You’ve sorted through applications, conducted interviews and checked references on your top nanny candidates. Hopefully, at this point, you’ve got it narrowed down to two — or maybe even one! — top nannies. You have someone in mind who is professional, responsible and just seems like a good fit for your family, but how can you be sure? Going from an interview to actually leaving your children in someone else’s care is a big, and often scary, leap. However, a trial day is a very common tactic families use to observe the caregiver in action and help ease the transition for everyone involved.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to conduct a nanny trial day
Setting the Stage
Ideally, you’ll want to be on the premises and within observing distance during the entire trial day. This may mean you need to take a day off work or keep the children home from other activities. While this can be an inconvenience, it’s a minor one when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of your children, and getting to see a nanny in action can provide invaluable information that you just can’t get from an application or interview.
Follow the typical schedule
Try to choose a day that is as close to a normal day as possible. You want the nanny to get an accurate idea of how your family runs and the children’s schedules. If you have very young children, it may be helpful to provide a loose schedule of when the children usually eat and nap, as well as any other considerations such as food allergies or other special needs. It’s a good idea to prepare the children as well, letting them know that someone new is coming to play with them, so they’re as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
Getting Through the Day
Be close but don’t hover
While you don’t want to hover and make the nanny uncomfortable or more nervous than she already is, you’ll want to be close enough to answer any questions or explain different parts of the schedule or expectations as the day progresses.
Focus on child care
Even if the nanny will have some household tasks as part of her regular job duties, her only job on a trial day other than caring for the children should be preparing their meals.
Give some space
At some point in the day, you may want to have the nanny be on her own with the children, even if it’s something as small as taking them out in the yard to play. This lets both the children and the nanny relax and start to get to know each other.
You may want to keep a notebook or journal handy to jot down anything you see during the day, both positive or negative. Keep in mind that this is a new experience for everyone. Try not to be overly critical or gloss over potential issues. Staying as objective as possible usually provides the best insight.
Coming to an End
When the trial day has come to an end, make sure to pay the nanny — the wage may not be directly reflective of the regular salary, but it should be something the two of you agreed on beforehand — and thank her for coming.
Feedback from the nanny
If possible, schedule some time at the end of the day away from the children to talk to her about how she felt the day went. She may have specific questions or concerns for you, and even if you thought everything went great, you’ll want to make sure she felt the same way.
Feedback from children
If they’re old enough, you may also want to get your children’s opinions, but make sure they know you’re just looking for their feedback and they don’t get to make the final decision.
Once she’s gone, give yourself some time to reflect and look back through the notes you made. Maybe the nanny did a great job handling a cranky toddler but needs a bit more direction on your regular nap routine. Just because the nanny didn’t do everything perfectly on the trial day should not automatically disqualify her from the position. Some things come more naturally as the children and nanny bond and she gets more comfortable with your family.
Most of all, listen to your gut. If the nanny looks great on paper and interacted well with the children but there’s still something not quite right you can’t put your finger on, it may be better to keep looking.
Once you’ve had some time to review the trial day and gather your thoughts, it’s decision-making time. Hopefully, everything went well and you’re ready to make a job offer. If so, make the call and start finalizing salary and start date. If not, make sure to still follow up with the nanny, thank her again for her time, and let her know you don’t think she’s the right fit for the position. She may have questions about what she could have done better or different. If you can provide constructive feedback, do so.
We always recommend going through a trial day with potential nanny candidates. It is a great way to see a potential nanny in action and help you get a better idea of her child care methods and how well she will fit into the family.
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Choosing a nanny is an important and difficult decision we have many resources to help guide you through the process of finding, interviewing, hiring, keeping and paying great nannies. We even have advice for when and how to dismiss a nanny if necessary. For more information check out the Nanny FAQ section of our blog and our Nanny Hiring Guide.
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