As your baby’s due date approaches, few tasks seem more daunting than choosing the person that will step in for mama when it’s time to go back to work. At SideKicks Staffing at Citibabes in Soho, founder Sararose Benham can help ease your mind. A former nanny with an uncanny ability for childcare matchmaking, Benham reminds us that’s there’s as many different kinds of nannies as there are mommies, and that the term “best” is all relative.
While some families would prefer more of a staff member, she says, others are looking at a nanny as part of their family. Keep in mind that a nanny’s own values, background and family life may offer insight into what type of values she or he will be instilling in your child, and remember that he or she will hopefully be around when your baby turns toddler, so look for a personal daily routine that bears mimicking. “What may be the best nanny in my book may not be the best in yours, so it’s important to zero in on the most important thing you are looking for,” says Benham. And most of all, “remember that no one is perfect.”
For the incredibly diverse mamas-to-be that call New York City home, Benham treated us to a little matchmaking – nanny-style:
Mom: Health-conscious vegetarian with food allergies that may be passed onto baby.
Nanny: We would need to match her with a nanny that understood how important it is to protect that child from certain foods and was good at creating health conscious and allergy conscious food for the child. Being able to come up with their own recipes and be innovative in the kitchen is also a plus. It would be great to find a nanny who possibly is a vegetarian or has an allergy herself, and who speaks the same language fluently as the parents.
Mom: Social media savvy and information addicted.
Nanny: This nanny needs to be fluent in email, texting, and web surfing, and able to find the best activities to do around the city when mom is working. It should also be a nanny with a lot of energy and not their own child at home that they need to attend to – someone who is really dedicated to a career as a nanny and doesn’t mind what hours she works. She could be live-in, or live nearby, so her commute wasn’t difficult for last-minute needs.
Mom: Alone in the city, with little family around to help out or offer advice.
Nanny: We’d look for someone that is able to offer a lot of support – probably a nanny who had been a mother herself but whose children are somewhat grown. She would be able to offer not only normal nanny services but actual advice for how to take care of a baby that a nanny who hasn’t had her own children or worked much with newborns would be able to offer.
Mom: Social butterfly intent on raising the kid everyone in the neighborhood knows.
Nanny: This family would want a very outgoing nanny who was not shy to make friends with other nannies or moms. This nanny would take initiative to chat with shop owners, doormen and people in the park. She would be the nanny who knew the best classes in the neighborhood and who organized playdates, classes and activities.
Mom: Intellectual and culturally connected. Will sacrifice homemaking skills for art education.
Nanny: For this mom, we’d find a youthful post-collegiate who is educated and can do developmentally-appropriate activities with the children as well as teach them. This nanny is young enough that she has the energy to keep up with them! This nanny would be paid a bit more per hour and usually would not be expected to clean the house.