When I was pregnant, the biggest issue was what I would do when I went back to work. Staying at home full time was not an option for me so I had to look at other options.

Option 1: Let my parents help with the baby

This was a non starter as my parents are 1500 km away in Botswana so there was no way to even explore this. If they were next door or 50 km away maybe. I could not bear to part with my baby for long.

Option 2: Day Care

A lot of people take small babies to day care, if I could found the right place, I wouldn’t mind, but the school that I had my eyes set on was packed I didn’t even bother to fill out the forms as there was a two year waiting period (madness right?). I looked at the other schools and decided that they were not options for the following reasons:

  • Too many children and not a lot of staff


  • Because of the reason above, I feared that my baby would lose her individuality and not be given proper care.


  • Most of the places were not being cleaned well and you didn’t have to look hard for that.


  • I needed a place near home or on the way to work and those were few and far between.


  • The babies were kept in cots the whole day and that was not ideal for me.


Option 3: Nanny

Being a foreigner in South Africa, I didn’t even know where to start. I looked on Gumtree and there were way too many people. And everyone is the best at what they do on Gumtree. I was afraid of bringing too many strangers into my home and having my baby interact with them, even if for a moment. Plus, I have heard the stories, nannies stealing babies, bringing friends over, being negligent…… If the person was a foreigner, I just wanted them to be legal, with traceable references. I didn’t want to have to get someone who might be arrested and deported and then have to be charged with employing an illegal person (It’s a problem in Botswana).

I asked friends to help me and one recommended a relative of hers who unfortunately didn’t stay with us long, thereby putting me back into the hunting business. This time, I decided to go with an agency. That was also another hurdle. Nanny placement Agencies in Cape Town are ridiculously expensive! At the rate that most of them where charging me, it made more sense for me to quit and stay at home. Fortunately I found one  agency which was just starting out and was reasonably prized. They set up interviews for me and I loved the very first woman who walked through my door. She was good! I hired her and minus one or two things, we got on royally together and she loved my sweet baby.

3 months later, my amazing nanny passed away at her home. Sad, I went back to the agency, and because I had passed the 3 months period, charged me again for a new placement. I was desperate, I paid and got the most horrible people ever. I selected one nanny and she left the day after I paid her. Went back to the same agency and got someone else, she lasted 2 days. Went back and got another nanny, she stayed with us until we decided to send baby to school.

Nanny Interview Questions

– Age
– Education level (English: reading, writing, speaking – has to be able to read to baby daily)
– Religious affiliation (We are Christian and want Christian values for our baby)
– Marital Status (Gives me an idea about stability and support structure)
– Children or Dependents
– Health status (Will you need to be away on certain days to collect medicine or for appointments)
– Allergies
– ID/Passport
– Contact information

1. Where were you previously employed?

2. What were your duties?

3. How long were you employed there?

4. How old were the children in your last job?

5. Why did you leave your last job?

6. Can we contact your previous employer?

7. What do you like about children?

8. What do you think a small baby needs the most?

9. How do you see yourself down spending the day with a small baby?

10. When my baby starts getting more active and into mischief, how will you handle it?

11. How do you discipline young children?

12. What would you do if the child had a fever/is choking and the parents are not at home or reachable?

13. What would you do if you are changing the baby’s nappy and you have to fetch something from another room?

14. If the baby does not want to eat or is being fussy what would you do?

15. How would you make sure the home is safe when the baby starts crawling?

16. What are your hobbies?

17. What would you be doing when the baby is sleeping or playing by herself?

18. Walk me through a typical day taking care of a baby.

19. What happens when you have an emergency at home?

20. Do you have someone who can help you at home in case you have an emergency at home?

21. How long does it take you to come to work?

22. Are you able to sing to my baby?

23. How would you handle a situation where I upset you?

I didn’t discuss payment as I had already told the agency what my budget was.

I improvised as I went along and depending on the answers I got.

In an ideal world, I would stay at home and look after my children. I don’t live in that world, for my next baby, I will probably look for another nanny until baby is a year old and then take her to day care.
All in all, my experience with my first child was an eye opening one.

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