The Nanny Trial

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A “nanny trial” can be a great way to see if your candidate for a possible caregiver is a good fit for you, your child(ren), and your family. A trial run can show you what the nanny is like in action: their caregiving style, their approach to time management, and anything else that can be hard to gauge from an interview. Here are PSP members’ tips about how they handled trial runs – including how long (some did only hours, others did weeks), and also payment. Remember, always pay your candidate for the trial period.

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What does a nanny trial look like?

“Once you orient the nanny to your baby, your routines, your living space, and your expectations (which can take some time), I’d recommend using just chatting with her and getting to know her better. This will set a pattern of good communication and also help you figure out if she’s the right fit for your family. Take the baby out for a walk with her. Once you and she feel comfortable with her caring for the baby, you can also use some of the time to do things around the house. Take a shower. Eat something. That way you’ll be around and observing, and able to answer questions, but not overly intrusive. If you’re confident in her, run an errand or two to reassure yourself that she can care for the baby in your absence. Get your nails done! Based on my experience (one terrible nanny and one terrific nanny), you’ll know within an hour whether it’s going to work out or not.”

“We did a nanny trial for a whole day with our current nanny who starts in September. (Since I have a toddler, I wanted to have plenty of time to see her interact with him as well as my 4 month old girl.) I basically treated the day as if she was already our nanny- I asked her to do what I needed, from playing with the baby to helping prepare my toddler's lunch. I had her attend my son's cooking class with me and we traded off who assisted him. I even had her take my baby out for a walk while my toddler napped so that I could get some rest, since these are all things I'll need her to do once she starts. I didn't instruct her too much beyond that, however, as I wanted to see how much she did (proactively) on her own, from clean up around the house to activities with my baby.
Having already had a nanny for 2 years before, I feel that a trial gives you a much better idea of the nanny and her style than just an interview. Possibly most importantly, it allows you to see if the work dynamic between you and the nanny is going to work out (which was importantly to me since I will be home a lot when the nanny is working). And yes, we paid her for the full day.
I hope this is somewhat helpful. Good luck!”

“After we interviewed a bunch of people we knew which one we liked the best and did a trial period the week before where she came for a few days, for about 5 hours. The first day I was there the whole time, then the next 2 days went out and let them do their thing.
It feels a little funny at first but at no point did I see any red flags or feel uncomfortable to the point where I questioned our decision. Trust your gut.
We've had her for almost 3 months now and I feel completely ok going to work bc I know she's in great hands.”

“We actually did ask our current nanny to come over for 2 hours before I officially hired her. it made me more comfortable to see how they played together. I also think it made the nanny feel more comfortable. She knew what my rules (as pathetic as they are) and schedules looked like. It made it a much smoother transition for all of us.”

Did you just pay by the hour for the trial, and then have the contract start from when she started properly?

“Yes, I had about 3 candidates shortlisted and had them spend the whole day with us or almost the entire day. I didn't ask them to come exactly like at 8:30am and let them off earlier especially if I had already made up my mind with a negative decision. I paid them each [a flat fee for the day].”

“Yes I always pay for trial runs. I pay them the same as if they were hired (same hourly rate).”

“We just gave her the hourly rate "off the books" until we officially started. We also do this if we ever ask her to do extra hours one week.”

“Yes we paid cash for the trial.
The tax service we use allows for direct deposit so if we know ahead of time she'll be working more days than the standard we enter that in ahead of time, but if we use her on weekends we just pay cash.”

“We did do a trial period but I think we agreed to a month (maybe in the PSP nanny contract?) and payed on the books for that time. That allowed the nanny to start a few weeks before I went back to work and I was able to watch her with my son. They've been together now for virtually his whole life and are best friends.”

Related reading on PSP:

Inside PSP's Guide to Hiring a Nanny - Park Slope Parents

Important Information You Need To Know About Hiring A Nanny