ARTICLE

The Top 5 Ways to Care For Your Nanny

Being a nanny is challenging, but as a parent and employer, there are ways to show your nanny they are appreciated. Learn the top 5 ways to care for your nanny, from nanny expert Danny Rosenthal.

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Being a nanny is hard, demanding, and often underappreciated work. Hollywood movies depict caregiving as a job for an otherwise unemployable 22-year-old who has run out of trust fund money. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Nannies come in all shapes and sizes with varying degrees of experience. In fact, many in the profession are career nannies, meaning caregiving is their skill, expertise, and lifetime occupation. Unlike the movies, most nannies are not stepping out of the 9 to 5 workforce to figure out the next step in their lives.

More often than not, parents hiring a nanny don’t realize they have legal responsibilities as an employer, which can protect both their family and their nanny hire. And this is all too evident due to the fact that few resources exist that can help guide parents through the process. In fact, parents need to educate themselves on the appropriate tax forms and how to register for an employee identification number. And resources like CareNectar are available to parents to help them learn everything they need to know without messing up.  

The in-home caregiver industry is a mystery for most. Many families and caregivers alike are left to figure it out. And even when you think your hiring and employer skills are amazing, things can still slip through the cracks. Of course, this is unintentional, but it’s imperative that parents hiring a nanny equip themselves with the tools necessary to establish a strong, supportive relationship with their nanny hire.

The family has control in navigating the employer/employee relationship with their nanny, and there are indeed ways to a nanny’s heart and tips for perfecting your perfect fit. You’ve spent a lot of time finding the right nanny for your family, you don’t want to lose them. Be sure to take the time needed to nurture that relationship so you, your nanny hire, and your children are happy and thriving.

As you take care of your caregiver, consider thinking about what you wish your boss would do for you. Everyone’s needs are different, but good intentions and kind gestures can go a long way. Remember, even though you employ your nanny, this relationship is a partnership built on trust and respect.

Follow these 5 tips to show that you care for your caregiver!

1. Communicate with your nanny.

There is one overarching key to being a top-notch employer: maintain and keep the lines of communication open. Keeping an open-door policy to maintain transparency is my key to success. And just as you want your nanny hire to communicate with you, it is likely they expect the same. The honest truth—while sometimes brutal but professionally spoken—is essential. It is the easiest to navigate. Anything less can manifest drama and uncertainly, and as a parent trying to do what’s best for your children, you likely don’t have time for that.

For nannies, transparency means speaking up. Telling your nanny family that they didn’t see when their charge bumped their head on the playground. And for parents, transparency means being clear about your expectations. For example, sharing with your nanny that you appreciate outings being planned in advance with details about where they will be going and how they will be spending their time.

The more you share with your family’s nanny, the more they will share with you—and that is what you want.  Push through all the uncomfortable moments. And remember, being a boss is new to many and will get easier with time.

2. Be prepared for your nanny.

Once you hire your nanny, there is much to anticipate leading up to their first day. Day one is go-time, It sets the tone for how your family and your nanny will interact. Set both you and your nanny up for success by providing them with as much information as possible.

Similar to what is detailed above, this requires sharing information, but on a much deeper level. Your nanny doesn’t know what they don’t know, and this is your opportunity to prepare them so they can get started on the best foot possible.

To start preparing your nanny, first realize that every household is different. Everyone does their laundry differently, cleans differently, or cares for their children differently. If you don’t prepare your nanny to meet your expectations, you can’t hold this against them. Failing to share information even happens to families that are on their second caregiver, simply because they forget to write down their expectations. Too often, this results in both parents and nannies feeling frustrated and defeated.

Nannies and caregivers, however, shouldn’t hold this against families either. It’s a learning experience for you both. For example, as a parent, you may not realize your nanny needs to know that you refer to a specific room in the house as the “family room”. So if your nanny is trying to turn off the lights in a smart home, saying “Turn on the living room lights” won’t work. The tiniest details matter, and figuring out all the information you want to share may be time-consuming, but will save you time and frustration in the end.

As you consider the information you want to share with your new nanny, start writing a list of all the nuances of your home as they come to you. Some questions to consider are listed here:

  • What are the rules of the house?
  • What are your expectations for your children?
  • Who are the emergency contacts?
  • What is the daily schedule?
  • If you live in a building, what button do you press to let people in the front door?
  • What is the code to get in?
  • Is your caregiver going to drive your car? If so, where do you keep your keys, or will they get their own set?
  • Are there any rooms that are off-limits?

There are mountains of information you can share with your nanny—and the more the better. Take the next few days to be cognizant of how you get things done and where belongings are kept. And be sure to relay the important insights into your household that only you know.

3. Show your appreciation.

Saying “thank you” to your nanny at the end of the day goes a long way—and is something your nanny is sure to appreciate. And it’s free!

Your nanny does a lot of work throughout their day, work that you might not see. All the energy they put into engaging with your children throughout the day, cleaning up messes, and taking care of other tasks–these are all energy-consuming tasks. And admittedly, it can be a letdown to come home only to find your nanny is less than energetic. Many think all caregivers are supposed to be fun, energetic, and almost magical with their ability to play and tend to children, but when parents return home, the party is over, things are winding down, and there is a sense of calm. Remember, the big, engaging, energetic moments have likely passed. And since a good nanny is basically on their feet the entire day, nannies don’t get a break. Even during nap time, they’re likely cleaning up.

As a former director of a day camp, I would remind my counselors to pump themselves up at parent pick-up. Sure, they were run down and exhausted, but this 10-minute period was the only time when parents could see their children interacting and having a blast with the counselors. If parents didn’t see this, they may assume the worst—that their children weren’t having fun and the counselors didn’t truly care about the kids.

This being said, there is a lot parents don’t see in the day of a nanny. Saying “thank you,” at the end of the day—whether you say it because you see how hard your nanny works or because you see all the great attributes they bring to your home—allows your nanny to leave feeling respected and valued. It lets them know you appreciate and acknowledge all the wonderful things they do to make sure your family has the best care. 

4. Give your nanny a break.

Plain and simple, there are days when not everything you ask of a nanny gets done. It doesn’t mean your caregiver forgot, didn’t try, or didn’t care. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time in a day to get everything on a parent’s wish-list accomplished, especially when they spend much of their time caring for young children.

A nanny’s day never drags. Time passes quickly. Every activity makes the day speed up—making breakfast for the family, getting the kids ready for school, dropping them off at school—that could be a nanny’s first hour alone.

The lesson is, understanding and empathy are key attributes of a great boss. Even the best nanny is going to have an off day. So if your nanny doesn’t meet all your expectations for the day, show them you understand that even the best nanny is going to have an off-day. By showing that you’re understanding and willing to give them a break allows them the opportunity to excel moving forward.

5. When possible, let your nanny leave early for the day.

Every house has Cinderella’s pumpkin syndrome. At the end of every day, just like when Cinderella’s coach turned back into a pumpkin, your house becomes your sanctuary where you can let go and be yourself. For many, this happens when you want the last few stragglers from your party to go home. For homes that employ a nanny, it is when your nanny’s workday is over.  It is nice to chat for a few minutes here and there, but the reality is you need your home to be your space at the end of the day rather than your nanny’s workplace.

In some households, Cinderella’s pumpkin syndrome takes place when both adults of the house are home, dinner is made, the children are ready to eat, and if there isn’t anything left for the nanny to tend to. And if you don’t expect your nanny to stay until a specific time, these are indications that it is okay to send them home.

Some families are penny-pinchers, wanting their nanny to stay until the very last minute to get their money’s worth. I can sympathize with this concept, but the question is, is this cultivating a better working environment and stronger professional relationship with your nanny? Or is this solely about control? 

Next time you look around and see there is nothing for your caregiver to do, send your nanny home a few minutes early. They will be tremendously grateful for the extra time to decompress.

Conclusion

There is no one way to be a boss to your child’s caregiver. That’s part of what makes having a nanny so wonderful; your childcare is completely personalized for your family and you determine how it is done. Just like you, your caregiver is doing their best. A thank you or letting them leave a bit early will help to keep them happy and fulfilled in their work.

This article is based on the Nanny ABCs Next Step Podcast, Episode 34: The 5 Best and Most Overlooked Ways For Families to Take Better Care of Their Caregiver for FREE. Listen here!

Meet The Expert


Danny Rosenthal

Known as Danny J Nanny, he is the author behind Nanny ABCs: The Sitter’s Handbook and the host of Nanny ABCs’ Next Step. Rosenthal created Nanny ABCs to simplify childcare. His program keeps families and caregivers from reinventing the wheel. He has been recognized by Chicago Collegiate Nannies for his Outstanding Performance and Rosenthal’s expertise has been featured by the US Nanny Association, Care.com, and the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. Learn more and connect with Danny J Rosenthal at www.NannyABCs.com or via social media @NannyABCs