Finding a great family-nanny match can be a stressful endeavor, but it’s one that pays off in spades when you’ve found that perfect addition to your household and your children’s lives. Once you’ve found your ideal caretaker and the children have started to bond with their new nanny, it’s important to keep the employee/employer relationship strong to ensure a long and harmonious alliance.
Here are some tips to keeping your nanny happy:
Don’t be a Creep(er)
Upon hiring your nanny, you should devise a written work agreement that details duties, hours and expectations. If you don’t execute a formal contract, at least have a conversation to discuss what duties she is responsible for and the hours she’s expected keep. Then stick to the plan. Don’t be tempted to slide in what you see as minor favors without providing proper compensation. Respect her off hours and days and don’t infringe on them with your needs. And don’t assume she’ll be fine covering you for an extra 20 minutes at the end of the day – she might have her own plans or other obligations.
If you find you need an extra hand with household cleaning or running errands as time goes on, discuss if she’d like to take on those extra responsibilities and what a satisfactory raise might be to cover her time and energy– but make it clear it is just an offer, not a demand. If she feels bait-and-switched or pressured into doing things she’d rather not, you could end up with her frustrated and leaving the position altogether. If she hesitates, just opt for another solution. (It is far cheaper and less disruptive to bring in a maid service once a week than to lose your nanny.)
Be a great example to your kids by taking the extra time to be thoughtful to your nanny and show her she’s not just an employee but also an appreciated member of your household. Check her application for her birthday and celebrate it. If giving her the day off doesn’t work for your schedule, buy a nice gift and have the kids make a personal card. The cost will be minimal compared to the impact it will have.
If she goes above and beyond on the job, note it and thank her. A small gift card for a coffee or a movie is a nice touch, but if you’re leery of creating expectations simply express your heartfelt gratitude and make her feel valued.
Factor in the cost of a nanny search in terms of time, angst and money and you might find it a smart move to extend some benefits to your caretaker to ward off potential poachers or dissatisfaction that could make her consider leaving. You should already be paying mileage if she uses her own vehicle for transporting the kids, but it might make financial sense to acquire a vehicle for her to use while on duty so she is covered under the family automobile insurance policy. Some healthcare, parking and other benefits can be tax deductible or count as non-taxable income. Add on extra personal days or increase vacation days annually to inspire loyalty.
If you’d like to offer impressive benefits but the budget just isn’t there or you are already financially overextended in order to meet your nanny’s salary needs, there are other ways to add perks to the position that are easier on the wallet. Check with your existing family memberships to see if the nanny can be added with little or no fee. Gyms, state parks, museums, swimming pools, beach clubs, and media memberships like Netflix or Hulu might add up to a great benefits package without you taking a serious financial hit. Some urban transportation cards can be transferable, so handing it off with the child could work for every day travel. If that seems too complicated, hand it off for the weekend for her to enjoy her time when you don’t have commuting needs.
If you have a family vacation home, consider lending it to a responsible nanny for her off week or a long weekend. Use your air miles to cover an annual flight home, or offer to allow her to bring a friend or family member she can hang out with during her free time on your vacations when suitable.
It should go without saying, but maintaining a high level of respect in how you approach your nanny about potential conflicts or even just in every day guidance about how you’d prefer things done in your absence is crucial. Yes, you are the employer and a nanny is a professional job, but it is also a very personal position, so a more sensitive approach is called for to avoid hurt feelings that could sour the relationship.
Come from a place of teamwork. For instance, you might say “Joey loves your baked treats and lemonade, but I think the extra sugar is making it a little tougher for him to find room for his veggies at dinner and to wind down at night. How can we make sure he eats healthier?” Find a moment to chat when the kids are not present so as not to endanger the nanny’s place of authority in their eyes. Avoid discussing the nanny in front of the kids or where they might overhear. Kids are notorious for repeating embarrassing comments that may be taken out of context, and if they pick up on a less than united front you will be making life harder on the nanny and the kids (and eventually you!).