Why is finding a good nanny harder than finding your romantic partner?
Education, skills and experience should be the priority, right? But when you really think about it, hiring a nanny or newborn specialist....
Hands up if you’re a parent who started off your nanny or maternity nurse search as if you were hiring any other employee.
Education, skills and experience should be the priority, right? But when you really think about it, hiring a nanny or newborn specialist is more akin to searching for a romantic partner, than an employee. It’s not like the normal employer-employee relationship – your relationship is going to be incredibly intimate and will require compatibility on both a professional and emotional level – chemistry is key!
You are inviting someone into your home to attend to and help raise the little person or little people who are most precious to you and they will also see your dirty laundry (literally and figuratively)! It is therefore essential that you can build trust and seamless communication between you and her nanny services. Your compatibility in terms of family values, parenting style, personality, and communication is often more important than years of experience, education, or how many languages the nanny speaks.
We hear stories like these all the time. One of the mums at school recommended a nanny who had worked for her for two years. She was amazing and the entire family loved her. Her experience was exactly what we were looking for and with this glowing recommendation, we jumped at the opportunity to hire her. Our experience was so different though and she was gone after three months! How could we have got it so wrong?
And one of our clients told us a story about a night nanny recommended by a friend. Unfortunately, the night nanny wasn’t available right away, so she recommended her mum… Our client reluctantly hired the mum, out of pure desperation, but only for a few nights. Turns out however, the entire family loved the mum, but couldn't stand the daughter who came so highly recommended. It goes even further. Our client then passed on the details of the mum-daughter night nanny duo to her best friend, and guess what - her best friend fired the mum, but loved the daughter! How is it that two best friends can have such polar opposite experiences? † † †
Situations like these just reinforce the fact that a good match between a nanny and a family goes far beyond skills and experience. If a nanny is a great fit for one family; it doesn’t mean she will be the perfect nanny for your family, even if she is from the best nanny agency in UK.
Personality and values-based matching
Childcare agencies typically suggest candidates based purely on objective criteria (e.g. availability, experience, and geographic proximity), so the more subjective criteria that are so important when it comes to the delicate and intimate nature of the relationship between a family and their nanny, often gets overlooked.
Based on our own experience (positive and negative!) of finding the right maternity nurses and nannies for our children, we have turned the process of placing nannies, maternity nurses, nanny housekeepers and other newborn specialists on its head. At myTamarin we call it matchmaking and it is grounded in relationship psychology. But what does this mean?
First, we had a hypothesis that finding a nanny is more like romantic matchmaking rather than hiring your next marketing associate.
Second, we studied relationship psychology and identified key attributes that generally underpin successful relationships. Then we looked specifically into romantic partnerships and what makes a good match. We spent a fair amount of time researching dating apps, and their matching algorithms. We also interviewed romantic matchmakers and reviewed their approach to matching -- their questionnaires, their techniques, their matching logic. BTW, if you want to find a really good (romantic) match, those matchmakers will charge anywhere from £10,000 to £20,000 to find you five good dates! (There is actually a lot of work and science that goes into it.) At the end, we had a solid list of personality dimensions and their pairings that make for a strong (romantic) relationship.
Then, we went back to parents (in particular mums because the mum-nanny relationship is typically more important/relevant than the dad-nanny relationship) and nannies in UK, and examined dozens of successful as well as failed relationships. Sure enough, a good number of the personality traits (and the matching among them) that was relevant for romantic matching was proven to be relevant for nanny-parent relationships as well.
We distilled the list down to the most relevant personality traits (e.g. introvert - extrovert), and the matching logic that works (or doesn’t work). †
Finally, we built all this into our bespoke online childcare matching platform powered by an AI matching algorithm that continues to learn.
A word of caution though -- just like there is no perfect matching logic in romantic matching (otherwise dating apps would quickly go out of business), there isn’t a perfect matching logic in childcare matching either. We like to say to our clients, we will do 90% of the work for you, but the last 10% is on you, because only you can feel whether the chemistry is there or not. †
What our logic tells us about a good match
Taking introvert - extrovert as an example. This is all about how people recover and regain their energy. Introverts (or those of us with introverted tendencies) tend to recharge by spending time alone. They lose energy from being around people for long periods of time, particularly large crowds. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from other people and find their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone. They recharge by being social.
In the case of a maternity nurse or other newborn specialist, getting this dimension right is critical as they will spend a lot of time with the mum during a particularly delicate time. If you’re a mum with introverted tendencies, having a maternity nurse who is an extrovert is going to be really tough. Why? Because you’re going to want to be left alone and the maternity nurse is going to be continually trying to seek you out. What works better in this situation is two introverts or two extroverts. A mum who is an extrovert with a maternity nurse who is an introvert has been known to work out too.
The introvert - extrovert dimension becomes less relevant when you’re matching a nanny to a family because positions are typically sole charge which means the parents are out of the house at work, while the nanny is looking after the child(ren) at home. In shared charge scenarios (when a parent and nanny are working side-by-side to look after the children), if a parent works from home, or if you have a live-in nanny, it becomes a bit more relevant.
Now let’s talk a bit about interests and how they play out in our matching process. If you’re a sporty family you’re going to want a sporty nanny, right? This isn’t always the case. Some sporty families want to bring a different persona into their family – e.g., a more creative nanny to balance things out. Whereas others are insistent they need a sporty nanny who can keep up with them and continue to focus on more sports related activities when the parents are not around.
So how does it work?
Every parent and nanny we work with is required to respond to a series of key questions (crafted by psychologists and experienced childcare professionals) before we give them access to our platform. We also speak with them in order to understand them better. You see, even once you have all the relevant dimensions and the matching logic mapped out, you still need to assess real people, on an individual basis. And we’ve learned that people don’t respond well to direct questions such as “are you an introvert or extravert”. Instead we ask different questions that inform where on the spectrum of this dimension is each individual. †
All this information is the input into the matching process, where the technology (with some help from humans) is then able to suggest the best possible matches.
Here's a snapshot of what myTamarin clients are looking for in a newborn specialist based on our matching questions:
The majority of parents looking for newborn support are first-time parents and the number one reason they are looking for support is to improve the sleeping habits of their baby. In this first instance we'd be looking for newborn specialists with experience of sleep training.
What parents look for in a newborn specialist
We'd then go further and ask them to describe their perfect newborn expert. So in addition to looking for a sleep specialist, they are looking mostly for kind and affectionate nurses who are highly experienced, with someone who follows instructions easily coming a close second.
What parents look for in a nanny
Typical rabbit holes parents go down
Just like dating, parents often start out looking for people who are like them – especially when it comes to hiring a nanny for the first time – but come to realise what they need is someone who complements them. Both can work and it just depends on the individuals.
In theory, if someone is like you, it should be easier to align on things (e.g., discipline, amount of time spent outside or healthy eating/good food habits). On the other hand, if your eating habits aren’t that great, you may want someone who encourages less snacking and healthier eating; if you’re a lenient parent, you may want someone who is a bit stricter, or if you’re on the stricter side, you may want someone who is more child-led.
When it comes to first time parents and support during the early months with their child, they generally look for a newborn specialist or nanny who is more comfortable taking charge and can guide and teach them. A second time parent never wants that – they really struggle with someone telling them what to do with their baby. When it comes down to it, first time parents struggle with this too; it just takes them a while for them to find out!
Personality matching is at the heart of everything we do but it’s sometimes hard to guide parents when the clear vision of what they are looking for doesn’t stack up with the psychology behind our matching. At the end of the day the parents have the last word and it’s totally their choice. Some go straight to the maternity nurses and maternity night nurses we recommend as being the best nannies, while others ignore our recommendation and go for nannies we wouldn’t put on the top of their list. Either way is totally ok but our experience shows that parents who choose a nanny we have recommended as the best match, generally have a more successful and longer-lasting relationship with their nanny. In fact, our average placements last 2.5x longer than the average market placements!
At myTamarin, we won't charge you for our in-depth matching or your search; we'll only charge you when we've found you your perfect nanny. Sign up here to start the process to be part of the top nanny and childcare agency and see who we match you with.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
myTamarin offer a ground-breaking matching approach based not only on skill-set but also on your unique personality, parenting style, preferences, values, and needs. Whether you’re looking for a long-term†maternity nurse or occasional night nanny, we’ve got you covered!