What a Nanny Should Know

August 19, 2014

In addition to caring for the children, a nanny takes on a lot of other responsibilities on a daily basis. Being the only adult in the home during the day (usually), you may be expected to manage situations related to the home, as well as prepared for any incident that arises with the children. Review the following items to be sure you know how to handle any of these situations if they come up while you are in charge.


The most important thing is to make sure that you have a key to the family home, and know where the spare key is. If there is another way in, make sure you know it and what to do if you can't get into the home the usual way. If there is an alarm in the home, make sure you know how and when to use it, how to disarm it, and what to do if the alarm goes of, whether accidentally or in the event of a real threat.

Other access points to keep in mind are key codes or passes to community centres, apartment building, parking garages, etc. Make sure to keep these memorized and don't share them with anyone.

Phones and Phone Numbers

Program the parents' phone numbers in your own cell phone, both their cell phone numbers as well as their work phone numbers. Also program any emergency contacts they provide you with in your phone so you always know where to find them; don't be afraid to have a lot of them! 

Keep your cell phone on you at all times. If there is an accident or emergency, the last thing you want to worry about is finding your phone, but it's also the first thing you're going to need when you know everyone is safe. Make a plan with the parents on who is to be called first and their preferred method of contact, as well as who is the final decision maker if they each give you a different answer.

If the family has a home phone, find out if you are to answer it while they are out of the home. If so, know how it should be answered and where you should put any messages that come in 


As you are the primary caregiver for the children during the day, make sure you get any permission letters needed to pick the kids up from school, take the child to the doctor, or make decisions on medical treatments in the event of an emergency and the parents are not available. Whenever possible, make sure the letter is signed and dated, and that you have one for each child; it may be necessary to have the letters notarized.


Talk to the parents about which children are friends of your charges, who is allowed to come into the home to play, which homes your charges can go in to play, and who they can play with outside.

It is possible that there will be home service calls on the days you're in charge, such as landscaping, repairs, etc. Find out which ones make regularly scheduled visits, who has been scheduled to come in, and what to do if one come unexpectedly. Make sure you know if the pets are to remain inside or let out, who else has access to the home, etc. 

Safety Matters

The parent should take you on a tour of the home on your first day of employment and show you where the first aid kids are, medicine and thermometer, fire extinguishers, etc. Make sure this tour also includes the family's emergency plan and if there is a safe meeting spot and the emergency code word. You should also know which medications are appropriate for the children to take, and what circumstances the medicine should be used in. If the child has any special medical equipment, such as an EpiPen, know how and when to use it.


Review the daily routine with the parents to be sure you understand when and where the children are expected to be, and what they should complete in the day. Know how long it takes to get to school and each activity, so you can leave on time without rushing the kids through their day. Know when you have to wake them up in the morning, when naps are to be taken, and what the bedtime routine is.

If your charges are in diapers, make sure you know where all the supplies are, and what to do if a rash develops. If you are helping potty train, observe the parent so you can mimic it and keep the training consistent. 


If you are driving the family's car, make sure you know how it operates, and take it for a test drive so you're comfortable with it before you have to take the children anywhere. Go over car seat operation with the parents so you know how to work it, and so you know if the child screams when it's time to get in, and how to handle it. Review the vehicle insurance with the parents, know where the papers are, and what the coverage is. 

if you are driving your own car, learn how to install the family's car seats in it, and review your insurance coverage so you know it's adequate for driving with the children. 

Before you start driving the children around, learn the neighbourhood and location of anywhere you need to take them.


If there are pets in the home, find out from the parents the level of care you are expected to provide. Know where they can and cannot go, where their food is, what to do with them when you go out or when others come in, etc. Also, know what to do in the event of an emergency, whether something happens to the pet while you're in charge, or if something happens to the house.

The Home

Know the areas you and the children are allowed in, and what's off limits. Know the rules of the house and how to enforce them. Know how to work all appliances in the home, and which ones the children are allowed to use, with or without supervision. Ask if the children are allowed to use electronics during the day, and what limits are in place. Find out if there is any child-proofing in the home, and how to operate them. Find out where cleaning supplies are kept and what is used where. 

Employment Contract

Finally, we always suggest that there is a signed employment between you and the parents, outlining your duties and responsibilities, as well as days and hours of work and breaks, and the agreed-upon wage. Both you and the parents should sign this, and each of you should hav ea copy for your records.

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