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Putting Trust to the Test - The Value of Paid Nanny Trials for Families

Nanny feeding baby a bottle of milk

Are you a family in search of the perfect nanny to care for your children, but hesitant about committing to a long-term arrangement just yet? Picture this scenario. You found a nanny who looks great on paper, met her and interviewed her, and you like her. But how can you be sure she's the right fit for your family in real-life situations? In the world of childcare, trust is paramount, and building that trust takes time. This is where the concept of paid nanny trials comes into play.

We recommend paid trials to all the families we work with to help them hire a nanny. We believe it's a key step to finding the ideal professional to look after your children.

What is a paid nanny trial and how long should it be?

A paid nanny trial is a temporary period during which you pay a nanny to work with your children on a trial basis, meaning you haven't yet decided to formally employ the nanny for the long term.

We typically recommend you offer a prospective nanny a trial period after you interview the 3-4 candidates we hand pick and put forward following our initial research and interview/qualification/reference checking phase. If you want to find out more about this process, head over to the blog post How We Interview and Select the Ideal Nanny for Your Family.

A paid trial may last a few hours (recommended at least 4 hours), or even 1 or 2 + days, depending on the role. For a live-in position, for example, you may want to run a trial for a whole week. Or if your situation is slightly more complex (i.e. you have multiple children or your new nanny will be working alongside another nanny), we'd recommend a longer trial period. Generally speaking, we suggest you try out a prospective candidate for at least one day to assess mutual compatibility before committing to a long-term arrangement.

Why do we recommend a paid trial?

A paid trial provides first-hand experience for you to see how the nanny interacts with your children and handles day-to-day challenges. It's a great opportunity to assess whether the nanny is the right fit for your needs and requirements and to make sure her caregiving style aligns with your parenting values and preferences.

While not all nanny agencies facilitate this step, we believe it's a key milestone in the nanny hire process. Not only do you get to see the nanny 'in action', but during the trial, she also gets to decide whether the job is a good match for her. Not to mention that by working with you during the trial, the nanny can start becoming familiar with your routines, expectations, and dynamics. And if you decide to hire her, this will make those first few days and weeks of working together a lot easier.

Over and above what you get out of interviewing your nanny, a paid trial allows you to observe:

  • The nanny's caregiving skills, communication, and problem-solving abilities in a real-world setting.

  • Her interactions with your children while she handles various tasks and responsibilities.

  • Her overall compatibility with your family dynamics.

A paid trial can also help you establish clear expectations and roles (for you and the nanny) and provide an opportunity for open communication and feedback. By discussing any concerns or issues that may arise before employing your nanny formally, you get to start your professional relationship with your nanny on the right foot.

Nanny playing with toddler on the floor

How much do you pay a nanny for a trial?

The trial should be paid by the hour. How much you'll pay the nanny depends on the hourly rate, typically around £15-£16 per hour (net) if you're paying the nanny cash for a few hours. Some nannies, however, will charge a gross hourly rate of around £17-20+ per hour (depending on experience).

We recommend you always discuss this with us in advance of the trial, so we can guide you. Situations differ on a case-by-case basis and will depend on your particular setup and requirements. For example, rates for less experienced nannies will be cheaper than if you were to hire someone more qualified and experienced.

How to set up your trial

Before you start the trial, it's important to define its terms and expectations, including the duration, tasks to be completed, compensation, and evaluation process.

Here's what your trial might look like:

  • Meet and greet. Ask the nanny to come to your home to meet the family and discuss expectations and responsibilities. You may want to start by giving the nanny a tour of the house and introducing her to your children. You can then go over the schedule and specific tasks that will be required, such as playing with the children, preparing a meal, taking the children to the park, etc.

  • Playtime. Have the nanny interact with the children through playtime, games, and activities to see how she engages with them. Notice her mannerisms, her body language, and your children's reactions to her.

  • Mealtime. If possible and applicable, have the nanny prepare a meal for the children and see how she handles this. Does she seem comfortable and confident in the kitchen? How does she tidy up after and is she able to take some initiative? Is she aware and respectful of any dietary restrictions, requirements, or preferences you may have discussed?

  • Naptime. If applicable, see how the nanny handles naptime routines and/or putting the children to bed. Is she able to follow the specific routines you showed her? Is she taking on board any tips you’ve given her about settling your child?

  • Outing. Take a trip to a park or playground to see how the nanny handles being outside of the home. What are her energy levels when the children are running around? Is she keeping the children safe in public?

Activities for extended trials

For a trial lasting more than one day, additional activities may include:

  • Household tasks. Have the nanny assist with light household tasks related to the children (such as laundry or meal prep) to see how she handles multitasking.

  • Evening routine. Get the nanny involved with the evening routine, including baths, bedtime stories, and bedtime.

  • School/nursery pickup/drop-off. If applicable, have the nanny manage the school pickup and drop-off to see how she finds transportation and schedules.

  • Crafts and activities. Plan additional educational activities such as arts and crafts or music time to see how the nanny engages the children in learning and creativity.

  • Emergency drill. If possible, conduct an emergency drill to see how the nanny reacts in unexpected situations. Does she stay calm under pressure?

Communication during the trial

We recommend open and effective communication between you and the nanny during the trial period. If there's anything you would like the nanny to do (or not do) when it comes to looking after your children, let her know. Equally, if you don’t feel comfortable with some of her decisions or approaches, address the topic with her.

Our nannies will follow the approach you choose and can adapt to each family's parenting style. It’s important you share what your values are, how you specifically approach certain tasks, or what boundaries you have in place with your children. Whether your parenting is more holistic and child-led or more education-based, your nanny needs to work in partnership with you, so communication is key. We work alongside you every step of the way, so if you have any questions or doubts about how to speak to your prospective nanny, we can help.

During and after a trial, we are available to both you and the nanny to listen to your feedback and provide any support or advice. Just like at the end of an interview, we'll get in touch with both you and the nanny to ask how the trial went and gather feedback. We aim to facilitate this process by helping you address issues or concerns so you can make adjustments as needed.

Nanny changing baby's nappy on the bed

Evaluating the nanny trial

Once your prospective nanny has completed the trial, it's time for you to evaluate the experience and make a decision. Before you go ahead and hire the nanny, we recommend you check in with us, and we'll ask you some key questions to help you form a clear idea of how you want to move forward.

For example, here are some factors you may want to take into consideration when thinking about how the trial went:

  • Communication. Did the nanny communicate effectively with you and interact well with the children? Do you feel the communication between you and the nanny was open and honest? Did the nanny provide helpful updates on the children's activities and well-being while they were in her care?

  • Relationship-building. Was the nanny able to build a positive and nurturing relationship with your children while spending time with them during the trial? How would you judge your children's comfort levels, engagement, and responsiveness to the nanny?

  • Caregiving skills. How well did the nanny perform essential caregiving tasks such as meal preparation/feeding, nappy changing (if applicable), or engaging in age-appropriate activities with the children? Did you find the nanny was attentive and patient, and took a proactive approach to your children's needs?

  • Adaptability and flexibility. How did the nanny respond to unexpected situations or changes in the daily routine (if any)? If you weren't able to observe this, do you feel the nanny would be able to handle challenges with composure and creativity? Is the nanny a good problem solver?

  • Initiative. Was the nanny proactive in her approach? Did she take the initiative to engage the children in educational or recreational activities? Did she perhaps suggest any improvements to the daily routine, or communicate feedback and ideas for enhanced care?

  • Compatibility. Overall, do you feel the nanny will be compatible with your children and your family? Do you have shared values and parenting styles? Does the nanny have similar or complimentary personality traits that you feel will contribute to a positive, harmonious, and long-lasting relationship?

Deciding on the next steps

If you determine that the trial went well and want to go ahead and hire her, our next step is to help you understand your obligations as an employer (especially if this is the first time hiring a nanny). We'll put you in touch with a specialist nanny payroll service (Nanny Tax) to ensure compliance with regulations. We will also assist you in drawing up a contract of employment with essential details like salary, hours, and benefits. Throughout the process, we offer our expert guidance to smooth out any issues and make sure the contract meets legal requirements, so you can avoid potential issues in the future.

For more information about how we work, head over to the blog post Everything You Need to Know About Working with a Nanny in London.

Would you like our help?

Are you considering hiring a nanny to care for your children? If you'd like our assistance with your next nanny hire, contact us now for an informal chat.

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