An excerpt from the book, Happy At Work, Happy At Home, by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio
“ALICIA’S GUIDE TO HIRING AND KEEPING GREAT NANNIES”
Alicia Rockmore, the founder of Buttoned Up! (www.getbuttonedup.com), calls herself an organizational maniac and she seamlessly juggles a fast- paced career and full home life. Prior to co- founding Buttoned Up, Inc., Alicia was a marketing executive at Unilever. Alicia was a career girl and had no plans to quit working once her daughter was born. She has an MBA from the University of Michigan and is a CPA, too. But she knew even before her daughter Lucy came unexpectedly into the world at thirty- two weeks that she was going to need more flexibility in her job. She was willing to put in the hours but needed to be able to do them on her own schedule.
When she started looking for a new job, she realized that most of corporate America operated the same as Unilever—lots of travel, zero flexibility, and minimal control over your options for growth. At that point, she decided to start her own business and conceived and launched Buttoned Up!
She now works more than she has ever before and maintains that the key to her success as a happy working mother has always been a great nanny. Because she’s moved a number of times, Alicia is an expert at interviewing nannies. She’s hired nannies in New York City, Nashville, Tennessee, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. We spoke to her in mid- interview process in Los Angeles, California.
Here are some of her techniques:
1. Excellent nannies are hard to find. Expect to pay them well and treat them as part of the family.
2. I interview nannies the same way I would for any other job. In Los Angeles, I called three agencies and had them send over ten candidates each. I can usually tell within five minutes which ones I want to interview further, because at first I have to like them. Then I ask them questions that get to their instincts. “If you can’t reach me and Lucy falls on the playground, what are you going to do?” I explain the job requirements and once I narrow down the list, say from thirty to three, Lucy becomes part of the process, too. I invite her to meet them and then watch how they interact with her. When she was a baby I had to rely on their work history and references.
3. When looking at work history and references, I always look for consistency. I want to see long placements in homes because that ultimately says more than a reference. The two best nannies I’ve ever had worked with their last families for more than ten years.
4. I prefer nannies who have no other obligations in their life. No kids, no husband or boyfriend. They are usually older. The hours are very flexible but generally from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. They have to be willing to stay overnight even though my husband and I try not to travel at the same time.
5. And when you’ve got a good nanny, don’t be afraid to give over tasks that it feels like a mom should do. When Lucy was a baby the nanny took her to music class and now the nanny packs Lucy’s lunch. I choose to spend quality time with her and not do the routine stuff.
Excerpted from HAPPY AT WORK, HAPPY AT HOME: The Girl’s Guide to Being A Working Mom by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio. Copyright 2009 by Broadway Books. Reprinted by Permission of Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
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