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If a family has had three or four nannies in one year, run. Something is wrong!

Run, nanny, run! If you are interviewing with a family and find out that they’ve used the services of four or more nannies in a given year, it’s your cue to run. There is something wrong with this picture. I’m not referring to the services of occasional babysitters who may come on weeknights or weekends to care for the kids.

One of the first signs of a troubled family is one who’s not able to retain the services of a nanny long-term. It’s unlikely all three or four nannies had a problem, and the actual problem likely lies with the family. Are the parent’s expectations greater than the norm, are they difficult to work for, or are they simply hard to please?

While running a small nanny agency in New Jersey many years ago, I came across a mom who had gone through at least four nannies in a two-month period. I listened attentively as she blurted out her complaints with the nannies she’d employed. She complained about the scent of one’s perfume; that her two-month old baby did not smile when she saw another, which to her signaled that something was wrong with the nanny; and every nonsensical thing one could imagine. To top it off, she boasted she was offering a top-notch job with high pay, which was $500 for an almost sixty-hour week. Clearly this woman had a big problem, and the only thing sadder is there are lots of people like her.

Families, it is important for children to have as much consistency and stability in their care arrangements as possible. Changing nannies often infringes on the emotional security of your children and is a dangerous practice. Consider how a child feels getting to know so many different people in a short space of time and trying to get acclimated to new temperaments, attitudes, and faces. In the best of all worlds, most parents want a good nanny who will stay until their child goes off to college! Unfortunately, all parents know even the best-planned childcare arrangements are fragile, and transitions from one caregiver to another are inevitable, but they must make every effort to ensure there is a consistent childcare regimen.

Nannies, when you meet employers who have unrealistic expectations or have used the services of countless nannies, heed this as a warning and run. There’s always a better opportunity down the block.

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