Finding A Nanny Online Is Like Internet Dating For Moms

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I’ve never gotten in to the whole internet dating thing. Oh, it’s not that I think I’m above it. I just happened to have met my husband at work. I never found myself in a position where internet dating seemed like a logical choice for me. That is, until I started looking for a nanny. After this experience, I think I would be at pro at setting up a profile.

Really, when you think about the similarities to these processes, it’s pretty uncanny. First, there’s the “About Me” sections. I feel like I’m writing my high school MySpace profile all over again. How do I convey that I’m fun and down-to-earth, but not trying too hard? I write for a living and yet writing a short paragraph to describe my family had me stalled for about an hour. What makes my family different from any other family that these nannies were going to meet? Not much. I find myself explaining that my husband and I work weird hours, so our nannies will actually see us pretty regularly. That didn’t seem fun or down-to-earth at all.

Then there is the picture. Oh internet, there’s always a picture. Share a picture of your family, so prospective nannies know that you aren’t a crazy person luring them to a warehouse. So do I choose the professional family photos we had taken this winter? Or does that seem too stuffy? I could always use vacation pictures, because they show that we’re active and adventurous. But then there’s never one of everyone together. Someone had to be holding the camera, after all. Should I include multiple pictures, because that seems a little self-indulgent.

And it’s not just my picture that I worried about. To be honest, it felt weird to see pictures of the candidates as I was evaluating them. Should it matter if Layla was cuter than Kelli? Of course not! But let’s not act like a pretty smile doesn’t make a person seem more “pleasant” or “genuine.” Our mind makes these unconscious associations without our will. And when I’m trying to decide between eight different candidates, all equally qualified and well-spoken, I feel ashamed that I might be letting their appearance influence my decision. But there are those pictures of young women cuddling puppies or younger siblings so that you know how caring they are.

Even more than the pictures and the social anxiety of creating an online profile and hoping people like you, the experience of finding a nanny on the internet means trying to find a personality match based on a paragraph and a smile. And it’s not even trying to find a match for me, I’m looking for someone who can get along with a growing four-year-old girl. I have to find someone that I can trust with the most precious thing in my life almost instantly. It’s such a daunting task.

I’m convinced that having in-home care over the summer would be great for my family and I. Between my odd working hours, my husband’s busy schedule and my daughter’s growing interests and demands, having someone in our home to help out will be great. But finding someone who fits into a family dynamic is not easy. And it’s easy harder when the process involves profiles and pictures where humans are trying to put their best foot forward. We’re trying to sell the best image of ourselves and our families.

Sure my daughter has an adorable smile, but she also can throw a wicked guilt trip. Yes, I’m laid-back, but I also have high expectations when it comes to my daughter’s behavior. I couldn’t care less if she makes a mess but there’s isn’t a world in which she won’t have to help clean up before moving on to a new activity. Where do I put things like that in our family profile?

(Photo: Mrs. Guided)