After giving birth to your precious little mini me, you couldn’t imagine letting anyone besides yourself ever take care of her. Lots of your friends have nannies, but the thought of having a complete stranger feed her, bathe her and — gasp — cuddle her before nap time seemed unfathomable and blasphemous. So on Day 5 of your three-month-long maternity leave, it was officially decided: You would definitely stay home with your baby forever and not let a nanny within 15 feet of your perfect angel.
Cut to month two of maternity leave and you find yourself desperately scanning Care.com for your very own Mary Poppins to swoop in and save your sanity. You’re still head over heels in love with your baby, but by now you’re itching to get back to work, dying to make it to a spin class and frankly you just really need a pedicure — alone.
And so begins the great nanny hunt.
Anyone who’s ever searched for quality in-home childcare knows it can be tedious and nerve-racking. But after all the research, interviews and countless reference checks, you’ve finally found “THE ONE” and you’re more giddy than that time back in 2013 when you realized you’d found the other “The One” in the form of your beloved husband.
Any mom with an awesome nanny knows she’d better hold on to her tight; finding a person whom you trust to nurture, love, teach and discipline your own offspring in the same way you would is a valuable commodity and the thought of ever starting over with a new search is terrifying and completely exhausting. That’s why we mamas have to make sure we treat our nannies with a little TLC: If you love your nanny like family, make sure you aren’t committing any of these six nanny sins!
1. Thou shall not treat the nanny like a maid.
Unless it was explicitly stated in the beginning that your nanny was expected to do the household chores, you shouldn’t dump this obligation on her. Sure, tossing the baby’s laundry into the wash or doing the dishes after lunch time is totally fine and she’d probably do that without being asked, it’s a different story when you’re suddenly having her mop the floors, dust your nightstand and wipe down the bathroom counters.
2. Thou shall not abuse the nanny’s time.
If you’re supposed to be home at 5 p.m., but at 4:45 p.m. you decide on a whim you’d rather meet a friend for happy hour, don’t dump your kids on the nanny last-minute. Believe it or not, your nanny has a life outside of your home and your family, and she might have plans of her own to get to. If you need her to stay later on a certain day, ask her with plenty of notice and have a back-up sitter ready to call if your nanny seems less than enthused to work over-time.
3. Thou shall not skimp on the nanny’s pay.
Your nanny is doing one of the most important jobs imaginable: helping mold your children into functioning little humans. They put Band-Aids on scraped knees, wipe runny noses, dry waterfalls of tears, clean up spit-ups, teach the ABCs, give hugs after naptime nightmares, fight the meal time battles every day — and the list goes on and on. Your nanny wears so many hats on a daily basis, so it only makes sense to compensate her appropriately. Plus, if she feels valued, she’ll likely work harder and do a better job for you.
4. Thou shall not withhold nanny perks.
Normal jobs give out bonuses, raises and other fun perks here and there, so why should your nanny’s job be any different? Make a mental note of her birthday and surprise her with a cake when she arrives; splurge on a special Christmas gift for her; give her a little extra money one week when she helps totally reorganize your daughter’s closet during naptime — a few extra perks can go a long way.
5. Thou shall not have the nanny double as your personal assistant.
If you feel like you’re too busy to pick up your dry cleaning and mail that package at the post office, then save it for tomorrow — don’t have your nanny do these things on her way over to your house. Again, she’s here to take care of and love on your kids, not to morph into your personal assistant when you’re overbooked. If your to-do list is out of control, work on consolidating your tasks yourself — don’t make it your nanny’s problem.
6. Thou shall not undermine her authority.
A word of advice: Take extra care in choosing a nanny with similar parenting styles and child-rearing ideals as you and your family have, and clearly explain to your nanny what you think is acceptable and unacceptable behaviors for your children as well as acceptable discipline strategies. Then, when your nanny enacts those strategies, do not swoop in and totally undermine her work. Children thrive on consistency, especially when the consistency comes from the expectations their caregivers have for them. If you do have an issue with how your nanny is handling a situation, make sure to approach her about it privately out of your child’s earshot — because if you don’t respect your nanny, then neither will your kids.