Get it on Paper – Lessons Learned from a Nanny
Hindsight is always 20/20 and even the most organized well intended parent is going to have some ups and downs hiring a nanny for the first time. After a year+ with my nanny as a first-time mom there are some things I’ve learned. The most important suggestion I can make whether you are going through an agency who will guide you or not is to write everything down. Whether it’s a contract or basic written communication, when it’s written down it is less likely to be forgotten or misinterpreted.
A Nanny Contract
If you are not using an agency there are several companies that offer online versions of nanny contracts. You can go as little as the basics of salary, hours, time off, responsibilities or as detailed as you wish. The point is to have a signed one in place before your nanny starts.
You will see below that we really have stepped it up with ongoing communication but we have found having dates written down and scheduled ahead of time has been useful. It is a reason to review what both you and your nanny can be both be doing better. It makes it easier if there is some area of improvement that is not urgent to discuss. Remember to be open at this time to anything your nanny may want to discuss as well. Being a first-time mom, while my preferences on parenting come first our nanny who has 25 year’s experience has been a great resource to helping us be better parents.
In our home, we have a binder that is just for communication between us and our nanny. Some of the things we’ve included that you may want to consider.
Emergency Contact, Insurance and Other Information
On this sheet, we have all our family and emergency contact information including insurance, closest hospital, doctor and urgent care as well as poison control, electric company and neighbor names and phone numbers. We have also included a list of who may be allowed in the house for repairs or service and the numbers to call in she is unsure. Though she is familiar with our schedule and we do notify her when someone may be coming we have included the landscaper, cleaning company, exterminator and others.
Access Cards, Petty Cash and Receipt Register
We keep several year-round membership cards to museums and the zoo. We keep these here along with petty cash. We have a list of what petty cash can be used for but having it handy helps give our nanny some independence to not have to ask us every time she needs a few dollars for something for our daughter. She adds the receipts and a record of any cash spent without them.
There are several apps that are great for this but we find it easiest to write it down. There is a list of things to be recorded every day that help keep us on the same page. What did she eat, what time did she nap, what activities did she do, did they go anywhere (great for keeping track of reimbursing mileage if they drive their own car), who did they see, what learning activities where they focused on and other notes?
Even with the best intentions sometimes responsibilities get overlooked. In our case our daughter began to take some very long afternoon naps, 2-3 hours sometimes. During this time, our nanny was happy to help around the house. We made a list of things in priority order that could be done around the house and cleared with her what she felt comfortable with. It’s a great reference to keep her busy after she takes a break and our daughter is still down for a nap. This list has expanded to the basic wiping down of counters and taking out trash to keeping bathroom cabinets stocked with toilet paper and refilling soap dispensers. While her intentions to be helpful were good until we started a list, she wasn’t sure how many things could really be done. You would be surprised how much more ownership and pride she has taken in keeping the house up now that we have implemented this.
I’d consider this an ongoing weekly addition to our contract. Each week I update a file I have that my husband, nanny and I write on throughout the week. It includes things that we are focusing on for learning, new words our toddler has said, appointments we should all be aware of and any other notes including a space for our nanny to include any suggestions she has we haven’t discussed. It’s a reminder every week of where we are with my daughter and keeps us working as a team. It also encourages our nanny to take an active part in our family.
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