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How to Find a Reliable Nanny in the City

mama and baby

just found these photos on my computer and had to share, even though our nanny isn’t in them!

Before Owen was born, I had so many people ask me what we were doing about childcare. I would just stare at them blankly. Uhh, was I already suppose to have an answer for that?! We were in a unique position in that I work from home. Also, I didn’t have a boss or office to get back to after my maternity leave. But I hadn’t considered just how hard it would be to continue working with a newborn and no help.

I quickly realized that if I wanted to actually get work done and keep my business afloat, I was going to need some help. But, where to find it! With our first nanny, we lucked out. A close friend of mine had recently moved out of the city and her nanny needed a new job right as I was looking for one. The timing was perfect and it was a great situation, but one that I know doesn’t happen often.

Then Thanksgiving hit and our nanny, who was a college student had a major schedule change that suddenly didn’t jive with ours. I suddenly found myself stuck. What was I suppose to do now?! I needed to find someone reliable, qualified and that I felt safe leaving my little guy with and I needed it to happen pretty soon.

That’s when Nanny Harmony Chicago stepped in.

I had met Brooke, the owner, at an event earlier in the year and kept her name on file just in case I ever found myself in a position like this. I texted her and within a few days, we’d had a call and she was working on finding candidates for us. Within another week, we had found the perfect match for us, Keely, and she started within a few days. It was perfect and has been a dream. Especially since she helps out with laundry and keeping the house tidy. Seriously, I don’t think our house has looked cleaner in months!

Of course that quick description doesn’t really give you all the details. So Brooke helped me answer some questions on finding a nanny and why using a nanny agency has advantages versus trying to find one on your own.

chicago nanny

father and son

How to Find a Reliable Nanny in Chicago

Why are the advantages to using a nanny agency?

There’s no doubt that searching for the best-fit nanny for your family is tough. You want the best for your kid(s). But finding the right person can be stressful and undoubtedly time-consuming.

Nanny agents are experts in this field, and know exactly how/where to find the greatest, most experienced nannies within your surrounding area. Whether you have tried searching on your own and got overwhelmed. Or feel that you don’t have the time to research how to go through the search process on your own, working with an agency can help take the stress off your shoulders. Which is exactly what I needed!

Brooke filled me in one one major pointer that I would have never known! She said that what families may not realize, is that the greatest nannies prefer working through agencies (meaning, they are not always on Facebook, or on Care.com) because they appreciate the support they get from agencies to find their best-fit family. They know that the agency helps to organize all of the job details/expectations, and they are most often looking for a secure position, long-term.

So, in short: agencies have access to the best, most experienced nannies.

Why are agencies placement fees so expensive?

The first time I saw fees for placement, I was surprised. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Of course, every company is different, Brooke wrote a whole post on this here that I would recommend reading if you’re looking for a nanny via an agency.

After I did some more researching, I found that there are larger Chicago nanny agencies that are more expensive and include less. They end up nickel and dim-ing you on things that I think should be included from the get-go!

What sets Nanny Harmony apart from some other Chicago agencies?

One thing that really sets Nanny Harmony apart from other agencies is that Brooke has several years of professional nanny experience, herself. She has first-hand experience with several families and understands the importance of a great connection between a family and a nanny, which made working with her so much easier. She puts a lot of time, energy, and love into each match, and takes everyone’s needs and preferences very seriously. For example, I said I really wanted someone who would help with cleaning. So she made sure she send candidates who were up for that.

Unlike other big agencies, I like to think of Nanny Harmony as the boutique of nanny agencies. Brooke runs her business herself and spends a thoughtful amount of time with each family client. The quality of care that she gives to each family is very important to her. She’s basically a “nanny expert” and made the whole process for me, as a first-time parent and looking for help very easy and also made me realize just how much smoother and less hectic life would be with a great nanny in our home.

how to find a nanny in chicago

find a nanny in chicago

What services does Nanny Harmony offer?

For the most part, Nanny Harmony focuses on long-term (1 year) nanny placements and I wish I had known about them earlier so I wouldn’t have had to switch to a new nanny halfway through the year.

This includes nanny shares, part-time nannies, and full-time nannies. They do take Temporary Nanny placements on a case-by-case basis (thanks Brooke!).

Her placement Fees are a one-time fee, and are billed at the nanny’s time of hire. Here’s what to expect:

  • $1900 Placement Fee for Part-Time Nannies
  • $2500 Placement Fee for Full-Time Nannies
  • $2800 Placement Fee for FT Nanny Share, $2500 for PT Nanny Share

What does Nanny Harmony’s nanny screening process look like?

This was something I obviously was curious about! Here’s what happens at Nanny Harmony: All nannies undergo a 4-step screening process. They must first meet preliminary requirements, which include: must be legal to work in the U.S., must be CPR & First Aid certified, must have 2+ years of childcare experience, and must have a driver’s license.

Second, Brooke meets all qualified nanny candidates for an agency interview. Third, she make phone calls to childcare references and gather feedback on their personality, punctuality, reliability, etc. Lastly, she run a criminal background screening.

The whole process is very thorough and much more than I could do or even have time for if I was trying to do it myself!

What does the process look like for families?

Are you saying— “we’d love your help!” Haha, I hope so, mostly because I know just how much easier and less stressful the process was once Brooke took over. She took all of the stress out of it for us!

The first step in the process is to fill out the Family Application, then Brooke will reach out to you to schedule your In-Home Consultation. This first meeting gives her a chance to get to know your family, your needs, what you’re looking for in a nanny.

After an Agency Agreement has been signed and paid for, she’ll start recruiting! This part may take 1-4 weeks. Once she’s found 2-3 candidates, she’ll send over more information and coordinate interviews as well as a Nanny Interview Guide (because I had no idea what questions to ask!)

Once you’ve found a favorite candidate, you’ll have a trial period of 1-5 days. This is a chance to get to know the nanny better, show her around your home, engage with the kids, etc. After the trial, if you are ready to offer the position, Brooke helps put together an employment offer, which serves as an agreement for the family and nanny. She’s also available and happy to offer ongoing support throughout your time together. Whether you have questions about how to pay/take a nanny with you on a family on vacation, or what to do for annual raises, she can give advice!

You can find more detail about the process here!

baby and dad

I hope that helped answer some of your questions on hiring a nanny, what to look for. Also, what the process looks like!

Brooke saved us when we needed a nanny in a hurry. Honestly, I’m so thankful for her time, expertise and knowledge in the area because I was pretty clueless!My only regret was that we didn’t use her from the start. It would have saved us a lot of messy schedule changes and helped me to set expectations from the start.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll get Brooke’s expertise on anything I can’t answer myself!

BTW: how life has changed since having a baby, and how we introduced solids.