Hiring a nanny can be quite a blessing for many households.
Between busy schedules, careers, extra-curriculars, and everything else that pops up in our daily lives, having someone there to lend a hand can be a godsend. That is, as long as you find the right someone to help out and you take the proper steps to keep things running smoothly.
If you’re anything like me, you probably have a certain way you like things done around your house, no matter how chaotic or untidy it may be. I love when my husband does dishes because it means I don’t have to, but I cringe when I find the egg whisk in the same drawer as the spatulas (doesn’t everyone keep those separate? No? Just me? Let’s move on).
The point is, you likely have a set way to do certain things, even if you don’t realize it, and these are things that a nanny will most definitely need to know about.
In order to keep things running as smoothly as possible and to help acclimate your new household helper to optimize the experience, I highly recommend setting a basic sort of “ground rules” at the beginning of any new nanny contract. I say that term loosely, however, because trust me, you don’t want to overdo it and give your nanny a ridiculous list of do’s and don’ts that send them running before they show up for day one. Be specific. But be reasonable too.
1. Keep It Simple
At the heart of it all is to keep things simple. You don’t want to inundate your new helper with crazy rules and regulations that aren’t necessary, but at the same time, you need to help her learn the ways of the household.
I recommend setting up a “Nanny Guidelines” sheet to be handed out with the contract at the time of hiring. This way she can have it at her fingertips and can take it with her to look over when she has time and isn’t under your eyes being scrutinized as she reads. (We know, you would never do such a thing, but just in case…)
You can find lots of sample templates online if you don’t want to create your own from scratch. Need some inspo? Care.com has an excellent example of a “Nanny Rules” sheet here.
2. Stick to the Main Points
You’ll want to make sure you cover all of the main points, such as how you choose to discipline your child and what you discipline over (as well as what you look past).
Other important points to cover would include what kinds of foods and meal/snack schedules you have, and even an overall “this is how we believe” section to give your new nanny a feel for who your family is.
3. It’s OK to Disagree
Keep in mind that your nanny will likely never agree with 100% of your parenting choices (does anyone?). They may very well vent about you to their friends or not show complete enthusiasm over some things. Remember that that is completely acceptable behavior. They are allowed to vent about their day just as much as you are, and if you keep an open mind, you might just gain some knowledge from the disagreements.
As long as they aren’t disrespectful about it, it’s OK if they aren’t super excited about your “they have to eat three bites of everything on their plate” rule. They should always follow your guidelines (within reason), but don’t judge them if their own personal opinions come out here and there.
4. Give Some Examples
Sometimes the easiest way to explain a point is just to give an example of it. It’s good to give your nanny specifics on what your kids like or don’t like (toys, games, special treats, normal meals, etc.). This helps the nanny take the guessing game out of getting to know your kids in the beginning and can give them an advantage to building a relationship.
It may seem trivial, but setting a basic standard of how and when to communicate with you can help immensely. Oftentimes, nannies are hesitant to call or text because they don’t want to interrupt a work day or meeting. Outlining how you prefer to be contacted (and when) can take away some of the pressure from the nanny trying to guess if they should call you to let you know little Jenny just stabbed herself in the eye with a light saber while playing superheroes.
Overall, the most important thing you can do to keep things running at optimal levels with your new nanny is to keep communication open and keep an understanding outlook on the relationship.
Remember that this is an employment contract for them, so try to keep in mind the kind of guidelines and relationships that work best for you in your line of work and try to apply them at home as well.
If you don’t like a stifling schedule or a ridiculous To-Do list (or a hovering and overbearing boss?), your nanny probably won’t either. Be reasonable. Be specific. But also, be nice. Your nanny will most likely thank you for it with exceptional service.
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Jamie is a married mother of four – two girls and two boys – ages 3 to 22. With 19 years between her oldest and youngest, she writes to keep her sanity in check with a healthy dose of therapeutic humor injected for good measure. She is a children’s book author and full-time mommy blogger for her site, Momma Juice and regularly guest blogs for other sites.