One of my earliest posts I wrote on my blog was about how not to hire an au pair (based on personal experience I should add!). Thinking back, I would still give the same advice on how not to go about it.
If someone were to ask me now what they should do or look out for (now that a couple of years has past and our house is over some of the drama) I would say :
- Let the search take as long as it takes to find the right person who is a good fit with your family and more importantly your children. There is no point in rushing things.
- Let your children be your guide. By that I mean – you know your children and the difference of when they are being naughty just because they are children versus they are trying to tell you something. Have a couple of play sessions and see how your child interacts with their potential carer. Better still – offer an afternoon or morning for the candidate to have a playdate at one of your friend’s houses and get some feedback of how things are when you are not there.
- Do have a contract stating number of hours, start & finish times and the kinds of things you expect the nanny/au pair to be doing during that time. Is car/phone/ petrol money included in the salary or to submitted as an expense etc. Most importantly ensure there is a probation period and that it may be extended along with what notice period is required in the event of termination/resignation.
- Decide whether you are happy for your child to be out and about a lot and driven all over the countryside / city or if you would prefer them to be at home when you are not there.
- Check, check, check all references. CRB checks are fine but don’t give you the finer details. A person may not necessarily have a criminal record as nobody has reported them to the police but should possible not be working with vulnerable children.
- If you are looking at a childminder, ensure they are registered and have the necessary insurance papers. A good child minder will ask for you to visit their setting and see if your child would be a good fit – it’s a 2 way interview is what I am trying to say. They will also offer to show you all their paper work (fire exits, child minding registration certificates, procedure manuals etc). and more importantly should put a contract in front of you should you both decide to go ahead with the childcare.
Above all, trust yourself and your instincts.