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How to Get What You Want from the Nanny

Give her a glimpse of your relationship with your children. "I always pay close attention to how parents interact with their children," says April Mirabile. "I also like to see if the parents and the children have manners."

Suppose the nanny you are interviewing appears to be a perfect candidate. You delve into the issues discussed earlier in the chapter, and she seems to be on your wavelength. What can you say to make your job offer especially appealing? Salary is the biggest carrot, but there are other perks that might persuade a nanny to say yes. You could offer to:

  • Supply a credit card in her name for child-related expenses. A common complaint among nannies is that they must foot the bill for their charge's expenses and then nag the parents to reimburse them. A credit card erases that worry and will make a big difference to the nanny.
  • Pay for her airfare home once a year.
  • Provide automatic raises every six months.
  • Provide her with a cell phone.
  • Pay for a gym membership.
  • Let a live-in nanny have some say in the design of her quarters – for instance, let her choose the paint color and linens.
  • If the nanny has children, pay for their yearly medical checkups.
  • Supply incentives for long-term employment. One family promised a car to the nanny if she stayed two years. If you don't have that kind of money, you might offer an all-expenses-paid vacation (even a three-day vacation is a nice perk) after two years of service, tickets to a theme park after each year, or a sizable gift certificate to a department store.
Absolute No-No's
Because most of the middle-class people who employ nannies aren't used to hiring household "help," things can get a little unfocused during the interview. The more prepared and professional you are, the more confident the nanny will feel about working for you. To that end:

Don't talk too much. Ask questions, then listen. The time to talk about your family at length is after you have decided that the nanny might be a good match.

Don't be so desperate that you get sloppy. Deborah B., a nanny in Georgia, says, "I think a lot of times the pressure of having to find child-care ASAP makes parents less discriminating than they might be otherwise. If they seem desperate for someone to start, if they won't say specifically why the previous nanny left, and if they seem unsure about job specifics, I know I won't want to work there."

Don't disagree with your spouse during the interview. "Sometimes if I ask what methods of discipline they use or plan on using, they realize they do not agree with their spouse," says Leah H. All parents have disagreements, particularly when it comes to discipline, but if those disagreements erupt during the very first interview it doesn't bode well for the nanny.

Don't get too personal. "Questions about boyfriends, when I plan to marry or have children, or my religious beliefs – these make me wary because I feel they may try and control other aspects of my life," says Jennifer Sibre. The boyfriend issue is important, but rather than querying the nanny about it you might simply explain your house rules regarding boyfriends.

Don't dress or behave inappropriately. "The most alarming thing was when a mom lit up a cigarette while holding her baby and then offered me a drink," recalls Leah H. "I guess that can be summed up as being too open. There are other things that fall into that category as well – doing the interview in boxers or pajamas, swearing, or telling personal information. I don't mind these things after taking a job. I'm working in people's homes and expect to see some intimate parts of their lives, but there should be a certain level of professionalism to start."

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From Say the Magic Words by Lynette Padwa. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, go to Amazon.


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