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Questions to ask yourself to find a good nanny
Back to school is here and it's time for you to go back to work and leave your baby with a nanny or a childminder. Finding the right person to take care of your little one is not always easy: how to choose a nanny, when to start, what questions to ask, how to find her? We tell you everything so that this new step in your life and baby's life is done serenely.
1. When to use a nanny?
First and foremost, you need to ask yourself when you should hire a nanny? There is no 100% accurate answer, it will depend on your geographical location. If you live in a large city, it is best to start early to meet the high demand. Ideally, as soon as you know you are pregnant, you should start asking around.
If you live in a smaller town or in the country, you will have a little more time but don't overlook the demand. Start selecting nannies/assistants as early as 4 months of pregnancy for example. The easiest way to get the contact details of approved childminders is to ask the PMI or the town hall where you live for the latest list.
In any case, it is better to do it in advance so as not to feel pressured and not to rush at the last moment to find the last available nanny. Remember that this is the person who will take care of your child on a daily basis, so you might as well choose her well!
2. How to choose a nanny?
We know how difficult it can be to make a choice when it comes to finding the person who will look after your child every day of the week for several months or until your child returns to school. First of all, you should know that first impressions are often the right ones and that you should trust your maternal or paternal instincts.
Although there are different criteria to study (that we will list later), the feeling is often the essential element that will guide you in your choices. It is obviously the feeling between the nanny and the parents: you will be in contact with this person on a daily basis, it is important to have confidence in her and to be able to communicate easily. But the feeling must also be between the nanny and your child. To do this, don't hesitate to observe the nanny's behavior with your child: is she pleasant, how does she address him... Also see how your baby reacts in her presence, is he curious, laughs, etc., or does he cry constantly? These are already different clues that will help you find the right person.
Then, you will have to determine specific criteria to select potential candidates: geographical distance (proximity is the key to avoid spending your time on the road), do you prefer to have your child looked after by a nanny at your home or by a childminder at her home, do you want your child to be looked after with other children for a first socialization or do you prefer to have him alone and the center of attention?...
Once you have these initial answers, you can begin contacting childcare providers to see if they have a space and to arrange a meeting at her home.
3. What is the difference between a nanny and a childminder?
The first difference between a nanny and a childminder is the place of care: the nanny is a person who comes to look after your baby at home or in another family's home in the case of shared care, whereas the childminder will do so at home with other children or in a MAM (Maison d'Assistante Maternelle).
Be aware that a nanny who offers to look after your child in her home is illegal, only a childminder has the right to do so.
The difference between these two professions is also made at the level of training, pricing, legislation...
- The childminder is trained for 120 hours and then approved by the general council of her department. Depending on her accreditation, she may be able to look after between 1 and 4 children in general. She is employed by the child's parents.
- The nanny, also called a parental assistant, can be employed by the parents or by an agency. In the first case, no specific training is required; it will be up to the parents to hire the person they want, whether she has a diploma or not. In the second case, the agency requires the person to have completed a training program such as the CAP d'Accompagnement éducatif petite enfance, the DE d'Éducateur de jeunes enfants, the DE d'Assistance familiale...
It will then be up to you to see what suits you best:
- You don't mind a bit of driving and you want to socialize your child with other toddlers: choose a licensed childminder
- If you prefer your child to be cared for at home to avoid travelling or to save you time on a daily basis (no need to dress baby in the morning...) and to leave baby in an environment he knows: choose the nanny
4. Questions to ask when interviewing a nanny?
Once you have shortlisted nannies or childminders who might be a good match for you, it is time to meet them. For this purpose, we have listed a series of non-exhaustive questions to ask during the interview in order to make the right choice. Feelings are obviously important, but it is very important to make sure that you are on the same wavelength on different points. The questions will be almost the same whether you are looking for a nanny or a childminder:
- What are his references?
Ask for contact information for previous employers (parents of children she has cared for) so you can contact them later. This is an opportunity to ask them questions about the nanny/assistant: how long did she care for their child and why did the contract end? Are they satisfied with her work? Did she keep her commitments? Is she flexible?
- How will the custody be?
If she is a childminder, first ask her for a photocopy of her license. Then ask her how many children she plans to take care of and how old they will be?
Logically, the best thing to do is to go and meet the childminder directly at her home: this way you will see what the environment will be like for your child and you may also be able to meet other children.
- What made her decide to become a nanny/assistant and how long has she been doing this job?
This question will allow you to see her motivations, how she sees her job etc.
- Can you tell me more about yourself?
This is the time to find out more about her experience and training, but also about her personality, whether she has children and how old they are, whether she has pets at home, whether she smokes or not, whether she has been trained in first aid... These are all questions that can reassure you and help you make your choice. If she smokes, for example, make sure she agrees not to smoke when she looks after your child.
- What would be a typical day with my child?
This is not to ask her for a specific schedule, but it will give you more information about the activities she likes to do. Will she take your child for a walk in the park or meet other caregivers and children? It also helps to know if you can bring your breast milk if you wish, if she is open to cloth diapers etc.
- What would you do if...
Put her in a situation: what would she do if your child suddenly had a fever? What would she do if baby refused to nap or eat? What would she do if baby did something stupid? The goal is to be on the same page and to be sure that you see your baby's education in the same way.
- And if you are breastfeeding...
Does she agree to respect your choice to give only breast milk if you are still breastfeeding? Does she know how to store and then give your baby pumped breast milk? Does she know how to sterilize a bottle?
- What are its requirements?
This is the time to agree on all its missions:
Can she cook? Will she be willing to prepare food for the child if necessary or do you have to bring the meals?
Does she have a car? Will she take the children to and from school?
What would her hours be? Will she be willing to be flexible and work overtime if needed? When will she take vacation?
What is the salary claim? What are the maintenance expenses if it is a childminder? (expenses incurred for the care of your child: childcare equipment, electricity, heating, toys...) Are there meal allowances? Mileage allowances ?...
- Finally, ask her if she has any questions? A nanny/assistant who asks questions is more likely to be invested in your child.
6. How much does a nanny or childminder earn?
- The salary of a childminder
The gross hourly wage of a childminder cannot be less than 3,18€ according to the law. After that, it will be up to the family and the childminder to agree on the gross hourly rate and the amount of the allowances. The salary can therefore vary from one childminder to another.
The salary is monthly regardless of the number of hours worked per week and the number of weeks worked in the year.
- The salary of a nanny at home
Since August 1, 2022, the Collective Agreement for home-based childcare requires a minimum wage of 11.07€ gross per hour in metropolitan France, or 8.65€ net per hour for home-based nannies. Again, this is the minimum wage: it will therefore vary according to the region and the demand.
7. What are the benefits of hiring a nanny?
Under certain conditions, you can benefit from the supplement of free choice of childcare (CMG) of the Paje until the child is 6 years old if your childcare provider is approved by the Conseil départemental. This aid is offered by the Urssaf Pajemploi service and partially finances your childcare costs.
The amount paid varies according to your resources, the number of children and their ages.
To benefit from this aid, the gross salary of your childminder must not exceed 5 times the value of the gross hourly SMIC per child looked after.
You can make a simulation directly on the CAF website here.
8. How do I find a licensed nanny or childminder?
You can find the list of approved childminders in your department at your departmental council or on the CAF website here. You can also contact your town hall, consult job offers directly on Pôle emploi or on specialized websites such as nounou-top.fr.
And if not, there is obviously the classic word of mouth which also works well and can reassure you if you have positive feedback on a nanny / childminder.
Photo credits: @natachatomczak