How do I find a nanny?
December 4, 2012 11:38 AM   Subscribe

How do I find a nanny/domestic assistant?

My wife was recently diagnosed with cancer. She has been a stay at home mother, but is not currently able to take care of herself, really, let alone our 15-month-old daughter. I need to return to work.

I am considering hiring some sort of nanny/assistant who could help care for our daughter and do things like buy groceries and drive my wife to medical appointments.

How do I locate such a person? Is getting a live-in person reasonable (I have a spare room with its own bathroom and private entrance that could be turned into a sort of studio space), or would someone who just comes in for the day be a better option? How much could I expect this to cost? I am really considering even hiring someone for 40 hours a week if I can afford it.

I have never done anything like this before and I don't know where to start. I live in Santa Cruz County, California, which is just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. Are there websites to use to find people like this? How do I verify their experience?

posted by tylerkaraszewski to Work & Money (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite and are two sites that are very active and have a wide range of carers. They do background checks if you want, and frequently there are also references for people. You can place an ad for exactly what you need and people "apply" for your job. I found an excellent full-time carer for my newborn using, which I liked a bit better than sittercity.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2012

I came to say as well. Two of my grown children work as domestics (one is a live-in housekeeper, the other is a child care provider) and they both get their gigs through They are very good for screening if you want a licensed provider.
posted by patheral at 11:44 AM on December 4, 2012

Yeah, the easiest way would be your local parenting listserv. If you don't want to go that route, is a popular nanny search site and might be faster (but probably more expensive). We've also had luck just posting to Facebook "does anyone know of anyone that might be interested in nannying?"

You might want to think about hiring a college student for the month of December (school's about to end) while you do your more serious hunt.

Other things to think about - do you care if Nanny speaks English? MANY nannies don't. If you want Nanny to drive, you're probably going to have to hire someone who can legally work, which will be more expensive.

Also overtime is really important - if you go over 40 hours, you'll probably have to pay more.

In DC nannies were paid $20+/hour (low end) plus tax benefits, healthcare, and other benefits.

If you do this above board legally, you're going to have to figure out how you're going to pay this person (taxes and the like.) You'll probably want to make life easier by doing it through a nanny pay service like

Live-in versus live-out. If you want someone that is going to be helpful to you beyond 8am-6pm or whatever, live-in might work. In my experience in Southern California and DC, live-in nannies are the exception not the rule.

I've employed a few nannies, so I'm happy to answer other questions.

Sending good thoughts to your wife.
posted by k8t at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2012

Here are some places to look. Town & Country Resources is expensive, but the moms from my mothers club seem to think that the nannies are the best.
posted by purpleclover at 11:54 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

There may be some already-paid-for-by-insurance services that would do some of the housekeeping/shopping chores, so don't overlook those possibilities--these services are often called "home health aide" and are organized through local visiting nurse networks. That would free up some cash for the child care services. has some fairly easy to use tools for organizing friends and family help.

Best to your wife, and to all of you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:16 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

My parents did live in nannies when we were kids but that was a long time ago - they did it through the equivalent at the time of Craigslist ads (i.e. using classified ads in newspapers around the country). I've definitely seen ads on Craigslist for rooms for rent where the rent is free if people are willing to assist with certain household chores, including home health aide type stuff.

My parents also, and this was pretty unusual, but they got in touch with a local group who was looking for places for foreign refugees to live and they offered a single mother a place to live at our house if she was willing to help with babysitting and stuff around the house, and she stayed with us about a year or something until she could afford an apartment. She didn't speak great English but it worked out pretty well for us.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2012

So sorry about your wife! What about combining daycare with hiring UCSC students? That might be the most economical thing - baby goes to daycare from 8-5, and the student helps out with chores, daycare pickup, etc, from 3-7.
posted by yarly at 2:22 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also - the fmla should allow you to take time off to take her to dr appointments.
posted by yarly at 2:31 PM on December 4, 2012

I also think daycare plus some additional help for the doctor's appointments and housekeeping might be a good solution, because at 15 months it's going to be tough for someone to help significantly around the house AND care for your daughter adequately AND do medical appointments. It would also give your wife guilt-free time to just rest and relax in a quiet place without feeling like she's in mom mode and without your daughter trying to seek her attention.

I know "get her into daycare" can sound easier than it is in terms of wait lists and such, so I'm sorry if it's not helpful advice for you.

Also seconding the advice to check with insurance/your HR person about home health aides.

In terms of living in, having someone live-in can be pretty stressful, especially if you end up having to let them go, because you have to deal with giving them adequate notice. That's not really something you want to do with someone who has access to your kid and house, but in many jurisdictions it's the law as you're effectively a landlord. Check your local laws.

Even if you get along, it's very intimate to have someone living with you, especially since your wife will be home all day. I personally wouldn't jump into it until you've gotten used to having someone around the house. Having private time and space to decompress is important. I don't know how it would work with her cooking or if she'd need to be in your space on evenings/weekends, but even being able to hear each other is invasive on your privacy as a family. Some people value that more than others, of course.

I work as a nanny/housekeeper right now where the parents work from home, and it is a delicate relationship that requires a lot of tiptoeing and thoughtfulness on all our parts. If I were sick I would really not like to have to do all of that "oh, are you making lunch, I'll move" kind of thing day in, day out, or worry if she was hearing me throw up or whatever. Again, though, that's sort of a personal thing.

You and your wife and family are in my thoughts. Please feel free to ask me anything you'd like about nannying/housekeeping.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:02 PM on December 4, 2012

Oh and in terms of verifying experience, you want the names of their references, and then you ideally want to find a way to contact their references that does not rely on the contact info given to you by the candidate. When I'm giving references, I get permission to give their first and last name and their employer's name so that the people interviewing me can call their company directly if they'd like and ask for them at the switchboard, search for them on linkedin, and generally make sure that they are who I say they are.

I have, as a parent, encountered fake references, and at this point I would not accept any kind of reference unless I could verify it through a third party in some way.

Ideally I would only want to hire someone who had a lot of mutual social connections with me because it would make it a lot harder for them to invent experience, but that can be hard to find.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:08 PM on December 4, 2012

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