The New Nanny Contract: Expert Tips When Hiring a Caregiver
What's the key to establishing a good relationship with your new nanny? Communication, communication, communication... and maybe a contract too
It didn’t take long for Cara Lemieux to realize she picked the right person to care for her daughter.
“There were plenty of people that had more years of experience than Jillian did—but no one could ever beat her in love and support,” the New York City working mom told BabyZone.
But her new nanny’s supportive demeanor wasn’t the only thing that kept the mom-nanny relationship running smoothly. Early on, Lemieux laid out important details—from schedules to days off—in a contract.
“It helps in case either of you forget what you agreed to—which can easily happen,” Lemieux wrote in her blog, Me and Ducky.
Lemieux’s not the only one who swears by nanny contracts. Katie Bugbee, the managing editor at the caregiver-finding service Care.com, said the company always recommends parents put their caregivers’ job requirements—especially with respect to payment and vacations—in writing.
“This way, everything is out in the open and clear. It’s clear to everyone involved what the days are that she has off, if she’ll be paid for them and no one gets upset,” Bugbee said. Bugbee, a Boston-area mom who has a nanny for her own two young children, says she often hears from other nannies who were disappointed when they weren’t paid while the families they worked with went on vacation.
“It was assumed by the family they wouldn’t pay during vacation and assumed by the nanny that she would get paid,” Bugbee said. “Assumptions are never a good place to be.”
Here’s what else Bugbee recommends parents do, early on, to ensure they get off on the right foot with new nannies:
- If your nanny will be giving your child a bath or putting him to bed, make sure she is aware of any specific bath or bedtime rituals.
- Inform the nanny of any allergies or other food issues and show her nanny where all important medications are stored.
- Provide her with all of your emergency numbers—including doctors’ numbers—and contact information; ask her to provide her emergency contact information as well, plus a copy of her driver’s license or passport.
- Go over what she should do in case of an emergency or unexpected situation. For instance, if the child bumps his head, should she call you first or call the child’s pediatrician? If the door bell rings, is the nanny allowed to answer it?
- Are you comfortable with your nanny driving your child in a car? Walking across town? Make clear how, where and how far you’re comfortable with your nanny traveling with your child.
- Set a social media policy. Don’t want your nanny posting pictures of your children to her Facebook account? Make sure to tell her so.
- Be on the same page about discipline. If you don’t believe in spanking, let her know.
- Decide who is responsible for planning playdates and where they should take place. Are you comfortable with your nanny inviting other nannies and the children they care for to your home or would you prefer that get-togethers take place in a park? Consider sharing a Google calendar with your nanny to organize playdates.
Bugbee says many of these points—such as a social media policy and emergency plans—can also be put into a nanny contract. What’s more intangible, however, is what you may end up learning from your new nanny. Bugbee advises keeping an open mind.
“She or he might have really great soothing techniques or really great ideas for play activities or interactive games that you might not have thought of,” she said. Your nanny, she said, “isn’t just your employee. She’s really a teammate in your parenting.”
Neighborhood Parents Network blogger Jessica Minahan, a veteran nanny and a new mom, advises that parents remain patient at the beginning and keep the lines of communication open.
“Your new nanny is excited about her new position and wants to make this work just as much as you do,” Minahan wrote in an NPN post. “Offer open, honest feedback from the start. If you see this person becoming important in helping raise your children, stick with it—and in no time, she will become an irreplaceable part of your daily life!”
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