The quest for the perfect nanny - or manny

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan Umair

Zofishan is a journalist, humour columnist, and a mum who has survived nappy explosions mid-air. She has over a decade of experience writing for print and online publications and is currently working on her first book.
Updated on Jun 18, 2024 · 9 mins read
The quest for the perfect nanny - or manny

Are you considering hiring a nanny but don't have enough information to start the process? Do you find the quest for the perfect nanny for your family—or manny—a bit daunting?


While hiring a nanny, a manny, or even an au pair to assist in childcare can be a game changer, finding and hiring the right person is a bit overwhelming if it is your first time. After all, can you really trust a stranger with your kids?

While the right nanny can save you a lot of time, effort, and energy, finding the right one requires a bit of time and scrutiny. Where do you start your quest? Well, we’ve got a detailed guide on finding and working with- the perfect nanny.

Understanding nanny's duties


A nanny’s duties consist of more than just simply playing with children and changing their diapers; it’s a whole different ballgame that requires some serious skill, experience, and patience!

Nannies are equipped with the knowledge to manage childcare while keeping their little audience happy, healthy, and engaged. Nannies aren’t just babysitters, they are trained individuals who ensure that your child has the resources and engagement for healthy growth and development.

Here are some areas that a nanny or an au pair would tackle for you:

1. Daily look after
Ah, the dream nanny—the one who keeps everything in your house running smoothly, especially for your little ones.

The right nanny will ensure everything, related to your children, goes as hiccup-free as possible – from babysitting to taking care of all the basic day-to-day requirements of your kids. They’ll prepare nutritious meals and snacks, turn mealtime into a fun, stress-free part of the day, and even cook meals for the kids.

Besides this, they also bathe and dress the kids, ensuring everyone is clean, comfortable, and dressed just right for whatever the day brings. They are also qualified to make nap times less miserable and are equipped with the knowledge to put your little balls of energy to sleep without any stress.

2. Early childhood education (with fun)
If you’re a parent who thinks hiring a nanny is all play and no learning, you’re in for a surprise.

The best nannies also offer educational support for children, encouraging them to pursue play-based learning activities like reading and other academic skills.

Nannies help kids with their homework, making learning fun and the entire experience enjoyable.

A great nanny will be skilled at organizing arts and crafts, music sessions, and imaginative play, which will stimulate creativity and cognitive development.

3. Light housekeeping
Unlike babysitters, a nanny can also look after the house to a certain extent to ensure that the children’s environment is safe and clean. They often assist with tidying play areas, cleaning after meals, and ensuring the kids’ rooms are neat and organised while teaching kids how to clean up after themselves.

Besides this, they can also offer services like washing and folding the children’s clothes, ensuring they always have fresh outfits ready, and keeping toys, books, and other child-related items sorted and ready to use.

4. Keeping kids safe
The main focus of a nanny is to keep your child healthy and safe, which is why they can help by giving children prescribed medications and monitoring any health concerns.

Au pairs are also skilled in first aid knowledge and can care for your kids in emergencies, providing peace of mind.

With a nanny on board, you can relieve yourself of the stress of baby-proofing your home (for the most part). Nannies are better equipped to identify possible dangers to kids within their homes and can help establish a safe, quality space for kids to live in. They can also help manage allergies better by closely monitoring their food and avoiding allergens per the doctors’ recommendation.


5 things to keep in mind when finding the right nanny


Now that you know what you want, it’s time to find a nanny that fits your family’s needs.

Finding the perfect nanny for your family can be a big and life-changing decision, so it’s better to be careful to ensure smooth sailing.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to find the right nanny to ensure you employ a good fit for your household

1. The nanny’s availability and other practical issues
Finding a good fit in the nanny market can feel like a hunt for Mary Poppins, but with a schedule that syncs with yours. Whether you’re after a part-time pal, a full-time fairy godmother, or a wizard on the weekends, it’s crucial to find a nanny whose availability dances to the beat of your family’s drum. 

Think of it like planning a party—talk about overtime and holidays upfront so there are no unexpected plot twists later.

2. The nanny’s qualifications
It’s important to start with the basic requirements. For example, certifications in CPR and First Aid so that you can be sure you are hiring someone who knows their stuff. After all, you never know when your little one might need a band-aid or a kiss to make it all better!

FYI, if your nanny has a background in early childhood education, they’re a dream come true!

3. The nanny’s rapport with your children
They might be wonderful, but does your kid think the same?

Many parents want someone who clicks with their kiddos and is in perfect harmony with them, which is how it should be! 

Our tip? During the interview and trial period, keep your eagle eyes peeled. Focus on how they play with your little ones—do they bring fun and enthusiasm? Because, let’s face it, a strong bond between your child and their nanny is the secret sauce for a harmonious household. Observing potential nannies will help you decide which caregivers fit your family best.

4. Check background and references
Before entrusting someone with the care of your little ones, it’s essential to channel your inner Sherlock Holmes and conduct a thorough background check (including references).

You want to know they’re reliable and trustworthy. It can be a bonus if their list of references includes someone you know so that you can get some direct word of mouth on their services.

Search for any red flags or skeletons in the closet—criminal history, driving records, you name it. Then, reach out to past employers to seek insights into their reliability and trustworthiness.

Remember, trust is earned, not given, so while you may hope for your Mary Poppins to arrive, it’s crucial to do your due diligence to ensure the perfect fit for your family.

5. Professionalism and the nanny’s experience
Experience is like a badge of honour for nannies; battle scars but with fewer sword fights and more diaper changes.

Look for a nanny who’s been around the block a few times, preferably with a long resume with complex tasks and recommendations by their previous employers. Someone who can handle a meltdown like a pro and whip up a mean PB&J sandwich in record time.


Managing a nanny: Tips on trust and safety


Just hired a nanny, but not sure what to do next? Here are the keys to building a great relationship:

1. Spell out your expectations
Think of it like giving your nanny a roadmap to keeping the chaos at bay in your house. Lay it all out, from mealtime routines to how many naps your baby needs, how many hours you expect them to work, etc., and watch the magic happen. Give them any information that can help them take care of your baby better. Everything they need to know to support your family’s unique needs.

Discuss the salaries, day off and other details beforehand. This would help you avoid any shocks at the end of the month! You can also ask if they have a car and discuss whether chauffeuring kids is an option on the table. It never hurts to discuss these things ahead of time.

2. Get to know each other
It’s not just about being coworkers; it’s about being a dynamic duo. Put in effort and try to get to know your nanny. Find common grounds to bond on and learn about her family. 

Welcome your nanny as a part of the family, and not just some house help there to tend to your child’s every whim. It’s always useful to get to know them as a person and as an individual. 

3. Remember that you can’t control everything:
As much as you’d love to be the puppet master of your household, sometimes you have to be a little flexible and trust that your nanny knows what they’re doing. Don’t even think about micromanaging, let your nanny do their job and trust them with their skills and experience. 

4. Speak up when something is really bothering you
Communication is key, my friends! If something’s bugging you, don’t hesitate to reach out and have a conversation, no matter how difficult it may be. Speak up, chat, and have that uncomfortable conversation like an adult, and trust me, it’ll save you from more drama than a soap opera marathon.

5. Don’t forget to show your appreciation and respect
A little appreciation goes a long way! So don’t be skimpy with those thank yous, and even consider throwing in a gift or two to show your appreciation for all your nanny does.

Here's how to find a nanny in Australia


Now that you know what to look for, let’s get into where to look. Here are some top spots to start your quest to find a nanny for your family:

1. Online platforms
Dedicated nanny sites, like Dream Nannies, The Nanny Collective, and The Nanny Hub are treasure troves of nanny profiles in Australia, where you can browse, chat, and hopefully find your Mary Poppins in no time. Hiring through a formal nanny agency like Australian Nanny Agency can help you find a nanny without worrying about background checks or references.

2. Word of mouth
Ask your mum friends or go ahead, and post it on your Facebook parenting groups (hello community pages). Just be sure to ask for references before making that final decision.

3. Local Community Centers
Local community centres are also apt at finding you the right nanny – they’ve got a whole bank of community favourites. Even if you’re just looking for an occasional babysitter for the weekend or date nights!  

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