Nanny Success: Keeping a Nanny for the Long Haul
Why is it that some families keep a nanny for years while other families go through
multiple nannies without ever finding one that's a truly good fit for their family?
There could be a number of reasons, but the most common one is that a family fails
to promote job satisfaction. Ensuring that your nanny remains a dedicated, committed
and valued employee doesn't require much effort. To be happy in their job, most nannies
simply want to know they are appreciated and valued by their employers.
To promote longevity in your nanny relationship:
Establish Realistic Expectations for Nannies
Nannies who are confused about their duties or who feel that they are consistently
being asked to do more than what was originally agreed upon are not likely to want
to stay in their job situation beyond their original commitment. Setting realistic
expectations from the beginning of the relationship is the easiest way to avoid
this pitfall. Having a written nanny agreement can ensure that both the nanny and
the parents have a clear understanding of the expectations they have for each other.
If a nanny is going to do housekeeping in addition to watching the children, clearly
define which tasks she is responsible for and then do not add new duties, tasks
or responsibilities until you have discussed it with your nanny and amended the
nanny contract. Be sure to compensate your nanny appropriately for any additional
responsibilities she takes on.
While most nannies are more than happy to pitch in and be flexible when needed,
it's important to ask your nanny if she is willing and able to take on the additional
task rather than to assume she's available and able to accommodate your request.
While many parents assume that their nanny, especially if she lives-in, is on call
24/7, this is an unrealistic expectation. Your nanny will expect you to stick to
the schedule you established at the outset of your working relationship and will
want advance notice if something has changed. An occasional night of both parents
working late by a few hours may not affect your relationship with your nanny, but
if this were to become a regular occurrence, you might find you have an unhappy
nanny on your hands.
Reward Your Nanny for a Job Well Done
While most nannies generally love their work and after years of nanny service still
marvel at the idea of getting paid to play, the reality is that your nanny works
to earn a living.
At the end of each contract year, sit down and review your nanny's performance and
salary. Typically nannies are given a cost of living raise in addition to a merit
raise. The average nanny raise is about 5-10% of her salary. Nannies also appreciate
a year-end or holiday bonus. Typically nannies receive 1 to 2 or more weeks of paid
salary as a bonus.
Of course, there are other ways aside from money to reward your nanny for
a job well done. Praising her and thanking her for the quality of care she provides
costs nothing but a few minutes of your time. Providing her with a reference letter
during her annual review, increasing her vacation time, and allowing her paid time off
to run important errands or to go to the doctor are other ways you can show your
nanny that you value and respect her.
The most important thing is to let your nanny know that she is valued, appreciated
and needed. Nannies who only hear criticism from their employer don't feel good
about themselves or the work that they do. When this is the case, you can expect
your nanny to seek alternative employment opportunities.
Rein in Jealousy
It is not uncommon for a mom to be jealous of her nanny. To a mother, a child may
prefer her nanny or feel that her nanny is taking her place. These feelings are
natural and should be addressed. If you're experiencing these feelings, it's important
to acknowledge that if your child is comfortable in your nanny's care, it likely
means that she feels safe and secure and that your nanny is doing a good job. While
every parent wants their child to love their caregiver in their head, when it comes
to translating it to the heart, seeing your child love and bond with another adult
can be hard. Fortunately, while your child's heart may be small, it can hold enough
love for everyone. Remember, encouraging your child to develop a loving and trusting
bond with your nanny is in your child's best interest.
Treat Your Nanny with Respect
While many things will positively influence your working relationship with your
nanny, respect is by far the most influential. Your nanny should feel as if she
is a valued member of your household at all times. If you have a problem with your
nanny, you should discuss it with her promptly and directly in private. If your
nanny has gone above and beyond the call of duty, recognize her and thank her for
her hard work.
Finding the right nanny for your family can be a challenging task. Once you have
found the right person to care for your children, you'll want to do whatever you
can to encourage her to stay with your family for as long as your children need
care. Having consistent care through the course of your child's young development
is a real benefit of nanny care. Invest in your relationship with your nanny. You
will be glad you did.