Finding the perfect nanny or great family to work for, can feel like finding a needle in a haystack! Like any relationship, the one between parents and their employed nanny can have its ups and downs. Following our 15 tips from the start can help you avoid any issues and help to create a positive nanny/family relationship!
AGREEMENT: Establish clear boundaries from day one. A great way to be clear about boundaries and expectations is to consider your needs and requests in advance. Put your nanny’s work agreement in writing. This “industry best practice” will not only help clarify your expectations, but can also be a lifesaver should a disagreement ever arise. Make sure your nanny is clear on what you expect of her, and make sure you don’t ask for things beyond the scope of the agreement.
HONOUR YOUR WORD: If you tell your nanny you will be home by a certain time, be home by then. If you can’t help being late once in a while, at least call or text to let her know, and then pay her extra. And when it comes to regular payment, make sure you pay her on time, every time. If you need to add to your nanny’s responsibilities — such as if you want her to do housework or run errands for you — update the contract and increase the pay as needed.
COMMUNICATION: One of the best ways to keep up a good relationship with your nanny is to communicate frequently. If you don’t have time to touch base in person every day, consider using a notebook, daily log or technology like child care apps, email, or texts to stay in touch. You can write reminders or ideas for the caregiver to put into practice, and she can note any concerns, ideas or even simply what the children did that day. For best results when it comes to child care, combine this method of daily communication with regular meetings once or twice a month. Remember, communication solves most problems. If the nanny does not fold the children’s laundry correctly the first time, or the family doesn’t relay important information during a trial period, it’s okay. These are easy fixes. Keep things in perspective. Everyone is navigating the relationship the first couple of weeks. No one will do everything perfectly right away. It’s important to have high expectations, but it’s also equally important to be realistic. No one can read minds. Communicating clearly will help the relationship flourish!
DISCUSS CHILD-REARING STRATEGIES WITH YOUR NANNY: Speak with your nanny about your parenting philosophy. If you are using positive discipline techniques (which we recommend), provide resources for your nanny to read so her interaction with the children is in line with your beliefs. If you have parenting no-nos, like threats, bribes, coercion, or spanking, list those for your nanny. Talk with her about how to interact with your children when they aren’t following her instructions.
CHECK-INS AND REVIEWS: With any relationship, professional or personal, consistent communication is key. Scheduling in routine check-ins and reviews will not only ensure that the entire childcare team is on the same page, but will also communicate mutual respect and create a healthy and positive household. Have biweekly or weekly meetings to discuss how things are going. Making the time to meet with your nanny regularly gives everyone the platform to suggest new ideas and discuss any issues. In these meetings, clarify logistical things, like which adult is taking children to activities and who is making supper on a particular day. Also, check in with your nanny to see if she is getting enough rest. Dial her duties up or down depending on what is happening in the household for that week.
DISCUSS ISSUES AS THEY ARISE: If something is bothering you, bring it up right away, before it has time to stew and get worse. The nanny will appreciate it as long as you address the issue sensitively. For example, discussing a concern immediately after an incident, in front of the children, or other household staff, may not be appropriate. However, speaking a few moments in private while the children nap, or at the end of the day, to address a concern, will ensure clarity and cut down on reoccurrence.
AVOID MICROMANAGING: Experienced nannies are often very knowledgeable about child development, and generally know how to do their jobs. In the beginning, nannies may ask for direction, but after the adjustment period, it’s best to show the nanny you trust her judgment and allow her to do her job. Give your nanny space to build a positive relationship with your child. Just like the relationship with other parents, grandparents, and caregivers, give your nanny time and space to develop her style of child-rearing. This space will include learning from mistakes, so encourage this valuable learning by not jumping in when things between the nanny and your children are heading south. Give her time to try and find a solution.
SHOW NANNY YOUR FULL SUPPORT: Nannies need to know that parents support their decisions when it comes to child care since parents should trust that the nanny has the children’s best interest at heart. This is why it’s important to show that you and your nanny are considered partners in child care. If the nanny tells the child she cannot do something, don’t reverse that decision by telling the child the opposite. This undermines the nanny and makes it less likely that your child will listen to or respect the caregiver.
APPRECIATION: Show your Nanny that you and your kids care about her. In addition to messages of gratitude, people feel more connected when you mention that you see them handling themselves well during a challenge. If your nanny does way more than you expected her to or she handles your child during a tense time, let her know how much you appreciate her. If you are impressed by your nanny’s performance, say so, either verbally or in a note. You can give the caregiver a bonus in the form of cash, gift card, present or dinner out whenever you are especially happy with your child care situation. After all, once you find a great nanny that you and your children are happy with, you will want to make sure that she is satisfied and enjoying her position. Also, communicate your gratitude by not overwhelming her with too many chores, unpaid extra hours, or interacting with her during her time off. Periodically give her some unexpected bonuses, a reasonable bonus around the holidays goes a long way in making a nanny feel appreciated.
LET YOUR NANNY KNOW YOU THINK OF HER AS A PROFESSIONAL: Everyone wants to be taken seriously, including nannies. This is why you should show that you trust her judgment and respect her as a professional. Make sure your children do the same; simply modeling the behaviour you want them to follow should help them figure out how to treat their caregiver.
SALARY: Never pay her under the table. While withholding taxes from your nanny’s paycheck requires organization and planning, everyone will benefit. The employer avoids nanny tax fraud and the nanny is protected in case of future unemployment. Round up on paychecks and pay overtime wages. As non-exempt employees, nannies are entitled to overtime pay equal to 1.5x their regular hourly pay for any hours worked overtime.
BE FLEXIBLE WITH YOUR CAREGIVER: Schedules change sometimes, and this applies to caregivers as well as families. If a nanny has to run some errands of her own once in a while and needs to take part of the day or the whole day off, try to be understanding. As long as she gives enough notice for you to find another caregiver for the day or to take the day off yourself, you should be accommodating. Consider going over the procedure with her to request time off, ensuring she knows how to tell you and how far in advance to ask for the day off.
ENSURE YOUR FAMILY RESPECTS YOUR NANNY’S PRIVACY: Just because you have a live-in nanny doesn’t mean she’s okay with never having privacy in your home. Make sure she has some time to herself on her days off, which means teaching your children to go to you and not the nanny for their needs when she is not working. Allowing her to have her space sometimes will ensure she is refreshed and ready to care for your children when you need her.
ENCOURAGE YOUR NANNY TO SOCIALIZE: Make it easy for your nanny to stay in touch with other nannies in your city. This way, she will have some peers to socialize with which is important when it comes to combating loneliness and promoting a good work/life balance. And when she meets up with other nannies during the day, your children will get an automatic play date with other kids, which is beneficial and fun for them, too.
CONSULT YOUR AGENCY FOR GUIDANCE: Working with, or, as a nanny, is a very unique, special and valuable experience. If you run into a concern that is outside of your spectrum of knowledge or experience, consult your agency for guidance. For example, if you are a parent and you are unsure as to how to handle a situation, such as traveling with a nanny, or an issue that comes up that makes you feel uneasy, please feel free to reach out to Miss Governess Agency anytime. Remember, we are all on the same team and eager to help!
- MISS GOVERNESS TEAM