Originally posted by Kathleen Webb of HomeWork Solutions
By Dr. Lindsay Heller, Psy. D.
Working with a nanny can be one of the most rewarding options your family chooses in their lifetime. The key to a successful relationship with your nanny is without fail having a clear and open communication channel. In light of recent events in the news showcasing untraditional situations portraying nannies in a negative light, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that these families failed to implement the following things. Let’s use this as a learning tool to move forward and do things the proper way!
Have A Formal Work Agreement
It is way too often that I see families taking on new nannies and just starting to pay them under the table because things appear to be “working out just right.” Inviting someone into your home on such a frequent basis requires deliberate care and decision-making. Yet despite how intuitive or excited you might feel about your new nanny, it’s imperative that you have a written work agreement outlining duties expectations, rates, holidays etc. – anything and everything that you would see in a formal contract of any nature. If and when expectations change in the future from either you or your nanny, you will want to have everything cleanly and neatly written down to avoid disaster down the line!
Establish Preferred Mode(s) of Communication
The way that each mom or dad prefers to be contacted will of course vary from family to family. I have and always will stand by that in-person communication trumps all! There is nothing like face-to-face connection in order to get your point across or to set guidelines clearly and efficiently. Be sure to set-up with your nanny how you would like to be contacted on a daily basis. Are you looking for daily text check-ins? Do you prefer a weekly e-mail summary of updates, photos, or thoughts? What is the most appropriate form of communication in your household? Decide before hiring your nanny and then set the expectations. A new popular idea is that nannies are keeping written Kid Logs, kind of like a journal, only it’s made specifically for the parents with weekly updates. This is a great memento for the kids down the line, too!
Address Conflicts Immediately
While in an ideal world, everything in our household would run smoothly 24/7, as parents, we know that this is often far from the case. If and when conflicts arise or you see something that your nanny is doing you’d like done differently, do not hesitate to reach out and gently acknowledge the issue at hand. Tip: Do wait until the children are in another room, or are sleeping etc., as they should not be exposed to witnessing the conflict. But I encourage you to reach out to your nanny right away. Use a firm but caring voice, ask questions, and offer suggestions as to how the situation can improve. Holding in your feelings will only prolong the situation and make things worse. Nip conflicts in the bud and you’ll feel happier and more relaxed, trust me!
Dr. Heller is a mother of two sweet girls. When she’s not playing “tea party,” she’s a professional nanny consultant known as The Nanny Doctor. She blogs, tweets, and Facebooks endless nanny wisdom. Check her out here at TheNannyDoctor.com or on Twitter @thenannydoctor.