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What To Do When There’s A Conflict With Your Nanny: Best Practices For Communicating

All relationships – even the best ones – will involve conflict at some point or another. Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can be a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and another person and really grow your relationship.

As parents, it’s important to model good communication practices for our children because they see and mimic everything we do. One relationship that I often see get overlooked when it comes to good communication skills and handling conflict is the parent-nanny relationship.

Here are some best practices to employ when resolving conflict with your nanny, but they can also be used in a more general sense with all your relationships, whether that be with your spouse, friends, teachers and even your children.

Soften the Startup. This means that you approach the conflict with a level head, not in a heated moment. Don’t come at the person with a list of accusations. You want to make it clear that this is a conversation and there will be time for both parties to talk. It’s always good to start on a positive note, so perhaps you point out something that is going well before getting to what your feel is problematic.

Take Breaks. Sometimes it’s necessary to take breaks. It’s important to initiate these breaks as well as be receptive of them. In other words, if you are trying to resolve something and the other person says they need time to process, this is a fair request. This doesn’t mean the conflict needs to get dragged out over multiple days, but if someone needs a minute to think or gather themself, taking a time out will only help in the long run. Also, if you feel like you aren’t communicating effectively and also need time to formulate a response or process new information, don’t feel like you can’t ask for a pause.

Use “I” statements. It’s always important to use “I feel” statements rather than “You” accusatory statements. Let the other person know how you interpreted their actions and how they made you feel.

Take turns speaking and listening. This one can be difficult, especially in situations when you are employing a person to look after your child. While you may be the boss, all good employers take the time to listen to their employees. If you are trying to resolve a conflict, it can’t feel like a lecture. Make sure you are practicing good listening skills – like making good eye contact, avoiding aggressive body language and refraining from interrupting.

Paraphrase. This is a technique that goes a long way to prevent hurt feelings. After someone has explained their side of things, it’s a good idea to paraphrase what you heard. You don’t need to repeat back to them word for word what they said, and you should avoid using the accusatory “You said…” Instead, try something like, “I hear that you felt this way, when I said this…” Putting words in other people’s mouths is the easiest way to escalate an argument. You want to make sure the other person is also interpreting what you are saying the way it was intended to be understood. Listening back to someone paraphrasing will help you know you did a good job in effectively communicating your point.

Conflicts are a normal part of all healthy relationships and it’s important to remember that the nanny-parent relationship will be no different. Effectively communicating and working through issues will help you both to grow and the relationship to last.

Remember to never handle conflicts with your nanny in front of the child. Also, if your child has a specific complaint about the nanny, you’ll want to do your due diligence to verify the complaint before becoming accusatory. If there is something seriously wrong, I always recommend a third party for mediation.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page  or contact us today.

3 Tips For Parents To Make Thanksgiving Week Special For Both Nannies And Your Kids

With Thanksgiving next week, I thought it would be a good time to discuss holidays and how you as a parent can make them festive, free of stress and days your entire family and your nanny actually enjoy.
Child Drawing Turkey Hand Thanksgiving
Once a week, I teach a class of continuing education for nannies and in almost every class, I find nannies who feel appreciated at their jobs perform much better and are much more motivated to work. And let’s admit it: They work very hard!!! Holidays are the perfect time to show your nanny your appreciation. Weeks like Thanksgiving are also times when communication and the little extra things will go a long way in keeping your nanny happy in your home.
During one of my  training sessions recently, one nanny actually started crying tears of happiness as she told me the story of how the parents she works for said she could have two extra paid days off around Thanksgiving. She said at first she figured  the parents would negotiate with her and ask her to work extra hours during other days or come on the weekend, but they simply told her  they appreciated all her hard work and wanted to thank her by giving her those days off as they were going on a trip anyway.
I encourage you to talk to your nannies about holiday weeks sooner rather than later and come up with a schedule that works for both of you. While you don’t have to do anything extra, these are often weeks you will want to spend more time at home with your kids anyway, and giving your nanny some unexpected breaks/perks around the holidays is something that will encourage your nanny to be loyal. It’s important to be considerate of your nanny’s family obligations and remember that Thanksgiving should be a special time for them, too.
Here are three specific ways you can make next week special for both your nanny and your child.
  1. Encourage your child to make something special for your nanny. It can be a simple drawing. Even when you baby is only 6 months old, you can always use a handprint or a footprint as something tangible to say thanks. If your children are older, encourage them to write a note of gratitude (and you should write one too!).
  2. Give something. That something doesn’t necessarily have to be money or a gift, but it can be time. You can let your nanny leave an hour early or if you come home early from work one day, then it is OK to give your nanny half a day off or even a full day off. I have always considered my nanny to be a co-parent because the fact is that when you have a nanny (part-time or full-time), she is there to help you parent and help support your family. When I worked as a nanny, I used to get mani-pedi gift cards and I loved them and was so grateful. Anything from a gift card to a candle to a small decorative box with notes from your kids goes a long way in showing your thoughtfulness and gratitude.
  3. Decorate your home. Suggest that your nanny schedule special activities related to Thanksgiving with your kids. You can either use Amazon to order some arts and craft supply related to the holiday or you can ask your nanny to come up with some creative ideas for craft projects if you think that’s something your kids would enjoy. There are festive books, movies and music you can fill your home with that will make things festive for both your nanny and your children.

Of course, we all get super busy during this time of year and often even more stressed. A lot of times we need our nannies even more hours than usual and at the end of a long workday, showing your appreciation for your nanny can be the last thing on your mind. This is why Thanksgiving is a good time and an opportunity to let your nanny know how grateful you are!

If nothing else, treat your nanny to her favorite drink at Starbucks — and grab yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte too! Trust me, it will get you both in the spirit of the holiday.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page  or contact us today.

7 Ways To Keep Your Nanny Around For A Long Time

Young woman standing near refrigerator filled with products

Finding a good nanny can be such a relief. So, what do you do when you have finally found that person who you can depend on and who you and your kids both get along with? How can you ensure the nanny will stick around?

I’ve come up with a list of  7 suggestions that can make a huge difference to your nanny and will help guarantee the relationship continues to prosper like you need it to.

Do you have any to add? Comment below!

  1. Trust your nanny. Trust is the first step in any healthy relationship, and this pertains to a parent/nanny relationship as well. When you trust your nanny it makes her feel empowered. It makes her feel confident in her choices and not have to second-guess every decision. It also shows your children the nanny is competent enough to take care of them and they should listen to and respect her. If you don’t trust your nanny, how will your kids?
  2. Offer to pay for  transportation. Of course, if your nanny is transporting your kids around, you should be paying for any and all transportation. However, if your nanny stays late it is a really nice gesture to pay for a cab or an uber ride home occasionally as well.
  3. Leave petty cash for your nanny. If your nanny will be out with your kids and buying snacks etc. for them, leave cash ahead of time. This way your nanny doesn’t feel like she is digging into her own pockets. It can be awkward for your nanny to request you pay her back for a $2 bottle of water, but at the same time, she should never have to use her own cash on your kids.
  4. Offer her food, especially if she is there around mealtime. If your nanny is always there around a meal, make sure you offer her food or tell her she can take what she would like from the refrigerator/ pantry. You can also text her beforehand and order her food, or make extra of whatever the kids are having. Keep in mind that if your nanny is constantly having to order takeout to your place, she is going to start seeing this as an added expense of what it costs for her to keep herself fed while she takes care of your kids.
  5. Tell your nanny of any change of plans. If you know you will be away one weekend or your kids’ schedules are changing, give your nanny a heads up. Your nanny sets aside time for you and it is only respectful to give her notice as soon as you know of any changes that may affect her. Don’t announce at the last minute you don’t need her the following week. Give her a chance to plan accordingly.
  6. Be respectful of her time. Similar to the last point, your nanny sets aside a specific amount of time for you each day or week depending on your agreement. It is okay if you are going to be late one day, things happen. But understand your nanny may have other obligations and this should not be an ongoing occurrence. The same way that you want your nanny to be on time getting to you, as parents you should treat your time being home the same way.
  7. Give her time off. Everyone needs a break. Being aware of when your nanny needs time off and offering it to her without her asking may go a long way in your relationship with your nanny. Don’t let your nanny burn out; a short break can recharge someone for a long time. Even if it’s simply asking if she would like an afternoon or a day off. You can make it work for your schedule. If it’s her birthday, try not to make that the day you come home really late. Certain things can’t be avoided, but awareness, respect and communication make all the difference.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today!

Navigating Nannies And Technology: How To Keep Your Nanny Off Her Phone

Things have changed a lot since I was a nanny, and one of the biggest challenges I see today that didn’t exist in generations past is navigating technology and
childcare. Not only is the constant presence of technology – smart phones, iPads, video games, etc. – something we have to monitor with our children, it’s something that needs to be considered when it comes to your nanny.

First and foremost, nannies who are on their phones all the time are putting children in serious dangerous. I actually witnessed a child cross the street by himself while a nanny was texting and she didn’t see the car coming that almost hit the child. I think this is something that parents and babysitters/nannies alike have to be very conscious of in today’s world. I also think it’s a good idea to practice what you preach. If your children see you on the phone all the time, not making eye contact, not paying attention to what’s going on in the present moment, then that is what they are going to model as they grow up. We can’t expect our children – or other who watch our children – to put down the screens when we aren’t willing to do so ourselves.

When it comes to making sure your nanny isn’t texting, tweeting, Snapchatting and Facebooking on the job, here’s what I recommend.

1) A Contract. I advocate all parents have written contracts with their nannies because it establishes ground rules and expectations so that everyone is on
the same page. I definitely recommend putting in a line or two about social media and cell phones in general. If you don’t want your children to be posted about online, you need to explicitly state this in the contract. Oftentimes, nannies will post photos when a child does something cute. Or, maybe they are sending a Snapchat video to a friend. There are so many different outlets where people are documenting their everyday lives in today’s world that there are probably social media channels you don’t even understand or know about. It’s best to outline from the beginning what you are comfortable with and what you don’t want to happen. If you don’t want your children to be posted about, make sure to set a black and white rule from the beginning.

2) Set realistic expectations. It’s not realistic to tell your nanny she should never be on her phone and then expect her to always be in constant contact with you. If you are the type of person who wants to be able to send a text and find out how the kids are or be able to call and give an update about your arrival time, then you are also setting the expectation that your nanny has a phone on her at all times. This is fine as long as you also communicate that your children’s safety is of the utmost importance. Make sure to remind your nanny you want her holding your kids’ hands when you cross the street, are getting in and our of cabs, etc., and that in these situations you’d rather your phone calls be ignored.

3) Monitor. If you happen to be on social networks, it’s not a bad idea to occasionally check to make sure your nanny isn’t posting unwanted photos of your kids. If you are at work or out at night and you see your nanny, who is with your kids, posting status updates constantly, this is a major red flag. Remind your nanny that you prefer she limit her phone time when she is around your children. It’s like any other job in that you want her complete attention on her job – which is keeping your children safe. Also listen for your children’s feedback. If they make comments about the nanny always being on her phone, this is something you should address immediately. As with most things, the more clear and direct you are about rules and expectations, the better things will go. Make sure you convey all of your privacy concerns in a contract and remind your nanny that you prefer to have her off her phone as much as possible for safety reasons.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

3 Ways to Promote a Better Employer/Nanny Relationship

 

  1. Be united on all decisions.

Make sure you and your nanny have discussed rules and disciplinary procedures for your children and are on the same page. Never reprimand or contradict your nanny in front of your children! Not only does this diminish their authority from your child’s point of view, but it also shows your nanny you don’t respect her as a professional nor value her judgment. Parents and nannies need to play on the same team and support one another; consistency is key.

 

  1. Respect your nanny’s time off.

Remember that your nanny is also a person, with hobbies and interests, a social life and responsibilities other than the ones pertaining to your family. Be punctual when you say you will be home by a certain time and don’t inundate her phone with emails, voicemails or texts during her days off. Respect her personal space and property; don’t go look through her bag, car or (in the case of live-in caregivers) her bedroom.

 

  1. Show gratitude.

In 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People, David Niven states,“We work harder and better when we feel appreciated.” If your nanny feels her hard work is being acknowledged, she will be more likely to go the extra mile for you and your family. Something as simple as just saying “thank you” can go a long way when showing someone you appreciate all the work she does for your children to keep your household running smoothly. Random acts of kindness such as letting her leave (with full pay) on nights you get home early, or offering her the day off on her birthday are small ways you can show your nanny that you value the effort she puts into her job.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.