While you’d love to be home with your little ones all day, work and other obligations may prevent you from doing so. If this situation sounds all-too-familiar, it may be time to hire a nanny. Now, before you begin worrying about a complete stranger entering your home and watching your children, know that there are precautions you can take to ensure the nanny is qualified and competent.
Here are a few mistakes to avoid making and a couple of things to do instead.
Being Too Eager to Hire
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when hiring a nanny is doing so too quickly. You’re bringing a stranger into your home, and they’re going to be spending lots of time alone with your kid. The last thing you want to do is rush the decision. Conduct a background check, read reviews and ask lots of questions. Being thorough is the only way to ensure you hire a tried-and-true nanny.
Not Having a Contract
Once you find a nanny and you’re seriously considering hiring her, draft a contract. It should be clear and direct and outline pay, guidelines and work requirements, like how many hours she’ll be working and if she can have guests spend the night. If you don’t have a contract straight from the get-go, there won’t be any legally binding agreement if your child gets injured or something goes wrong. Although most parents don’t have an extreme problem with their nanny, taking precautions like writing a contract can protect you and your kids.
Paying Too Much
Paying your nanny too much is an incredibly silly mistake. Depending on where you live and how much you can afford, nannies are paid anywhere from minimum wage to about $30 per hour. However, some people offer their nanny a salary. Do some research and ask around to see how much people in your area pay their nanny to avoid overpaying. Regardless of what you decide to pay them, be sure to do so legally and deduct Social Security and Medicare taxes from each paycheck.
Once you explicitly state house rules, pay and all other stipulations, your nanny should follow them. However, problems will arise, no matter how detailed you make your contract. The key is to immediately address these issues, so they don’t become fireable offenses later on. Plus, if you communicate now, you can work together to find a solution sooner. There won’t be any awkward tension between the two of you, helping you develop a strong bond of trust and dependability right off the bat.
Not Scheduling Recaps
One way to effectively promote communication between you and your nanny is to schedule daily or weekly recaps. During these meetings, discuss big-picture situations that you think she could’ve handled better. Also, allow your nanny to share her experiences with your kids and address any issues she might have had with them while you were away. Be open with one another, and remember that neither of you is perfect. While there may be room to improve, keep in mind that everyone’s just doing their best.
While it is essential to be open and honest, there is such a thing as sharing too much. When meeting with your nanny, don’t forget she is an employee, not a friend. Avoid going off on tangents and discussing marital issues, social gossip or workplace drama. This can put your nanny in a very awkward situation and doesn’t look good on you. Keep chitchat to a minimum and focus on the kids.
Disagreeing in Front of the Kids
When you come home from work to relieve the nanny of her duties, you’ll probably be tired and maybe even a bit irritated if you’ve had a bad day at work. However, if the kids are around, be sure to treat the nanny with dignity and respect. If you lose your temper with the nanny or disregard her, your kids will likely begin to do the same. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, you certainly want your kids to obey and respect the nanny.
Badmouthing Your Nanny Online
If you do disagree with your nanny — which will likely happen from time to time — don’t jump on social media to vent. While it may be tempting, it will only fan the flames of your rage as friends take your side and talk her down as well. Even worse, you risk your employees seeing your hurtful words. Keep your chill and stay off the internet. If you really do need to vent, speak with your spouse or a trusted friend who can offer valuable feedback.
If you hire a great nanny, write all the rules and avoid making silly mistakes, odds are, your kids will love their nanny. While this may sound great on paper, it can actually be really difficult to watch another person parent your little ones. You might even begin to wonder if you’re a good parent. After all, if the nanny can cook dinner, do the dishes and get the kids to brush their teeth in less than an hour, why can’t you?
These moments can really jar you as a parent, but it’s important to remember these things are the nanny’s job. She might even be better at parenting. However, no matter how good she is, she will never replace you. You are the parent and your kids know that — and they’ll always love you more than the nanny, no matter how much fun they say she is. So stop comparing yourself and simply focus on being the best parent you can be while you are home.
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Jennifer Landis is the founder of Mindfulness Mama, a blog where she talks all things #momlife, marriage, mindfulness, and everything in between. A thirty-something mom of two, Jennifer spends her limited free time practicing yoga and pilates, sipping tea, and reading with her littles. You can find more from Jennifer on Twitter, @JenniferELandis.
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