By Marion Smith, mom to  4 boys which includes 8 year old twins. She is the National Chairlady for SAMBA the Multiple Birth organisation and has owned Aupairs Exclusive for 12 years now. She also runs various parent seminars throughout the year.

This is always a very difficult decision for a mom. You have been at home for thee months on maternity leave or maybe even longer and now its time to return to work. You are now tasked with finding someone that will love and care for your child the same way that you do.

So you have a potential nanny sitting on the couch in front of you and you are wondering what questions to ask her to help you decide what makes her different from everyone else.

Here are some useful questions to consider.

1. You are preparing a bottle of formula, do you put the water or formula in first?
Many childminders think they should put the formula in first. Someone who is fully trained and an experienced childminder should be able to give a full demonstration or explanation.

2. Have you done a first aid course?
If yes, present her with a scenario and ask her what she would do.

3. What did you like about the last family you worked for?
Not “ why did you leave? “ as that brings negativity. Rather listen to how positive she is. Does she speak kindly of their children, does she glow when she speaks about them?

4. How would you stimulate my child?
You want to see if she knows about age appropriate games and how to draw up a weekly schedule of activities involving arts and crafts, outdoor play, good old traditional games, nursery rhymes plus if she uses items in the home to do this.

5. How long do you want to work for my family?
Ideally you want a long term relationship. Many childminders now go on to get drivers license’s and at a later stage become an Aupair for the family. They drive the children around and run errands for the family.

6. What type of discipline will you use on my child?
You want to see if she understands the concept of time out. Best is to ask what type of discipline she used in previous homes.

7. When my baby is crying what will you do?
If your child is awake the best would be to give your child to her to hold during the interview. If she does start crying, observe what she does to calm her.

8. How many children have you taken care of at one time?
Most homes have 2 – 3 children nowadays. However there is often a domestic worker to help and the mom could also be at home to help. You want to understand how many she can cope with on her own.

9. When changing a nappy which way do you wipe?
You could also ask her to change your child’s nappy during the interview to see how she does it.

10. Questions aside, have a conversation with the applicant to understand her lifestyle, where she comes from. Find out how many children she has, who looks after them, if she is married, how often she goes home, if her parents are still alive and whether she has siblings. Find out if she would like to study anything.

Finally you need to go with your gut. If you are happy with her, you can always train her on the smaller things that need polishing up.

Good luck!

Click here to find a list of child care services available in Gauteng and here in KwaZulu-Natal

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