Having the same caregiver throughout the years is one of the biggest draws of nanny care. Not only do kids benefit when they have consistent care, but it makes parents lives much easier too. The cornerstone to keeping your nanny for years is creating and maintaining a positive nanny/family relationship. Here are some tips for creating that bond.
It starts and ends with good communication. The nanny/parent relationship is like no other relationship. It’s both personal and professional and the boundaries between the two are fluid depending on the situation. Make honest, respectful communication a priority from the beginning. Set up a way to quickly check in with each other at the end of each day and set aside time each month to have a real conversation about how things are going. Clear, regular communication will help you avoid many of the problems that often come up between employers and nannies.
Clearly outline your unique expectations. Every nanny job has typical responsibilities, like preparing meals for the child and keeping up with the child’s laundry. However, every parent is different and has unique expectations regarding how tasks are done. One mother may want her child to eat only organic, fresh fruit and another mother may regularly give her child sugar infused fruit cups. One mother may want all the laundry done on Wednesdays when the housekeeper isn’t there and another mother may want the laundry done on Fridays so everything is clean for the weekend. It’s impossible for a nanny to fulfill a parent’s expectations unless she knows what they are. Take the time to outline the things that are important to you and give your nanny clear instructions on what you want. Even the best caregiver needs direction on your personal preferences.
Create and stick to a nanny contract. One of the best ways to make sure you’re both on the same page is to create a comprehensive nanny contract or agreement, and then stick to the agreements in it! A good contract will outline your expectations of your nanny and her expectations of you. It will also outline all the details of the many employment issues you’ll face so there’s no confusion about what a term means and there aren’t any incorrect assumptions being made.
Set and maintain professional boundaries. Although the nanny/parent relationship is an employment relationship, it happens in a very informal and intimate setting. That makes setting and keeping appropriate boundaries a challenge. Take the time to think about what boundaries are necessary for you and your nanny to work best together. How much of your personal life do you want to share with your nanny? How much of her personal life do you really want to know about? It’s easy for casual conversations to slip into the sharing of personal stories, but think about how that will affect the relationship long-term. Talking about the fight you had with your husband over the weekend puts your nanny is a tough spot because she works for both of you. Hearing about the great party your nanny attended last night might make you question if she’s fully present today at work.
Respect and appreciate your nanny. Respect and appreciation are two of the fundamental elements of a successful nanny/parent relationship. Nannies are childcare professionals and having their work valued and respected by their employers is one of the top ingredients of a good work environment. Of course, the better your relationship, the more your nanny will bring to the job each and every day and the longer she’ll stay with your family.
Saying “thank you” at the end of the day, valuing her input into behavior challenges, and noticing the small yet important things she does to keep your household running smoothly are all ways to let your nanny know you respect and appreciate her.
Have regular performance reviews. Nobody’s perfect, including your nanny. Letting her know the great things she’s doing as well as the ways she can improve her performance is part of being a good employer. When delivered in a respectful and helpful way, most nannies welcome constructive criticism. They want to do the best job possible.
Having a positive nanny/family relationship does take some work. It’s easy to start off on the right foot and then to let communication, family meetings and the all-important thank you fall victim to our busy lives. It’s easy to let things slide when they’re good. But like all relationships, the best way to keep this relatonship strong is to invest in it on a regular basis and to address small problems before they become big ones.