Friends of mine shared the most horrible nanny story with me the other day. What’s most shocking was that for over a year, they raved about their nanny and how much their daughter loved her every time I saw them.

However their baby care situation took a turn for the worst when they told their nanny that they had enrolled their child in day care the following year, to socialize her. Of course her nanny swore that she would stay on with them till the year was over. Two weeks later, she changed her tune telling them that she had found another job.

The couple scrambled to find a day care situation that started immediately, which would shorten their time with the nanny in the end by a few weeks. From that point on, things got ugly. The nanny cried that she was on welfare and if the couple didn’t pay her for the extra weeks, she would damage them in some way. Then the nanny went through their private documents during the day and stole their social security numbers, credit card numbers and extra home keys. She threatened them and scared them so much so, they paid her, changed their locks and hoped they never heard from her again.

How did they not know the true nature of this woman who they trusted so much? Many parents try to find the perfect nanny who will love and cherish their children. But let’s be honest, being a nanny can be just a job for many. How do you begin to find that Mary Poppins who cares from your kids like a mother would? I polled some moms in the New York area and here were their best tips for finding the right nanny:

Trust Your Instincts

Follow your heart and instincts. The interviewing process is tough, but you know fairly immediately when you meet the right person for you. (Kind of like dating!) One mom said that when you know, you know. She knew in about 10 minutes after interviewing 20 people that her nanny was the best. Another mom said that references are important but your instinct works better.

Write a Job Description

Create a very detailed job description. Include responsibilities as well as sought after characteristics. This will help you and the nanny get clear about what you’re looking for in a caregiver. If your posting on job boards, the more specific your job posting the more likely the respondents will qualify. An example might be: Nanny needed for Infant starting January, M-F 8am-6pm on Upper East Side with occasional evening flexibility. Include your preference to pay on books, if applicable. This will narrow your responses to those who at least meet your basic requirements.

Agency

Going through an agency can be helpful because they can help find your nanny and narrow your search. They also have important informations about their health and criminal records. One mom recommended the Frances Stewart agency because they screen very well and have good access to great nannies. Agencies will usually take an extra fee for connecting you. Many moms I know also use the website Care.com to find their nannies.

Recommendations

It’s best to get a recommendation from a family who needs to help their long term nanny find a new position. This way, the nanny already comes with a great reference. You can also get recommendations from other nannies in your neighborhood and families on Facebook mom groups. 

Trial Period

A trial period is fundamental. Some nannies look great on paper but don’t have great chemistry with your child. One family hired and fired three nannies before she found the right one. I think that in one to two weeks you can understand if your nanny is perfect for you and your child or not.

The nanny search might be daunting since there’s no more important “job” than the role of caregiver for your child. Good luck finding your Ms. Poppins. She’s out there!