Moving Mid-Pregnancy: Finding a Nanny

Author’s Note: Join me every Tuesday or Wednesday for “Moving Mid Pregnancy,” to read about my ongoing search for a new “everything” (from nannies to mom friends to health providers) while pregnant and living in a new city.

Okay, am I just jinxed with sitters or what?

I’m here in LA, trying to get settled. Top of my list: Fia’s care. I found a great preschool thing for her from 9-noon Tuesdays and Thursdays. But I also want some afternoon help, as well as evening help so Phil and I can have a few date nights before baby comes.

My plan is once Little Leroy (working title, not his name) comes, that part-time person can become almost full time. That way I’ll have the flexibility to still do things with Fia separately, baby separately, work freelance, etc. So what I’m really looking for is a nanny.  Someone who totally gets the routine, knows the drill without asking, CLEANS UP, etc. (though in light of my sitter controversy, I PROMISE to pack my own diaper bag).

I’ve put out emails on a listserv here for moms to find someone. (I also signed up for sittercity and as well. In one day I got 50 emails and was so overwhelmed I shut it down. I just couldn’t deal).

The first nanny who came showed up 45 minutes late. Here’s how it went:

Doorbell rings. Niceties exchanged.

Me: “Did you have a hard time finding the place?”

Her: “No, not  at all.”

Me: “Oh, because I thought we said 2 pm???”

Her: (shrugs nonchalantly): “I got stuck behind a funeral procession.”

Okay, I am not dissing a funeral. But to act so cavalier? I went up to Phil’s office and broke into tears. I know, get a grip, but I went through a lot of angst with sitters in NYC, especially at the end when a new sitter came 30-45 minutes late every time. It is so frustrating. And I just need things to fall into place right now. I just don’t think starting off with the late factor is going to work.

Two days later another nanny comes. I am looking for someone bilingual. I want them to speak mostly Spanish to Fia (and new baby). They also must have a current driver’s license and clean driving record. Whomever I pick, I will do a background check on before sealing any deal.

She arrives right on time.  I am hopeful. The mom who recommended her really thought she fit all my criteria. She is upbeat. Fia seems to enjoy her from the get-go. She used to be a housekeeper, so I know she will clean up.

We talk rates. We settle on something for starters that I know is a little higher than what the last mom was paying her. I don’t mind. I’m looking for someone long-term.

We walk into the kitchen. That’s when she says it. “How much you pay in rent?”

I feel myself tense up. I am taken aback. Huh? What? I don’t even ask my best friend that question. Let alone a stranger who I may employ.

“This is a big house,” she says.

I stutter and stammer, then in typical me-form, overexplain. I tell her we’re subletting our place in NYC, and then give her a figure that isn’t accurate. Her English isn’t perfect and as I ramble, I can tell she probably isn’t understanding most of what I say. Which could be good or bad. Granted, there is a cultural barrier here. Maybe this is just one of those things that she didn’t know was inappropriate to ask. But still…. I don’t want someone thinking that we’re people who could afford the moon, etc., based on the different lives we both lead. Or be too interested in my finances.

The rest of her time went smooth, except when Fia fell and bit down on the inside of her lower lip, screaming and bleeding. I could tell she felt really badly. She said Fia just took a step and fell while in her room. I know accidents happen, and that could just as easily have happened on my watch. I think.

I have had her back twice now and so far, there is no other awkward questions. Fia seems to really like her. I am interviewing one more person this weekend and then making my decision.

Any advice?

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  1. by Heather Morgan Shott

    On November 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I don’t envy your plight at all. Finding a sitter is the WORST. So stressful. Why not set up a playdate with another friend’s nanny and then get a report about how it all goes? I did that when we were looking for our nanny and I got some really helpful feedback. It’s hard to tell how they’ll really be when you’re around.

  2. by Kelly Kougias

    On November 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I understand your frustration completely. I would recommend using a reputable nanny agency to save time and frustration. They streamline the process and send you only candidates that fit your needs. Their nannies will be pre-screened and polished. There will be no awkward questions or situations. Nanny agencies only use nannies that have the best references and highest moral character. I have never been impressed by online agencies because they do absolutely no screening. It’s essentially a database that anyone in the world can register on. I’ve heard stories of nannies making up references. As a parent, I doubt you really have time to weed through and play detective. Your children are the most precious things in your life. I would use the most reputable sources to find care for your children. Here is a website where you can find the most reputable nanny agencies in the U.S.

  3. by Michelle Kelsey

    On November 18, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I know it can be hard to find the right sitter. In your article there is no mention of checking resumes, references, cpr/first aid or criminal record checks. If you choose to go with an agency then all of this would be done before you meet the sitter. (One mom is not checking references)
    If you want to do it on your own it is important to require all of these documents before you meet the potential candidate. This is one step agencies never skip that families often do.
    If you are looking for a professional forget about someone who can do housekeeping and focus on the safety and well being of your children.
    Good luck with your search.