10 Things to Look For During Your Nanny’s Trial Period

Many families who engage a private in-home childcare provider opt to include a probationary “trial period” in their written nanny contract in order to ensure that she’ll be a good fit with the household and can perform her duties as agreed upon. If you’ve decided to take this approach to the hiring process, there are several things you should consider at the end of this trial period before making a decision regarding the continuation of the contract. While some factors will be specific to your household individually, these are 10 of the more general questions you should ask yourself during her evaluation.

  1. Has She Been Reliable? – If a new nanny is frequently late or calls out of work during her probationary period, she may have even fewer qualms about doing so after a work agreement has been finalized. A nanny who doesn’t report to work as scheduled can cause serious problems in your own professional life, so you should think twice about extending a permanent offer if she’s already showing signs of unreliability.
  2. Does She Seem to Be Forming a Bond With Your Children? – By the end of a trial period, which generally lasts for 30 days, she and your children should be well on their way to establishing a good relationship. If she still seems standoffish, or if your children are still reluctant to engage with her after this much time has passed, she may not be the best childcare provider for them.
  3. Is She Living Up to Her Promises? – During the interview process, a nanny candidate should give you a good idea of her qualifications. If she agreed to help your children master a new skill, was eager to perform her duties, and made plans to carry out certain tasks, you should take the time to determine whether or not she’s making strides in those areas.
  4. Do You Still Feel Confident About Her Abilities? – It’s perfectly natural to be slightly anxious about a new nanny and her abilities, even if she’s a seasoned veteran, during the first few days of her post. After all, you’re entrusting her with your children. If that anxiety hasn’t passed by the end of her trial period and you’re still not completely confident that she’s a competent caregiver, it might be cause for concern.
  5. Does Her Behavior Correspond With Her Experience Level? – A nanny that has an impressive resume but seems to behave in the manner that you would expect from a relatively inexperienced childcare provider, especially in high-pressure situations, may not have been entirely honest about her work history.
  6. Is She Adapting to Your Household? – Learning to navigate the routine of a brand new household does not happen overnight, even for highly experienced and well-trained nannies. However, a nanny who’s showing few signs of adapting after a few weeks may simply be uncomfortable in your home.
  7. Is She Having Trouble Remembering or Following House Rules? – No one is perfect, including your nanny. Because of her human fallibility, there will be times when things slip her mind or rules get bent a little bit. Flagrantly broken rules and a difficulty remembering them that borders on sheer disregard, though, is almost always a bad sign.
  8. Are Your Children Happy to See Her? – Part of your nanny’s job is to help your children feel safe and secure in your absence. Do the kids seem excited to see her and have they transitioned well? Have they become more comfortable with the morning routine? If not, it’s worth reconsidering the arrangement.
  9. Have There Been Indications of a Personality Clash? – Small disagreements and misunderstandings are par for the course when a stranger comes into your home to care for your children. During the trial period, you’ll both be learning how to interact with one another and there will probably be a few little bumps along the way. By the time her trial period ends, however, you should have a fairly good idea if there’s an indication that a personality clash may cause trouble between you in the future.
  10. Are Your Children’s Needs Being Met? – If you come home to find that your children are far off schedule, they complain about being hungry, or there are other clues that their basic needs simply aren’t being met, it should be considered a bad sign. Above all, your nanny should make it her number one priority to meet the needs of your kids and to keep them safe.

While these are among the most important things to consider when performing an evaluation to determine your nanny’s future in your household, this list is by no means exhaustive. If you have other concerns or are simply not convinced that she’s working out, you should not feel obligated to offer her a permanent contract. The probationary period is put in place specifically to avoid such situations, and you should take advantage of it if you feel that she’s not caring for your children properly.

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