A Quick List of Do's and Dont's
- Don't get upset if your child calls the nanny "mummy". This happens sometimes, but to the child it is just a way of expressing affection. A good nanny will correct the child and expand on the subject of mother, talking about, perhaps when she is due to come home, or picking up the mobile phone and giving her a call.
- Don't install a nanny cam. It is better to approach your nanny and voice out any concerns you may have than it is to hide a nanny cam in the house. If the nanny's response is unsatisfactory, then she is not the right person to be your nanny anyway. If the idea of installing a nanny cam is appealing to you, you should bring the topic up during the interview. Many nannies don't mind the idea as it is also a way for them to demonstrate their professionalism and commitment to the career.
- Don't ask her to clean the bathroom or scrub the floors. Most nannies will cook the children's meals, clean up after them and wash their clothes, but few will like being a housekeeper and a nanny. It is best to lay out the expectations during the job interview and establish very clearly what you expect from your nanny. Go over each task carefully and ensure there are no misunderstandings.
- Establish the terms of employment in as much detail as you can. When can your nanny take her vacations? What are the back-up options if she falls sick? What happens if you unexpectedly have to work overtime and how will you compensate her for the extra hours?
- Don't be surprised if you feel a little jealousy from time-to-time. It's to be expected. You will soon see that the relationship between mother and child is different to that of nanny and her charge. To minimise the negative feelings perhaps you could make arrangements for the nanny to occasionally bring your child to meet for lunch, or you could have set times during the day to have a telephone conversation with you child.
- Make sure there is enough food in the house to prepare meals for herself as well as the children. It's unlikely that she will bring her own food each day, and she probably won't be able to go out to buy meals, so find out what she likes to eat and provide it for her.
- Don't go bargain hunting. If you pay a nanny below the market rate, you are only sowing the seeds for discontent later. It's your child she is looking after, so you want nanny to be content with the arrangement, not regretful and resentful. If you treat her like a professional she will almost certainly act like one. If you have a limited budget, consider a nanny-sharing arrangement with another family, or look for a crèche near you. The Find a Nanny website has a number of nannies or babysitters who look after children from several families. This might be a good option to explore.
- Always be mindful of the dangers of "mission creep", a military term which means the job keeps getting bigger and the task list longer. Nannies often have a nurturing and non confrontational nature, and may agree to doing extra tasks, but is she really happy about it? Look for clues such as less eye contact than before. Is she quieter than usual? This may be her response to her feeling of being taken advantage of.