Sunday, August 22, 2010

CYMA CHATS with Candi Wingate, Nanny Expert and Founder of

What compelled you to be a nanny and then start a nanny services bureau?
I started my career as a nanny, working for a family with five children.  I quickly learned what families need, and applied those real-life lessons to my business.  Plus, I’m a wife and mother of two young boys, so I know first-hand what it’s like to balance work and a family.

What is the difference between a nanny and a babysitter?
Nanny: a committed childcare provider, employed by a family to provide supervision and a nurturing environment for the family’s children, without direct parental supervision. A nanny may live in or out of a family’s primary residence and is focused on the needs of the child. The well-being, education and development of the child on a day-to-day basis is the primary responsibility of the nanny. Duties that are required for the care of a child such as bathing, meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, homework supervision, errands, exercise, and transportation are part of a nanny’s responsibility. Formal education is not required if the nanny has suitable experience with children. It is recommended that all nannies and childcare providers be certified in infant and child CPR.

Babysitter: A temporary childcare provider who provides care of children, without direct parental supervision, in the family home. A babysitter works for short periods of time, and the primary responsibility is the care and entertainment of children when the parents are not at home. A babysitter’s responsibility will change from situation to situation depending on the need of the child during the span of time that the babysitter is to provide care.

What type of people choose to be a nanny? Are there "career" nannies?
All types of people choose to be nannies.  It can be a male or a female, they can be straight out of high school or have a college degree.  The majority of the time a nanny responsibilities include childcare, light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, transporting children, errands, etc.  They can either live-in or live-out.  The role of a nanny is to bond with your child.  It is a natural process, your child will become attached to your nanny.  You should feel threatened by this relationship.  You will always be the parent and your child's strongest bond will be with you.  

What screening process do you use? What qualities do you look for in a nanny? Can a nanny be a man?
Although it can be tempting to immediately hire the first nanny you come across who meets all the qualifications you’re looking for, it is definitely a smart decision to do a background check. Though in many cases, you won’t find anything that should deter you from hiring a nanny candidate, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. The nanny background check can reveal information you wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. We recommend checking references, criminal histories, driving history (if the nanny will be transporting the children), social security # trace.  It is also important to sit down and sign a contract -prior to employment - to detail the job - so there are no questions once employment starts.  You can always refer back to the contract if there are questions.  
Many families hire male nannies (mannies).  Here is a partial list of reasons why:
“I hired a manny because I have all boys.”
“I’m a single mom and want a male figure for my children.”
“My husband travels a lot for work, so we hired a manny who can take our son camping and do a lot of boy-things with him.”
 “We interviewed a lot of wonderful nannies and mannies.  We simply hired the best qualified candidate and that happened to be a manny.”

When you're hiring a live-out nanny, one all-important part of the interview process is watching how he/she interacts with your child.  Ideally your live-out nanny should exhibit certain qualities during the interview process.  They should show a level of warmth.  When he/she interacts with your child, he/she should show a genuine interest in your child.  The nanny should behave professionally.  This means he/she should respect your role as the parent as well as engage with your child in an appropriate manner.  The nanny should be knowledgeable about the stage of your child.  This means he/she should understand the needs and issues concerned with your 2 year old versus your 6 month old.

A common conception is that utilizing nannies can be an expensive proposition. How do you answer that?
In these tough economic times, we’re all being cautious with our spending.  Parents may be worried about hiring a nanny, thinking it’s too “luxurious” in light of the current downturn.  What you may not know is that hiring a nanny can actually save families money over other childcare options.

Many parents debate the merits of hiring a nanny versus putting their children in daycare.  If you have two or more children, it’s often more cost-effective to hire a nanny, as daycares charge per child and will be more expensive than paying a nanny to come to your home.
With a nanny, parents don’t have to leave work - potentially missing a day’s pay - when their child is sick, like they would with day care. Your nanny can stay home with your children while you work.  As an added benefit, you may have healthier children if you keep them out of daycare and away from other kids’ germs.

The economic downturn has everyone looking to cut costs whenever possible, so the concept of “nanny sharing” has grown in popularity this year.  There are several “nanny sharing” scenarios, including having one nanny watch kids from several families simultaneously or having one nanny work part-time for two different families, spending a few days with each family.  These options help reduce costs, while still providing the benefits of having a nanny.

Must a nanny reside in the house where they work? Can nannies be part or full time?
A nanny can be full-time, part-time, summer, temporary, live-in or live-out depending on the need of the family.  
How can new older mothers benefit from using a nanny?
In today’s society, there are many benefits of hiring a nanny:
1.  COST.  If you have two or more children, it may be cost effective for you to hire a nanny as many daycare centers can cost you more.  Also, many families are using “nanny share”.  This is an arrangement in which two families share one nanny.  This cuts down on costs but you still experience the benefits of having a nanny.
2.  HEALTH OF THE CHILDREN.  You may have healthier children by keeping them away from the large groups of children typically found in daycare.  
3.  WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY.  If your children are sick, many daycare centers will not accept your children.  However, if you have a nanny, you can still go to work as the nanny will stay home with the children.  Further, if you have an attentive nanny at home with your children, you will be less likely to feel like you just can’t concentrate at work due to concern for your children.  By staying focused at work, your workplace productivity remains high.
4.  HOME WORKLOAD DELEGATION.  A nanny can help you maintain work/life balance.  For example, a nanny can be an extra pair of hands helping with household duties such as laundry, errands, transporting children, and starting the evening meal.  This allows for more quality family time when the parents arrive home.  No need to rush in the morning to get the kids out the door for daycare or school: a nanny is an extra pair of hands in the morning.
5.  MARITAL BONDING.  Many parents become so over-committed with the tasks of working full-time on top of parenting, household maintenance, and a host of other daily responsibilities, that tending the marital bond simply isn’t on their radar screen.  Years later, it may be too late when the couple realizes that they have grown apart.  A nanny can help prevent that.  Nannies can watch children in the evenings (which many daycare centers will not do), thus allowing parents an opportunity for a romantic evening out, or maybe just some private just-the-two-of-us time.  
6.  PEACE OF MIND.   Daycare centers have staff turnover.  Parents are not typically involved in the staff recruitment and selection process at their children’s daycare center.  Therefore, you never know, on a day-to-day basis, who may be watching your children in a daycare setting.  If you hire a nanny, however, you know in whose care your children are.  You interviewed the nanny, performed background checks on her, and hired her yourself.
7.  CONTINUITY OF CARE.  Children usually bond with their caregivers.  This is healthy.  However, it is hard for children to address separation from caregivers, such as when a caregiver resigns his/her employment.  Nanny turnover is much lower than typical daycare center staff, so children with nannies tend to experience less frequently the grief and anxiety associated with caregiver turnover.
8.  CAREGIVER-TO-CHILD RATIO.  Daycare centers in most states are required to comply with legal guidelines on caregiver-to-child ratios.  In an effort to maximize profits, daycare centers will seek to have as many children as possible without exceeding the legally proscribed limits.  If you hire a nanny, you can be assured that your caregiver is focused solely on your children.
9.  ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME.  For children, this last one is a big one.  When a nanny is caregiving for your children, they can play with their own toys, nap in their own beds, and stay in the familiar environment of their own home throughout their day.  If there is inclement weather outside, it’s no problem: the children do not need to go outside to go to daycare as their nanny comes to their home to care for them.

As both a 'caretaker' and a businesswoman, do you feel you've combined the best of both worlds?
Yes; I feel I have combined the best of both worlds.  I have a job that I love and I have a nanny that is part of our family that my children have grown to love.

You had your first child at 35. As a new older mother, what does that experience bring to your profession, and visa versa?
After becoming a mom, I feel like I totally relate to other families searching for a nanny.  I have a nanny and understand the process a family goes through to hiring a nanny. 

Candi Wingate is a national child care expert with over 20 years experience in the industry. She is the founder of and, and author of 100 Tips for Nannies & Families and The Nanny Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Finding the Right Nanny for Your Family (available October 1st). URL:         

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