I didn’t have a yaya when Cruz was born because I thought I didn’t need one. I know, right? Ten days into sleep and food-deprivation (and after one very worrisome rush to the hospital because of excessive bleeding), I caved in and begged my husband to hire a yaya. I was lucky to have found a really good one that I trusted and stayed with me for 5 years. However, most moms would agree that good yayas are few and far between.
Here’s (in my opinion) how to find a good yaya:
1. Ask for referrals.
A great source for us has been titas or close friends of our parents, as they tend to be wiser and more experienced when it comes to judging what makes a good yaya or household help. We’ve never used an agency, although some seem good. (Have you?) Once we have a handful of people, we set up interviews.
2. Know your priorities.
Do you want a yaya who knows everything there is about childcare? Or do you want someone who has no experience at all so you can train them in your preferred ways? Is budget a concern? Or are you willing to shell out more for someone more qualified? Do you want the yaya to take the baby at night? Or will she be busier during the day? Will you expect her to help with the household chores? These are important questions to answer before proceeding with the interviews. You can then tailor your interview questions to find out if your priorities will be met by the potential yaya.
3. Ask enlightening interview questions.
After the initial standard questions (i.e., Are you married? Do you have children? Where do you live? etc.) you may want to proceed to ask the following questions:
- Please tell me about yourself and your experience with children.
- What do you think children like about you?
- What is your favorite age child to take care of?
- Is there something a previous employer asked you to do that you would have done differently?
- What activities do you like doing with children?
- How would you handle issues concerning discipline with a child?
- Have you ever been in an emergency situation (with or without a child involved)? How did you handle it?
I find that these kinds of questions are more objective and can reveal the potential yaya’s child caring style off the bat. It is also easier to spot someone who doesn’t like taking care of kids by their answers (it’s pretty hard to make them up).
4. Meet your shortlisted yayas with your child.
This is particularly helpful if interviews were done over the phone. However, you may also introduce your child to the potential yaya after her interview (if you like her a lot). Make her comfortable and continue with small chitchat as your child plays with the both of you. This way, you can see how she interacts with your child and you get to see a bit more of her personality.
5. Trust your gut.
Sometimes, even when candidates look perfect on paper, something just doesn’t click or feel right. Trust your instinct. It’s such a personal and intimate relationship, you’ll want to have someone you’ll trust and your children will fall in love with. Most yayas tend to become part of the family, much like ours did, so much so that saying goodbye to one can be quite emotional.
As we were moving back to Manila, our yaya decided to seek for a new employer in Singapore. It was heartbreaking to say the least (tears were shed). But it’s a great decision for her and at the end of the day, I want what’s best for her. I’m glad to have referred her to a great family (they’re dear friends) and it’s nice to be of service to her after her 5 years of invaluable service to us. But still. Huhuhu.
Some people might think that the above process is a bit more tedious than the norm, but when it comes to our children, I find that it’s better to be more thorough in the hiring process than having to regret your choice later on.
Do you have a yaya you love? Did you use any other interview questions that worked well? I’d love to hear them!