What Do I Expect From A Nanny?

I just interviewed a nanny to help out around here while I get some work done. I’m totally confused as to how this works and nervous about it all the same. You see, Emory can be a tough kid to keep track of especially when trying to take him someplace and she suggested that they go to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum by bus during the day. He loves that museum—goes nuts for it. But usually we drive there as a family.

Should I be worried about this? Am I becoming too overprotective? My idea was to have her hang out with him here while I work in the closet/office in back. But maybe that’s too much to ask from someone? Maybe staying inside all day will drive her insane? It does me!

Does anyone have experience with such things? Please, anyone who’s ever hired a nanny, spill it? What should I expect from a nanny? What type of things did you request?



  1. We’ve never had a nanny — my experience is limited to daycare and the occasional babysitter. But I must agree that sending your child off into the great unknown with a near-stranger would be, um, scary.

    What about the park nearby? It’s super close, right? Could you go with them to the park for a few days to see how comfortable he/you are with it all, and then if all goes well, she could take him there on her own?


  2. i’ve worked as a full-time nanny for about three years (part-time before that) and from my perspective it is definitely helpful if you speak clearly about what would make you uncomfortable. i always asked about everything (is it okay if we go on a walk in the stroller to the park across the street?) until i had been with a family for a number of months and knew, more or less, what would be okay. usually i would stay close to their house for the first couple of weeks of work as we were building trust in each other (or mostly i guess that was just a one-way kind of thing). if i was ever going to drive a child anywhere (which i usually did), the family requested that i order a history of my driving record from the dmv. i always kept my cell phone with me and turned on when we were away from the house and always, always answered a call from the parents (or returned it in a few minutes) and i think it is reasonable to ask for that.
    the hardest part of the any job was often being in the same house as the parents…even though i tried to be as consistent as possible with the parents, there was still this clear confusion for the child…and major distraction with mom/dad in an office clearly at home but unaccesible. if a parent was working at home, it was usually best for us to escape the park, children’s museum, heated swimming pool/lessons, music class, story-time at the library, long walks in the stroller, etc….
    anyway, all this to say is that in my own humble opinion, i think it would be great if you clearly spell out what is okay with you and what is not (e.g. park next to house: fine, 2 miles away: makes me uncomfortable).


  3. Tessa: Thank you! I will do that.

    Here’s the deal, she speaks English but not super well. So, there’s that. We’re happy about that, however, because I want her to add the spanish speaking into the deal. (She’s highly recommended from the people who own our apartment building. Been there nanny for years. So, I do trust that she’s great.)

    I will lay down the rules.

    I also wondered about the whole me staying here thing. That would suck for anyone. I imagine. So, maybe we’ll do that for a week, see how he deals with it and then I’ll go find someplace to work? I have no idea. This is going to be harder than I thought.


  4. I’ve never nannied full time but I’ve done a lot of here and there babysitting when I was doing after school programs and hands down the absolute hardest/shittiest gigs were ones where you had to work under the eye of the parent. Not only are you, the caregiver, less comfortable because you’re being scrutinized but the kid has all the cards because they can appeal to the parent. If you’re not 1000% interesting and fun the whole time the kid asks for the parent, the parent succumbs, no one’s work gets done and your job has suddenly become irrelevant. It’s a horrible position for any of the participants to be in. I would guess that the nanny suggested the museum because it’s a big, safe, indoor place where they can hang out and do their own thing without the lure of you right there for Em. Plus, being on the bus is fairly contained and eats up some of her time with him where they can be close together talking and looking out the window and stuff. Those kinds of options for a reasonable price are relatively few in Brooklyn in this season. When it’s warmer the parks and other places are more feasible. What if you took a day and went with them to the museum on the bus? Would you feel better about it if it was something you’d experienced?


  5. Yeah, believe me, I don’t want to be here either. I completely understand that idea.


  6. michelle,
    i forgot to mention that i think it’s totally par for the course that one parent stays home for the first couple of days or week – especially so that the three of you (nanny, kid, parent) have a chance to play together (so that the child can see that this new person is someone to be trusted who their mom/dad thinks is fun and safe and okay). also, often the first time the parent leaves, it would often be for a half-hour run to the grocery store, return for a check-in and answer any questions that may have come up.
    good luck!


  7. Maybe ask her to start out by looking after him at home and then take it from there? Or start with home, graduate to the park, then the museum, etc?

    Also, what do you mean “tough kid to keep track of”? Like, runs away or what? Just wondering if it would be something especially daunting to an experienced nanny or feel normal to her.

    We did a nanny share this summer. We used a friend of one of the kid’s moms and she was totally comfortable with the nanny driving her kids places but I was not initially–I didn’t like the idea of her trying to install the car seat etc. But halfway through the summer, I was totally cool with it.

    Good luck!


  8. I think we’ve failed to ask about one other completely obvious option. Do you have to work at home? Is your work portable enough that you can go to a local coffee shop or to the library and they can stay at home? That would make the whole easing into them flying solo much simpler and keep everyone in familiar surroundings.


  9. I had a nanny in the begining. I have had two great ones. My son was nine weeks old when she started. I had her come over a couple days before I ever left them alone so my son would get use to her, so he knew she was a friend.

    I was very picky, so I told her everything I wanted and exactly what I expected. I said it very nicely and told I probably sounded crazy, but as a first time mom I would appreciate that she understand me.

    I walked with her to the park and told her where she was allowed to go. It is easier to be out of the house if you there, we as parents tend to pick at things.

    I always told her that she could ask me anything, even if she thought it was stupid, because I rather we understood eachother then always worry. She was great about that and I never minded her questions.

    I also nannied a 3 year old while I was in college, so I understand both sides. It is harder when mom is in the house, because if the kid cries, mom’s instinct is to run to them.

    When I had nannies I let them be in charge. As soon as they got to my house, I was always pleasant and was like, “Great, you’re here!” So Joey and her knew I was excited. I hope this helps!

    Referrals are great! Also set ground rules for discipline. :)


  10. Kizz: Yes! I can work out of the house at a coffee shop. No problem at all, actually. Maybe that’s an idea. For the record, I’m totally fine with her taking him out around here—playground, etc. And MAYBE down the road to the museum. But right now? I don’t think so. :[

    Thanks, everyone for your insightful comments. I will think on this and decide if it’s something we want to do.


  11. my business partner has one of these… it took her several nannies to find a decent fit

    a big issue you need to decide on ( and hasn’t been covered already ) is the nanny’s responsibilities — are they ONLY responsible for emory? or are they helping with household chores too, and if so to what degree ?

    in my partner’s case, she worked from home for 6 months or so, and the nanny was supposed to help with some light housework. the first few balked at the concept — they would only spend time with the child. this led to their immediate downfall — they expected my partner to to pay them for 8hrs, but during half that time she was feeding the baby, so they wanted to just watch TV.

    so you need to be clear at the outset that, if you’re working from home and they’re there… and for some reason you are taking care of emory in that time, that you expect their paid time to be used in other ways around the house. or you might not feel that way — but in either case, you need to make sure you understand both your and their expectations in the role.


  12. I think you’re right to be cautious, but I would be okay with a museum trip if she was game and you gave her tips for wrangling Emory or helping him w/ transitions. I was a part-time nanny for toddlers and loved the freedom to do park trips, stop for pizza and a water ice and feel out a routine that worked. Can you keep in touch w/ her by cell/text?

    For her, maybe she’s thinking of giving you a longer stretch of uninterrupted time that the museum trip and travel would allow?

    Glad you found someone and I hope it’s not too long before you work out the kinks.


  13. I would agree with others who have suggested that you outline what you expect a typical day would be like for her. This will allow her to figure out what works best for everyone. I nanny-ed for a family for 4 hours time slots three days per week. Each day was roughly the same depending on the weather: I arrive, baby wakes up from nap, give baby a bottle, give baby a snack, walk to park, play for an hour, come home, lunch, bottle, nap, and then mom returns home. Granted, the baby was between 8 months and 1 year when I did this, hence the two naps, but it was really very easy to get through each day with this routine. Mom would go to the coffee shop or library to do work, helping me to feel less self-conscious and baby to feel less needy of her. You’ll figure it out and you can always ask your building’s owners what worked for them with this particular nanny.


  14. You’re paying her, so she will do what you need her too. You want her to stay in the house with him, have her stay and don’t feel bad. It’s a job and you’re the boss. Anyway, as you get to know her better you might feel more comfortable having her take Emory out on trips.


  15. Not sure anyone will see this, but have any of you asked for vaccination records? Is that normal? Thoughts?

    I ask because a friend of mine was interviewing for a nanny years ago and said something about TB and tibetan nannies. I had no idea what she was referring to and therefore did not ask questions, but now that I’m interviewing I’m wondering if this is something I should be asking about.

    Just wondering.


  16. I worked as a nanny for a couple of years (taking a break from teaching/working at the day care center.. I wanted to watch just one or two kids instead of twelve for a while!)
    I went through a nanny-finding agency.. they pre-screened nannies. I had to take the MMPI and bunch of other personality tests, and they checked my driving record, did a criminal background check, credit report, the works.
    They also pre-screened the families, so I knew a lot about them and their personalities, parenting styles, etc. For me and the family I worked for, it was the way to go. We got along well and knew expectations right off the bat.
    It *was* harder to have the parents at home (especially the mom), because at first the kids WILL try to play the “MOM! She’s being mean and won’t let me break things!” game..heh.. but after a while the kids got that when Chele was around, she was in charge. I even vacationed with them a couple of times.
    If you have other ?s let me know!


  17. as a babysitter/nanny, my mindset toward the parents has always been “the person who pays makes the rules.” but one thing that helped at one of my other gigs was that if the mom was staying home and working in another room, we would put on a video so that the kid would be distracted and then she would put on her coat and pretend she was leaving. (their home office was right by the door, so it made sense.) worked every time.


  18. Re: vaccinations

    I’ve had all of mine (I’m 36, it wasn’t perceived as an option when I was growing up) but I’d have zero way of proving that. Might be a good conversation but you may have a hard time actually receiving documentation. Ask, though, if you have concerns.


  19. I’ve had a nanny for a while and I went through a pre-screening service. It was great to know she is certified in First Aid and CPR and has had the TB test. Those are all valid questions to ask, though not requirements. When she started, I worked at home for a while before letting her take my son out by herself. It’s best to get to know someone before you let them take your child somewhere. Not only do you need to feel comfortable, but so does your son. You need to see how she handles situations and how their chemistry works. You need to be around to answer questions that come up as she gets familiar with the routine and where everything is. Our nanny kept a daily log for us for when he was changed and what he ate for snacks or lunch. This helped tremendously to keep a similar routine on the weekends and to not feed him the same food he had earlier in the day. As for working at home, work in a closed off room. You’ll be close enough to listen in, but out of sight. Sure he’ll know where you are and my cry for you or try to get in, but act like it’s a separate place and tell him you are going to work and can’t play for a while. It will take some time to adjust, but do not interfere with whatever the nanny may be doing in the next room. Em needs to know you trust this lady to tell him what to do. That’s a big mistake a lot of moms make is to rush in and take over when their kid is having a tantrum or something isn’t going quite right. Remember she’s their to do a job and you have to let her do it. You’ll both be better off for it. If you have any other questions, just let me know. We’ve had a nanny for a year and a half and she’s practically part of the family now!


  20. re: Vaccinations – if it is a concern of yours, try to focus on the the vaccinations your child has not yet completed (where your child’s risk would potential be). Re: TB specifically – TB vaccination is not common in the US. It is not terribly effective and for most people TB has a low exposure potential in the US. However, some foreign born persons get the TB vaccination routinely in their home countries. This vaccine can interfere with the TB skin test, giving a false positive. For someone with a history of a TB vaccine, you’d want to see a specific TB blood test if you were trying to rule out current infection.


  21. I’m a little late to this party, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents. I work at home full time and have had a nanny here in my home for 3.5 years watching my kids. She started when my oldest was 16 weeks old.

    If you’re going to stay home while Emory is with the nanny, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to leave E and the nanny alone. I’m not saying ignore them or not check in, but if you can, let them work things out themselves. E has to learn that while the Nanny is there, she is the boss. I defer to my nanny on things like drink /snack requests when the kids are under her care even if I’m in the room b/c I want them to respect her and listen to her. Obviously this doesn’t mean ignoring behavior that makes you uncomfortable, but you have to allow them to build a relationship without you as hard as that is. Let her tend the minor boo-boos and let her figure out how to calm him down when he’s ticked. It’ll help *everyone* in the long run. :)

    As for trips, I’d take your time and build up to activities that make you uncomfortable. Let them start small- a trip to a local park, or out to lunch to a place nearby. Hopefully you’ll reach that level of trust where a trip to the Museum is doable. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be waiting by the door for them to come home. 3.5 years later and I still do that! :)

    Good luck- sorry this is so long!


  22. I haven’t read all the other comments, but have employed a nanny FT for almost 3 years. She works for you. You set the expectations, not the other way around. If you don’t feel comfortable with her taking him on the bus (and I don’t blame you, I would not allow it either) then find some play spaces or activities closer to home, in walking distance, that you DO feel comfortable with. And if you just want her to hang in your apartment, tell her. Good luck!


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