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would you employ a first-time nanny?

26 replies

hatstand · 13/06/2005 17:11

I need mn help. I have just interviewed a potential new nanny. She has never worked as a nanny before, but has done 3 years as an au-pair. She didn't always get or answer my questions - especially when it came to activities - but then, at other stages, other things slipped out, that just made me think wow. well, in fact the first thing was that when she arrived I had something on the hob, so left her with the kids in the sitting room, to go and sort it out (this was not premeditated, but have decided I will deliberately do it in future ). I was stunned - within about 30 seconds the girls were laughing - with a COMPLETE stranger. Couldn't believe it. an eg of teh not getting it was when I asked her about what she liked to cook, and she said how she likes to do jelly cake for their birthdays and how she loves baking with the kids and they always want to help her. Jelly cake is - I discovered - a layer of meringue, cream, strawberries and covered with jelly - just think back to being 5 - how much would you adore someone who let you help her make jelly cake for your birthday. so my gut instinct and my heart says she's fab. She's also unperturbed by the idea of the difficult hours I want her to do. and happy to do cleaning, ironing (I would add extra hours for this, not expect her to have the kids and do this at same time) But no formal training, no first aid, not that "crafty" but very outdoorsy, (both would be best) hadn't seen a sticker chart - though was quite taken with the idea when I showed it her and I think would use one. She's also from the Czech Republic, which means I can't really piece togoether everything about her history etc. Comes from a family of 6 and was changing nappies aged 10! what would you do? anyone got experience of employing someone from abroad who's never been a nanny before? didn't it make you nervous? (and I will be gutted if anyone manages to turn my apprehension to racism, please please don't)

OP posts:
Gwenick · 13/06/2005 17:15

Never been in position to employ either an Au Pair or a nanny - but I'd go with your gut instinct. If you feel that the she'll be good with the kids (certainly sounds like it after being 'left' with them for a short period) and if you feel she'd be the right one for you perhaps if you're concerned about first aid training you could pay for her to do one (I don't think they're that expensive are they?) so she's got the basics.

Hope someone else with more experience can help you,

Gwenick · 13/06/2005 17:17

oh and to answer the question in the title - yes I would if I felt she was the right person to look after my kids (and SOMEONE has to be the first to employ first timers)

soapbox · 13/06/2005 17:19

I think you should trust your instincts

With very careful management over the early days with your family then I think she could turn out well.

You will probably need to be more prescriptive about the things that she is unfamiliar with, sitting down and doing menu planning with her, talking about difficult situations as and when they arise, buying and talking through some craft books for ideas etc.

In terms of first aid I would book her on a course straight away, I would be uncomfortable if the nanny didn't have this. Also be clear about emergency procedures in the house.

I assume that since she has au paired then you will be able to get references from those jobs, in which case you should check them very carefully!

Twiglett · 13/06/2005 17:20

YES I'd employ her but maybe only on a trial basis to begin with

the only thing that concerns me in your post is the 'no formal training / no first aid' bit and also how's her english?

binkie · 13/06/2005 17:22

Do you need her to do sole charge? And if so, right from the outset, or can there be a settling-in period? Has any of her au-pairing been sole charge?

Someone who's been a happy successful well-loved au pair for three years is probably fully ready to be a nanny.

But - and here I'm taking a different line to Gwenick, so sorry - I would say don't rely on your instincts or gut feel, but call up all her references and grill them. PS: what you are looking for is a reference that says "she is a friend of the family and always will be".

Gwenick · 13/06/2005 17:23

well I kind of assumed she'd check references anyhow - but perhaps should have said that to be more clear

crunchie · 13/06/2005 17:25

She sounds great TBH. Personally I would be really happy going with someone who was nannying for the first time. They won't have habits that thay have already picked up from other families, expectations that you cannot meet, and issues about what they will and won't do.

As I understand it your worries come more from a slight lanuage barrier/understanding rather than her ability to look after your kids. You mention training - well most of it is common sense, however fully trained nannies also learn how to teach kids new skills and how to structure a day. Crafty - is all well and good, but she could take the kids to an arty type class perhaps, or buy a book with crafty projects in it to help give her ideas (or look on the internet). Sticker chart - I have never used one and it didn't hurt. Actually I have tried but it has never worked in our family (usually I forget )

You can enrol her in a basic first aid course, but be honest have you got training in that? Perhaps you should go together.

if you find someone who your kids like, who you like on a personal level then she is the one for you. If she does the extra work as well then that is a bonus. Get references from her days as an au pair an go for it.

hatstand · 13/06/2005 17:28

instant replies - thanks! I'd never do anything without taking up references - and I've learnt from experience what a good reference sounds like. I know you always have to ask the million dollar question - would you have her again? She did some sole charge - in the school holidays - her English is superb - ok so she didn't know the English for "meringue" or "summer camp" but I can live with that!

OP posts:
Twiglett · 13/06/2005 17:31

do you have time to put her trhough a st john's ambulance first aid course .. think they do them for kids

also the menu planning / behaviour modification techniques sounds a good plan

binkie · 13/06/2005 17:39

Oops, sorry, I sounded all wrong - I didn't mean to suggest hatstand wouldn't take up refs, all I meant was sort of "whatever your gut feel is, try to put references ahead of that" - just because I've been a bit misled by instinct before now & should have listened harder to the hints in the references. That's all.

Hatstand, do you have an employer who'll let you use the new childcare voucher scheme? The scheme requires various first aid & training courses so there are now quite a few organisations specially set up to provide them - quite useful to look into even if you're not using the voucher scheme.

aloha · 13/06/2005 18:18

Well I'm about to employ an ex au-pair from the czech republic to look after my two (mostly while I am in the house though) so you wont' get any criticism from me. Her au pair references are great and both former employers left her in sole charge of the children for periods. she's 26, clearly adores children and was professional in her approach.

hatstand · 13/06/2005 18:24

aloha - please tell me it's not the same one??!!! this one's 26 too. where are you?

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aloha · 13/06/2005 18:26

You go first....eeek!

aloha · 13/06/2005 18:27

SE London....part time....

hatstand · 13/06/2005 18:34

Kingston. The one I spoke to lives in Kingston and doesn't drive - I doubt she'd have gone for an interview out east, but guess it's possible/ Come on give us another detail and do away with my fears

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hatstand · 13/06/2005 18:44

you're making me paranoid

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aloha · 13/06/2005 18:45

nowhere near Kingston! whew, eh?

hatstand · 13/06/2005 18:47


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jura · 13/06/2005 18:50

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hatstand · 13/06/2005 18:52

nto sure I would - this girl may be Czech but she lives 20 mins walk away!

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Tanzie · 13/06/2005 19:13

Czechs and Slovaks are fabby. My nanny is Slovak - v hardworking and absolutely fantastic with the kids. Eastern Europeans are used to being "in charge" of children from a young age (if they come from big families, which most seem to). Go with your gut instinct. Her English will improve with you anyway.

hatstand · 13/06/2005 19:50

there isn't really a language problem - it was more that she didn't seem to expect certain questions and/or know how to sell herself, as it were. what I mean is that when I asked her what activities she like doing with the kids, she didn't mention cooking and baking with them; when I asked her what food she liked cooking, her eyes lit up and she told me about doing jelly cakes and pancakes with the kids. to my mind that answer belonged more to the question about activites than food. not that it matters, of course. SHe just seemed such a natural that questions like what do you like doing were difficult. she seems to be one of those with the "knack". The only problem is she's so lovely I'll do myself out of a job!

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Tanzie · 13/06/2005 19:56

Pancakes are genetic in Eastern Europeans. Sadly, I seem to have evolved without the gene!

beachyhead · 14/06/2005 10:17

jura - I've just interviewed an Aussie via email and one phone chat - just met her last week, she's now gone travelling and starts on July 4th. I think you can get a fairly good idea from emails and phone - I also asked an Aussie friend to do a checkout of her school, home address etc (just to give me a feel for type of person she may be - very shallow, I know, but I think useful).

omega2 · 14/06/2005 10:36

I would go with you instincts. Perhaps the answers to the questions were a miss understanding due to her not being English. I'm a nanny and can still remember my first job and i'm glad the family i worked for employed me as it was hard work getting that first position.

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