Recently I made the decision to re-enter corporate life after years freelancing and hanging out with the kids. It wasn’t an easy choice. From a selfish perspective, I knew the longer I waited, the more difficult it would be to re-enter the corporate ladder close to where I left. But I also knew it would dramatically change how our family worked.
When my eldest was about eighteen months old I briefly returned to work. It was supposed to be four days a week but that crept out to the equivalent of six days a week. We didn’t employ anyone to help us except the daycare centre our kids attended while I was at work. I still remember those hamster-wheel days. Falling into bed only to wake an hour later to the cries of a child who had missed me all day. Heading into work the next day, bleary-eyed and stressed and wondering how long it would be before we all broke. As I said, the return to corporate life was brief.
The boys are older now and nights are more restful. However, my husband and I were absolutely sure if I was heading back to work, we were bringing a nanny along for the ride.
Here is what we learned hiring our first Nanny.
Finding a Nanny
There are plenty of services available to will help you find a Nanny. We chose to advertise online and self-serve. If you DIY, realise that there is a fair bit of time involved and you will need to turn into a temporary HR department. For every great application, you will receive ten not-so-great applications. Have a standard template ready in response. If you don’t have time for the screening process involved, consider a service. There are also many Facebook groups aimed at pairing babysitters and Nannies with families. If you ask for a recommendation from your friends they will no doubt let you know — ours did.
Try online services like:
When putting together your ad, browse similar requests to get a feel for the language and requirements used by others. Craft your own job description with an emphasis on what’s important to you and your family. You want to convey your family values and the most important aspects of the role. Be honest with extras like housework and cooking. We required a blue card (“working with children” check) and looked favourably on a current first aid certificate. Be clear on what you need with regard to vehicle access, driving license, driving record and insurance requirements. We had a spare baby seat, so we didn’t need our nanny to have one, but be clear if you do.
After reviewing the applications and an internet screen, we narrowed our applicants down to five and interviewed within one week. It was important that both my husband and I were part of this process. We found a few questions online and tailored them to suit our family. However, just having a general chat was the best way to go to know the people who applied. Some questions you might like to include are:
- How long has she been a Nanny
- Why is she a nanny
- Previous experience and ages of children cared for
- Emergency and first aid training
- Beliefs about childcare
- Best and worst things about being a Nanny
- Daily routines and activities she tends towards
All of our applicants met the boys and it was very helpful to see how they interacted — it gave us a good sense of whether the potential nanny would fit into our family. After meeting all applicants, we selected the person whose values mirrored our own, who got on well with the boys and who had previous experience in a similar role. And a glowing reference.
Before starting, our new Nanny came to both school and daycare to meet the teachers, the boys’ friends and parents. This helped her get a sense of each place. She was introduced to a number of key people and shown the easiest places to park. I gave her a list of emergency numbers, including those of a few close school friends. I would thoroughly recommend doing this and paying your new nanny for this orientation. We were also able to alter the authorities to pick up the boys at the same time.
As someone with a legal background, I am fan of having a clear contract. It’s so much easy to have an agreed set of expectations if things go pear-shaped. We downloaded a sample Nanny contract (there are many online) and altered it to suit our purposes. When you are drafting a contract with your Nanny, think about:
- What you expect your nanny to do and any house rules (e.g. no visitors aside from those pre-aranged or in an emergency)
- The structure of employment (casual, part time or permanent) and whether you need to pay super and/or withhold tax. This tool is helpful.
- The rate of pay, standard hours and how payment will occur. To determine the rate of pay, referring to a relevant salary survey provides a guide. Keep in mind that if you are employing on a casual basis, the rate of pay should be higher.
- Notice to be given of holidays (both yours, when you may not need your Nanny’s services, and your Nanny’s, when you will need to make alternative arrangements)
- Notice and method of communicating when your nanny is sick or running late.
- How the contract can be terminated and notice periods around this.
When I arrive home at five minutes to six, I really don’t want to keep our lovely Nanny any longer with a list of instructions for the next day. So we tend to communicate mostly via email. At the start of the week, I email our Nanny with the meal plan as well as any instructions regarding homework and extra curricular activities. This method works well for us.
Our Nanny has only recently joined our family, but she’s already an integral part of it. The boys love her and I can one hundred percent rely on her. To me, they are the two most integral things.
Please note, none of the above is intended as financial or legal advice. It is simply the experience of one family which may help another. If you are not sure about employing a nanny, with regards to your obligations as an employer, contact the ATO.