Being a parent is an exhilarating journey, but can also be met with lots of trepidation at the responsibility that accompanies this role.
Navigating nappies, midnight feeds and inoculations in the early years, followed by homework and sport in the later ones can be stressful. Add to that the pressure of finding someone to take care of your most precious asset while you're at work, and you can be left completely overwhelmed.
Here are few key tips to help parents as they seek to find the right caregiver for their child:
Be clear on your needs
Are you looking for someone to just fetch and carry children after school, or do you need someone full-time to take care of your baby/toddler? Knowing exactly what your childminder's role will entail will help you to put out an advert that attracts the right candidates.
For example, the former example would require the person to have a car and a driver's licence, whereas the latter example would possibly require a first-aid qualification in addition to the suitable experience.
Do relevant checks
Never forgo the opportunity to do background and reference checks, no matter how "nice" or "trustworthy" the person seems. First prize is if the person is a referral of a friend or family member. In the absence of a personal reference, be sure to phone each reference and, if you have the money, get an agency to do the necessary background checks for you.
It is important that your child meets your candidate before the hiring takes place – however, don't be discouraged if sparks don't fly immediately.
Ask lots of questions
Ideally, you want someone who will complement your parenting style, not contradict it. So make sure that you ask lots of questions, give scenarios and ask how they would deal with it. Whatever you do, don't "lead" the candidate to the answer you would give. Remain partial, and you will quickly see if they are right for your family.
Introduce your child
It is important that your child meets your candidate before the hiring takes place – however, don't be discouraged if sparks don't fly immediately. All relationships take time to form. Instead, watch how they interact with one another and if old enough, ask your child's opinion once the individual has left.
Trust your instinct
A parent's intuition is more powerful than any background check. Don't be afraid to trust your gut.
If you would prefer not to walk this road alone, consider partnering with a professional au pair agency. They will not only help eliminate time-consuming admin of sifting through CVs and sitting through hours of interviews, they will also help you with background checks, payments and more.