Finding a reliable and trustworthy person to take care of children when no one's home is stressful, but finding the right person is even more challenging. A nanny can be qualified to do plenty of things but when it comes right down to it, they need to be a loving and warm addition to a family. Not everyone will fit this bill and it might take some serious trial and error when finding the one person who will fill a home with happiness and structure in a parent's absence.
The good news is this: There are ways to tell for sure if a nanny is coming in with experience, or if they're lacking in certain areas. These telltale signs are fairly easy to spot and can help the interview and trial process run much more smoothly. A nanny should walk in with confidence, have an open and welcoming personality, and not be shy in the least to get to know every child in the household. If a potential nanny doesn't exhibit one -- or any -- of these traits, they might not be experienced enough to handle a family.
We're going to dive into all the red flags to look for as well as encouraging signs that will alert any mom as to whether their nanny is the right person for the job. Because after all, being a nanny is so much more than just a job -- She or he needs to be part of the family, too.
19 Inexperienced: Kids Always Know
For starters, kids will always be able to tell the difference between someone who has dealt with children before and who hasn't. This boils down to one simple thing to look for: Is your child comfortable with their potential nanny? If a child shies away, shows no interest in getting to know this new person, or just doesn't smile nearly as much when they're around, it might not be a good fit.
Alternatively, if a nanny shows hesitation and distance when it comes to introducing themselves to children, that's a surefire sign of inexperience. A nanny who has been through the ropes will show no hesitation when it comes to kids because their entire career is kids.
18 Experienced: Kids Are Excited And Eager
This is an obvious one; if every child in your household is eager to see your new nanny, chances are that either they're feeding your kids copious amounts of sugar when you're not around or they're just good at what they do. In all likelihood, it's probably the latter -- You'd know if your kids were hyped up on sugar 24/7.
A good nanny will give off as enthusiastic and comforting energy that will allow children to be themselves. Even more so, a good nanny will encourage children to come out of their shell and not be afraid to act like kids. There is a balance, though, as kids should be excited, yet respectful at the same time.
17 Inexperienced: Not Asking Questions Or Asking Too Many Questions
Questions are great... Except when a potential nanny is asking things that he or she should already know. If you're hiring a nanny to take care of an eight-month-old baby, then a nanny should be well-versed in infant care.
When a nanny begins asking questions that should have been part of basic child training, that's an immediate red flag. The type of question matters, too. For example, a nanny should know the correct temperature to heat a bottle to as well as how to feed a baby. Asking questions about food types and feeding frequency is fine, but questions that are universally similar are a sign of inexperience.
16 Experienced: A Good Nanny Makes An Impression On Everyone
A good nanny won't just need to make a good impression on parents, she'll need to make a good impression on kids, too. Every member of a household -- From parents to grandparents to siblings -- should walk away from a first meeting feeling comfortable, positive, and reassured.
If there's a family member who doesn't feel this way, then finding another nanny for the job might be the best course of action. One should always trust their instincts, especially when it comes to kids -- No one knows a child best than the ones who live with them, which is why every family member's opinion should be trusted and considered.
15 Inexperienced: It's Hard For Them To Follow Your Rules
If no food after 6 PM is a solid rule in the household and a parent walks in at 6:30 PM to find their children just finishing dinner, there's a problem. That means that the nanny didn't begin making dinner until well after the child they're taking care of should have been eating already, which is a major red flag.
If a child is to be in bed by 8 PM but still has toys out at 8:15 PM, that makes a difference. All of these rules are easy enough to follow and a good nanny will know how to deal with a child who is putting up a fight. If it happens once or twice it's minor, but a repeated lack of discipline is a problem.
14 Experienced: Offering Creative Insight Vs. Pushy Advice
No one knows how to raise a child better than the child's parents. There are some extreme circumstances, of course, but when hiring a nanny, there should be a line drawn. Offering creative solutions when asked for advice is one thing, but a nanny who offers up solutions without being asked borders on pushy.
This is all dependent on the parents as well; if they're not looking for help, then this is unsolicited advice that can cause tension and make a parent uncomfortable when leaving their children with the new nanny. An experienced nanny will know his or her limits and when to leave decisions up to the parents.
13 Inexperienced: Is Your Nanny On Time, Early, Or Late?
All of these mean something when it comes to a nanny's experience. The most obvious sign of an inexperienced or poorly-suited nanny is one who shows up late. Schedules are half the battle when it comes to taking care of children, and a good nanny will be well-versed in arriving on time.
Additionally, an experienced nanny will often show up a few minutes early, just in case. They'll know how important it is to arrive in time to have children either settled in or ready to go, meaning less stress for mom and kids alike. If a nanny is always on time and neither early or late, this likely just means that historically, they show up at their expected time unless otherwise specified.
12 Experienced: Will Keep In Touch Outside Of Work
As stated before, good nannies will be part of the family rather than just an outside satellite, swooping in when requested. A sign of a great nanny is someone who texts or calls just to check up. Do you have a large gathering coming up? Does the nanny check in to see if any extra help is needed?
Having an on-call nanny isn't necessary unless specified by a parent, but it's always nice to know the option is there. An experienced nanny who truly cares about the family they're working for will take the time to check in, both on a professional and a personal level.
11 Inexperienced: Does Not Take Notes Or Repeat Back Information
Notes aren't necessary, but a new nanny should at least be cognizant of the information that they're receiving. This can come in the form of taking physical notes but, more often than not, and the experienced nanny will repeat information back after they've heard it.
This is a good sign to look for toward the end of an interview, as an experienced nanny will remember what has been said, and be able to present it back in the form of a "double check" or a question. A nanny who has said little to nothing does not ask questions, and seems to be a bit closed-up is a sign of inexperience and discomfort.
10 Experienced: Being Present And Aware
An experienced nanny will not take time out of their work schedule to complete a school assignment or browse the web. They also won't sit on their phone checking emails or texts or be outside making phone calls while a child is watching TV or sleeping. Being present and aware but, more importantly, being present, aware, and involved, is what separates the experienced from the inexperienced.
A good nanny will be involved in what your child is watching on TV, will be nearby when they're sleeping in case of an issue, and will be playing with them or helping them with an activity the rest of the time.
9 Inexperienced: Energy Levels Around Both Parents And Kids Are Important
A level of maturity should be shown around parents while a level of child-like enthusiasm should be shown around children. An experienced nanny will know how to perfectly balance both of these and be able to seamlessly transition between the two. A child should both love and respect their nanny, and a parent should be able to trust and confide in them, as well.
An inexperienced nanny will show signs of being either a bit too immature or too mature around children and will likely be unsure of themselves when speaking to a parent. This is something that comes with time, age, and also experience as a nanny learns how to interact with all age levels.
8 Experienced: Exuding Confidence Without Being Arrogant
No nanny should consider their opinion higher than that of the parents they've been hired by. Doing so will only result in tension and discomfort for both parties and, eventually, potential termination of services. An experienced nanny will be confident with a parent's rules, rather than their own.
What a parent says is the law of the land, regardless of whether or not a nanny agrees with it. While helpful input can be appreciated in the event that something is working, it should not cross a line. A pushy nanny is one who raises kids on their own terms rather than those of the child's parents.
7 Inexperienced: They Don't Try To Engage With Children Immediately
There should be no fear or hesitation when it comes to speaking to children. An experienced nanny will want to get to know the kids they're taking care of, because the faster a bond of trust is formed, the easier a transition it will be for everyone. An inexperienced nanny will likely be initially hesitant and unsure of themselves, which a child will pick up on almost immediately.
While this doesn't need to be a major problem, it can spark tensions later on if a child doesn't respect their nanny because of this. A nanny who isn't confident in themselves and their abilities is one who isn't confident at all.
6 Experienced: Patience Is A Virtue
This is a major tip-off when it comes to a nanny who knows what they're doing. Someone who is constantly in rush mode and can't seem to settle down is one who likely lacks maturity as well as patience. An experienced, good nanny will take the time to allow children to come to them but will also offer help without limitations.
They'll take the time to sit down with children (literally) to help them with assignments or fun games, showing a nurturing side as well as one of encouragement. Knowing a balance is crucial and this is something that can be picked up on almost immediately based off their personality.
5 Inexperienced: A Stand-Offish Or Overly Mature Nature
Some people are never fully comfortable with other people's children, and this can be quite evident when shown in a distant nature. A nanny who is initially stand-offish is likely one who could be experienced but was never fully comfortable actually being a nanny. Being too mature prevents a nanny from connecting with children at all.
Having a proper balance between maturity as well as a child-like nature will help kids to engage while also knowing that a nanny means business if the time arises for it. A quiet, shy, or hesitant nanny is usually not one who will connect easily with children.
4 Experienced: Bringing Their Own Toys And Entertainment
This is not necessarily a make it or break it deal when it comes to hiring a nanny. More often than not, it's just a sign of a very experienced nanny. Someone who brings their own toys or activities based on what they know about the children they're taking care of is excellent. This means that not only have they been paying attention, but they've taken the time to get to know families and their interests.
This can take a huge amount of stress off parents, as a nanny who comes prepared is one who is ready for anything. It's a great asset to have in a caretaker and is most definitely a sign of experience.
3 Inexperienced: Clothing Should Be Kid-Appropriate, Not Office-Appropriate
An experienced nanny will know exactly how to dress simply because of the fact that they've been a nanny before. While mature attire is appreciated for a first initial interview, if a nanny shows up in that continuously, it can obviously raise a red flag. Depending on the ages of the children they're taking care of, a nanny should be dressed respectfully but also comfortably.
You never know when you'll be playing outdoors or running around the house, or even getting involved in potentially messy activities. An experienced nanny will have a wardrobe designed around their career... And possibly come prepared with baby wipes.
2 Experienced: Offers Services Such As Cooking And Transportation
Any nanny who has had experience will know how important it can be to know how to cook and have a valid driver's license. It's not likely that a nanny will be hired to work a time period when some light cooking isn't involved, which is why knowing the basics is great. This is something an experienced nanny will likely have done before, and will probably offer from the get-go.
Additionally, a nanny who is hired for the majority of the day might be required to pick up or drop kids off, which requires them to be able to drive -- an experienced nanny will be prepared for this.
1 Inexperienced: By-The-Book Vs. Job Experience
Taking care of children isn't something that can be learned by reading a book. Every child is different which means that a nanny must be ready to quickly adapt to the child and his or her needs. A nanny who refers to scholarly articles and books is one who might not have enough confidence in their own personal abilities.
A nanny who uses personal experience is one who, well, obviously has experience in the matter! This is a simple thing to spot and could mean the difference between knowing what to do in any given situation, or being hesitant and unsure of how to handle it.
References: BabyCenter.com, Care.com, Parenting.com