Three Things Every Parent Should Know About Hiring a Caregiver

Health care assistant

A recent story in Philadelphia’s Morning Call newspaper told the story of Ashley Newhall, a recent law school graduate with a master’s in agricultural law who passed the bar exam in two different states. These days, however, Newhall isn’t working at a prestigious firm fighting fracking or representing farmers who’ve been run off their land by unfair corporate greed. No, Newhall can’t find work in her chosen field. That’s why she’s been nannying instead.

The story isn’t meant to be a slight on the childcare industry at all. Rather, it was written to highlight a problem not just specific to Philadelphia but the nation at large. More and more college grads (and beyond) can’t find work in their chosen fields, so they’re becoming caregivers instead. After all, they’re always needed.

But as a parent, it doesn’t matter what age your nanny is. There are certain things you need to do in order to ensure her contentedness in your home — that way, she won’t run off and leave you without a caregiver for your children. Here’s how to avoid the biggest nanny hiring mistakes right off the bat.

Setting the ground rules immediately.

When you’re a parent, what you say to your children is gospel. That’s why they love hanging out with grandma and grandpa so much — anything goes, and yes, ice cream can be for dinner. But adding a nanny to mix (even ones from the best nanny agencies in town) introduces a new element into the equation. In order to avoid a potential power struggle, let your caregiver know from the beginning that when she’s around, she’s in charge of the kids. No exceptions.

Talking finances up front.

Perhaps the most awkward part about hiring a caregiver is the inevitable talk of money that comes with any new job. In fact, it’s often one of the biggest nanny hiring mistakes parents make. It’s good to let the nanny know up front that she’ll be paid what the going rate is, but you should also take into account what she was receiving at her last job. A well-paid nanny is typically an outstanding nanny worth hanging onto. If she would, have her provide references so you can speak to her former employers about her methods.

Laying down the perks with certainty.

The benefits of hiring a nanny speak for themselves. Both parents can work, pulling in a joint income, and you’re also able to take vacations without having to worry about finding a trusted sitter. But if you’re taking advantage of the caregiver by not offering any perks, your chances of keeping her satisfied in the gig significantly decrease. What kinds of perks do you offer nannies? Free time, bonuses, access to the house — all reasonable requests. Remember them.

Don’t make the biggest nanny hiring mistakes of all time. Always keep your children’s happiness (and their futures) in mind.