Nanny and baby consulting companies open in Natick
Mary Poppins, eat your practically perfect heart out.
Families looking for nannies and nannies looking for families now have a new resource in MetroWest.
Based in Natick, Exceptional Nannies LLC matches nannies with families. In order to find the ideal match, both parties fill out application forms, which the company's founders, Kristen DiCicco and Paula Spurling, scrutinize and analyze.
The two had previously worked together at a day-care center for six years and as nannies for five years. Spurling is also the mother of two boys.
"We know so many families who are looking for nannies,'' says DiCicco, in explaining why the company was created. She also notes that while nanny agencies exist in Boston, Exceptional Nannies is the only one based in MetroWest. "We aim our business for this area,'' she says. That said, Exceptional Nannies can help families anywhere in the Bay State.
The company provides full- and part-time nannies. After each potential nanny fills out the aforementioned application form, the nanny is interviewed by the owners, who also conduct an extensive background check, according to Spurling. If a nanny earns their seal of approval, she can be matched with a family based on a family's needs. Those needs get discerned from the family's application form.
Since the company's launch in October, 10 nannies have come on board. They range in age from 21 to 49 with the average age in the 30s. No one under 21 is accepted.
What Exceptional Nannies is looking for in a nanny is experience as well as good communication skills, according to DiCicco. "They also have to be warm, caring people,'' says the Wayland resident. "And they need to be reliable.
"What families want is someone who is going to keep their children happy and safe. What nannies want is a family who makes them feel warm and wanted, who treats them as part of the family and not just a hired hand.''
DiCicco and Spurling have heard their share of nanny nightmares. "I know a family with 4-year-old twins who are on their seventh nanny,'' says DiCicco.
A major problem area is lack of communication, she says. "The nanny and the family need to be on the same page.''
Examples of communication breakdown include the nanny who gave the children their first haircut. Unfortunately, that was something the mother wanted to do. Another didn't change diapers. "That's why you need to know what to look for,'' says DiCicco.
On the flip side are the nannies who stay long term. "One family had the same nanny for 10 years,'' says Spurling.
"You need to have a good sense of play,'' continues the Natick resident. Adds DiCicco, "You have to have a silly side and a responsible side. And you can't be someone who just sits on the couch and says to the children, 'Go.' ''
Exceptional Nannies charges a family a $2,750 finder's fee for a full-time nanny; the part-time charge is $2,250. The family also pays a $100 application fee. The nannies do not. Spurling notes that the company's fee is about $1,000 less than many other agencies.
The family also pays the nanny. The fee ranges from $15 to $20 an hour, depending on the experience, says Spurling.
Though the company has yet to match a nanny with a family, it has experience on its side, according to DiCicco. "We know what to look for,'' she says.
Exceptional Nannies also offers a last-minute baby-sitting service for families whose baby-sitter has unexpectedly gone bye-bye or who find they need a baby-sitter immediately. The service costs $30. The family then pays the going rate for a baby-sitter.
DiCicco and Spurling also own and operate The Baby Coordinators. Described as the only baby consulting business in Massachusetts, this company helps prepare parents for their baby's arrival.
"It's like a wedding coordinator,'' says Spurling, but instead focusing on the couple, it focuses on the parents - and the baby.
"Everything from the registry to the nursery,'' says DiCicco.
The Baby Coordinators offers nine services ranging in price from $150 to $300. For example, it can help parents assemble a baby registry by going to the store of the parents' choice, viewing firsthand all the products and providing advice on which ones are essential and which ones aren't.
The company can also help set up a nursery, shop for maternity clothes, prepare a pet for the baby's arrival and baby-proof a home.
Product advice is particularly important, according to DiCicco. The tips can save parents money - by not purchasing inferior products - and time - by taking the trial-and-error factor out of the equation, according to Spurling. Stress gets removed, too, she adds.
The company has done its own research and product testing as well. "We've looked at all the safety recalls,'' says Sperling.
Shopping for baby products can become overwhelming, DiCicco notes. For example, "there are about 10 different lines of bottles,'' she says. "And I've tried them all so I know which ones are best.'' Not personally, of course.
In addition, The Baby Coordinators offers phone consultations on a wide variety of baby-related topics. For example, should you hire a baby-sitter, a nanny, a mother's helper or an au pair? What about day care? Which one is right for you? What are the costs of each? The benefits and drawbacks of each? The price for phone consultations is $75 per half-hour.
DiCicco and Spurling have just begun advertising for The Baby Coordinators so no clients have signed on yet.
The two companies do have a few factors working in their favor. To name one, there will be supply and demand for child care for as long as there are children.
Bob Tremblay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-626-4409.
EXCEPTIONAL NANNIES LLC and
THE BABY COORDINATORS
Owners: Kristen DiCicco and Paula Spurling
Industry: Child care
Company background: Based in Natick, Exceptional Nannies matches nannies with families. Its Web site is www.TheExceptionalNannies.com. The Baby Coordinators, also based in Natick, helps prepare parents for the arrival of their newborn. Its Web site is www.TheBabyCoordinators.com.