There’s a magical thing that happens when you find the right nanny. They just seem to “get it.” They adore your children and engage with them in the exact way that you expect. They anticipate what you need from them. They offer to help out in unexpected ways that make life so much easier. But, even though a nanny might give Mary Poppins a run for her money in the “practically perfect nanny” department, that still doesn’t mean that she’s a mind reader.
A common pitfall for many parents in finding their ideal nanny is the mistaken belief that a great nanny should just instinctively know everything that moms and dads expect. When hiring a new nanny, these parents might assume that the “right” nanny for the job will simply waltz into their home and immediately take charge of all childcare duties and learn the household routine in a snap—and anything less is a sign that the nanny isn’t up to par.
It’s important to remember that every job has a learning curve and a nanny’s success relies on strong communication and managing expectations. As a manager, it’s not productive to sit back and wait for your employee to either sink or swim completely on their own. The key to a successful nanny-family relationship is communicating your expectations and setting your nanny up for success.
Tell your nanny exactly what you want.
In order for a nanny to do her job well, she needs to be clear on exactly what that job entails. If you expect the children to be taken to the park at 10 am each day, fed only organic snacks and meals, and to only play with their toys in the playroom, the nanny needs to know that. Similarly, if the playroom is a mess at the end of the day and you expect it to be cleaned and organized a certain way, the nanny needs to know that as well. She may not do everything 100 percent correctly right off the bat, but when you communicate your expectations and then give her a chance to get it right, you’ll often be amazed at how quickly great nannies are able to meet and even exceed those expectations.
Don’t expect your nanny to “take the hint.”
If there’s an issue, or if you need your nanny to take on a duty that she isn’t currently doing, don’t be afraid to say it. If you notice that that your toddler needs a haircut and you’d like the nanny to take them for one, it’s much more effective to ask the nanny to go get the child’s hair cut than it is to say something like, “Wow, Addison really needs a haircut soon,” and just hope that the nanny will step up to solve the problem.
In that scenario, some nannies may offer to take the child for a trim, but others may hear an observation rather than a suggestion. And, even if they do step up to take the child for a haircut, should they do it again next time? Are they expected to do it from now on? It is much simpler and clearer to state your needs and give the nanny the opportunity to follow through on your wishes.
Remember, no two families are alike.
Your nanny likely has a lot of experience working with many kinds of families, but that doesn’t mean she will automatically know exactly what you need from her. Your family, household, and routines are completely unique to anyone else’s, and no matter who your nanny has worked for in the past or how many years she’s been on the job, she’s never worked for your family before. It will take time and communication for your expectations to become second nature to her.
Of course, there are instances in which a nanny just isn’t the right fit. If you have clearly communicated your needs and expectations to the nanny, guided them in how you’d like things done, and given them plenty of opportunity to follow through on your asks, and they still aren’t getting it, that may be a sign that the nanny isn’t a good match. But it’s important that you first build a relationship with any potential nanny that is based on honesty and clear communication. Only then can you accurately assess your nanny’s performance and have total confidence in her ability to do what your family needs.