I was going to talk about car insurance and nannies but-yawn-decided I had to get this topic off my chest instead.
I joke with my athletic children – who wrestled and played lacrosse in college-that discount shopping is my sport. I am really pretty good at it. Put me near an outlet center and I am high on life. I will find at least one great thing to buy. I am also known to frequent the pricier places when an important occasion calls for it. For the black tie wedding I just went to–I helped Saks Fifth Avenue stay out of Chapter 11. I hated plunking down the money but I knew would be pictures and I wanted to look as good as I could. So what does this have to do with nannies/childcare?
Here’s the deal. When it doesn’t really matter, I understand going for the cheaper option. Here’s what I don’t get. Why would parents go to Craig’s List or any similar on-line outlet to find a nanny to take care of their newborn or small non-verbal children? I just don’t get it. This nanny is the most important person a parent is going to hire.The stakes don’t get higher. So why go discount shopping for the person who is going to have the most profound influence on your child or children? Finding a good caregiver when you are a new parent is daunting. You really don’t know what you don’t know. And despite all those published lists, there are no magic questions to ask. It is a bit of a minefield out there.
I have listened to some pretty bad stories in the last weeks about sub par childcare found mostly on-line from people who admitted that they could have afforded to use a reputable service. Why would you keep a caregiver who overtly favored one of your baby twins over the other? This particular nanny took 27 photos of one child and 3 of the other. That was just one in a string of examples of her favoritism. Or how about the nanny who took the children to her SECOND job for a year without their parents ever knowing. Then there was the nanny who smacked her three year old charge. It was only because the older sibling told that the parents found out. And I will never forget the woman who hired a nanny to take care of her five children and found out later that year that she was a he! I think we would have ferreted out that info sooner.
So my advice here is when you have a really important occasion–like finding a great nanny for your child– and you have the wherewithal to pay a good agency–don’t cheap out. Pay the professionals to do your screening and hire the best person you can find.