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The Importance Of Nanny Orientation: Your Nanny’s First Day

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin

Miscommunication tends to be the cause of most interpersonal conflicts, particularly in situations where the line between the professional and the familial relationship is blurred, as is often the case in a nanny-parent dynamic.  The key to maintaining an effective working environment lies in establishing an open dialogue between all interested parties. As human beings, we are all inherently flawed, but being upfront about expectations, hopes and concerns will help mitigate potential future problems.  Issues arise when our meanings and intentions become misconstrued in the delivery – or lack of delivery – of our message.

 

This actually starts before you even hire your nanny when you communicate what you are looking for. However, the communication can’t stop there. The first day your nanny works for you is vital to the future of your relationship. Whether your nanny has been working with children for years or is on the younger side, there needs to be an orientation period (more than one day!) where you not only outline your expectations but also demonstrate how you want all the details – both large and small – handled.

 

Ideally, she will be able to shadow you for a day and watch you perform the duties that she will be responsible for going forward, but I realize that it is not realistic for everyone to be able to take time off of work.  Either way, taking a few hours to introduce the new nanny to the way you expect her to run your household will be mutually beneficial and help set the stage for a healthy working relationship and an open line of communication.

 

First day orientation and on the job training may sound the same, but the concepts are actually quite different.  You should not have to teach your nanny how to take care of a baby (unless this was something agreed upon at the time of hiring), but you should give your nanny instructions about how to take care of your baby.  The same goes for any household chores that you have agreed will be the responsibility of your nanny.  For example, if your nanny is in charge of doing the dishes and the laundry, make sure that you have given her specific instructions about how you want her to do this, and where each item needs to be put away.  Although it may seem like overkill to be so specific with things that to you seem like common knowledge, remember that (particularly with nannies from different cultural backgrounds) not everyone will approach situations the same way that you do.

 

For one, making directions clear from the very beginning will set a precedent for the duration of your time working together.  More importantly, it will make it easier to objectively evaluate the job that your nanny is doing.  If she is not performing up to the standards that you would like her to, ask yourself if this is because you never set proper guidelines. For example, if your nanny is not putting your dishes away in the correct spots, is this because you never told her where you like to keep things, or is it because she just has not listened?

Having worked as a nanny in the past, it was comforting for me to know exactly how to handle situations exactly the way that my employers wanted me to.  Below are a few topics that you may want to cover with your new nanny before her position officially starts. I’m going to be blogging about these areas in more depth in the coming weeks!

  1. Snacks and meals
  2. Household chores
  3. Playdates
  4. Discipline
  5. Bathing
  6. Sleep schedule and bedtime procedures

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.

Is Your Nanny Emotionally Fit For The Job?

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a nanny/ housekeeper to help me for two days a week.

I met a friend who is a psychologist and I asked if she was happy with her nanny. She said she was happy with her, but the nanny was looking for more hours and she only needed her for three days. I asked if she wanted to share her nanny and she said she thought that was a great idea.

She added as a side note that her nanny was a little sensitive but otherwise wonderful.

I met with her nanny and was very impressed. She seemed kind and warm and had a great resume and strong references. I ran a background check and also conducted an online search. I met her husband who worked at a local Jewish school. I even called the school to ask about him to make sure he was a good person (might sound crazy but after having a nanny who had an alcoholic boyfriend who was following her I learned to be very thorough).

Overall, I was very happy with the nanny. I’ll call her Vivian. She was smart, well-spoken, kind and loved my girls. Since I have worked as a nanny and with nannies and families for over 20 years, I knew how important it was to have a trial period. It can be two weeks or one month.

For me, it was four weeks.

My 6-year-old was always so happy and excited to see her. My older two, ages 9 and 12, liked her but they are very independent and need less of her attention.

A week after Vivian started she started telling me how unhappy she is with her other job. She knew that her other boss was also my friend and now she was putting me in an uncomfortable situation.

She started saying things like, “The older boy is a bully. He throws things at me and treats me badly. I can’t do this job anymore. I love the younger sister and the parents, but he is just horrible. He has some problems… And he takes medication but it’s too much for me…”

That day, I had to run to work and couldn’t talk, nor did I want to talk to her about my friend’s son and his behavior. And then… Out of nowhere, she started crying. It was 3:30 pm, and I had an appointment at 4. I told Vivian that she should talk to the parents about it and have them talk to their son. Vivian then told me that she was looking for another job and asked that I don’t tell my friend.

I couldn’t believe that she actually asked that. But then I realized that it might have been a cultural thing as Vivian moved here from the Philippines a year ago and she might not have been aware of how important communication and giving families notice is. I encouraged her to tell the parents how she felt because if she wasn’t happy, it wasn’t a good situation for everyone involved.

Vivian said she would tell the parents that she was looking for a job and in fact had an offer pending.

I called my friend and told her about the situation. She then told me that indeed her son  hates her and hates everything she makes him to eat. I didn’t want to get involved or get in the middle of it but I somehow got sucked into a very challenging situation.

Is this nanny emotionally fit to be a nanny? To take care of my girls? Any kids?

She was excellent in organizing and cleaning, which is mainly what I needed her for. She was a very pleasant person and very kind. But, when a nanny starts crying on a job and starts talking about another family that way and speaks in such an immature manner, there is no way she is fit to be a full-time nanny. Now,

Now, personally, I had no problem with Vivian. She was very good. But her judgment and sensitivity made me feel uncomfortable, and I told her that while she was excellent in many ways, she wasn’t the nanny that I was looking for. In fact, I told her that I thought that being a nanny wasn’t something that fit her. I said it in a kind yet serious way and I tried to explain the rationale behind what I was saying.

She said she also thought that it was too much for her and that’s why she decided to take the other job taking care of an older woman with Alzheimers.

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.

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What To Include In A Nanny Contract

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that it’s a really good idea to draw up a contract when you hire a nanny. This is good for both you and the person you hire, as it outlines your expectations, sets up terms of payments and gives you both something to refer back to so there is no confusion. As someone who worked as a nanny, I know I appreciated understanding my role, and my most successful relationships occurred when there was ultimate transparency.

nanny contract

Here’s a quick breakdown of what should go in a nanny contract:

  • The timeframe of the agreement. This can be ongoing, but you should establish a minimum timeframe (like a year) that you expect payment conditions and responsibilities to be relatively stable.
  • How amendments can be made to the agreement. Include something about how you will notify your nanny of changes and how she can suggest changes.
  • Termination conditions. Make sure to include how the contract can be terminated.
  • Nanny’s duties and responsibilities. This is where you should be as specific as possible, but without going overboard. Make sure to include things like if you expect your nanny to travel with you occasionally.
  • This is where you want to list out days of the week and hours. Include how you will handle any overtime or additional days needed.
  • Driving rules and responsibilities, if any. If your nanny will be taking public transportation or cabs, make sure to outline how you will reimburse or pay for these things.
  • Compensation package. Include a schedule of payments, health benefits, overtime and fringe benefits like paid holidays, vacation, sick leave and bonuses.
  • Social media. I wrote about this in my last post, but make sure to include any privacy stipulations you have when it comes to your children appearing on social media.

Because as parents we sometimes want to know what typical benefits look like, I’ll list out what is pretty standard when it comes to vacation times. Keep in mind that all families are different, and what is most important is working out a schedule and vacation time that works for both you and your nanny.

  • 8-10 paid holidays a year
  • Health insurance or a percentage of health premium
  • Paid sick days

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.