Finding the nanny who will be the perfect fit for your family can be tricky and stressful. It's hard enough to leave your little one to go back to work, but hiring someone who will nurture your children without usurping your control can be a tiring process.
We talked to Tammy Gold, the so-called "Nanny Whisperer" and frequent contributor to "Good Morning America" and "Today," for her best tips. For more of her advice, check out her new book: "Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer," out now.
What's the best way to find a nanny?
What I found works best is when a friend can really attest to the qualities of a nanny, because you'll get the most amount of information from a solid source. If it's a friend or a friend of a friend, you can ask a lot of questions to see if it will be a good match. But if it's a professional connection, people sometimes don't want to ask the hard questions.
Shadow days, when the parent stays home and sees the nanny in action, can be pretty awkward. What's the secret to making it run smoothly?
Shadow days are so important. It's the only way to tell if a nanny is good at what he or she says. But they can be so awkward. My book shows how to orchestrate the whole day, but the best thing you can do is start the day by saying, "Listen, I want to make sure this is right for you and you're right for us." Come from a place of mutuality, not a "test" to see if he or she is good enough.
It's only awkward if you are standing around looking at each other, so show the nanny where everything is and how you live from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed. It's important to give a physical orientation of where everything in the apartment is, and also an emotional orientation. What are your kids like? How should the nanny approach them? What should they talk about?
How can a parent maintain a good partnernship with their nanny while still getting across who's the boss?
It really comes down to communication and stating your expectations up front. A lot of times, a parent will call me and say, "I'm furious she let them use the iPad." And I'll ask, "Did you tell her you don't let the kids use the iPad before dinner?" and the parent will say, "Well, I told her that we didn't really love the iPad that much." You need to be clear up front about what you need and why: "I need the kids ready for soccer at 4 p.m. with their uniform, water bottle, shin guards and cleats because I'll be rushing home from work and will only have 10 minutes to get them there." Then, there's no room for error or miscommunication and the nanny isn't left wondering what your needs are.
A lot of working parents feel guilty for being away from their kids or are worried their kids will bond with their nanny too much. What advice do you have for them?
Parents are so hard on themselves, especially working parents. They worry the children will love the nanny more than them, and that just doesn't happen. The focus needs to be on quality time, not quantity time. Make rituals with your children. Parents are better seeing their children for a few hours and being present, calm and happy than being there all the time being harried and stressed.