How to Find a Nanny

A good nanny will become part of the family. This person is going to be in your home and care for your child (or children). They really are family members – we’re still in touch with both our former nannies and very close with one of them. After more than a year without any childcare due to some complex circumstances, it was time to begin the nanny search again. So we started the search for a nanny. Things had changed so much since the start of the pandemic. Rates have gone up, it’s impossible to find someone, and it’s just a lot more competitive. Since leaving my old company, the hope was that we’d find someone 3-4 days a week, but most people (understandably) do not want a part-time nanny job. So we started looking for full-time nannies, and I want to share what worked for us. 

How to Find a Nanny

Going into the search for a nanny, I knew I needed time to work on my blog (which usually comes close to full-time when I add in content, social, affiliate, and properly promoting everything). Then there’s time to work out out, get things done, and maybe even some self-care. I’ve since done two searches and found our nannies differently, so I want to share our experience.


Where to find a nanny

I’ve worked with two nanny agencies and both did all the upfront work for us. Just Like Family found the most amazing nanny for us. She was with us for about a year, but left right before she became a mom. We’re still very close with her and have seen her a few times since, and decided to start the search again. I tried to work with the same nanny agency but JLF doesn’t really search for nannies in our neighborhood. A good agency will search, schedule initial interviews, do background checks, and forward on candidates that are a good fit. By the time I spoke with the five nannies I interviewed, I knew a lot about them.

If hiring an agency isn’t in your budget, I would recommend going through friends, local message boards or a Facebook group for parents, which is how we found our second nanny. I tried but didn’t have the best luck, although I know people who have. It’s like Tinder for nannies and sitters. And honestly, if you can make it happen this way, I think a referral is ultimately the way to do it. Let’s say our nanny had been with us a few more years, and we were ready to transition out from needing her once the girls were in full-time elementary school. I’d tell everyone I knew how amazing she was and try to help her find a great family. 


Choosing an agency

Our first nanny, who we parted ways with because of the pandemic, we found through an agency. But I later found out she wasn’t vaccinated, which really should be a requirement. So do your research and make sure the agency knows what’s important to you. For us, that meant fully vaccinated, CPR certified, safe driving record, and years of experience working with young children. 


Childcare options

You can find a great nanny without an agency or via a nanny share. If you do, I’d recommend asking everyone you know. I found our summer sitter through my husband’s cousin. Word of mouth is always a great option, but it’s not always easy to find someone that way. So if you’re too busy and have trouble looking on your own, an agency is the way to go. 


Knowing when to hire a nanny

I went back to work full-time when Margot was three months and needed a full-time nanny. Our house was too small for an au pair (which would cost less since you provide room and board). Day care is a wonderful option but did not feel right for our family – I like having my kids at home and want to be able to see them during the day.  Before the pandemic started, my daughter went to multiple classes a week so she was able to get out, and I loved that she had one-on-one care specific to her needs and interests. Sleep was so hard for her, too. Not sure how that ever would have worked outside of our home.


What to do before hiring a nanny

I cannot stress the importance of a trial run before hiring someone. Offer to pay them for a few hours and see what it feels like to have them in your home. Or consider a trial period for a few days if that’s an option. I’ve had some not-so great trials with perfectly nice women who were just not right for my girls. Run an extensive background check – your agency will do this for you. From my experience, you’ll know when it’s the perfect fit. If you’re unsure about a potential nanny, chances are it’s not the right fit. 


Nanny salary and benefits

Both agencies took care of all of this for us. Our last nanny was given set paid vacation days and holidays (this one is, too) and I’m in the camp of these angel humans are caring for my babies, and I want to take care of them. Treat them well and be generous if you are able. I value this relationship and our nanny feeling valued. 


Finding the right nanny

Our situation was unique since we are isolated and have a toddler who is high-risk. I had to have someone vaccinated or about to be vaccinated, who is isolated without any extra exposure (no kids, no roommates etc). Shannon spoke with a total of 27 nannies and I spoke with 5 of the 27. Many were wonderful but ruled out because of living situations or wanted full-time. Finding someone on your own can be tough, but it’s possible. I also believe you will know if they’re right when you meet them. 


The nanny interview

There were a lot I didn’t have to ask, but I asked about previous experience with babies and toddlers the same ages as my girls, what she likes to do with them, and talked a lot about what we want for our family. Having someone I didn’t get along with and mesh with wouldn’t work for me at all. Really needed warmth in my home – someone who feels like family but also a friend. Maybe that’s not for everyone, but I loved long chats with our last nanny.

This is when you should discuss their hourly rate, sick leave, and if you want to hire them, I would recommend a work agreement or nanny contract. Discuss what’s important to you including family needs, whether or not you need help around the house, and most important, the kind of communication and relationship you hope to have.  Think about specific needs for your family. 


How to trust a nanny with your baby

This is a hard one. When our first nanny started with us, Margot was three months old and I was not ready to hand my baby off to someone else. I remember wanting to ask our nanny not to cross the street the first time they went for a walk (I didn’t). And I didn’t feel great about someone else caring for my baby 40 hours a week. I fully respect the decision to have that much (or more) help, but it was a huge adjustment. It wasn’t easy, but I just had to let it go and remind myself of what was best for Margot. Run a full background check, talk to their former employers and get reference checks. 


How to make sure it’s a job the nanny values and enjoys

My advice on this to treat potential candidates like you’d treat a first date. When we hired our nannies, there was an immediate spark – an “it’s you” moment. I was upstairs changing quickly when our last nanny came over to meet us. I heard her with Margot and Conor, and I knew. She was the one. No question. When we got on FaceTime with our current nanny, the way she said hi to me and then to Margot felt so good. She had this incredible energy and I saw how they interacted even through a screen, and I knew. 


Nanny tasks

Make sure the nanny knows that the care of your children comes before any tasks. I’ve heard it’s pretty normal to ask for light housekeeping, the kids’ laundry, and tidying up after meals. I expect less when she has both girls. I’d love for our nanny to help with their laundry if and when she can. No household task is more important than the girls. We talked through this a little bit. If Kate is napping, she’s happy to help with the girls’ laundry and a few other things. I’d only really expect that if I’m doing something with Margot. The kids need to come first. 


Onboarding a nanny

It’s not too formal. I’m going to be home and will show her around, answer questions, and be here to help however I can. When I was working full-time, I planned a day where I could be around to help. 


Our nanny’s hours

Right now, our plan is to have our nanny here 4 days a week, 9-5AM. I’ll have the mornings 6:30-9 with the girls, then dinner and bedtime, and all day Wednesday. The thing I’m most looking forward to is being able to take the girls out for solo time while our nanny is here. That’s something I want to do a lot of with Margot this summer since it’s harder to bring Kate with naps. There’s not a ton we can do but we can go to the lake, park, and zoo, and can hopefully see friends outside. 


Where I work while our nanny is here

My old office is now Kate’s room, so now, in our sunroom or at the dining table. Depends on how much I need to focus. The girls’ playroom is in the basement so during winter months, they’re down there a lot. If I have a lot to power through, I can always work at Anecdote or my mother-in-law’s house. 


The benefits of working with an agency

I had the added benefit of knowing all about the candidates before meeting which helped tremendously. Working with an agency makes the entire process a lot smoother. You’ll fill out some paperwork and let the agency know about the ideal nanny for your family. If your child has special needs or unique circumstances (we needed someone isolated) – an agency will help with that. They’ll do their due diligence before you talk to anyone – the screening process is so helpful. 

When we met our last nanny, I knew she was a qualified nanny (degree in early childhood education, experience watching almost 20 kids at a daycare etc). Then she was just this gem of a person – she’s having a baby so she’s no longer working for us full-time, but she’s been coming once a week pre-baby. The girls love her so much. I do, too. 


Our story

When COVID hit, it no longer felt safe for us to have a nanny. I was just so nervous, and we paid our nanny for a few weeks and made the very difficult decision to part ways with her. Margot was diagnosed with Leukemia two months later, and I took a leave from work to get her through the next eight months of aggressive treatment, and three of those months were spent on “maternity leave” (if you can call it that) after having Kate. I love my girls so, so much, but being with them all day every day is the hardest job, and I want to work. You have to do what feels right for you, but I knew that I needed that, so the plan was always to have help again.

It’s been a lot trying to keep up with everything and our oncology nurse told me it would be fine to have help if we were safe. We found the perfect nanny who was vaccinated and isolated about a month later – feels like the perfect situation.