Even though your summer nanny is only watching your child for a few months out of the year, she still needs to be well-informed about your children and your household. Before you leave your nanny in charge, make sure she knows:
1. The details of your child’s allergies and food sensitivities. Specifically outline what your child can and can’t eat and the risks associated with different foods so your summer nanny understands how to best feed your child. Armed with the correct information she can prepare healthy meals and snacks that work with your child’s particular diet. Make sure your nanny understands how to accurately read ingredient labels and menus so she can make safe and healthy food choices even when she’s out of the house. If your child has a severe allergy and requires an EpiPen, give her written permission to use it, show her how to administer it, and let her know it must be within arm’s reach at all times.
2. Emergency contact information for a trusted adult. Of course, you should always be the first call your nanny makes if there’s an emergency with her, your child, or your home. However there may be times when your nanny can’t reach you or when you’re not able to get home as quickly as needed. Providing your summer caregiver with emergency contact information for a trusted, close-by person like a grandparent or neighbor is an essential part of an emergency plan. You never know when something unexpected will happen and she’ll need a trusted person to step in and help out.
3. What to do in case of a medical emergency. The time to talk about what to do in an emergency is before anything happens. Some situations, like when a broken bone is suspected or your child is having a severe allergic reaction, clearly require immediate medical attention and your nanny should know to call 911 or immediately take your child to the emergency room.
Other situations, such as when your child twists an ankle or gets hives, are more subjective and require clear direction from you. Let your nanny know what you want her to do if your child gets hurt or sick. Do you want her to treat your child based on her own judgment or do you want her to contact you and wait for instructions? If you’re not immediately available, how long should she wait before taking action? Being clear about who the decision maker is in advance is the best way to make sure your child gets the type of treatment you want for her.
4. What to do in case of a pet emergency. Provide your summer nanny with a written medical history of your pet including all medicines he’s taking, any allergies he has, and his microchip details. Also provide full emergency contact information for your vet and the address of the emergency animal clinic nearest your home. During the summertime, pets often escape the house or yard or eat things that make them sick. Giving your nanny the information she needs to act quickly if there’s a pet emergency could save your dog’s or cat’s life.
5. Utility fundamentals. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen: a circuit overloads and trips the breaker, a pipe bursts, there’s a small kitchen fire. Spend a few minutes showing your nanny where the breaker box, water shut-off valve, fire extinguisher, and other key utility features are and she’ll be equipped to handle whatever comes up.
6. How the security system works. Your security system protects your house and your family. Show your nanny how to turn it on and off so she can safely come and go throughout the day. Many companies allow you to create a second set of passcodes for household staff, allowing them to use the alarm without giving them access to your personal information or permanent codes.
7. Your child’s daily schedule. Kids do best when they have a predictable schedule. Although summertime means more relaxed days, it’s still important for your nanny to stick close to your child’s established meal and nap schedule. Write out what time your child generally eats, sleeps, and does other favorite activities to help your nanny stay inside your child’s scheduling comfort zone.
8. General house and yard rules. Every household has a different set of rules. The only way for your summer nanny to follow the rules of your house is to fill her in on what your child can and can’t do. Can your child eat in the play room? Is she welcome to play in the formal living room? Is she allowed to water the flowers outside? There’s no way to cover all of your house rules, but by outlining the important ones your nanny will get a good sense of what you feel is appropriate and can make smart decisions about other issues.
9. What your child is allowed to do independently. If you have older kids, at some point your summer nanny will hear, “But Mom lets me do that by myself!” Sit down with your nanny and outline what you’re comfortable allowing your child to do independently to avoid creating a power struggle between the nanny and your child. This will also show you respect your child’s hard-earned independence. Can he play in the backyard by himself? Is he allowed to ride his bike to his friend’s house a few houses down the block? Can he be on Facebook without an adult checking in on his activities? Letting your nanny know what boundaries to set around your child’s activities will help her find the right balance between freedom and supervision.
10. Any must-do projects, assignments or chores. Sometimes children have academic assignments, school projects, or household chores they have to do during the summer months. Most kids won’t volunteer this information to the nanny so make sure you loop her in on anything your child needs to complete during the day. This will allow her to plan a fun day that allows enough time for your child to finish anything on his to-do list.
Having a summer nanny is a great childcare option for both you and your child. By making sure she has all the information she needs, she’ll be ready to do a great job and handle any emergency that comes up.