Why is it that some families keep a nanny for years while other families go through multiple nannies without finding one that fits well with their household? There could be a number of reasons, but one that comes up time and time again is that the family did not do everything it could to keep the nanny satisfied and connected in her job. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task – there are many things that a family can do to keep a nanny happy and ensure that she works for them for a long time.
Establish Realistic Expectations for Nannies
Nannies who are confused about their duties, or who feel that they are being asked to do more than they were originally told, are not likely to want to stay in their situation. You want to set realistic expectations from the very start of the relationship in order to avoid this pitfall. The easiest way to do this is to create a nanny contract that both the family and the nanny herself will sign. That way, if there is ever any concern about something down the line, the nanny contract can be referred to for clarification. If a nanny is going to do housekeeping along with watching the children, spell out just what housekeeping she is responsible for – and then don’t add new duties until you have discussed it with her and made an addendum to the nanny contract.
In addition, if the family does need help with something out of the ordinary – an extra hour of babysitting one night, for example – nannies always should be asked about it as early as possible. That way, your nanny has the time to see if the request is feasible with her schedule. Do not assume that just because a nanny lives in your house that she will be available at all hours and for everything you need. She will expect you to stick to the schedule you established at the outset 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 the Nanny Financially – and Emotionally
Nannies are making a living just like everyone else. Keep your nanny happy and willing to stay with your family for the long term by setting up a regular schedule of yearly raises – around 5 to 10 percent, depending on the standards set in your area (ask other families what they offer if you are not sure). Nannies also appreciate financial bonuses during the December holiday season.
Of course, there are other ways aside from money to reward nannies and keep them happy. You can give your nanny paid time off to go to the doctor or to run other important errands that she needs for herself. You can increase her vacation time each year. You can also give her more privileges, such as use of the family car while the children are at school. But most importantly, you can reward her by making sure she knows what a valued member of your family she is and how good of a job she is doing. Nannies who only hear criticism become unhappy in the exact same way that anyone else with a critical boss would become unhappy and might seek another job.
Rein in Jealousy
Often, nannies may be faced with a jealous mother. The child may appear to prefer his or her nanny on the surface, which could make the mother feel uncomfortable. Bear in mind two things when this happens: this means that the nanny is doing a good job with the child, and it is not the nanny’s fault that this is happening. You can take time to talk to the nanny about your feelings and concerns, but do not lash out at her. It is far better to have a nanny that makes your children happy while she takes care of them than it is to find a nanny who makes your children miserable until you walk in the door.
Treat Your Nanny with Respect
Above all and through everything else, nannies need to be treated with respect. Your nanny should feel as if she is a valued member of your household at all times. If you have a problem, you should discuss it with her directly. If you think she has done something well or gone out of her way to take care of something that was not explicitly part of her job, you should recognize that and let her know you appreciate her hard work.
It’s a hard process to go through nannies and to find someone who will be a great fit in your home. Once you have found the right person, you want to make sure she will stick around. By following these guidelines, you are more likely to have a nanny who is happy and who wants to stay with you and your children for years to come.
About the Author
Steve Lampert is the president of eNanny Source, an online nanny agency that brings together families and nannies. Lampert previously ran a successful, award-winning nanny agency in a major city for over 10 years, during which time he worked with thousands of families and nanny candidates. Through this experience, he became familiar with the important steps in a nanny search, which he continues to apply to his business today. To learn more, please visit www.enannysource.com.