When you bring a nanny into your home, you start a special and unique way of working together. Bringing a new person into your home to care for your children is a big deal, and your nanny will become an integral part of your family unit. Preparing for your nanny’s first day can bring up a mix of emotions; you may feel nervous, anxious, guilty, and excited. Allow yourself the space to feel all of these feelings—they are valid! Think about what extra support you may need to tend to these complex feelings, whether it’s chatting with a trusted friend, your spouse, or a counselor. Know that whatever you are feeling is okay and that these feelings won’t last forever.
Logistically, there are steps you can take ahead of time to make this transition feel smooth and organized for everyone involved. You consider creating a simple home “handbook” or guide. This can be as simple or elaborate as you want, but it should include the essential information that will be important for your nanny to know.
Things you’ll want to include:
- Contact information for family members, neighbors, doctors, etc.
- A family tree if that’s relevant to help your nanny know who is who, especially if extended family is part of the care team or if they’ll be visiting and interacting with your nanny often.
- Expectations about what to do in the case of an emergency.
- A clear emergency plan in case of natural disasters
- House information: security codes, key locations, storage for extra diapers, wipes, medication, food
- Limits around certain things like sugar intake and screen time
- Contact information and expectations around the children's friends coming over for playdates
- Any parenting style or philosophy that’s important to you For example, “We follow the RIE parenting style, and it’s important to us that our caregiver follows this as well." "Here's how this is implemented or looks in our home.” If you follow a strict parenting philosophy and expect your nanny to do the same, it’s important to provide resources for them to learn, if they are not already familiar with them, and you should communicate that you would like them to learn. However, if you expect your nanny to do this outside of their hours working in the home, you should provide compensation for it.
- Additional important things to know include times when other people will be at the house during the week: landscapers, house cleaners, etc.
- Allergies or sensitivities of the children and parents (if any)
- Lastly, you might also include a sample schedule for the day or a run-down of your family’s daily rhythm. This will help your nanny stay organized throughout the day and know when certain tasks need to be done. An example may look like this: “Jacob needs to be dropped off at school between 9:15-9:30am, it takes 20 mins to walk to the school from our house.” Or “Sam can go down from nap anytime between 12:30-1pm, we try to make sure he’s asleep by 1:15 at the latest.”
In addition to a household guide, if you don’t have a lot of face-to-face time with your nanny, you may consider setting up a space with a calendar where both you and your nanny can write down events, appointments, etc., as well as a space, to leave notes for each other. These notes could include tasks or general information that you need to pass along to each other. If you would like your nanny to log nap times and feedings, be sure to have a separate notebook designated for this and ready for their first day.
Lastly, have a plan for backup care for when your nanny gets sick. While this may seem silly to do before your nanny even starts, it’s important to have a plan ready as at some point your nanny will need a sick day. Many times families are caught off guard when a nanny calls in sick, and they then have to scramble to figure out care. Discuss in your family what this means—does someone take off work for the day or is there a relative nearby who may be able to help? You might check with your agency to see if backup care is something they provide.
Your nannies' first week will be a transition and easing-in period for everyone. It’s helpful to be aware that your nanny will likely be nervous too; even the most seasoned nannies can feel nervous entering a new position. Writing a quick thank you note is one way you can make your nanny feel at ease and welcome. This doesn’t have to be fancy or over the top, just a simple thank you will suffice. Some families will give a small gift, but this is not at all expected. You may also ask your nanny what kinds of food, snacks, or beverages they like and keep a few of those stocked in the kitchen. These are simply suggestions and not mandatory, but they will make your nanny feel extra appreciated and welcome from the start.
You may discuss with your nanny ahead of time if they would prefer you to be available on their first day. Some nannies may prefer to just have the kids to themselves, as sometimes it can be difficult for kids to understand that the nanny is in charge when the parents are still around. At the end of the first day, give yourself some time to check in with your nanny and see how their first day went. You will also want to check in at the end of their first week and then continue to schedule check-ins weekly.
This may seem like a lot of tasks to do in preparation for your nanny’s first day, but know that setting up these systems will ultimately make the transition smoother and lay the foundation for a positive, communicative, and healthy relationship with your nanny. Here's a rundown of how to get ready for your nanny's first day.
Parents' checklist for the nanny’s first day:
- Schedule some self-care time for yourself during the first week. Transitions- even good and exciting ones are taxing
- Create a home handbook with important information for your nanny
- Create a communication station with- a shared calendar, space to leave notes, and a log notebook for feedings and naps if relevant. Note that these things can be virtual if you so choose
- Ensure that your payroll/payment system is set up
- If your children are old enough to understand, prepare them by talking about your new nanny, holding space for any feelings they have, and establishing boundaries if you will be working from home
- Schedule 15 minutes to check in with your nanny at the end of their first day, as well as a check-in at the end of the week
- Have a plan established for backup care in the future event your nanny calls in sick or has an emergency
- Talk to your nanny ahead of time about where you will be working, when you will be coming out into spaces, and how you will set boundaries around your work day if you work from home.