Having decided that Word of Mouth was not getting me anywhere, I called in the pros. Two nanny agencies came highly recommended so I called them both.
Step two: nanny agencies
Here is how it works. You call them with your childcare needs and they send over CVs of suitable nannies whom they have vetted. This means that the nanny's references have been checked and that the she has a minimum of 2-3 years experience. Once you have the nanny's CV, it is down to you to arrange an interview and sort it all out. If you find the right person the agency is then entitled to 6 weeks of the nanny's salary (plus VAT).
This is an extortionate amount of money and I wouldn't be lying if I was to say that I was expecting Mary Poppins to come through the door. Magic bag, umbrella and all. I was instead treated to very average CVs and people with a slightly complacent or lazy attitude.
First there was Nanny F. She came with glowing references and a proven track of work and knowledge within the local community. Little Miss G seemed to like her too. The sticky point was her holiday 'expectations'. Let me tell you that I get 4 weeks holiday a year (based on the fact that I work 4 days a week). Nanny F expected 2 paid weeks at Christmas plus 6 - yes, 6! - in the summer. I guess the odd day for chores and appointment would be added on top. Neeeext!
Next was Nanny G, an experienced nanny who has had more jobs than I have shoes (and I have LOTS of shoes!). All her answers were textbook answers, but when the topic came to food and Miss G's allergies, the conversation got interesting. Nanny G is Jewish and she doesn't like to cook or handle pork, which is fine (G doesn't like ham or pork anyway), but I then tell her that Miss G is fond of calf's liver and Nanny G looks at me in horror. Neeext!
Step Three: Gumtree
Facing the reality that expensive nanny fees were not going to guarantee a Mary Poppins, we bravely put an ad on gumtree, waiting for flood of replies. And a flood it was! Filtering the genuine candidates from the plain bonkers was a painful job.
How do you tell a 20 year old whose English is so poor that the whole CV is unreadable that you are not going to hire as a nanny based on the fact that she has been a waitress at Costa / Starbucks / Nero (delete as appropriate) for the past 6 months? How does making cappuccinos relates to looking after a toddler is mystery to me. Oh, wait, the answer I was given was 'I'm good customer service!' WTF?
Gumtree was not all bad though. I had some interesting ladies applying. Interesting being the keyword. More on that soon.
To be continued. ..