References and Job Verification are more important than ever

As state and local officials begin to re-open businesses, despite what COVID-19 numbers are doing, many parents are heading back to work and looking to hire new nannies. While many amazing and qualified nannies who would otherwise never be on the market for long are now available, parents need to be extra cautious when it comes to hiring post-pandemic. While indeed many nannies have been laid off due to the virus, parents should beware. References are always imperative during the hiring process, but parents should be extra judicious during this time.
The candidate pool is flooded with wonderful, experienced career nannies and parents are lucky to have the pick of the litter. However, a global pandemic could be an easy out for nannies who were fired around the same time for a very different reason. Be skeptical of anyone who says that their last job ended “due to COVID-19.” Of course, this may be the case for many, but parents should contact the previous employer in question to find out more about your candidate’s reason for leaving. A nanny who was chronically late or had issues taking direction would happily use COVID as a coverup for their misdeeds.
What to Ask a Reference
References are hard to track down, parents spend days trying to get a candidate’s previous employer on the phone. Once you get them, what do you say? How do you know what to look for? Here are a few good leading questions to get to the bottom of a candidate’s history:
  1. Tell me about your time with ______
  2. What was _____ like on an average day?
  3. Do you trust them with your children?
  4. Would you recommend them to another family?
  5. Would you hire them again?
  6. What was their reason for leaving?
  7. Was there anything you would have them improve upon?
Parents should take notes during a reference call, especially if they are interviewing more than one nanny at a time. 
Red Flags
If a nanny lists a previous employer that refuses to provide a reference, this is not a good sign. The same goes for a reference who is short, evasive, or refuses to elaborate. References who withhold information could just be busy or “like that”, but they could also have had a negative experience with a nanny that for some reason they wish not to divulge. Have a nanny’s resume in front of you when you call a reference to cross-check and confirm information. Ask a reference for the dates the nanny worked for them, the ages of the children, and any other basic information listed on their resume. If there are discrepancies, your nanny is likely unreliable or even untrustworthy. 
Letters of Recommendation
It’s very common for nannies to leave a job with a letter of recommendation from their previous family in hand. They are a great tool to consider along with a nanny’s resume, but should not replace a reference call. Often, letters of recommendation are signed with the date and contact information of the person doing the recommending. Parents should look out for letters that do not have contact information, and inquire with the nanny. Letters of recommendation should never be taken for fact and their validity should always be confirmed via phone call. 
Hire an Agency
If you’re hiring a nanny, chances are you may not have time to do the deep dive into background checks that the interview process deserves. Agencies take all of the stress of finding and verifying nannies off of a parent’s plate. Agencies hunt down references, ask the right questions, know what to look out for, and perform background checks so that parents can rest easy when leaving their child with their new nanny.
While many parents looking for nannies may be overwhelmed with golden candidates, they should not skip the very important step of checking references. If you are a parent searching for a nanny and have any questions or concerns regarding background checks or reference checks, reach out to us.
The first step to managing the burn out is to identify it and recognize it for what it is. Burnout can look like many different things, but the general symptoms are:

“Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal.”

Burn out is generally accepted as occurring when a nanny doesn’t have enough time for themselves to recharge, decompress and de-stress in-between shifts. This type of burn out is temporary and can be relieved simply by relaxing over the weekend or taking quality time for oneself. For more chronic burnout, however, there are many factors that can add up. Nannies who are at risk for burn out are:

  • Nannies who have a sense of personal responsibility. This type of burn out is especially present in nannies who do more emotional care giving, usually for children with special needs or in homes where there is turmoil or neglect.
  • Nannies who are not being paid enough. If one’s needs aren’t being met financially, it can be very difficult to be present for the job that is supposed to be paying your rent and feeding you.
  • Nannies who work without boundaries. If a nanny is without a work agreement and their role in unclear, they may end up being asked to take on additional roles outside of care giving.
  • Nannies who work long hours without time to recharge in-between shifts.

What can I do?

Many nannies work long hours and become emotionally invested in order to provide children with the proper care that they need and deserve, and to scale back on that care would be against their beliefs and be damaging for the child. So, as a nanny, how can you take care of yourself and the child?

Engage in Self Care

Self care is a major buzzword these days, but it looks different for everyone. Self care can be manipulated into marketing schemes, so it’s important to recognize what acts are actually beneficial to your rejuvenation between stressful care giving shifts. Shopping as self care may be good for some people, but if the cause of your burn out is due to financial stressors, it probably won’t do you any good. Self care is whatever you need to do to shake off the day. Exercise is a proven method of de-stressing and releasing endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for happiness. Exercising every day also helps you manage stress and deal with whatever is coming up for you. Taking a bath, reading a good book, watching a movie or engaging in a creative activity are also wonderful ways of engaging in self care for nannies.

Practice Mindfulness

Change your perspective while you’re at work. Instead of focusing on the negatives, “I’m not being paid enough for this”, “I am giving so much to this family”, or “I’m not getting enough help” think about all of the positives that are present, like “I am making a wonderful connection and a difference in this child’s life” and “I am capable and strong and can handle any adversity that is thrown at me.” Many caregivers get disheartened when their work goes unnoticed. Often, it is those types of families that the work is needed most. 
Visualize the fact that connecting with and nurturing their child is making a huge impact in their life. Think about how doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen is creating a safe environment for the child. Changing the way you look at your role can have a huge impact on your mental health and your burn out. Take control of your days by engaging the child in fun activities that are also fun for you. Have a dance party, make a silly craft or just get a change of scenery. If it makes you smile, it will also make the child smile.

Draw Clear Boundaries

It is ideal for all nannies to have a close connection with their charges and with their families, but that closeness can often lead to feelings of guilt and obligation. If you are asked to do something you know will tire you out or leave you cranky and irritable, it’s okay to say no. Your job as a caregiver first and foremost is to care for the child, and anything that impedes on your ability to do so is outside of your job description and therefore not your responsibility. If you set expectations with the family, they can understand what you need and how better to allow you to assist the family.

Reach Out

If burnout is not managed, it can lead to more severe mental illnesses. Ask for help if you are having symptoms of depression or anxiety that you can’t manage yourself. Nannies are hard workers and often work alone, but there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed. If you are getting the help that you need in order to do your job correctly, then all parties benefit. Tell your nanny family that you are having difficulties performing, and have an open and honest conversation about how you can work together to make things better.

Accept Your Situation

Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal. Once you accept that you are burned out, you can start taking steps to make your work-life balance healthy again.
If you are a nanny experiencing burn out, reach out to us! We can offer a number of solutions from drafting nanny work agreements to advice on how to set boundaries. Remember that you are not alone, all caregivers have felt this way at one point, but there is no reason that you need to continue feeling stressed.

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