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Nanny Need-to-Knows: How to Find and Keep a Good Nanny

Azriela Jaffe

It’s said that Rebbe Nachman of Breslov recommended that one of the things a kallah should daven for under the chuppah is good help. It isn’t easy finding the perfect nanny whom you can trust to safely and lovingly be there for your children when you can’t be, and whom your kids will love. The secret to nanny heaven seems to reside largely in a genuine feeling of connection between babysitter and child and finds the children adorable. And to get that, we need to daven.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shelly* seemed to have hit the jackpot; she speaks of an adored babysitter of years ago the family still misses: “She really loved being with my kids. I would hear her laughing with them, and she would even help them with their homework. One year, the kids surprised me with a framed picture of all of them lying down together with the words, ‘World’s Greatest Mom’ running along the sides.

“One day after I left for work, the babysitter got all the kids together and took their pictures; then she printed it and framed the best one. It was the sweetest gesture. This babysitter left a number of years ago and she still calls and visits every so often to catch up with ‘her babies,’ as she calls them. She bought them Chanukah and birthday presents and my children really felt that they meant something to her.”

Amber Terrell, twenty-nine, of Highland Park, NJ, also loves the three children she watches, two of them thirteen months and with her forty-five hours a week, and the other, eight months old, and under her care twenty-five hours a week. Amber falls in love with every one of “her kids.”

Amber’s passion is the reason she calls herself a nanny, and not a babysitter. “People who are babysitters often do this job on the side or because it pays the bills,” she explains “I’ve done this work for the past thirteen years because this is where my passion is. I could be teaching, or a million other things, but I absolutely love watching children from birth to eighteen months, the most amazing time in a child’s life. They grow from barely awake for an hour to walking, even running, so many changes so quickly, and I’m there to see it all.”

Amber left the day-care environment when she was charged with caring for eight children under the age of one in an assembly-line manner of feed, nap, change diapers, and do it all over again. She wanted a more personal experience, and although she is allowed by law to care for five children in her home, she rarely takes in more than three children so that she can be fully present for the children in her care. Amber’s reputation as a committed loving provider sends plenty of business her way, and over the years she has gotten smart about how to protect herself, and ensure the most positive employer-nanny relationship:

“Since I’ve moved from the Midwest to the East Coast I’ve noticed that many moms are looking for a nanny who will clean their house and take care of their children. But I wonder, isn’t it more important to find someone who wants to be a nanny because they love taking care of children? I work with a contract now, and we always start off with a one-month trial period, so we can test each other out. The contract spells out my days off and vacation, general terms, and the hours. I very rarely will take a job where I’m expected also to do housework because I want to put my full attention on the children. When they sleep, that’s my break time, or I’m cleaning up after them.”

Amber acknowledges that if a parent has money to spend on other things, and she doesn’t pay her child-care provider well, “she may take out her resentment on the children, consciously and subconsciously.”


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