You have to decide whether you prefer full-time or part-time and whether to use a nanny agency or find a referral through friends; keeping in mind that each option you take has its own merits and drawbacks.
Many families suffer mixed feelings when they decide to hire a nanny. Issues like privacy, the type of role model the nanny will be for the kids and her credibility, patience level and commitment to the family and children are only examples of several concerns that families must weigh when considering domestic help.
“Although I have always had help in my house for the past 10 years, I never felt at home except when the nanny was on leave. Somehow you feel there is no privacy when having someone living with you but because I had no other choice, I had to live with it because I needed to work and be away from my house during mornings so not having a nanny was not an option,” said Nermine Fouad who has been living in Doha for 20 years.
Finding and hiring a nanny through friends has a lot of benefits—a personal and trustworthy reference of the nanny’s quality and capabilities, no agency fees and less time waiting for her to arrive.
However, as nice as it may sound, finding a nanny through friends can also leave you with little recourse if the arrangement doesn’t work out.
Yara*, who has been living in Doha for the last 10 years, found her nanny from a family who was leaving Doha. After few months, she and her family realized that it wasn’t a good match but had difficulty ending the contract and instead were stuck for more than two years.
“If I got her through an agency, I would have simply asked for a replacement but I am starting all over again,” she said.
Finding and hiring a nanny through friends or another family also means that you are responsible for the whole legal process: getting approval to be a sponsor, arranging her visa and taking her to complete the residency medical.
While it may lack the reassurance of a personal recommendation, hiring through an agency can alleviate a lot of potential logistical problems. Experienced agencies can provide guidance as to what kind of arrangement will suit your family best. Many can also expedite tedious legal paperwork and provide a thorough pre-screening as they often have support offices in the countries from where potential maids are recruited. And, if the relationship with the nanny or maid doesn’t work out, it is much easier to find a quick replacement if you’ve contracted with an agency. In fact, most agencies offer a three-month probationary period for each nanny in case your expectations are not met.
However, if you wish to replace the nanny they offered you, you have to provide a valid reason for them to replace your maid. Lastly given the amount of paper work and the expenses agencies incur to get the maid from her country, you will be required to pay an average of QR 10,000 depending on the nationality of the nanny to begin the hiring process.
Part-time vs full-time
Depending on priorities and needs, for some families the ideal solution would be a live in nanny, for others it might be part-time help. In many cases, getting part-time nannies requires less paperwork and logistics than full-time where the latter can take weeks to get the proper person from their home country.
“Getting a nanny from her home country can take few weeks depending on the country and the amount of regulations and paperwork needed as different embassies have different procedures. The highest demand remains to be on Filipinos and in some cases it has taken more than a month to get a new full time to our offices here,” says Amal Al Araby, the marketing manager of Qatar Gateway Services.
Offices that offer part-time services offer the convenience of sending you a replacement when your maid gets sick or can’t make it for any personal reason. There are fewer logistics involved since the maid or nanny remains under the agency’s sponsorship. For people that dislike the idea of a full-time nanny, part-time help give you the privacy you may be looking for. Overall working hours are flexible since you can change the hours or weekdays from week to week although you need to give a notice ahead. Lastly if your work is mostly baby sitting or mostly cleaning you can align the office so they send you a nanny specialized in whichever tasks you require.
If you find that the part-time maid or nanny completes their tasks in less time than you contracted with the agency, you are still required to pay for the total contracted hours. Also, there is a good chance that the office sends you a different nanny or maid each time, which could make it difficult to establish a bond between your child and the nanny. Also, having new nanny every time, means that you will be continuously required to give guidelines and rules to each one.
One benefit to hiring a full-time nanny is the ability to interview and select your preferred candidate before she moves into your home. Here are a few tips on how to interview a caretaker:
- First impressions: Have your children present for some or the entire interview. Since kids will spend a lot of time with their nanny, they need to be comfortable with her. Seeing how she responds to your children and how your children respond to her will give you a good idea whether or not their personalities will match well.
- Appearances: Personal cleanliness (not style) and hygiene are important. How much she cares about herself is a way to predict how she will care for your kids’ hygiene and cleanliness.
- Experience: Having a nanny that already has experience with children is a bonus. She will be aware of the basic childcare tasks and will only revert to you about specific details related to your kids’ habits and personalities. But if you have to deal with someone totally new to the field then you will have to provide additional support to her in the beginning.
- Language: For many of the women who come to Qatar to be nannies, English or Arabic may not be their first language. If she can’t smoothly follow your instructions during the interview, communication will not be any easier when she hired. However, use your judgment. If you think that she understands well enough and are willing to help her practice, she may still be a good choice if she meets the rest of your qualifications.
- Trust your instincts: Ask yourself if you felt comfortable meeting her. More often than not, a parent’s initial feelings towards a nanny are the best guide. If you felt there was chemistry during the interview then this can show potential in the future.
- Capability: Encourage her to shed light on challenging situations from her previous jobs. If she can provide references, call them! Understanding how she tackles challenges can provide good insight into how she manages stress.
- Let her ask questions: Her questions will give you an idea of her priorities. If she focuses a lot about whether the baby cries or how much he sleeps, it may hint at a less than patient personality.
If you’re ready to make the leap and hire a nanny, you can find potential nannies by posting on the Where, When, and How in Doha Facebook page, Qatar Living or Doha Mums. If you want to contract with an agency, here are a few local companies you can contact: