As a kid my parents both worked full time so during the week my sister and I were looked after by nannies. Some of them were incredible and we're still in touch to this day but there were some horrendous ones too. One used to pick us up from school wearing her bra on hot days which was mind blowingly embarrassing and utterly unsuitable. There was the nanny who taught my sister how to smoke and the one who secretly brought her daughter round to the house without telling my Mum that she had one. (My Mum wouldn't have minded if she'd been straight with her).
After these experiences I swore from a very young age that I would never get a nanny for my own children and yet here I am, doing exactly what my own parents did and do you know what?...it's the best decision I have ever made.
My situation isn't exactly the same as my own Mum's was. I'm very lucky in that I do an early morning radio show so I get to juggle work with being with Poppy. We have a nanny three mornings a week while I sleep and one full day so that I can catch up on work in the afternoon. Pops then goes to nursery on a Friday so that her nanny can have a day off. I also like the fact that one day a week she interacts with lots of other children her own age and has a different sort of experience.
Choosing the wonderful Maria was surprisingly easy. I was absolutely dreading the interview process. I'm not the best judge of character and am far too trusting but I instantly knew that Maria was the one. She turned up in a suit which I thought was really impressive and showed that she was serious about the job. Her references were glowing but most of all, I instantly liked her. I can't put my finger on what it was about her....I just knew that I could trust this woman and she also seemed to have very similar views on parenthood to mine which really helped matters. I also loved the fact that she had two of her own children. Many people don't like the idea of a nanny who has her own kids as they think she won't focus totally on her job, but I really appreciate the fact that Maria is a Mum. She gets why I'm neurotic and generally gets me. Nannies who don't have kids can be absolutely brilliant at their jobs but I just don't think they can truly understand and relate to what it is to be a Mum...the worry...the guilt....the overwhelming love for your child. Maria understands me and what I need for Poppy and treats Pops like one of her own. Her kids also come to the house once a week and have become Poppy's best friends.
I also think that Maria has helped Poppy to become a confident, imaginative and lovely little person. This woman is a professional nanny...it is her career and her experience means that she has done incredible things for Poppy's development. She also truly seems to adore Poppy and Poppy her. In fact, the other day Pops went to Maria for a hug rather than me. Rather than feeling jealous I was happy. I have made the right decision for my daughter and she has someone in her life who she adores and trusts. I feel very very lucky.
If you're thinking of getting a nanny but the idea of leaving your child alone in the house with a stranger scares the living daylights out of you, here are some tips:
1. Go on a Facebook Page like Babies Babies Babies and ask if anyone can recommend a good nanny. There are loads of Mums on there who will help out. That's where I found Maria.
2. Go with your instinct. If you have any doubts about someone you interview, even if on paper they are perfect, don't do it! I honestly believe that a mother's instinct is one of the most powerful things in the world.
3. Go for someone who is like you. They need to have a similar outlook and agree with your choices when it comes to your baby. Maria and I have the same sense of humour and get on brilliantly which also helps. We also have mutual respect which I think is really important. We are both career women and Maria takes her job very seriously. She is experienced and talented at what she does.
4. ALWAYS chase references...as many as possible. Phone a recent employer and one from years ago. I would only go for a nanny who has loads of references rather than just one or two.
5. Accept that it takes time to feel comfortable having someone else looking after your child. It's important to trust that you have made the right decision and give your nanny and child time to bond.
6. Respect your nanny. She is not a slave there to do the housework, she is a professional career woman who is there to look after and develop your child. I would never ask Maria to do my cleaning...she just deals with Poppy's things. I can't bear women who treat their nannies badly. Surely you want the woman who is with your child every day to be happy and feel fulfilled in her work. Also, pay her properly for goodness sake. Some mothers really do take the mickey when it comes to what they refer to as "the hired help" and it's just the wrong way to go about things. A happy nanny = a happy child.
7. Always make sure that your nanny is DBS (formerly CRB) checked (pay for it if need be) and has an up to date paediactric First Aid Certificate.
8. Check her Facebook Page. Yes it's spying but it's a great way to get to know the real her.