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How to Choose the Perfect Nanny

Hiring a nanny can be an absolutely terrifying experience. I was more scared about hiring a nanny and the role that person was going to play in our lives than I was about giving birth. But, I knew that having my own business and the time it took to run it meant finding someone to be with Zelda when I couldn’t be.

At face value, this all may seem like a simple task. But finding someone willing to work 50-55 hours/week with years of experience really was a very difficult role to fill. I knew I had to find the exact right person though. Otherwise, I’d be searching again within a couple months and I didn’t want that kind of inconsistency for Zelda. It was honestly kind of like finding a house. It’s daunting, overwhelming and time-consuming, but once you find the perfect nanny, it’s so, so worth it.  

Corri McFadden gives readers advice on how to find the perfect nanny. And because it takes so much time, it’s not something you can put off. I highly recommend that if you’re pregnant and you know you’re going the nanny route, start working on it around month 7 or 8. This way you can start interviewing people and get a feel for what you’re really looking for before your baby arrives.

Before I dive in, I also want to say that we have been so blessed and lucky to have our perfect nanny, Mia. She has been with us since Zelda was born and I trust her completely. She’s been with us for four amazing years but we sadly just parted ways last week because of our upcoming move to Aspen, Colorado next month. It has been so emotional to move on from that relationship, but of course, we wish her the best and know she’ll be amazing with her new family.

So anyway, this is a topic I really wanted to write about because I learned so much from going through the experience and realizing the massive role Mia played in our lives. I also get asked this question a lot, so I thought it would be good to share how we approached this situation, what worked for us and the steps you need to take to find that special person for your family.

A little girl wearing pink holds a bundle of balloons outside in Chicago.

1. Make a List of Your Non-Negotiables

First things first, sit down with your partner or if you’re doing this by yourself, set aside some time really dedicated to deciding what your non-negotiables are. These are going to look different for everyone, so take time to discover what these are for you. This way you know what you’re looking before you start the interview process.

For us, we wanted someone who spoke Spanish so Zelda could learn it as well. We also wanted someone who had children, but they were grown and had kind of moved on to the next stage of their lives. And lastly, we wanted someone who drove, however, we later learned this was less important to us and using Uber actually made things a lot easier. But hey, those are the things you’ll learn going through this process.

Next, when you start interviewing, make sure you have a clear outline for what you’re looking for. I would also recommend asking for several references and doing a background check. Do not ignore your gut instinct when doing the interviews. This isn’t just a babysitting position, this is a nanny—someone who will become a member of your family—so once you click with someone and you know they’re it, do everything you can to make it work. This means being very upfront with the package you have to offer them, which I recommend sharing this even before you find “the one”. You want to make sure this information is known to anyone you interview because you need to know ASAP if it won’t work for them and vice versa.

Zelda of Glitter and Bubbles hugs her nanny outside n the sidewalk while holding balloons.

2. Draw Up a Nanny Agreement

After finding the perfect nanny for you, you’ll want to outline all the logistics and clearly define your agreement with them as soon as possible. Not doing this can lead to confusion, miscommunications and just bad vibes between the two of you, so lock it all down straight away. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is leave anything up for interpretation.

You’ll want to draw up an official agreement document and lay things out. For example, what general hours will they be working? For us, Mia was paid a minimum of 45 hours but could work up to 50. Her vacation was also outlined along with federal holidays, sick time and travel rates. All the things that could pop up as questions, I tried to define them right away so it would save me a headache later and I highly recommend you do the same.

Zelda of Glitter and Bubbles stands on the sidewalk with her nanny in Chicago.

3. Welcome Your Nanny as a Member of Your Family

This is huge. You want to make your nanny feel at home, so welcome them into your life like you would family. Ask them what they prefer to eat, what they like to drink and add those things to your grocery list. Give them some space in the fridge or pantry too. These are the little things that will go a long way in making your nanny truly feel comfortable in your home, which is critical because they’re going to be spending a lot of time there.

Something else I’d make sure to do is, if they drive, make sure they have a parking spot. Not only is this convenient for them, but it’s also convenient for your child. You want to make things as safe and accessible as possible for both of them, so if applicable, always offer them a parking spot.

I would also note down when their birthday is and treat it just like you would any other member of your family. You could even go so far as to invite them to family gatherings off the clock if your relationship reaches that point.

It’s all in the details when it comes to building these relationships and gestures like the ones mentioned above can mean so much to someone trying to get comfortable with your family.

Zelda of Glitter and Bubbles wears a pink jacket and striped shirt while holding balloons.

4. Be Patient

It can take a minute to find a rhythm with a new nanny, so make sure to have some patience. Be open to suggestions (especially if they’re also a mom) and learning new things about being a parent from this person. I know it can be hard, but try not to interpret any gently given suggestions as them telling you how to be a mother. It can be a very sensitive situation, especially if you’re a first-time parent, but I guarantee, if you hired the right person, that’s not their intention.

Also be sure to clearly lay out rules on safety, nap times, formula/diet, etc. And things like are you OK with them running personal errands with your child? I like to think that as long as my child is safe and there isn’t a chance of them being harmed, then it’s usually OK, but just be patient and always communicate these things. Sometimes there are certain things that only bother you and not others, so if you find yourself irritated, take a minute to understand if it’s simply a personal preference for you or something you need to address and discuss. You’ll eventually learn to be on each other’s team and work alongside one another.

Corri McFadden shares how to find the perfect nanny with her daughter Zelda and her nanny Mia on Glitter and Bubbles.

5. A Nanny Will Never Replace You

This is one of the most important things to understand and remember about this process. If you feel any pangs of jealousy, you have to put those personal feelings aside. A nanny becomes a member of your family, so just like an aunt or uncle, your child is going to feel attached to them and that’s OK.

If you do truly have feelings of being replaced, then my suggestion is to look at yourself because this probably means you’re not spending enough time with your child.

Ultimately, hiring the perfect nanny is about making sure your child feels loved, is learning and above all else, is happy. So if you can find someone to check all those boxes, don’t be jealous, be thankful.

And that’s it!

These are all the things that helped us have a healthy and successful relationship with our nanny Mia. We were lucky enough to find her by referral, but if you’re a new parent or just moved to a new town and don’t know anyone, you can still find someone you trust by hiring a nanny agency. I’ve never used one but have heard amazing things.

At the end of the day, just do your research, trust your gut and you’ll be sure to find someone that’s perfect for your family!

Photos by Hallie Duesenberg

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