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The Hire-able Nanny
Qualities You Should Find in Your Care Giver

There are many qualities that parents desire in a nanny. Some are personal, such as proximity to a certain school, and some are universal, such as cleanliness. I remember all of my interviews and the responses I received towards my attitude, appearance and personality. A hint: do not go by what the books say. Some argue that old and experienced is better. Sure, but what happens when your nanny runs out of energy and can no longer play with your active child. So then one would think, young and energetic. But then the question of experience and ability comes up. What is a parent to do? Go with your gut, your heart. Regardless of the type of parental figure you wish to leave your child with day after day, be sure they comply with at least a few of the following qualities. Then make your decision based on your own opinion of the candidate.

INTEREST- be sure she shows genuine interest in your child, in getting to know your child and in wanting your child to be comfortable with her. She should be excited about the prospect of meeting your child, and should be oooh-ing and aaahhh-ing over them, not your big screen TV and huge rack of CD's.

I remember the very first interview I went on; it was at the mother's office. I saw the pictures on her desk and asked questions about the children, how old were they, their names, when would I be able to meet them? I was genuinely interested, not only because I wanted the job, but also because I love kids. My second interview, well, I'm not sure you could call it much of an interview. I spent most of the time in the three-year-olds room playing and looking at everything she wanted to show me.

NO MONEY ISSUES- a decent nanny is not thinking about the money all the time. Although it is a very important aspect of any job interview, the question of money should never precede the actual job offer. Being a nanny can be a well paid position and the last thing new parents need is a nanny who is coming to take care of their child solely for the paycheck. I know, I know, so many people do their jobs just for the paycheck, but a little child's life is being put in the hands of a virtual stranger. Make sure that money isn't their only goal. You want someone who wants the job not for greed and money, but to protect the well being of you child.

EASE WITH CHILDREN- Your candidate should never seem nervous or afraid around your child. It is natural for some people to be ill at ease around a very small child, but chances are, they are not nannies. With good reason. Nannies should have confidence in their ability to communicate with your child and should not hesitate when asked to hold them. If they do, be wary.

I can't get enough of small children. When I first started with George (who is now almost three) and his mom and I would go for walks, I was the one who had him in the snuggly, and when we would sit and talk, he was always on my lap. Gotta love dem babies!!

RESPECTS YOUR POSITIONS- whether it be length of naps or general child rearing, be sure you and your nanny are on the same level. She should agree with, or at least understand and respect your child raising beliefs and values. Some women, especially ones with children of their own, have a very strong set of values and rules that they instill upon their own kids. It should go no further than that. Your kids are your kids. Be sure they won't inflict their ideas and values on your child.

The mom where I am now said she had interviewed a lady who was very definite and vocal about how she would raise a child and what she would be doing with George. Well, they in no way matched what my family was thinking of doing so she was not hired.

TRUSTWORTHY- Ohhhhhhh, so important. I know it's hard to know this without hiring her first, but perhaps this is where a bit of woman's intuition comes in. Your nanny should not look in the least bit concerned when you say that you will be dropping in every once in awhile. If she looks shocked or upset at the very idea, forget her. A good nanny won't care, and frequent popping in should not pose any kind of threat or problem. A bad nanny, one who recoils at the thought of being monitored, leaves a parent wondering why? Is she afraid of being caught doing something she shouldn't? Pay close attention to this, and like I said, go with your gut on this one.

My latest job, the mom was in the house for the first three months that I worked here. I could never hear her coming so I never knew when I was being watched or monitored and apparently I was doing OK because I am still here. That is another good way. Stay at home every once in awhile, starting at the beginning. See how your nanny is with the kids when you're at home and then a few months down the line take a day off and stay around the house. See if they all act the same. Is the nanny behaving different, are your kids? Perhaps you have interrupted her TV schedule and she is not used to having to spend time with the kids.

These are just the first five in my list of ten. The remaining five will be in my next column; followed by the top ten questions you should ask your potential nanny at the interview. I hope all of you who currently have a nanny are able to see all of these good qualities in them. Trust and compatibility are so crucial to a healthy, nurturing environment for your child. Kids are smart, you know. They can sense when things aren't right. Listen to them when they talk to you. You may find out a few things about your very own Mary Poppins.

Charlotte Macchia has been a full time nanny for nearly 5 years who has been taking care of little George since he was one month old. She has been married to Patrick (Pasquale) Macchia since August, 1997 and is looking forward to having kids of her own. She has recently been published in Equinox magazine and is looking forward to a career in writing which will allow her family time also. She was born in London, England and now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the prairies of Canada, but seeing as her loves include hiking, climbing and skiing, hopes to move west soon!


Patrick, George, and Charlotte



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