We had two nanny interviews this past weekend, the 31 year old German, Susanne, on Saturday and the 29 year old Brazilian, Fernanda on Sunday.

For me, it was love at first sight with Susanne. The conversation at the interview flowed for almost 3 hours. Allie was crabby and hungry by the end and I had to feed her in the car (we met at the Irvine Spectrum outdoor food court by the fountains both days). Susanne is WAY more competent and capable than her profile let on. She’s got tons of recent infant experience, is very knowledgable about child development and such, and has taken courses in it. Her CPR and first aid certifications are updated (as recent as February this year), and when she was a school teacher in Germany, she’d had to use a lot of first aid skills, such as giving CPR to premies who’d stopped breathing and turned blue, giving shots to babies, taking care of a boy who’d fallen on the playground and gotten half his teeth knocked out (as the other teachers ran around panicking, so she had to get rid of them before the boy himself started freaking out seeing their reactions). One of the infant twins she’d nannied for a decade ago had a lot of medical issues she’d tended to. She left Germany on a church mission trip to Mexico, and from there, she came to CA to found her church here. So she’s one of the original founders and is the current principal of a Children’s Ministry part of her church. She explained that she’d been delegating her duties and aside from teaching on Thursday evenings and something to do with the church on Sunday, she is free to nanny for us full time. She had amazing reference letters from families of 5 kids, families where the mom left her young daughter with Susanne (as a live-in nanny) for 6 weeks on a business trip. She has zero issues with the cameras all over the house and thought the technology was great, and was fine with getting her background checked, altho she said a local police department had already taken her fingerprints as she deals with teaching children for church. She majored in Child Education, minored in Psychology, and has a separate degree in Theology. She works out regularly, cooks, has no problem transporting Allie anywhere and said she would take her to Gymboree if we wanted, she’d done everything we need before, including managing sleep routines and making organic baby food. Occasionally cooking for the family if asked to. WE LOVED HER.
Here’s the crux. She asked for $600 weekly take-home. That didn’t seem like much, and we were happy and fine with it. Then we came home and Mr. W started researching online what it meant to pay this take-home, because she definitely doesn’t want to be paid under the table. With the social security, state and federal taxes, disability, unemployment, blah blah and blah blah crap we have to pay to the government, this means we’re looking at approximately $880 out-of-pocket for us a WEEK. That’s $46,000 a year. OUCH. I don’t think we can afford that, and I’m heartbroken. We’re going to talk to our tax accountant when he does our taxes on Tuesday evening to see what the ramifications are. Then I’m going to beg her to lower her cost a little.

The interview with Fernanda yesterday went well. She was less talkative because she was nervous, and I kept inadvertently comparing her to Susanne. She’s less experienced with infants this young; her youngest had been 6 months (which isn’t a HUGE difference in age, but developmentally, there is). I asked her what she’d do with Allie in Allie’s awake time, and she said sing, play peek-a-boo (Allie’s too young to understand peek-a-boo). Basically, she had no idea. She’s never dealt with a baby who’s on milk only, and had never dealt with frozen breastmilk. That’s not a huge deal, she’ll just learn once I show her. I’ve defrosted a pack of my breastmilk and put it in a bottle so how hard could it be? It was a little scary when her childrearing philosophy was that a baby shouldn’t be held too much because they need to learn to be independent. Allie’s still young; she’s able to go 15 mins or so on her own without being held, and she’s self-entertained in that time which is amazing for me to run around and get stuff done, like laundry or make/eat food, but after that, she should be interacted with. I suddenly pictured Allie lonely and crying, confused as to why she was feeling abandoned. She has no CPR or first aid certification, but said her au pair program from 2007 had taught them a week of classes in child care and American culture, and that CPR and first aid was addressed in one of the seminars. She’s also active and works out, cooks and cleans for the baby (and maybe somewhat for the family if requested). She left Brazil for the east coast to get an AA in Marketing and Masters in International Business. She currently lives with the last family (3 kids) she’d nannied for. They loved her so much they adopted her into their family rent-free. She still occasionally babysits for them in the evenings and for their friends when needed. The only reference she gave us was for this live-in family.
She’s asking for $400-$500 a week take-home, but doesn’t have a preference whether to be paid in cash or through the crazy W-2 style. Mr. W, after reading all the information on paying domestic workers under the table, is terrified to do it in cash. Apparently, all the employee has to do is apply for social security benefits later on at any time in his/her life, and we’re on the hook for being audited and we would have to pay all of the employee’s SS needs ourselves as punishment for not having timely paid them when the employee was under our employment.

So now is the dilemma. When asked for the online profile how much I’m willing to pay weekly, I’d clicked the categories from $300 to $700+. This is because how much I’m willing to pay, to me, means gross. Apparently when the nannies are asked how much they want to be paid weekly, they’re thinking net. There’s a HUGE difference (apparently, like 30%) between net and gross. Mr. W and I were madly calculating over the weekend. In order for me to pay Susanne what she wants and still pay half the mortgage on our house and all the mortgage on my rental property, I would have to give her the ENTIRE remainder of my work salary plus the small profit margin of rent on my rental property. That leaves no money to pay for my cell phone, for credit card expenses, for the gym membership, Gymboree membership, property taxes, gas, etc. unless I dip into my savings. I’m willing to do that, but Mr. W is very discontent over the idea that I’d be working for nothing in order to pay a stranger to care for our baby; he thinks I should just quit. My thought is that paying a nanny for Allie is temporary (maybe 2-3 years, depending on what we can afford) until we can put her in daycare, but the job is more than money to me; it’s interaction with adults, it’s sanity, it’s a sense of self-worth and independence. I’m willing to hand over my entire salary to a nanny that I can feel completely at peace with (like Susanne; I know that Allie will be in more capable hands than mine if I leave her with Susanne), but what Susanne has requested is still more than I can afford.

In case you’re wondering why I’m calculating this as my salary alone, it’s because Mr. W’s money has been pretty much been coming in one hand and out the other since his renters are still waaay behind in rent and because he’s still supporting 2 adult kids financially. There’s fat he could trim, but he’s already trimmed a lot more than he was ever used to trimming before. Plus, he pays way more of the household bills than I do.

So there’s the dilemma. Pay a lot more for the nanny I love, or less for a less experienced nanny that I’m gonna be a little nervous about? It’s kind of a like a you-get-what-you-pay-for dilemma. The two are similar in a lot of ways in that they’re both trying to get their US residencies established and are currently under a religious or student visa. They both seem wholesome and responsible, are into organic foods and not junk food (they both brought this up assuming we’d think they’re weird, but we totally embraced it cuz we’re like that ourselves).

Other nannies seem to have eliminated themselves; just stopped responding via email despite our being at the “let’s decide when to meet for an interview” stage. However, late yesterday, I got a phone call from the older nanny from Carlsbad who didn’t get back to my email about rescheduling her interview, and she left a vm saying she was still interested and would like to interview. And then I got a late email from another older nanny who wants to interview on Thursday. I wonder what their delays were; makes me think they have other things going on. Both appear to be professional nannies with amazing credentials on paper, but at this point I have serious doubts I would want anyone more than Susanne to be our nanny. The chemistry was just right, we all felt. I truly LIKE her, like I want to be her friend and hang out with her and have her teach me stuff like-her.