We all know how hard it is to find a good caregiver for our children. So if you’re lucky enough to find a great nanny, you’ll want to make sure she (or he) sticks around! Here are seven ways to maintain a great relationship with your children’s nanny.
1. Give her clear-cut instructions and expectations: Make sure your nanny knows your specific rules and desires regarding TV, snacks, bedtimes, etc. You can’t expect her to read your mind, and you can’t get upset with her for letting your child play a video game if you have a strict no-screen-time-before-bed rule that you failed to tell her about. By knowing exactly what you want and don’t want, your nanny can give your child the type of care you’d like him or her to have.
2. Don’t throw too many extra tasks on her plate: It’s fine to ask your nanny to wash a few dishes, put away toys, or even fold the kids’ laundry while they are napping. But don’t expect her to clean the bathrooms, vacuum, or empty your cat’s litter box if these things weren’t in her original job description. Be upfront about any pets you have before you hire her. And if you do wish to add new tasks to her plate, make sure she is OK with doing them, and increase her salary accordingly. That being said…
3. Make sure you’re paying her fairly: Care.com has a great Babysitting Rates Calculator that will help you figure out the going rate for nannies and sitters in your town. Just plug in your zip code, the number of children you have, the number of years of experience your nanny has, and the number of hours per week she works. You’ll get a dollar amount that you can then tweak based on your kids’ ages, any extra tasks you want the nanny to do, etc. You can also ask friends what they pay their nannies to get an idea of what other caregivers make in your area.
4. Be respectful of her time: Try to give your nanny a general idea of when you’ll be home. If you’re going to be later, shoot her a text or give her a call to let her know. You don’t know what she might have planned after her shift is over. If you’ve got to cancel on her, try to let her know as soon as possible. And if you plan to increase or decrease her regular hours, talk to her about it first. She may not be available for more hours, or she may rely on the number of hours she’s been working to make ends meet.
5. Feed her: You don’t have to cook your nanny huge meals, of course, but having food available to her is just a nice thing to do. After all, you don’t want someone who is hungry and thirsty caring for your kids! So let your nanny know she is welcome to help herself to anything in your pantry or fridge. If you know she likes Diet Coke, for example, stock up on some cans for her. If you’re going to be out during dinnertime, it might be nice to order a pizza for her and your kids..
6. Don’t forget her birthday or holidays: I always give my kids’ nanny a gift for her birthday and for Christmas. I usually give her a gift card or add some extra cash to her paycheck, along with a small gift from the kids. I also have the boys draw in a card for her. It shows her how much our family appreciates her!
7. Include her in events for your kids: Our nanny was thrilled when we sent her an invitation to our twins’ 2nd-birthday party—as if we would have excluded her! Nannies become a big part of children’s lives, and it would mean a lot to your nanny and to your kids for her to be at their important events. So be sure to invite her to school plays, birthday parties, etc. Even if she can’t go, she will greatly appreciate the invitation.
And remember, any good relationship goes two ways. If your nanny cancels on you or arrives late often, breaks your rules, neglects her duties, etc., it’s time to have a chat with her and maybe even find a new nanny. But as long as you give each other the same level of respect, your nanny can become a part of your family!