You spend a lot of time and energy choosing the nanny employment situation that is right for you, but your efforts can’t stop there. Like any relationship, it takes conscious and continuous effort for the nanny/employer relationship to be maintained. While there are many things both parties can do right to keep the relationship sailing smoothly, there are also a few things that will either put the relationship at a dead stop or be the match that ignites its breakdown.
1. Breach of trust. The nanny and parent relationship is built on trust. Whether the nanny intentionally disobeys her employer’s directive or the employer snoops around the live-in nanny’s quarters, any breach of trust is a surefire way to damage the nanny/employer working relationship. Once trust is broken, it’s hard to repair it, and chances are the relationship will never be the same. While the working relationship may continue, it’s guaranteed to be a more distant and strained one.
2. Gossip. From the park bench to online message boards, there are plenty of temptations to vent about your nanny/employer relationship. Don’t. Whether one nanny overhears you badmouthing another, you’re unknowingly posting on the same nanny message board your employer reads, or you accidently send a seething email to an unintended recipient, somehow, someway, gossiping will end up biting you in the bum. While it’s unrealistic to think nannies and employers won’t occasionally experience frustrating moments in their relationship, save the conversations detailing them for when you’re having a chat with a trusted friend and confident over a latte.
3. Lack of communication. Unlike with other jobs, nannies and parents have no middle man. Parents serve as both boss and human resources director and nannies serve as the employee representative. For the nanny/employer relationship to succeed there has to be open and honest communication. Nannies and employers must feel comfortable communicating, or at least be willing to do so despite their discomfort. From concerns about the children to workday schedule changes, keeping the lines of communication open and addressing issues as they arise is essential to avoiding frustration buildup and ensuring the longevity of the relationship.
4. Mid-game changes. Changes in expectations, duties and responsibilities, commonly called job creep, is one of the biggest reasons nanny and employer relationships fail. Having a solid written work agreement helps to prevent cases where the nanny goes above and beyond, like doing the family’s laundry because it was left out, from becoming the norm. But mid-game changes from the nanny can also be detrimental to the employment relationship. When a nanny who was typically super flexible suddenly becomes quite rigid, shockwaves will hit the relationship. Having monthly meetings and renegotiating the nanny/family contract annually can help to ensure that the job duties, expectations and responsibilities are completely clear.
5. Lack of respect. When it comes to the nanny/employer relationship, mutual respect is required. A successful nanny/employer relationship is professional, yet friendly. It’s familial, but not. From showing up (or coming home) late, to not backing each other up in front of the children, to not issuing prompt payment for all hours worked, there are daily opportunities to chip away at the mutual respect required for a nanny/employer relationship to be successful. Once respect is dissolved, the relationship will soon follow.
By its very nature, the nanny/employer relationship is a volatile one. Based on the love triangle of a nanny, child and his parents, how can there not be bumps along the relationship road? Committing to working through the ups and downs and avoiding the major relationship kills will help ensure longevity and success in the nanny/employer working relationship.