Having a trusted nanny for your children can be a great thing. If you and your wife both work, having someone safe and reliable to take care of your children when you are away is a significant load off your mind. A good nanny becomes a part of the family, which is what you should want, someone who loves your kids and vice-versa. Picking out this perfect person to come into your home and care for your most valuable possessions (I mean your kids, not your comic books) can be a difficult process, so let’s go through some tips on how to do it right.

The first thing you will need to do is sit down with your wife and discuss what you want in a nanny. Is she there solely to change diapers and keep the kids out of harm’s way? Or, is she also expected to do some housework, and maybe even cook meals? Is there anything specific you do not want her to do? Believe me, I found out the hard way that you do not want your nanny getting involved in taking care of the aquarium you recently chose as a new hobby. Do you want someone young and energetic to keep up with hyperactive kids, or someone older and wiser who has tried and true ways of dealing with your precious little ones? Just so you know, your wife will choose the older woman ten times out of ten, for obvious reasons (Jude Law, anyone?).

The next thing on the agenda is to begin doing some research. Ask around amongst family and friends. Someone may know a qualified individual who is in need of work. Someone else may know of a good agency or website. Begin looking for all your possibilities right now, and narrow the search later.

Narrowing the search and conducting interviews is your next task. Set up interviews, and be prepared to check people out when you meet them. Ask potential nannies to bring letters of reference (an agency-referred interviewee should have been screened ahead of time, so that can be a big help). Have a detailed list of duties ready to discuss during the interview, and be sure a candidate is capable of and willing to perform the required duties. Imagine a list of scenarios the nanny might encounter, and ask her how she would handle each one. The more information you gain about each applicant, the easier it will be to choose the best one to come into your home and help you out in your busy life.

After this, do some following up. That means calling references. Some people might tend to skip this step, but it is important not to. Even if you have a great first impression about one of the women seeking the job, you still need to remember to look into who this person really is. Keep in mind, con artists and mass murderers like to give a good first impression to gain the trust of their victims.

Assuming you have narrowed down your search to just a few likely applicants by this point, you can then proceed to give them a trial run. Explain that you would like them to give the job a try, that it is not hers yet, and see how things go over the course of two or three days. This is a paid trial run, though, of course. Set up a nanny cam if you have access to one. If your child is old enough, ask your child how much they like or dislike the person who took care of them (remember, kids will probably prefer Mommy to an alternative, so keep that in mind when asking these questions). You can even set traps; I left money lying about for the first week with our first nanny, to see if any came up missing (she thankfully passed with flying colors).

The last thing you have to do is make the best decision you can based on your potential candidates. Choose the one who will be the best fit for your family, and give her the job. Go with your gut—it rarely leads you astray. Sometimes you may choose the one that isn’t the “best qualified,” but that is the one that works best with your family. You’ll know soon enough whether she/he is a good fit.

At this point, your work really begins. Acquiring the right level of trust takes time, so once you have the nanny on the job, continue to stay on top of things. Keep asking your kids how they feel about this nanny. Keep monitoring things. Also, speak to the nanny occasionally and get feedback from her about how happy or dissatisfied she is with the job. This phase has to go on until you trust her completely and she becomes almost another family member.

Having a full time nanny, whether a live-in one or someone who comes to your home daily, is wonderful for parents that have the means to hire one. Once you have a nanny, your life will never be the same without one. So, take your time, do things correctly, and find the perfect person to take care of your children.