In this article, CanadianNanny.ca founder and child care expert, Martha Scully, spells out the critical rules you should establish with a nanny before she starts. These important rules will help you avoid many difficult situations in the future.
Hiring a nanny is different that hiring any other type of employee. She is working in your home, and she is caring for your children. No matter how hard you try, your relationship with her is going to be more personal. But it is important that parents established rules with her from the very beginning of her employment.
Here are 6 Rules every parent should follow with their nanny before they start employment.
1. House Rules
Are there particular areas in the home you do not want the nanny entering? It is important that you let the nanny know that in advance. Be prepared for the nanny to take it personally that she is not allowed to be in certain rooms. Providing her with a brief explanation may be helpful.
Many parents have certain things in the home they do not want the nanny using. Your personal computer could be off limits to nannies. If you have food that you do not want the nanny to consume, provide her with items that are okay for her and the children to eat.
When you hired your nanny you likely gave her a list of household duties you wanted her to complete during the day. Being flexible with house rules and duties is always recommended. Just because you clean, or cook, or even fold clothing a certain way, a nanny may not do these chores the same way. A nanny is not going (and should not be expected) to do everything exactly the way you do.
2. Behaviour Management
During your interview with your potential new nanny, you should be discussing her philosophies on discipline. Ask her leading questions like “when do you think it is okay to spank our 2-year-old?” or “how long do you think my child should be timed out for?’ These answers in an interview can tell you a lot about how flexible she is going to be with your ideals on behaviour management.
Before a nanny starts on her first day, you want to have her understand that your children are to be disciplined they way you feel is most effective. Let her know that you, of course, are open to suggestions and working together on new approaches. At CanadianNanny.ca, we recommend writing down your strategies in behaviour management so there is a clear understanding of your expectations.
Here are 4 things you want to be sure to mention about disciplining your child(ren).
- Physical punishment — spanking, slapping. CanadianNanny.ca strongly recommends not allowing any adult the ability to hit or strike your child.
- Time-out — If your family does “time outs”, there should be a time limit to them. One minute per age of the child. i.e.: a “time-out” for a 5-year-old would be 5 minutes at the most.
- Yelling — No matter what you do as a parent, your nanny should be strongly discouraged from yelling at a child.
- Degrading — ”You’re lazy” or if you eat that “you will be fat” should never be allowed to be spoken to any child.
This is very simple. Everything that happens in your home, stays in your home. Let your nanny know that medical, financial, and personal information should not be discussed outside the family. Some parents are okay with a nanny posting pictures and videos of their children on social media. If you are not, let your nanny know in advance.
4. Tech Rules
Rules need to be established for the children and for the nanny. The nanny should not be using the TV, computer, or handheld devices as a form of “babysitting” for the children. The expectation is that she is providing care for the children. Occasionally when she is making a meal or the driving, devices can be used by the children
Like any other employee, your nanny should not be texting or using social media while she is caring for your children. Texting and social media should be limited to when kids are napping. This should be established at the very beginning of your relationship with her.
This is a rule that needs to be very clear with your children as well.
For more on nannies and texting read: On The Job Texting
There are different types of visitors. Your nanny may connect with another nanny in the neighbourhood. This type of relationship and interaction can be great for your nanny and your children. An open dialogue before visits with other nannies and children is always recommended.
Other visitors like friends, relatives, boyfriends, or husbands should be discouraged. Stating this at the beginning of employment can be difficult, but will avoid a more difficult situation in the future.
6. Car Rules
Before allowing your nanny to drive your children, you should complete a driver’s abstract, ensure your nanny has her proper licence to drive with other passengers in the car and ensure she has access to roadside assistance in case of flat tires, dead batteries, locked keys in car or other maintenance related issues.
If your nanny has an older vehicle, make sure she has proper tether straps for car seats and that the car is reasonably well maintained.
If the nanny is using your car or her own car, a few rules are important.
- Never (ever) leave the child in the car alone.
- Always have your child in the back seat and facing the proper direction for the type of car seat
- Do everything you can to not be distracted while driving. Provide the child with an activity or play music that they enjoy, so the nanny can keep her eyes on the road.
- Never use a hand-held device (cell, smartphone, etc) while driving - pull over if a text, email or call needs to made.
- Discuss the use of hands-free calling (does the car have hands free blue tooth?) are you ok with it, consider limiting to only important calls related to the children
- Careful with foods in the car - as they can be choking hazards while driving
Discussing these rules with your nanny may be difficult for you but establishing guidelines like this before your nanny starts will save you from all kinds of issues in the long run.
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