Being a nanny is not simple. First off, you have every preconceived notion that comes with being a nanny. The help, someone trying to steal babies, someone without a real career, a babysitter, someone who is trying to hook up with a celebrity or take your spouse. The list goes on and on. The media and movies have made nannies to be the bad guy.
In reality, nannies are people who love working with children. One bad apple doesn’t speak for all of us. All the nannies I know treat their charges with the respect, kindness and love a parent would give their own child. I can tell you from my own personal experience I am not a nanny for the money, glory or fame. The following list is to help you avoid losing your nanny. Great nannies will not deal with these things. It’s better to be prepared. All the stories in my article are from nannies and each has asked to remain anonymous.
1. Disrepect. As aforementioned, being a nanny is difficult. We do all of the tasks of a parent, but we can’t afford to mess up. Sure a fall here and there are inevitable, but if a child is harmed extensively, unlike the parents, we are likely to be prosecuted for negligence or worse. We’re not granted the amnesty of being a parent. It’s our job to keep our charges safe. If, we are then disrespected by momboss and dadboss, odds are, we aren’t going to stick around. Here’s a story from a nanny. “Every time I would arrive my momboss was on the phone. She would barely say hi and continue talking, while expecting me to just swoop up the kids and take care of them. Her attitude was demeaning, because I worked for her she expected me to do all I asked and never listened to me or treated me as an equal. She looked down upon me.” Doesn’t sound great. Right? This nanny quit after a few days. I can’t say I blame her. Treat your nanny as an equal. They are helping you raise your children, after all.
2. Micromanaging. I see this happen most often with parents who work from home. They are home, so step in while the nanny is trying to do their job. Another nanny says “the parents would unexpectedly stay home from time to time. They never told me when this was going to happen. When they did the children were ten times worse, they wanted to be with their mom and dad, who would entertain them a few moments and expect me to pull them away when they needed to get back to work. This made me the bad guy. The kids hated it and so did I. They would then tell me how and what to do with the kids, even though I was there many times before, when they were not around.” The best way to remedy this is to explain what needs to be done with the nanny and leave it at that. He or she may do things a bit differently and that’s okay! Your children will adjust. Also, tell your nanny when you will be home, so they can anticipate changes and send your children away yourself to avoid making the nanny the bad guy. You want your kids to like the nanny.
3. Not trusting your nanny. This one is tough, I understand. I am a mother and it’s really hard for me to leave my children with other people, but eventually, if you want a good-working relationship, you’re going to need to trust your nanny. One nanny writes “I had been working with this family for a few months, when out of the blue, momboss sent her mom over to check in on me. Her mom made an excuse, but it was clear what she was doing. I was so offended! I had been nothing but wonderful to the children and didn’t understand what I did to warrant such a visit. It really made me question why I was working with this family.” Leaving your children with a nanny can be difficult, if you are truly worried for your children a nanny camera is a great solution. However, you’ve done the research, called references, completed a background check and at some point, need to trust your nanny. Odds are, they are with your kids making the million decisions you would every day. Give your nanny a break and trust they know what they are doing.
4. Not paying a fair wage. I hear about this all the time! A parents thinks that their nanny is the same rate as their daycare. That’s a big, fat no. If you have a nanny, expect to pay at least ten dollars an hour and probably even more. A fellow nanny said “I didn’t know what I should ask for in the nanny interview. The parents told me they would pay $50.00 a day. I thought this was a normal rate. Until I spoke with other nannies. They were making upwards of $15.00/hr. I was appalled. I did the math and realized with my nine hour days, I was making less than minimum wage. I quit the next week. It was costing me money to work.” A nanny is not considered an independent contractor. They are employees in your household and should be paid as such. Taxes and all. I’ve worked for a couple different families who set a weekly rate and it worked out great! Just make sure your weekly rate is divided fairly for your nanny.
5. Flirting with the nanny. I don’t care if your nanny is male or female. Flirting with them is not acceptable. I’m going to tell you a few of my own personal stories for this one. I had one dadboss offer to buy me items from a Victoria’s Secret magazine, and we’re not talking the clothing section. Another was so shameless about looking at my breasts, I went home and changed my shirt. No one should feel that uncomfortable in a work setting. It’s not flattering to have your boss hit on you and is really sexual assault. Just don’t do it.
6. Blaming your nanny for your children’s behavior. Kids are bound to be naughty every now and then. It just happens. Don’t blame your kids bad behavior on the nanny. Another nanny shared “I would discipline as the parents asked and the child would not listen. When I asked him to share he said mine, mine, mine and wouldn’t listen. I would put him in a timeout per the parents instructions and then he would act like I was the most evil person in the world. When the parents were home they let him misbehave and blamed all his troubles on me. They sat me down and asked why I wasn’t doing what they asked. I told them I was and to check their nanny cameras. I ended up quitting, because I just couldn’t handle the accusations.” Wow. I feel for this nanny. I can’t even imagine being blamed for such a thing. Own up to the fact that your children make mistakes. They are little human beings learning to navigate the world. Then, take a look to see how you can help your nanny work together if you’re not seeing the behavior you desire. It’s also very important to remember that things like autism can begin to show around 2 years of age, so if you have had the same nanny for some time and see regression in behavior, maybe take your child to see a specialist.
Finding a wonderful nanny is not an easy task. I, myself, have worked with the same family for more than six years, because they are wonderful! Liz, if you’re reading this, thank you for always being an amazing boss. My nanny family treats me with respect and dignity, gives me a fair wage and when their son acts up they address him directly and we always work together. If you do this with your nanny, you can have a wonderful, lasting relationship as well.