Producing an Optimal Partnership

I'm looking to hire my first nanny and I'm wondering if you all can offer any tips to help create a smooth relationship with the nanny. I feel confident in contracts and taxes. I'm looking for other tips. Things that can help or hurt a relationship with a nanny. - Anonymous


Maci said...

Good for you OP for taking into consideration how important the Nanny/Parent relationship is. Considering there is a child or more involved, it is vital that both sides get along well and respect that each has a very important role in the child's life.

I would say as a parent, first and foremost please treat your nanny w/respect. Do not refer or treat her like the "hired help" and do not talk down to her or make her feel second class.

Also, make sure you pay her the going rate for nannies in your area and make sure you pay her on time.

I would also like to stress it is important for you to stick to the contract and not add any duties not previously agreed upon. I.e., if your contract states she is responsible for the child's laundry, then do not ask her to "just toss in a few towels, sheets, etc...." since she is already doing the wash. Ditto for dishes as well.

Please make sure you come home when you say you will....if you cannot, at least call her and let her know you are on your way.

If your nanny will be doing any driving on the job, please make sure you pay her the Federal rate for mileage which I think is now .55 cents per mile.

OceanBlue said...

Don't talk to your friends and get ideas on what your nanny should be doing.

Bad idea!

Quickest way to get into trouble.

Talk to your nanny don't leave little post-its or checklists around.

If you'd like her to do something new that's not in the contract ask her don't tell her.

Don't act like nap time is party time for her. She deserves a break.

Know the schedule your kids are on and follow it. Don't ask her to do things or take them places during nap time

Remember the nanny is not there to compete with you.

If you work at home do not follow her around the house and check up on her.

Don't be a control freak.

Don't nitpick.

Susannah said...

Don't be an ass!

I assume you have a boss or had one in the past.

Avoid doing all the things your previous bosses did that bothered you and do the things your good bosses did.

The Golden Rule.

Behave that way and you'll get along, now you might not get to be friends, but you'll get along.

MissWi said...

Don't be stupid!
My boss and I have a wonderful relationship and the kids see that. I feel its very important that you be a team and the kids know it. That's means backing her up and having her do the same.
Be honest about the exact expectations of the job right away. So if you feel her responsibilities might change be honest and upfront about it from day one. Don't just spring things on her.
Don't be mad when she asks to do special things with your kids. Remember you could just stick them in any old day care but you chose better so allow her to be better.
Pay her not only for her vacations but also for the days you don't need her (its not her fault)
I always say the difference between a good nanny and a great one is the employer. Make her great

Let the small stuff go said...

These are pretty good suggestions, professionally...
Do a week trial and then go out for coffee at the end of week and talk about any questions or concerns either of you have (tell nanny ahead so she can ask her own questions). In six months do a review where both of you discuss how your feeling. Please let the small stuff slide, it is not helpful to criticize the small things your nanny dose differently than you. As long as she is safe, fun, loving, and consistent it's okay if she cuts the veggies different or dresses them in outfits that are not what you would have picked. If your working from home, come and go with texts and not constant physical interruptions, text when your late and when you have a change of plans that will affect child and nap, stay in your office and check in at the same times every day. Be respectful, thankful and let the small stuff go.

Lyn said...

The easiest working relationships with my mb/db's has always been because from the very beginning they made it clear to the children and to me that they were "on my side". They always made time to read and comment on the notes in the 'nanny log' I would leave. They respected my personal time by showing up when they say they will. They supply a prepaid credit card for me to have on hand when out with the kids. They have chats with me about the childrens development when asked for a moment. They ALWAYS say "thanks for a great day miss Lyn!" When I leave or "thanks for all you do!"

And they respect my boundaries without having to be reminded of our contract.

I hope your first Nanny is a great match for your family! It can take a bit of time to find them but that perfect fit makes for an incredible employee! :)

NannyNYC said...

A nanny is a partner with you in raising your child, so treat her with respect and care for her. Treat her as an equal and not as the help. Pay her competitive rates according to her experience and knowledge, paid vacations, bonus at end of the year, sick days. Respect her time and personal life and don't feel like she is taking your place as a mom, your kids will always know that you are their mommy.

Chelsea said...

Communicate with your nanny, and encourage her to communicate with you.

If you have issues with how she's doing things, sit down with her and talk to her without being accusatory. If it comes to it, it's all about constructive criticism (CONSTRUCTIVE being the key word.)

And if your nanny asks for help or advice in taking care of the kids, don't talk down to her. You could even go so far as to thank her for coming to you, instead of just creating bigger issues by trying to single-handedly handle problems she's not comfortable with.

And PLEASE, do NOT give your nanny mixed messages. Say what you mean and mean what you say, and don't go back on it later.

Chelsea said...

Also--encourage your nanny to socialize! Just because it's her job to spend her work hours with your children doesn't mean that she doesn't crave some adult interaction every once in a while. Imagine how you'd feel spending 8+ hours a day 5+ days a week with a child if you were NEVER given the opportunity to get out and talk to other adults.

A great way to encourage this is to offer to allow your nanny to arrange play dates with other local nannies, or even just to give her permission to take your kids to the park or the story hour at the library.

Burned Nanny said...

-Don't tell her that the job only entails dishes, laundry, and floors and then start asking her to clean your moldy toilets and leaving detailed chore lists.

-Don't tell her she isn't allowed to watch TV. Come on! Maybe she's lonely/bored and needs the noise.

-Don't make it a strict rule that tv isn't allowed then turn on the tv for your child the moment you walk in the door every evening.

-Please leave a small amount of petty cash so your Nanny is able to do a few things without asking you for money.

-If you have certain chores that your nanny is expected to do, please make sure you keep up on them over the weekend. It is a real bummer to come in Monday morning to a full sink of dishes, overflowing laundry baskets, and filthy floors. Also if the trash is full in the morning before you leave for work, please empty it.

-Please keep some food in the house for when she forgets to bring a lunch.

-If your nanny has a child and there is some sort of emergency and she needs to bring her child to work, it would be awesome if you were compassionate and understanding about life's little hiccups.

-If your nanny is an hourly wage earner and you send her home early, you should seriously consider still paying her wages until the time she is expecting to work. Her expenses stay the same and losing a few hours pay could be a big deal.

I lasted 3 months at my last nanny job before I quit with a note on the counter explaining how I had been burned and treated like crap.

Mrs. Poppins_J said...

The "Nanny Log" The families I work for and I have a "nanny log" as someone mentioned above. A bit more in detail about this. I record everything from the times the babies went to sleep and woke up, to the times they ate and what they ate, how much they ate, and if there were any problems during the day. In addition to this, its a place you can write any medication the child took during the day and any notes about events or problems during the day. For instance, if your child is sick and nanny gave them meds at 2p, next dose could be at 7:30p and the nanny is home for the day and your up to give the child meds. With the nanny log, you can easily look back on when she gave the child meds and not have to text her off hours about child related care. This was a major help. Also, if a child eats lunch but refuses to eat much, that could be noted. As well as different sleep patterns as they get older. The benefits of keeping a nanny log are endless. It allows all parties to constantly be aware of what your child did during the day, as well as allowing your nanny to give you feedback. Maybe your child was teething and had a bad day, that could be noted. I would recommend every family that has a nanny use a Nanny log. For us, we use a simple composition notebook that you can get for 99 cents most places. We are now on our second book and its been really awesome being able to look back on the different things that came up.

Communication - I feel this is the most important. From the start be open to hearing suggestions from the nanny. If you need to change something in your routine with your baby and the nanny suggested it, dont just write it off because the nanny suggested it. Take it into consideration. The 2 families I work for have excellent communication with me. We are constantly in contact via gchat, texts, and emails. Please ask your nanny if she is comfortable with open communication. The biggest thing for us is when they need me to stay late, relay a message to me, etc. So open communication MUST happen. Also, id recommend asking if the nanny is willing to read a few books on your specific parenting philosophy. If she/he is willing to read the books, you've already got a good candidate. Someone who is willing to take the time to learn about you and your family's ideals is more likely to blend with your family.

Do not friend your nanny on any social sites. Texting outside of work about child related things is appropriate, but nothing on social sites. This could lead you to think less of your nanny without your thoughts being substantiated by truth. For intance, you see a picture of your nanny drinking alcohol in a picture on fb. Then your thoughts lead to she drinks and does bad things, and then resentment/lower class feelings happen. My employers and I always text about the kids on the weekends. So if they do something fun with baby boy or baby girl, they tell me cause its fun. Thats acceptable.

DO NOT PAY MIN WAGE (unless you financially cannot pay her more).. Honestly this one gets me the most, people want quality care, they have to pay for it. Take care of your nanny, and she/he will go to the ends of the earth and back to take care of your child/ren. Its the truth. My employers take care of me really well. In return I do the absolute best I can for their children. Simple as that.

Another thing that I find builds my relationship with my employers is that we can joke together. Lighten the mood a bit. Keep a good balance of a partnership with employer status. A nanny is not just an employee in some ways. Treat your nanny as your would treat a family member. If your child has their birthday party on the weekend, invite the nanny and her/his family to attend. Having a nanny a blessing and a responsibility. Just as the family for the nanny is the same to them.

Good luck and hopefully you find your perfect fit first time! Keep us posted! :)

Bethany said...

It sounds like you're a caring person so I doubt you'll have a problem keeping a nanny.

If you have a contract with her stick to it.

If you need to make changes talk it over with her.

Don't expect to know the details of her private life and don't share your private life with her. If you are married or in a relationship don't quip about your SO to her.

Treat her as you want to be treated. You wouldn't like it if you came home with a sink full of bottles so don't leave a sink full f bottles for her.

Let her know she is appreciated.

A heartfelt thank you can go a long way.

Abc nanny said...

There are tons of great advice on here. I have just two pieces of valuable advice.

1) do whatever you can to strengthen your kids relationship with nanny. Say nice things behind her back. When they come to you and say "but nanny said..." well you back her up. Give her the benefit of the doubt. The minute your kids sense ANY doubt about your belief in nanny.. You are practically begging them to misbehave and not respect nanny. (kids are smart, perceptive, and know how to play sides.) She is not your competition and she is not there to be mom. She is there to help YOU. Return the favor.

2) always, always ASK the nanny's opinion. I understand you are the parent but the nanny needs to feel valued and not micromanaged. Say "what do you think about moving nap time 15 mins earlier" or "would you mind doing..." etc. I don't care how small or petty the task is. I am a really nice person and a big push over. I will do just about anything to help. But there is such a difference when I'm approached with "so and so is coming over for a play date at 3." vs "do you have plans with the kids today, would you mind if so and so came over to play?"

Manhattan Nanny said...

Be aware that many nannies find it hard to say no. Thus they end up doing things they don't want to do, and resenting it. You can avoid this by not asking her to do chores that aren't child related.

It can't be said often enough, come home on time! If you are going to ask her to stay late, give as much advance warning as possible, and make sure she doesn't feel you will be upset or annoyed if she says no.

You should have a couple of back up sitters for evenings, and a plan for day coverage so she won't be made to feel guilty if she is too ill to work, or can't sit on an evening when you have an important engagement.

You sound like a considerate employer, and there is plenty of good advice to think about above. If you have good communication and your nanny knows you appreciate her efforts, you, should have a happy nanny, and most importantly, happy children.

leftcoastmama said...

Mom to Mom:

Always remember that being a nanny is your nanny's job or her career. I think that will save you some stress.

Beyond taxes and contracts think about what you look for in a job.

A good wage. Benefits. A reasonable boss.

Don't give her a hard time if she needs to leave early or take a day off. No this should not be an all the time thing, but you should realize it happens sometimes. Make sure you have back up for those days.

Remember she is not there to make your life easier. She is not there to be your, maid, cook or housekeeper. She is not their to be your PA or Google Calendar.
She is not there to be your relationship counselor.

She is there to help care for and assist you in raising your child.

Your nanny may become very close to your family, and if she does it might be hard for you to imagine she'l every want or need to leave, but like every other job on the planet employees move on.

Some stay for years others for months. People leave for a variety of reasons. Don't take your nanny's departure personally.

If you've done all you need to as a good employer and provided a fair and respectful environment you do not to stress yourself out over her leaving.

Talk with your nanny about issues not to her. If you have a seasoned nanny get her opinions on things. Many nannies come with a wealth of knowledge that can only serve to benefit you and your child.

Offer to be a reference for her.

Always thank her. We can never hear thank you enough.

You love it when your boss acknowledges you I'm sure.
I hope you find a great nanny.

I know making the leap to have a stranger come to you h ome and care for your baby is a big one full of strong emotions, but it so worth it once you find a great person.

I'm glad I made the leap into employing a nanny many years ago.

Ms.Nanny said...

Very good advice has already been shared in the above comments. Respect, great communication and "picking battles" carefully are the pieces of advice I would like to reiterate. I have been employed by a wonderful family for the last five years and my employers have amazed me with their kindness, respect and professionalism. They have made me feel like a valued member of "the team." I am grateful that they respect my boundaries, have been consistent in what their expectations are and have not been guilty of job creep. I am inspired to be a better caretaker for their children because I see them working so diligently and capably to juggle work life and parenthood and I want to lighten the load. Your efforts at being a respectful and compassionate employer will help your nanny thrive in her job. The reward can be a great nanny that will take excellent care of your children and give you peace of mind.

By having the mindset you already seem to have, thinking these things over before hand, you are well on your way to being an excellent employer.

Wednesday said...

At the end of the day please ask how things went. The mom I work for now doesn't do that and it makes me absolutely crazy. Wouldn't you want to know what went on with your child/ baby when you were gone? When I try to tell her she acts like she doesn't give a crap. I have a journal that I write everything he does in but it's still good to ask.

Don't be jealous at the relationship your child has with the nanny. Which is why I think she doesn't want to hear what we do during the day or hear that we played a game and had fun. The nanny will never be you or the same as a parent.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

The fact that you are seeking ways to maintain a good relationship is half the battle, OP!

I think the key to keeping your nanny and keeping your relationship positive is to remember to maintain a mutually respectful relationship. Set and keep whatever personal boundaries you feel comfortable with. Back nanny up in front of your kids and expect the same from her.

A "Thank you!" goes a long way, and market rate pay/raises/benefits do too.

Don't set up a situation where job creep sours things. If nanny happens to go above and beyond, notice and thank her, but don't expect that to be the case from now on.

Best of luck to you!

gypsy said...

What happened that you felt burned? That's too bad.

gypsy said...

Say thank you & point out the good things that she does. That has always made me feel happy & want to work even harder. It makes a bad day good. This can not be underestimated.

Leave petty cash in a jar for her. Refill as needed. Ask her to place the receipts in the jar. Never accuse her of stealing. Your relationship can't survive such an accusation. Maybe she donated the change.

Don't pry into her personal life. If she's like I am, I don't discuss anything about myself or family. Its extremely embarassing. Same thing goes with any topic that isn't child-friendly. Id be mortified.

Make sure you ask her if she celebrates a holiday before involving her. Ask her if she would like certain days off, possibly in leiu of certain holidays. Example, Id rather work on MLK day than my birthday.

Be united as one, both parents & the nanny need to have specific expectations and no "splitting" of adults is allowed(kids can't seek help from another parent bc their being disciplined or punished). Write & post guidelines & expectations posted.

Don't expect the nanny to host playdates. If she is responsible for other children, its only fair to ask if its okay with her, limit the days & length & OF COURSE pay her for the extra work. Do not permit other neighbors in your area to use your nanny. She isn't a free drop in child care provider.

Let her use your vehicle. Its much less complicated than reimbursing her for mileage, wear & tear, manintenece, cleanings, etc. Don't forget to add her to your insurance policy.

When you have guests, refrain from talking about her as if she doesn't exist. Don't invite people to parties in front of her. Common courtosy applies.

Be extremely specific as to what she is responsible for. You can't be too specific. If your nanny feels she accepted the job under certain conditions & then you added more, she will feel very bitter & mislead.

Let her know about your home. How to turn off the gas? Use the remote? Operate the alarm system? Is she allowed to answer the phone, if so, what would you like her to say while answering? What information can she tell parents? Do you have other domestic staff, such as a regular housekeeper? Let her know about repairmen & instruct her whether or not she is allowed to answer the door(I vote no).Introduce her to a neighbor, should she need to borrow a cup of sugar or need anything else.

Create a household packet with a get to know for each child. And information about the home, medical information & releases. These can usually be found on your insurances web sites.

Pay her on time. She shouldn't ever have to remind you, that feels degrading. Do you owe her mileage? Create a worksheet for it & reimburse her promptly.

nycmom said...

Truly great advice up til now and lots for you to read through OP! Summary: respect, say thank you, boundaries, communication, back up your nanny, don't micromanage, pay on time, and no job creep.

So I will keep my comments as an employer limited to strictly those that I don't THINK I saw above:

1. Make the Work Agreement as detailed as possible, including every single potential thing you can think of. It cannot hurt, but can help both parties immensely. Give the Nanny a copy to take home over night, read, and negotiate before finalizing. Set a time for reviews and raises. And, above all, STICK to every last detail.

2. Don't be afraid to admit if you overreact to something silly. It happens. We are all human. Especially as a new employer, I was definitely not as good at direct communication as I have become. But I still make mistakes. I then make a point to address it, sitting down, with kids otherwise occupied as soon as convenient. I apologize for any role I played in a misunderstanding, even if I do believe I am "right," and ask how Nanny feels we can solve it so it is fair to both sides. I've learned these small things are usually small money, but a willingness to admit error, consider your employee's input, and find a solution goes along way. I hate when I default to adhering blindly to the contract (though I normally strongly advocate following the contract), without considering that my Nanny has a different perspective. It usually takes me one hour-overnight to realize I am being silly, but I then consciously seek out my nanny to resolve this stuff. You can't let it fester.

3. Conversely, if there is a performance issue that is becoming a real problem, address it directly. Don't become passive-aggressive. It is so easy, but so destructive. For example, my current nanny is *always* about 10 mins late (range 5-15). It drives me insane as I am late no more than twice a year for no more than 30 minutes and offer generous compensation and apologies. She just likes to pretend it didn't happen. And it isn't a time of day issue; it happens whether her start time is 7:00am or 9:00am so I know it is just a habit. It is not a fireable offense in isolation, but an unwillingness to discuss it and try to solve it would be. We have discussed it, then improvement, then backslide. So we will continue to address it. Just like you can't let your nanny's resentment build; neither can you allow your own to do so.

NannyCaroline said...

Remember that she is a human, not a robot. I was shocked how many parents seem to forget and get annoyed by this. She has to use the restroom, eat, have something to drink and sit down during the day. Please allow her to do these things during the day without making her feel bad. Also try to keep the rules consistent when she's not there. "When are you leaving, I want to watch TV" is a common thing from kids to say if you allow your kids no TV with her but unlimited when she's gone.