Care expert, doula and entrepreneur Liza Maltz helps parents connect and help each other find the right support for their families
Moving to the suburbs comes with a host of new care-related challenges. First on the list? For many families, it’s childcare. Moms and dads need first-hand advice and insights to vet sitters, find the right daycares and get the real scoop on nursery schools. Getting quality info to navigate this process can be tough… and access to an established network in your new community can make all the difference in the world.
“When you’re new it can feel completely overwhelming,” says Liza Maltz, founder of Have a Nanny, Need a Nanny, a site that connects families looking for in-home care and support referrals. “Where do I look? Who do I talk to? What—or who—is the right fit?” Too often, she says, this can be paralyzing to families. “Sometimes you get frozen—it’s a lot to think about and you’re bringing a stranger into your home.”
Community, she says, is central to overcoming these hurdles and finding that right fit. Her members-only site connects parent to parent, with direct care recommendations and referrals in New York City and beyond.
“Whether it’s a nanny, housekeeping, dog walker, baby nurse, tutor—it’s always best to go right to the source,” says Liza. “Ask that mom or dad what their experience has been like. What is that nanny’s take on discipline? Is the tutor reliable? You could interview someone and ask, but it’s so easy for that nanny or tutor to say what they think you want to hear—ask that mom or dad and they’re not going to say something just to appease you. They’re going to tell you the truth.”
This direct connection, Liza says, is especially important for families with specific wants or requirements. If your child has special needs, for example, by connecting with other special needs parents you can dig into a nanny or sitter’s experience and how she reacts to common challenges.
“Ask how that sitter works with a child on the spectrum,” says Liza. “Or maybe you’re welcoming baby #2 and want to know how a sitter really manages days with a toddler and an infant.” They’re considerations, Liza notes, that are critical to care success—but it’s all very hard to vet when you’re just interviewing a childcare provider or checking her self-supplied references.
Determining your unique care needs
Childcare, though, is just one care consideration when heading to a new community. Once in the ‘burbs, many families are in search of tutors, dog walkers, housekeepers and even specialized support like drivers, personal chefs, elder care and baby nurses.
“We’re also seeing a huge spike in homeschooling conversations,” Liza says. “Parents don’t know what’s happening in September and want to plan ahead—they also don’t want to have their kids in and out of school all year. So they’re creating home school pods, hiring former teachers to teach their kids—and they’re leaning on their extended communities for recommendations.”
How to find the right care in suburbia
No matter the care you’re looking for, when tapping into your fellow parents for recommendations and referrals, Liza has a few suggestions. First, she says, be mindful of where you’re getting insights and intel—and direct is always best.
“Before COVID-19 I’d tell people to meet up in-person—now I recommend a video call,” Liza says. “If someone really loves their nanny or baby nurse and wants to see them go to a great family next, that mom or dad will happily meet up for a cup of coffee or jump on a quick Zoom call.” Don’t just talk on the phone, she adds—you might not be chatting with a real reference. “It could be a friend of that sitter—or the sitter! Go face to face and you avoid that.”
And during that conversation, Liza advises, take the opportunity to dig into specific priorities and preferences—what’s most important to your family when it comes to care.
“It’s about aligning on values,” Liza says. “What’s most important to you and your family — does this sitter sync? For me, for example, I didn’t want a nanny who treated my baby like a baby. I didn’t want him constantly held all day. I wanted the nanny playing with him, on the floor, engaging him. So during interviews, those are questions I would ask: was the nanny constantly holding the baby, or was she really engaging the baby?”
No matter your values, though, there’s always one question Liza recommends asking: “what’s something that bothered you about this particular nanny? Because let’s face it, you can have a best friend in the world and there’s something they do that ticks you off. Find out what that one thing is now, and see if you can live with it.”
Ultimately, choosing care for your family—be it childcare, tutors, dog walking or, simply, someone to clean your house—is a major decision. The more streamlined you can make it—and the more often you can get it “right” the first time, the easier you’ll be able to transition into your new town.
“You want the mom saying, ‘Oh my God, have I got the nanny for you. You want the person who works, but who’s also aligned with your expectations,” Liza says. “That only comes when you tap into a community—when you ask other parents. On my site, only parents can list nannies—and they do so because these moms and dads are invested in finding an amazing new family for their sitters. That, to me, is extremely telling. Those are the nannies you start with.”
Before focusing on care you’ve got to focus on community. Suburban Jungle can help! Get in touch now and schedule your FREE Suburbs Strategy session.
PHOTO: Liza Maltz