The Reluctant Employer: The Guide To Finding a Nanny

"Can I ask why you didn't shortlist me?" said the email.

Oh god, oh god. I didn't sign up for having to do the 'let down talk' to people. I already have difficulty saying no and a fear of confrontation, how was I meant to say (in a nice sugar coated fluffy way):
"You sounded a bit pushy love and I'd had enough of devoting the past week of my life to interviewing nannies. I just want the hell to end"?

The let down excuse eh? One of those truly #Awkward moments.

So as a way of avoiding answering the awkwardness and while I think up some long winded highly un-plausible excuse story that will undoubtedly catch me out, I decided to write a post on the whole nanny finding process. Catch last weeks post on the contemplation and horror at financing a nanny here.
So here's how to find your Maaary Paaarpins (or modern day equivalent).
Yep, she's practically perfect in everyway...but what is her gross rate?

Lesson #1: Don't Panic!

On day one of the nanny hunt, I panicked.
I had what I can only describe as feelings similar to a pregnant woman nesting and panic buying 6 slings. Because you must have 6 fricking slings, you know, just in case the baby hates sling 1-5, you've always got number 6 to fall back on. Yep, I panicked and set up an ad on a little bit blindly.

Obvs the decimal place is all wrong here
I still hadn't got the replies to my Facebook status question asking the down low on nannies.
And of course, as the unfounded hysteria set in (Will I find a nanny? What if all the good ones are gone? Why hasn't anyone replied in the last 30 minutes since I put my ad up?), I then hastily set up a further advert on Gumtree.

I hasten to add that I must of regressed to true pregnancy nesting hysteria here, combined with half a bottle of wine and my glass half empty personality, I was in for an anxiety rollercoaster. I had gone a bit bonkers.
I don't even start back at work for another 4 months. What can I say, I'm a 'planner' (overanxious control freak).

Lesson #2: Batten Down the Hatches (Think Before You Post)

I awake to total influx of replies to my ad and to two children screaming, but the latter is pretty standard.
Shit, how do I whittle these down? They all sound great and I just can't say no. Do I interview them all?
Well no. Grow some balls and berate self for not writing a more specific advert.

"How much is the salary?", no idea, how low will you go?
"Will  be working weekends and how often?"...Still no idea, maybe, probably, not very often, I think, Oh I don't know.
"What's the holiday entitlement?"...Would you like a company car too? I have a nice Little Tikes out the back.
"Do I have to be OFSTED registered?"...No but it helps (my tax benefits)

These were a sample of questions that were fired at me.
They are all pretty valid and I should of been a bit more specific in my ads about who I wanted and what the job actually was (and it seems the benefits of the job).

Which leads me onto lesson #3


Lesson #3: Bang For Your Buck

Although it is pleasing to know there are plenty of nannies out there and there really is no need  for you to go through lesson #1: panic!
You do need to have an idea of what your nanny budget is and what qualities/qualifications you want from your nanny.

I caught onto this late in the day (day 3 in fact of nanny hunt) after I spoke to a nanny agency.
They said "You're looking at £10-12/hr gross."
*Drops baby in shock*
"Er, my budget is about £9/hr max" I whimpered.
I imagine they *rolled eyes* at this point, "For the flexibility you want and to make the job look appealing, you would have to offer £10-12/hr)"
"But I was thinking I could go for someone junior and train them up?" I muttered.
"For two young children you want someone more experienced" they said.

Balls. A few more frustrated tears leaked from my eyes and my internal switch flicked to engage full on panic mode. I would only being able to afford a Newfoundland called Nana to look after the kids.

If you are wondering here, how to work out how much to pay a nanny, simply take your salary and divide it by the number of hours you would like them to do. Then invest in Kleenex, you will need it for your dribbling eyes. Mine was £9/hr tops.

It was by this point I had some friends reply to initial Facebook nanny question.

"The don't really need a food hygiene certificate. You don't need to pay extra for paper qualifications, go on what they are like which you can't tell from a CV."
"I got my first one through an agency, then the rest through ads."
"Mine has less experience but I've trained her up and she's excellent. I didn't want someone really experienced telling me what to do."

Right, so I need to know who I want for the job. By this time I had a wide selection, a few not quite right for the position.

There was one excellent nanny who was mature, had nannied for years, was a certified nursery nurse and had every certificate going. She was a regular Maaary Paarpins. She even sounded wonderful in email conversations but she charged £425/week net. Woah there nanny!
She would be well worth it but I didn't have the money to pay that nor, realistically, did I need a nursery nurse for an 11 month old and a 3 year old.
I went the other end of the spectrum to an 18 year old who had two months left to her childcare course, although she would be great for an older single child, I would think for a crawler and a paddier would be a bit too much. Christ, its too much for me.
Disclaimer: I just thought, by no way did I mean that title to come across all sexual innuendo, you or your husband should not be banging their buck out of the nanny. So cliché.

Lesson #4: Social Media Stalk

Human resources cat is checking you Facebook profile
By now I had drawn up a shortlist of four candidates.
As I hadn't yet discovered my own guide to finding a nanny, they were basically just the first four that had replied to my adverts (and as I've previously mentioned I cant say no).

They all had pros and cons. I had to find some dirt.
So I engaged the social media stalk, which I presume is what modern days HR execs do for shits 'n' giggles. Google, Facebook, twitter, I trawled them all. And what did I find?
Nothing, zilch, These people were clean as a whistle.
Great but it didn't whittle down my search. Though it was fun looking at everyone's Facebook lives.
FYI if you're looking for a job, adjust your privacy settings. I'm watching/stalking. 

Lesson #5: Be gross

Regarding pay.
The one bit of advice from a friend  that was drummed into me was to talk in gross not net pay. Historically nannies have been paid net. Good for them with a nice set wage but a bit shitty for employer *opens check book and writes blank cheque to HRMC*.
I got into an email battle with one applicant over a gross pay rate. It went like this:
Them: "My normal rate in £10/hr net"
Me: "Can you give me that in a gross rate? As I would need to know how much to budget to your wage every month, I wouldn't want any nasty tax surprises and not be able to pay you"
Them: "I don't know what the gross rate would be, the tax office just work it all out anyway"
No. They. Don't.
I would (or I would pay one of those nanny tax companies to do it). There's nothing more off-putting than someone who just expects their life on a plate. However, it made it an easy decision not to take this one to interview.
There were plenty more very good nannies in the sea who would give me a gross rate and less attitude (sounding like my mother now),

Lesson #6: Act Dammit

Now comes the interview. Here comes the realisation that I have no idea what I am doing.
So what do you do?
Google it, obviously.
"What questions do I ask a nanny at interview?" *Click*
Ta-dar! Instant interviewing expert. Think I could sooooo work in HR (if it wasn't for the whole flailing about on the internet beforehand and the fact I could never sack anyone).
With my ready questions printed off, I acted the part of potential employer, with a bit of sick down my top and a toddler stuck to my leg.
I thought I could narrow it down this way but I still couldn't. They could all talk the talk. And walk the walk over the assault course of dye cast trains and trail of rice cakes.

Lesson #7: Bring The Minions

Interview with your child tribe present.
All my candidates interacted with the kids and two of them loved play-doh (every parents most hated toy possession). They were all racking up the bonus points.
This was the best way to interview (though a little scary when you're solo parenting and one is trying to latch onto your neck whilst the other is stabbing the neck latcher on'er in the fontanelle with a Crayola). But if you have the balls (and no shame) you can see how they react when moments like this happen and you get at least 5 minutes of free childcare.

Lesson #8: Phone a Friend

Well not actually a friend but the nannies referees.
This should in theory give you the low down and make it easy to make a decision. This was the easy avenue I was searching for.
The two I had narrowed it down to had glowing references. They were 'fun', 'reliable' and 'wonderful'. They were saints.
OK, one couldn't cook, but who I am to judge? My lunchtime options for the past two weeks for Firstborn have been cheese sandwich or Supernoodles.

Lesson #9: Have No Fear, OFSTED Are Here!

My mum is a retired teacher and because of this, the word OFSTED gives me a little shiver of fear (I'm sure all teachers feel the same).
However, it's completely different to be OFSTED registered as a nanny on their voluntary register. And it's definitely going to be worth your while as the employer.
There are loads of nannies who charge a high rate saying they are OFSTED registered. Here's the secret.... loads of nannies who aren't OFSTED registered are willing to be and the employer benefits are great.
With some new legislation that's coming in September (co-incidentally just when I return to work), if your childcare provider is OFSTED registered you can pay some money into an account with ye olde government and they give you up to £2000 back a year per child.
Obvs you have to speculate to accumulate here - you give, you receive.
Because as the employer you get the biggest benefit, I think you should shoulder some of the cost of registration, but its not too bad in the scale of things. #TaxSaving

Lesson #10: Grow Balls, Time To Make The Cut

I have no advice for this one. I almost employed four people because I couldn't say no. They were all great in different ways.
So after regaling the tale to everyone: My husband who couldn't give a stuff and told me to "just pick one and stop talking to me about it, I'm in the loo". My sister and mum dutifully listened and sat on the fence. My nanny employer friends said "You'll get a feeling when it's the right one"
I wasn't sure if I had had the 'feeling' but I couldn't face another week of interviews.
I suppose, the nanny I clicked more with was the mature nanny who didn't have much experience or qualifications on paper but did have four grown up children and just knew children.
Unfortunately for me, an email bounced into my in box from her to say she just couldn't commit to the hours after some thought and didn't want to let me down.
I wanted her more like when your outbid on something you don't really need on eBay. Though I would rather know now than be let down (and pissed off) later. 
Decision made! I second interviewed my other choice, who I actually almost offered the job on her first interview. I should mention, that I have a record of just employing the first person I see. With my previous two child-minders, I just employed the first person I saw and cancelled the rest. It's impulsive, maybe a little desperate, certainly lazy but it has worked for me.
Now I hope the trial days I've set up work out as I can certainly see why those nanny agencies charge around a grand to find a nanny. Urgh.


Lesson #11: Becoming the Reluctant Employer

So I am now going to be the reluctant employer. Reluctant because I begrudge being an employer not that I will have childcare. I love childcare. I just don't like the uncertainty of will it be the right person, missing the kids (who I complain about anyway) and the almighty costs (mainly the tax & NI) associated with it.

The one thing that has helped me come to terms with it, is that its not a new struggle.
Circa 1984, my mum says when she was going back to work she had £5 a month to herself after childcare costs. Though, what, that's probably like 500 quid in todays terms right?
So us mum-dudes have been disposable income poor for some years and I hear it all levels out once they get to school.
Bring on the school...
Now to continue avoid answering that dreaded email....
To avoid it further, look at my son eating paint.
Please help me avoid answering the email or better still answer it for me, by commenting below.
If you want some proper help on finding childcare go to The Family & Childcare Trust or Google. I found them helpful.

The List

The Dad Network



  1. I didn't sit in the fence...I said the first one...though I liked the second one...but the first one would be good too...could you hire both with half the hours each?

  2. You were great but too good at seeing both of their positives...actually that's not a bad idea you have there...

  3. Superb post but I sincerely hope you've found the right one as I'm utterly exhausted after reading it. Traumatic and don't want to have to go through it again! (Massively useful for others on the hunt, bravo!)

    1. Apologies for exhausting you! The grand or so to pay an agency definitely seems worth it (if I had that kind of money).
      I'll soon find out pending some trial days (AKA mummy's going to get her hair done/go for coffee/shop somewhere other than the supermarket days) if she's the right one.
      Thanks for your support.

  4. This is brilliant. I've just been through the trying to find a childminder nightmare myself! I was absolutely horrified at leaving my baby in some places smaller than my lounge with 8 kids! I found it so stressful. Then I had to come to terms with the fact that most childminders seem to have loads of kids in a small space. It is what it is. So I and try and pick the nicest person. I'm actually shitting myself a bit about it all. I looked into Nanny's but thought the NI tax employment bit was too much extra stress. Plus they charge loads more than a childminder. Good luck with it all. I'll be interested to hear how you get on. Lucy@bottlefor2 #TheList

    1. The one thing I hate about being a mum, is having to be an 'expert' in things I have no inclination to be an expert in and that sums up my thoughts on finding a childcare provider. The sheer thoroughness you have to go through - in checking the qualifications, asking the right questions, sorting out the finances and benefits - urgh, hate it all. Total stress.
      The childminder with my first was excellent. She wasn't all singing and all dancing like some but you just want someone to do normal things with them like going to the shops, a bit of activity, and then their usual routine. I think with child minders a good one will treat it as a vocation rather than a job and enjoy the children being around, rather than filling in paperwork for them and ticking OFSTED boxes. Try not to shit yourself about it, easier said than done! A few weeks into it, it will be the best decision for you. They are a great balance though between being good value, homely, not as many infections as a nursery and good socialisation. My first just loved the mountain of different toys there and rumbling with the older boys. I agree, it's amazing how many kids they look after at once though...makes you feel a bit incapable when you can't control just the one or two!

  5. lol i always enjoy your entertaining spin on everything. The facebook stalking and google searching are musts! I hope you have found the ideal nanny! :)

    1. I must admit that was the one thing I did enjoy, shame it didn't bring any dirt! Thanks for the nanny well wishes, I hope she is the one (or close enough)

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed the thrills and spills of your nanny-finding journey - what a roller-coaster ride! I am supposed to be getting ready for a night on the town, so you are now directly responsible for making me go out in public amongst young, hip folk, looking like I have had no sleep and am in serious need of hair dye (although that's just because I am!). I hope the final cut nanny turns out to be brilliant. I am sure you can pick a good'un. :-)

    1. If I didn't have these things in my life - what would I write about?! It wasn't so bad really, I guess. It was much worse moving house, that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy!
      You've just reminded me I need to dye my greys. There seems to a direct correlation as soon as you have children, to all the grey hair you get. Though if you're going out in the dark tonight, I'm sure no-one will notice yours.
      Hope you had a fab night on the town - did you stay out late? Late being about 10pm.

    2. I was part of the die-hard (although not dye-hard!) group who stayed until 1am!! Go me! (although today has been a struggle!).

  7. Wow £425 a week! Holy cow I am in the wrong job! Fab post! Thanks so much for linking up to #TheList x

    1. I know...if only you didn't have to look after other peoples children all day, it would be a go-er!

  8. Must not let my SAHD husband see this- he already has an overinflated sense of self worth!! Great post. I would probably tell the not-short listed nanny that due to unforeseen circumstances you were moving to Barbados-- I would then probably have to move there to avoid her but at least the climate is temperate. Good luck with the trial days. #twinklytuesday

    1. That is a great idea! I still haven't replied and it's getting more #awkward the longer I leave it. Now to plan my trip to Barbados...

  9. The social media stalk! What a disappointment to find find anything though! Thanks for sharing this and for linking up #bigfatlinky

    1. Not even one dodgy photo or status! Hope they don't look at my Facebook...

  10. This is a brilliant follow up to your previous fab post! What a bloody nightmare! I though finding a nursery was a big decision but this was on another level! Saying that, I'm not entirely happy with his nursery at the moment which isn't good - and he's been there a year now! So even when you think you've got it right, you never quite know! I hope you've found the right person and that the trial days go well. Look forward to reading all about them :) #TwinklyTuesday

    1. Its true, you don't know until you try it out and then things can change so easily - staff at nursery, morale, guidelines, other children - can all have an effect on how your little one finds the nursery. I found it even harder with nurseries when I went round (too many inexperienced staff and lost looking kids in the ones I looked round but equally I know people who have found the perfect one).
      Have you ever looked around preschool for when they are 2-3yrs+? - there are some really great ones of those about.

  11. Wonderful followup! I used a daycare centre rather than a nanny or au pair. Au pairs are limited to 40 hours a week of work, and I work 40 hours, plus lunch, plus an hour or more commute each way. And a nanny is one person - what happens when she's ill or busy? With a centre I have the backup of all the other teachers. Still, the process of picking was very similar. I visited several places and I actually did have "the feeling". There was one place we walked into and immediately out of because it smelled. 9 years later, I'm still in touch with 3 of the teachers from the centre and my daughters consider them family!

    Thank you for linking up at #TwinklyTuesday

    1. How long are the daycare hours where you are? Here most are finished by 6ish and don't always open until 8 in the morning so it makes it a difficult when you work long hours.
      Its so great to hear other peoples childcare finding experiences.I hope to find the person who we can stay in touch with and have as a family friend. Thanks for hosting #twinklytuesday

    2. Ours opened at 6:30 am and stayed open until 6:00 pm. The employer-provided one at the university where I work opened at 7:15 and stayed open until 6:00. Since all the parents worked or studied on campus, that was quite reasonable. 8:00-5:00 is a standard workday in the US. Now that my children go to school, I can drop them off as early as 7:00 and afterschool care remains available until 6:30.

    3. It's at times like these I wish I had a normal job with normal hours!

  12. Choosing a nursery was hard enough I have no clue how I would go about choosing a nanny! Scary stuff. Sounds like a bit of a nightmare though if you find the right nanny it would be well worth it!

    1. The things you have to become an expert in to be a parent! All choices in childcare are tough though, wish we lived nearer to our parents.

  13. Wow, this sounds very scary! I feel exhausted just reading about this. Fab post though! xx

    1. Spending money on anything is scary fir me and then couple that we having, well. A stranger, look after your children makes its even worse, but I live in hope they could be my Maary Paaarpins.

  14. This made me laugh! I have STALKED all baby sitters on social media! #twinklytuesday

    1. Haha, it's the perfect place to find your skeletons! And also the babysitters, boyfriend, mum, dad, best's a long night when you start this social stalking.