Cited in nanny – Starting your nanny search

I was asked to comment on the elements of fit that are particularly important to consider when starting your nanny search – as a nanny or as an employer. In her post, “10 things to consider when starting your nanny job search,” Shannon Philpott lists many elements of a nanny job that are important to consider when searching to be or to hire a nanny. Three key aspects to keep in mind are that of Family/Nanny fit, Job Structure, and Communication.

Family/Nanny Fit

When evaluating potential families or jobs, have in mind the elements of a family you are looking for, suggests Alicia Clark, licensed clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C. Ask yourself the following: Do you prefer large or small families? Do you prefer younger children, teens or a mix? Think about how your interests will match a potential family and, if necessary, jot down a list of qualities you are looking for in a family.

“It is easy to get overly concerned about what a family thinks of you and miss thinking about what you think of them,” says Clark. “You will likely not find a family that has every perfect element for you, but looking for the closest approximation will help you focus as you search.”

Job Structure

Look for families who are clear about boundaries with regard to time, responsibilities and compensation, suggests Clark. “Household jobs can be inherently structureless, so look for a family that can impose and keep structure,” she says. “Ask them about their schedules, their expectations and what they are needing and listen for how the position is defined.”

The interview process will be eye opening if you are asking questions about structure and boundaries. “You want to know that a family can understand the value of your time, your effort and your boundaries and can respect them,” says Clark.


Communication is key when you are caring for someone else’s children. As you search for a nanny job, look for a family with good communication skills. “Listen for how well the family communicates,” suggests Clark. “Are they responsive, respectful and cheerful or are they scattered, somewhat unresponsive and curt?”

Investigate how they best communicate with nannies, whether it’s utilizing in-person discussions, email or phone conversations. “You want to know that communication is an expectation and feel comfortable communicating with the family,” says Clark. “Watch, if possible, how the family communicates together to get another view of this. You are looking for a family that can communicate amidst chaos.”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD