As a parent, you know that caring for children is tough business. Those sweet little faces need love, attention, and lots of activities to keep them busy. So you can imagine that choosing to work as a nanny or au pair in another person’s home is a rewarding but often difficult job. To make their life a little easier (and your home run a bit more smoothly), we asked a few nannies and au pairs to tell us the top 5 things they wish you knew.
1. It’s so much easier as a team. Parents, you may have experienced this yourselves: one parent unintentionally undermines the other when it comes to discipline. It is crucial that you work with your nanny to make sure everyone is on the same page and supportive of disciplinary decisions. Showing your kids that you respect your nanny by following through on a punishment she gave sends the message that she is an authority figure. It also makes her job much easier the next time she tells little Johnny that if he does not stop spitting, he’ll be in time out. He’ll quickly remember that even though mommy came home, she made him stay until he had done his time and apologized.
2. She is a professional. This means she’ll do a great job, take on some extra projects and keep things organized. It also means that she deserves support, consideration and respect. Respect of course means how you speak to her, but also respect for her time, things and interests. If you say you’ll be home at 6pm, be home at 6pm and be sure you send a quick text if you are running a few minutes late. Give ample notice when plans change and try to accommodate special requests, knowing she will do the same.
3. The little details make all the difference. Imagine spending all day with a cranky toddler, who doesn’t want to eat much and just wants to be held. Then, when mom comes home and nanny reports the days’ events, mom says, “Oh, I’m not surprised. We noticed last night she is getting a new molar”. Yikes – wouldn’t this information have been helpful to your nanny before her day started? Even if she lives in your home, the little details about your day or your child’s current health may not be obvious to her, so it’s important to convey those details. As awesome as your nanny or au pair is, she is not a mind-reader, so it’s crucial to share everything both verbally and on paper.
4. She has a plan. Not only does your nanny or au pair have a plan for each day, but it is likely one that you have helped her to craft. So whenever possible, respect that plan and try not to throw a wrench in. Give her ample notice when things will be a little different and try not to throw out last minute schedule or activity changes. It’s also important to remember that while she might not do things exactly as you would, if your kids are happy and responding well, her method might be the best way. This is a tough one to admit, but sometimes a nanny’s time in the trenches has taught her a few things even mom and dad had not considered.
5. She is a person, too. It sounds a little silly, but it is true! Your au pair may read, sing, act – it could be anything, but the fact is that she has a life outside of your family and great talents and ideas to share. Your whole family can learn from her and grow as a result. Take some time to get to know her unique interests and encourage her to share these with your kids.
Now that you are armed with these insider tips, put them to use. Acknowledge your nanny or au pair’s hard work and commit to investing in the relationship. You’ve chosen the perfect childcare provider – now make the most of it and in the process give even more to your kids.