So, you’ve found the perfect nanny, or as near to perfection as it’s possible to get. The chances are, other people will have noticed that your nanny is pretty damned good. How do you stop her being poached by another parent at the school gates?
The straightforward answer? Keep your nanny happy so she won’t want to up sticks and leave.
Well …..der! So far so obvious. How do you keep your nanny happy?
Here at Absolute Childcare we’ve got to know hundreds of nannies over the years. They’re very honest with us, so we know exactly what makes their jobs easier – and, equally as important, what makes them unhappy.
- Make it official
OK, let’s be honest here. Having a nanny in the house can take some adjustment, especially at the beginning. A stranger has arrived in your home, and in a hefty chunk of your life. If you don’t set out the parameters in detail via a written contract, you’ll run into a whole heap of trouble.
Understandably, the number one complaint from nannies relates to misunderstandings about pay and duties. This is their livelihood and they want to be paid fairly. On the other side, lots of parents have a limited budget. They aren’t always aware what a fair rate should be, or that they should pay overtime.
Always – and we mean always create a nanny contract setting out hours, responsibilities and pay rates. This will protect both parties. If you’re in any doubt about fair pay rates or how to create a nanny contract, get in touch for some advice.
- Don’t treat your nanny like a maid
It sounds obvious when we put it like that, doesn’t it? Unless you have specifically employed a nanny-housekeeper, your nanny isn’t your maid. So, don’t treat her like one.
As always, it’s the little things…
Let’s take the dishwasher as an example. It isn’t the nanny’s job to empty your dishwasher. You may not be aware that you’re doing this, but if your nanny is consistently expected to empty last night’s dinner stuff before she can load the kids’ breakfast things… the other school gate parent will start to look tempting.
Again, this may sound obvious, but it’s not OK to leave the kids’ dirty laundry (or their dirty bedrooms) over the weekend for your nanny to deal with on Monday morning. It’s also not OK to expect your nanny to take on the pet care. You may love the idea of taking your 50kg mastiff for his daily walk, but your nanny probably won’t.
Yes, we all mess up occasionally and forget to buy something totally vital, run out of time to do the laundry or whatever. If you have a great nanny, she really won’t mind filling in every now and again, especially if you clearly acknowledge that she’s doing you a favour and thank her for it.
Her job is to make your life easier. Don’t make her resent you over the small things if those favours she does start to become an expectation.
- Respect her professionalism
Everyone has a unique style of parenting and their own values systems. We’d all prefer our own child-rearing beliefs taken into account by a nanny. However, bear in mind that when you’re hiring a nanny, you’re hiring an expert. It’s important to trust and respect her professional skills.
Sadly, even some of the top nannies in the UK have complained that they are not given the freedom to take charge of the most minor decisions.
It’s perfectly understandable that you want to best possible care for your child when you can’t be there yourself. Your nanny cares deeply for your children and wants the same thing. However, if you try and micromanage her, she will almost certainly head off to someone who will appreciate her expertise and let her get on with the job.
Even the most brilliant nanny in the world can’t read your mind. Without clear and consistent communication, resentments are likely – and misunderstanding a certainty.
Do not, on any account, take advantage. If you need your nanny to arrive early, stay late or change arrangements for days off, make sure you give advance notice. If there are occasional changes to the workload or duties, make sure she’s comfortable with that first – and pay extra.
If there are permanent changes or additions to the workload, they should be contracted and signed off.
- If in doubt, just ask
Try setting aside a daily 5 to 10-minute meeting to discuss the day, and a weekly or monthly longer meeting to resolve any issues and have a chat about how things are going. If in doubt, just ask if there’s anything that could make her job easier.
After all, once you’ve found an exceptional nanny, you really don’t want to lose her. And if you haven’t found the perfect nanny yet, we can help.