The Nanny-family relationship is incredibly unique and also tricky to navigate as it is an employment relationship that can feel very personal. It’s important to remember that while your nanny may feel like part of your family, you are still their employer and your nanny has a life outside of caring for your children. Maintaining respectful boundaries with your nanny can help make them feel appreciated and valued. One important way to do this is by respecting agreed upon hours. Nannies have lives and commitments outside of their work. Expecting lots of flexibility or for your nanny to change their schedule to work around your needs is not fair, unless this is something that has been agreed upon and you’re compensating extra for this flexibility. Nannies that feel a loss of control and independence can eventually lead to feeling underappreciated and disempowered. If you need a lot of flexibility, be upfront about this during the hiring process and find a middle ground. Agree upon how you’ll handle scheduling if that’s something that will vary- i.e. the first of the month you can go over the schedule for the next month. In addition, make sure you are respecting your nanny’s working hours and are ready to take over care for the children at the agreed upon time. In the rare occasion that your nanny does stay late, be sure to compensate them for their time. If you find that you are consistently struggling to relieve your nanny on time, you might consider having a conversation with your nanny about shifting their hours later if that is agreeable to them.
Respecting boundaries also looks like minimizing contact outside of working hours. Try to do as much communicating as you can while your nanny is in your home. Communicating in person is easier, clearer, and leads to less miscommunications or misunderstandings. In addition, texting your nanny with questions can make it feel hard to have a work-life balance and some nannies may not feel safe or empowered to hold boundaries and express why it’s inappropriate. Of course, there may be instances where it makes sense to communicate outside of work hours, but be mindful of keeping this to a minimum and only doing so when absolutely necessary.
As you become more comfortable with your nanny you may find yourself sharing personal information with them. This is normal and understandable as your nanny will be intertwined with your family’s life. The line of what is and is not appropriate to share with your nanny can be tricky to distinguish but in general, it’s best to avoid talking about family drama and relationship issues. Talking about an argument you had with your partner with your nanny will likely make them feel uncomfortable especially if your nanny works closely with both you and your partner.
Lastly, stick to the contract: When you’re laying out your requirements and expectations, you must be as clear as possible. It’s not okay to ask your nanny to take on additional tasks if it’s not in their contract and you’re not offering to pay them more. A good time to discuss taking on more responsibilities and tasks is when you are doing a review- after 6 months or a year, and at that time you should increase their pay. Nanny’s deserve regular raises, PTO, sick days, and assistance with their health insurance. In addition, utilize your weekly check-ins with your nanny as a time to connect with them, make sure they feel supported and discuss any issues that arise. Maintaining a foundation of clear communication will help the relationship feel equitable and will hopefully empower your nanny to bring forward any issues or areas where they need more support.