Many families in South Africa have the lucrative option of being able to hire a domestic nanny to look after their child because the salaries are a fraction of the cost of middle to high income salaries.
Hiring a nanny in SA is still relatively inexpensive compared to nanny rates abroad. With this wide choice of domestic workers, it is important to first prioritize your family’s needs and choose a suitable personality type with the right skills to fit your family.
- Use a reputable agency – make sure that they do check written and verbal references and that they can supply you with the contact numbers so that you can speak to the previous employer.
- Check if your nanny is in debt – You don’t want to hire a nanny that starts asking for loans as soon as the contract is signed.
Pick a nanny that has a stable family background and good support network in case they have young children themselves..
Check if the nanny is hygiene conscious – does she think of washing her hands before she holds the baby?
- Find out how healthy she is but do expect that at least once a month one of you will be sick – nanny, you or the baby, this is normal. Factor that into your work schedule and make sure you do have back up options if needed. Please note that it is illegal to ask her for her HIV status.
- Test her reading and writing – ask her to take a message and get someone to call during the interview. This will also test how well she responds to instructions.
- Find out if she has young children – if they are under three years old, what type of support system does she have in place if they are sick?
- Don’t judge a nanny purely on age and training but rather on personality – at the end of the day you will probably hire someone based on their personality/character and how they relate to your family rather than their impressive skills on paper. You can always train someone to do it your way. You can’t train a bad attitude.
- Insist on a trial period – an agency cannot guarantee how a nanny interacts with your children. Yes they can check to make sure that they are reliable and trustworthy but every mother has different expectations and an agency can only try and match accordingly. The trial is the real interview.
- Before hiring your nanny, seal the deal by insisting that the nanny gets a police clearance from the police station. Please pay for this as it is a big expense for the nanny if she is not working. Also ask them to go for a free TB test at their nearest government medical clinic. TB is a worse household predator than HIV.
- There is no such thing as the perfect nanny. Qualities to look for are a good attitude, honesty, reliability, shows initiative and a willingness to communicate and do the tasks the mother’s way. Skills can always be taught. Remember to trust your gut instinct when making your choice.
The right nanny will love your child and will have your child’s best interest at heart. They are looking after your most precious being – your child, so it is worth looking after her, treating her with respect, showing or expressing your appreciation and remembering to say thank you even when they are just doing their job!