Let's set expectations clearly to build a strong foundation.
Welcome the nanny with clear expectations.
Last but certainly not least is step Three! This is a section many don’t consider, but in my opinion it’s one of the most important steps to work through. This section will ensure everyone understands expectations and forms the right habits from day one. Like all employees entering a new workplace, it’s essential to consider the important information your nanny will need to gain a thorough understanding of their new role and your family.
Set clear expectations
Your homework before day 1
Consider the times in your career when you’ve started a new role at a company. Think of the difference being provided with comprehensive information can make to you finding your feet in the role. This process of ‘onboarding’ is just as helpful for a nanny. Below, we’ve included all the different elements that can support you in bringing your nanny on board effectively and setting up written communication tools that are important for both parties.
Lauren's Hot Tip!
You can download each of the templates below to use or just browse to get inspo on the information collection that would be valuable for your working relationship.
Once you have decided and built templates to use, consider how you could build it into a welcome pack for the nanny’s first day. Consider buying them a cute little welcome gift (like a mug they could use in the house). This is not the standard, but it’s something I like to suggest to help the nanny feel welcome.
Downloadable resources to help set things up.
Even though for many it will never change, it’s important to highlight where the nanny can refer to the roster. If the hours do change often, make sure you have a clear system set up to communicate these changes. A roster could be recorded via an online calendar, in a diary, or displayed on a whiteboard in the home.
The actual hours may vary from the roster. Set up a system where the nanny records all hours in writing (this could be digital or on paper). Make sure you check each pay with the hours so you can discuss any discrepancies sooner rather than later. Documenting hours is a great way to register overtime or hours owed, and archive hours worked for future reference if needed.
Although you see your nanny at the start and end of each day, those handovers can be chaotic, resulting in missed information. We recommend setting up a communication diary. The nanny can read your notes before their day starts (rough routine outline, are the children well, did they sleep okay, any medication etc) and you can come home to information from the day (food log, nappy changes, sleep times, funny stories). The communication diary will simplify over time, so don’t be scared to overload on information to begin with. Finally, define your expectations for the information that is important to you and how much you expect at the end of the day.
Introduce the family
There is a lot of new information for the nanny to remember. Consider what details are important to document in a safe space for the nanny to refer to when needed. There is quite a lot in this guide, so go through it and build the points you think are important for the role.
The more your nanny understands your priorities, the more value you’ll feel. Most families just make a list each day in the communication diary. This also means the nanny can cross off and add notes around the tasks. This is a great point of reference if parties ever want to evaluate the household expectations. Finally, make sure your task expectation is reasonable for the time allowed for home management and the level of quality you expect (if you’re unsure, ask the nanny).
Lauren's Hot Tip!
I’ve worked for families that would have done every step here and others that wouldn’t dream of so much paperwork. If the templates feel overwhelming then consider grabbing a blank note book and just making your own variation to include sections from the above that are important to you.
Daily notes in writing make a big difference to organising communication effectively. Handovers at the start and end of the day are filled with distractions, as the kids are likely giving you their update at the same time. Having notes to refer to will avoid important matters being forgotten. Don’t forget, after a while the days roll into one so having dated entries are great for both you and the nanny to look back on.
The first few shifts
Build a parenting super team
Like all workplaces, you want onboarding to be professional and clear. At the same time, this role is intimate as the workplace is your home. The more clearly your initial expectations are communicated, the sooner you’ll find you need to give less instruction.
Work together first
Consider hiring the nanny to start with some initial shifts where you can be with them in the house. This will not only help you introduce them to the home, but it really helps the kids to have you around as they get to know their new nanny. If you can’t be present for the whole shift, try to allow for at least a few hours where you and the nanny are together to work through the information, tools, and routine.
Micromanaging is generally seen as a negative, but being specific and clear in your directions in the early stages is a good thing. Try to save this for things that are really important to you. It’s not like a professional workplace, the expectations and preferences are unique and personal to your family and home. If a family feels too awkward to delegate or request things from their nanny early on, this can cause issues. Whether it’s how to do the laundry a specific way, or a parenting style/philosophy – let the nanny know, and explain why it’s important to you. This will set up a culture of open communication and clear directives in the relationship.
Tip: Acknowledge the information/direction overload and the role it’s playing for your piece of mind. Let the nanny know that you want to set clear expectations at the start, and that you still very much trust them as a professional. Being open will make it less awkward in the future when you request things.
Show them the 'hood
Take the nanny out and about! Show them the local routes they’ll be doing for the school run, where you prefer to buy your fruit and veg, the local park, and last (but certainly not least) where the good coffee is! If the nanny will be driving in the role, get them to drive so you can check in with their driving confidence levels.
Tip: Print out a local map and circle your suggestions so they can refer to them over time. If you’re organised, send an email to your nanny with a link for each location, so they can click for easy navigation/directions.
Appliances, home organisation, and set up can be a lot for a nanny to remember. Think about the appliances that are going to be used, and write down any important instructions the nanny will need to know. Be sure to let the nanny know they can contact you with any urgent questions, and to use the communication diary to write down anything that can wait until the end of the day.
Cooking and kitchen
If your nanny is keen to cook – welcome the incredible experience of coming home to dinner ready! It’s a game changer.
Some nannies will be keener than others, so get an understanding about their confidence levels in the kitchen. Consider how different every family is when it comes to their kitchen layout and taste preferences, which means it will take some time for the nanny to find their cooking groove. Ask the nanny what sort of meals they are comfortable making, and choose some suitable recipes that can be the go-to dinners for the nanny to make in the beginning. Remember that prep time is often on the nanny’s side, so meals where prep can happen throughout the day work well!
Tip: As the nanny is finding their feet, consider having all (non-refrigerated) ingredients on the bench in a container with the recipe. Some parents also try Hello Fresh with their nanny.
- Simple sides will be a big help (rice in a rice cooker, steam/roast veg, go-to simple salad)
- A slow-cooker is a nanny’s best friend
- Marinate in the morning
- Bulk bake easy kids’ dinners to freeze (zucchini slice, quiche, meatballs, etc).
Lauren's Hot Tip!
Here are links to really easy recipes that I love from some of my favourite recipe websites. If the meals don’t suit, all of these websites have really clear formats to follow. So, find what you like and collect it for your nanny!
The art of bonding
Getting to know each other
Help your nanny relax
Having a domestic worker enter the home can be weird for some, so remember to play it cool. Bonding takes time. It can be daunting working for a new family in their home so the nanny may need to warm up. Eager nannies might act like nothing is too much, but this runs the risk that they will ‘over promise, under deliver’. You don’t want to create a ‘yes’ nanny because if they go to 100% straight away, I promise you they will burn out. Delegate effectively to allow your nanny to find their rhythm and you will see their productivity increase.
Tip: If you’re around for the early shifts, take the nanny and kids out for a coffee! It’s a nice treat and will help the nanny relax in the moment to just have a chat.
Early feedback is essential
If there are planned times for feedback, both parties can expect it and this often results in a smoother exchange. Maybe the nanny is eating too much of your food or leaving unnecessary lights on, so you need to consider which habits you need to nip in the bud early. Try to make each exchange of feedback a two way street, the nanny may also have some requests for the family to support her in providing the best possible service.
Tip: Set a plan together on when there will be feedback discussions (will it just be as it comes to mind or will there be a weekly check in?).
Revisit communication styles
Now that the nanny has started it’s important to revisit the communication styles. Remember that every family is different, so the nanny may be exploring the best way to work alongside you in your home. The communication strategy may need to change so if it’s not working, consider switching it up!
Questions to consider:
- written vs face to face – what is working best?
- how often do you want to be updated with texts and calls?
- do you want more or less photo updates?
- how is the nanny feeling about the communication set up?
Check in with the parent guilt
Many parents find it very hard to return to work, and that’s normal! You’re handing your beautiful baby over to someone else so you can go to work, and the nanny is where you want to be. The envy is real and a good nanny will be empathetic to that. Remember to check in with your emotions, and remind yourself that the nanny is here to help.
Lauren's Hot Tip!
Where you’re comfortable, let the nanny know how you’re feeling about the transition and request what you need to make it easier. Here are some of the requests I’ve had:
- more calls/texts to check in
- don’t send picture messages, it makes them too sad
- not to tell parents about the ‘firsts’.
Strive for long term success
Give a little but not too much
Appreciation goes a long way, and there are so many ways to show it. Consider the following list of suggestions and think about things you would be happy and able to do from time to time. But never feel like these things are at all expected or necessary to do often!
Lauren's Hot Tip!
The task of caring for an entire family and household, outside of their own, requires a lot of heart and soul from nannies. A little appreciation can go a long way, and the small but thoughtful gestures often mean the most. I’ll tell you now, nannies who feel appreciated will be likely to go above and beyond for your family.
As for the bigger shows of appreciation (such as bonuses), feel free to save these for exceptional occasions as a wonderful surprise for your dedicated nanny.
Different ways to show appreciation
Treat yo' nanny
Every so often why not throw a spa treatment voucher your nanny’s way, or pass them a bottle of wine on their way out before the weekend. Surprises ‘just because’ are wonderful, but also find out their birthday and remember the anniversary of their first day with you. These are great times to give a little gift or card.
Early knock off
If you come home early and find the kids happy and the house in order, why not offer your nanny an early mark (paid) so they can go and enjoy some personal time for the rest of their day?
Often you won’t ‘feel’ the nanny’s magic until they have left. You might open a freshly folded linen cupboard, or realise the kids are in a great mood, or just in general have a moment of gratitude for the positive impact your nanny is having on your life. When you have these moments, send a text! A nanny will always love receiving an unexpected ‘thank you’.
Like all roles, the nanny role will hit turbo towards the end of the year as they work to get your family cruising into holidays. Be sure to consider a bonus if you noticed the nanny stepping up and if you can afford it. It could set an expectation for a bonus each year, so be mindful of the amount and the language you use when giving the bonus.
A nanny’s role evolves quickly! Once the nanny has found a rhythm their productivity will increase, so be sure to consider a new pay rate on the nanny’s work anniversary. The average nanny role is 12 months so if you do have someone who has a few years under their belt, trust me, they are worth every cent.
Offer yummy food
Perhaps you have some yummy leftovers to offer the nanny. Or you might surprise them by stocking up on some items you notice they like. Some families do offer the nanny the option of eating food from the house regularly, but whether or not you choose to do that, these are kind gestures to offer occasionally.
Lauren's Hot Tip!
Consider early what offers (if any) you want to give the nanny in regards to eating household food. Offering a nanny to “help yourself” can be a slippery slope. (I once heard of a Nanny that cut into a first birthday cake that was for a party on the weekend!) A good nanny will be respectful and sensible, but try to make any boundaries around food clear and reasonable.
Try to be mindful of boundaries in general. Nannies and families already have such a close relationship, that you shouldn’t expect to be too social or personal with your nanny. In time you’ll find the right balance that works for you, but it’s important to maintain a professional vibe.
You are now fully informed to explore a DIY approach to finding your own nanny! Scroll down to recap across any of the modules and book in if you are yet to have your consultation with Lauren.