You’ve finished your search and have finally hired the best-fit nanny for your family, but where do you go from here to ensure that you develop the best possible nanny relationship ongoing?
In every new job, both the employer and employee will be trying to make the best possible impression. Venturing into new territory will mean that the nanny may try different approaches and end up keeping some, while changing others. Adjusting to the expectations of the job and forming a bond with the children and family will take time. Rome, the perfect romance, and a long-lasting nanny relationship aren’t built overnight (or in two weeks); be patient and realistic.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
You hired this professional for a reason. That being said, she’s human. She may do things differently than you do, or would do. That doesn’t make them wrong. People have diverse ways of handling children. It’s easy to pick up on these variances, especially in the beginning, but try to be respectful and give your new nanny the space she needs to blossom in your household. Carefully weigh what really matters. Certainly, something involving a safety concern or a personal boundary you’d communicate about, but if she gets your child dressed in another order than you do or has a varied teeth brushing routine, it may not be worth worrying about. In fact, many parents comment on how much they’ve gained from having another adult around, with years of childcare experience, who second handedly taught them a great deal, if they were open-minded and willing to see other methods through this lens. At the end of the day, if your children are well cared for and you trust her, then that speaks volumes.
Let the Nanny Do Her Job
Your nanny has come into her new position with a lot of experience and carefully checked references. Trust her to exercise the skills you hired her for without micromanagement. Let her establish a routine if one if not already in place and to build a relationship with your child. Assuming that you have set up the ground rules already, step back and trust her in your absence to do a good job.
The honeymoon period is over, your nanny has been working for your family for some time, and routines have been established. What keeps your working nanny relationship in the best possible shape for the long term?
As the family becomes more comfortable with the nanny, it can be easy to overlook touching base and keeping the lines of communication open. A suggestion for simple day to day reminders include keeping a notebook handy on the kitchen counter to jot down any questions, ideas or upcoming schedule changes to go over at the end of the day or week. Additionally, don’t overestimate the importance of having paid, brief, weekly or monthly meetings. This is the perfect way for everyone to address any child or job-related issues. These meetings should ideally be at the same time and scheduled in the same way that any other corporate meeting would be, even if they are conducted informally. Communicating often, in a challenging employer-employee dynamic, is crucial.
Extra Duties, Extra Pay
You’ve hired a professional, so you likely already know the importance of paying your nanny a fair wage and on time. But many families find that as the children get older or an addition (human, canine or feline) joins the family, responsibilities also need to be reassessed. Written communication helps define the role your nanny plays, so be sure to change up the contract that you have with her if you are significantly adjusting her household duties and expectations. If you ask her to take on more in their job, be prepared to also compensate her accordingly and have it spelled out so that both parties understand and agree.
Respect Your Nanny’s Schedule
Changes happen. At work, with personal vacation time and certainly with the sports schedules of older kids, for example. Your nanny wants to please you and will likely bend over backward to be flexible. However, it’s important to recognize that this is an employee with their own life outside of your household. Constantly expecting hours to be changed, overtime or for a drop in paid guaranteed hours is unrealistic and will stretch your nanny too thin. Keeping a family calendar that the nanny has access to will help to keep the mutually agreed upon schedule organized.
All nanny-employer relationships are not created equally. Your nanny is now a valued employee, but how do you execute being the best long-term employer you can possibly be?
It’s the Little Things
With any type of employer-employee relationship, it’s often the little things (or the corporate culture) that keeps employees satisfied and loyal. For example, telling her how appreciative you are for her hard work, when relevant, is important. In a recent interview when asked about prior work experience, one nanny affectionately reached for and discussed the beautiful scarf around her neck that she’d been given as a birthday gift from her former family. Another recalled at a “nanny night out” event that the family had gotten a Netflix subscription for the especially late date nights that they asked her to work so that she could enjoy movies after the young children were in bed. Small details and perks like these examples are often important additions to job satisfaction.
Don’t get too Personal
No matter how much you may grow to like, or even love, your nanny, it’s important to remember that it is still a working relationship. For parents, this means not sharing details or confidences about their marriages, another parent at school or their mother in law. It also means drawing a line, respecting a boundary and perhaps not indulging in an oversharing about your nanny’s personal life as well. While both of you may need to have a general understanding of what’s happening in one another’s lives and how it may affect the schedule, it’s important for you to set the bar as the employer about what information is appropriate.
Professional Development Classes
There are obvious financial ways to reward your nanny for a job well done that include holiday bonuses, raises and paid vacation time. However, an additional tangible tool includes offering professional development classes both for her benefit, and your children’s. These examples can include updated or extended CPR/First aid training, cooking classes, professional nanny certification, early childhood education courses, discipline/behavior lectures and professional development conferences like the INA Annual Conference or Nannypalooza.
Amanda Rosenbloom, Nanny Network LLC is a former foreign policy analyst and educator, turned stay at home mom, turned blogger and consultant. Having seen both sides of the fence with three children, three Pugs, and a busy life like just like yourself, she understands the need for quality childcare help for both working and stay at home parents. When she’s not wearing her marketing-project manager hat, she’s burning cookies, cheering on her son’s football team and making the perfect gin and tonic, usually all in the same day.