In addition to raising our children, we all have responsibilities and interests – working, managing a household, caring for extended family, studying – that require our time and attention. Mine is work. My life was always about the job, which requires a lot of travel and upwards of 80+ hours per week. When my baby was two months old, I developed a lot of anxiety as I prepared to return to work. I fretted over leaving my baby in the care of someone I barely knew, and was restless and distressed that if I didn’t find the right person to help me, I risked failing at a career I had spent 15 years building. I was desperate to find someone with whom I would share the responsibilities of my new, most important job – caring for my baby.

In my experience, preparation was critical to ensuring a smooth transition for our family. I wanted to return to the office after easing my worries about what was happening at home. After searching, interviewing, checking references and setting up a household employee payroll, I had to make sure expectations were set across all parties to ensure a positive relationship for my family and our nanny. The following list includes suggestions received from friends and relatives, many of which we incorporated into our childcare plans.

Set Expectations

  • Typical nanny responsibilities will include everything that relates tot he care of the child(ren). Decide whether certain household duties are the responsibility of the nanny. This should be determined during the interview and hiring process to ensure expectations are aligned. Keep in mind that your nanny has a primary responsibility of caring for the child(ren) and consider whether there is reasonable time available to complete other tasks and errands.
  • Be specific when setting responsibilities, particularly if your family expects non-childcare household duties to be performed. We prepared a list of daily tasks we expected our nanny to handle and discussed it with her at the time we made an offer of employment. We also prioritized the items to be mindful of any time constraints that arise during the workday. A copy of the list of responsibilities was always available and the nanny would review it prior to the end of her shift to ensure everything had been done.
  • Consider all aspects of the nanny’s employment. The following are some employer/employee relationship items that you may want to discuss prior to finalize your hiring decision:
    • Arrival and departure time
    • How instances of tardiness will be handled (e.g., communication, pay or departure time adjustments, etc.)
    • Use of mobile phones while on duty
    • Sick time and vacation time
    • Providing updates concerning any issues or major developmental milestones
    • Sending pictures of the child(ren), including whether or not to post to social media
    • Respecting the family’s privacy
    • Establish a method or expectation for how both parties can communicate concerns or issues with each other
    • Develop a timeline for providing feedback to the nanny

Typical Responsibilities

  • Preparing meals and snacks
  • Child(ren)’s laundry
  • Changing diapers, maintaining a clean and organized changing station
  • Preparing and cleaning bottles
  • Following a set schedule for the child(ren), including feeding, naps, walks
  • Mental stimulation through playtime, outdoor walks, reading, singing, doing crafts with older kids, etc.
  • Transporting kids to and from playgroups, school and afterschool activities
  • Getting children settled in after school and started with their homework
  • Getting kids ready for bed
  • Light household duties (e.g., loading and unloading the dishwasher, tidying the kids’ bedrooms and play areas, etc.), as agreed between family and nanny

Disciplinary Actions

  • Discuss how you expect your child’s nanny to handle any disciplinary actions. Methods of disciplining a child are drawn from personal experiences and can provoke a great deal of emotion from all parties. Determine in advance, during the interview process, whether or not you feel comfortable that the nanny will respect your wishes and be able to act accordingly. This is an important topic to discuss with any references as well.

Create a Strong Network

  • Create and maintain a list of contacts. Your friends, family and any colleagues can help only if they know what you need. Many great nannies find their next family through referrals.
  • Search for and research backup childcare options before you need to use them.

Do you have any experiences or suggestions you would like to share with our community? We would love to hear from you! Post your comments here, or start a new forum to engage other Motherly Life members.