit cause I know that makes working so much easier!

    1. thank you SO much sweet friend... i hope you've found a good replacement???? sounds like your girl wasn't a keeper either. yes, it's all about boundaries, not barriers (that's my mom speak-haha)

  2. How do you handle outings with the girls? Does she keep carseats in her car for them or borrow yours? Does you give her a weekly amount that she is allowed to spend on outings or does she pay and then you reimburse her? I'm curious :)

    1. we have a "check-in" time every few days or so when we discuss their activities for the week, etc... i try to schedule all my meetings/work appts/errands in the afternoons when the girls are napping so they have free reign over my car in the mornings they aren't at MDO. and yes, we pay for the outings!

  3. Although we don't need a nanny we are entering a time where we need sitters other than just my parents! 😁 So, Mimi's list of questions is a great list to go off of when I start interviewing potential sitters! Thank you for sharing your experience & I'm so glad y'all found a good fit for the girls & your family!

    1. YES!!!!! they were things Jeff and I hadn't even thought of :)

  4. Love this post! That picture still makes me laugh :) Love you guys! XOXO

    1. LOVE YOU!!! now come play with us ASAP

  5. Hi Natasha! I'm not a mommy and I'm not necessarily a nanny, but I have been a supplemental babysitter for a family for a long time (over 3 years now) so I thought I could give some tips/perspective to you and any other moms looking for a caregiver! I'm young and in college so I haven't had the opportunity to be a nanny- and I will definitely concede that babysitters and Nannies are not the same- but they do have similar goals I think I can speak on. For me, I think the most important thing parents should look for in a caregiver is a passion for the children. This might sound obvious, but I think it really contributes to the rest of the job's responsibilities being done well. Let me explain. The kids I care for are like my own family. I would do anything for them, and I would like to say they love me back equally as much. We have a mutual love for each other that exceeds the bounds of your typical work place interaction. Because the children know I care about them, they respect me and I respect them. This passion for the kids translates to everything I do. Because I love the kids, I love their mother. I respect her and I respect her time. I come in early because I know she needs me and I know the kids want to see me. I help her out with cooking and housework because I know it will take a burden off of her. I don't 'not show up' because the kids expect me and depend on me. It would hurt them to not show up, and that would hurt me, you know? What I'm saying is, if you find a sitter who really cares about your kids, the rest should come after. Because they will want your children to grow up in the most organized, happy, responsible, and beneficial environment possible. I really hope this helps!

    1. this is FANTASTIC advice and perspective... so many true things about respect and love and mutual understanding in a very personal relationship ;)

  6. Great post, Natasha! We have had the most amazing luck with our nanny. She's been with us since Mac was 3 months old and has definitely become part of our family. She loves our kids like they were her own and we trust her implicitly, which means so much to us and gives us unparalleled peace of mind. Finding someone you trust and respect is so important!

    1. i know you can absolutely relate mama!

  7. I am glad to hear y'all have found a good match for your family! That list of questions is great and I think it's key that you had the top 2 visit more than once! I have a family that I started babysitting for in high school, nannied in summers throughout college and my teaching days and it is such a special bond! Now, 10 years later, I am still in touch and close with them!

  8. This is so informational! I actually toiled with the thought of becoming a nanny (a decade plus ago) but went into teaching preschool. I'm going back to work in August after an extended maternity leave so there will be some adjustments but thankfully my mom will be watching our youngest as the oldest starts Kindergarten in August as well.

  9. Excellent questions! I feel bad that I haven't interviewed our babysitters more now!

  10. I think having a nanny is such a great option when you need childcare. If you get a good one they really do become part of the family. And it is so nice that you still see your previous one, and you seem to have found another good one! Great list of questions.

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  12. Sounds like you have a great new nanny!! Love the questions that Mimi came up with. We have had our nanny since November and we love her! I have slowly been introducing her to Claiborne's more intense care such as pushing meds, etc. I felt that if I went with a nurse for C then Hudson might not get a fun caregiver or would be overlooked, so ours has a degree in neuro science and volunteers in a pharmacology lab! She has been fantastic!

  13. All great tips! A contract is SO important. We learned this one the hard way.

    @Dayngr | NC Blogger Network

  14. This is wonderful advice! Such great questions too that we should not forget to ask! Xo, Stephanie

  15. Such a helpful post for so many families.

    We have a very different system in South Africa - we hire domestic help/nannies together so we have one lady who lives in with us who is our home keeper (she does the cleaning and washing etc) and she is the nanny too. it works well for us now because my girls are at school in the morning when she cleans and with the kids in the afternoon if I'm not home.
    Those questions are so valuable and so many that we asked when we were interviewing too!

    Praying that Kara is your new angel and all works out well x

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  17. I just came back to this post, as we are looking for a babysitter for our little guy for the first time. Thank you so much for this list of great questions to ask!