Advice for Nanny Success
- Put the work arrangement in writing. You and your nanny should have a written record of what your obligations are. By writing down your nanny’s work schedule, days off, pay, benefits and other details you have both agreed to, you will minimise misunderstandings later.
- Agree on house rules You owe it to yourself and your nanny to be clear about what you will and won’t tolerate in your home. Don’t assume the nanny knows how you expect her to act around your house. Discuss telephone use. Do you mind if she has friends over? And what about smoking?
- Plan on a reasonable breaking-in period It takes nine months for a baby to develop in the womb, yet why do all of us expect a nanny to be fully oriented and totally productive in a week or two? If you have hired an au pair who has just left home for the first time, she will be adjusting both to her new job and to her new life in a new place just as you are adjusting to having a new person in your home. Be fair, be patient and be prepared to repeat instructions.
- Trust your instincts What if you discover during the first week or two on the job that the nice girl you interviewed is someone you do not even like? Makes you feel uncomfortable? Or does not inspire confidence? Take advantage of the agency’s replacement policy to find another nanny who may be better suited for your situation. If you have reservations about your nanny’s ability to do the job in the early stages of your work arrangement, the situation is not likely to improve over time. It’s okay to say good-bye, but do be fair to your nanny; she will need time to make other arrangements and should not be expected to leave on a moment’s notice unless glaring misconduct is involved.
- Make plans for regular communication Schedule a regular time when you and the nanny can go over your work arrangement and talk about how the children are growing, changing, needing different kinds of activities, etc. Use these communication sessions to offer both praise and suggestions for changes to your nanny. Be open to hearing what your nanny thinks and wants, too.
- Be fair to your nanny Be careful about consistently asking your nanny to work hours outside the scope of the original work agreement, even if you do pay her extra or give her extra time off. If your needs seem to have changed considerably, renegotiate the entire arrangement with her. Always pay the nanny her agreed wage even if you let her off work early. It’s your choice for her not to work, not hers. Though from time to time, you may need and ask for an extra set of hands, avoid adding her list of job duties unless you renegotiate your arrangement.
- Treat your caregiver with respect When appropriate, introduce her to your friends and guests. Ask her what she prefers to be called (babysitter, nanny, etc.) Don’t undermine her authority in front of your children. If you can’t treat your caregiver with respect, she’s not the right person for you.
- Express appreciation often Well-deserved recognition and praise go a long way. Money also talks. Be generous with raises, bonuses and benefits if your nanny is doing a good job.
- Be aware of common problems between families and caregivers If you know what to expect, sometimes you can head off problems before they derail your relationship. If you encounter problem situations, contact the agency for help. Sometimes, it takes several tries to find the right nanny and the search-and-replacement process can be both stressful and frustrating. However, when you do find the perfect caregiver- whether on the first or a subsequent try-enjoy her and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your home and children are in good hands.