Behind so many great twin moms is a great twin nanny! Choosing a nanny will be one of the biggest decisions you make as a new mother of twins, so it rightly requires some work. We moms spend so much time researching all the latest products and worrying about organic vs. non-organic, immunizations, product safety, etc. What about researching the right nanny for us and our families? Shouldn't that be where we dedicate a substantial amount of time and resources?
If you are anything like me, you have probably watched too many TV shows with horror stories about nannies and babysitters that can make even the most career-driven woman want to quit her job immediately. It doesn't have to be the nightmare these shows make it seem! Here are some tips for finding a nanny, caregiver, babysitter, or whatever you want to call the person you will pay to watch your children.
- Ensure that the person you are hiring has experience with twins. It may sound silly, but—as I wrote in my profile—twins are a different animal. You want someone who has experience dealing with not one but two screaming babies at once, or two toddlers running in different directions at the park, or boy/girl twins who have totally different interests. You want to make sure you have someone with the right, shall we say, temperament to handle these unique situations.
- Do your homework. Is there a local network of twin moms or a group you can join for mothers of multiples? These groups can be great places to find nannies with twin experience or even a nanny-share situation with another family. Through one of these groups, I learned of a situation where a twin mom was going to quit her job; as a result, she couldn't afford to keep her part-time nanny. Enter lucky me! I had two amazing references for my nanny right off the bat—one from the twin mom who decided to stay at home, and the other from another twin mom who had the nanny the other 50% of the time.
- Check your references, check them again, and then check them again. Spend a lot of time following up with several references. I wouldn't settle for one or two or even three references. Try to learn as much as possible about your potential nanny during this process. Does she (or he!) have a loving, caring nature? How did she handle stressful situations with other families? How did she handle discipline? Does she drive? Does she have children of her own? Was she on time getting to work? Was she flexible? The list goes on and on and on, and you have to decide what is most important to you. Oh, and also do a Google search. We Google every guy we ever dated and every girl we ever hated, so why in the world wouldn't we Google the person who will be watching our babies?
- Interview the nanny. Duh! The nanny will literally become part of the family, so everyone—including the children—must be on board with the final decision. Interview the nanny a couple of times. The first time, ask her to meet and talk with just you and your husband. If that goes well, invite her back for a second interview, but make it a "lunch date" at the house or some other situation where the nanny will spend a couple of hours with the whole family. This allows her to see how your family interacts and allows you to see her in action. As you may already know or will soon learn, children can't hide their feelings—no matter how badly you want them to sometimes! Even way before babies can talk, it can be obvious how they feel about certain people. I remember the first time my nanny held one of my twins. He literally curled right up in her arms, and it was like love at first sight—for both of them!
- Create a contract that both you and the nanny will sign. In the contract, specify all the details of the agreement, including work days and hours, holidays, sick leave, salary, payment schedule, cell phone and gas reimbursement (if applicable), etc. Also specify what tasks you expect the nanny to be responsible for, such as light housecleaning, laundry, cooking, driving, etc. This way there is no confusion on expectations, and you can always point back to the agreement when in doubt. (For help crafting an agreement, see The Twin Source's Sample Nanny Contract.)
This process isn't over after you and the nanny sign on the dotted line. The key to any successful relationship is open and honest communication. Once you find your nanny, keep the lines of communication open. Start out by having a weekly or monthly 30-minute meeting to talk about the twins and their behavior, your and the nanny's observations and suggestions, and things that are working or not working in general.
Good luck, mamas!
Want more Ashley? Follow her many musings, and check back often as the list will grow!