new nanny job

Starting a new nanny job - 5 valuable tips

A blog by Amanda Ferguson (@nannyofoz) – Nanager Recruitment Manager + Career Nanny.

Nanager is run by nannies. We understand nannying and the ways in which it is a unique job. The way a new nanny job starts is one of them. In many companies the new employee is the one who is less experienced and knowledgeable about how things work and what protocols should be followed to get set up in the workplace. But as nannies, we often have more experience starting at a new workplace (family’s home) while it might be the parents’ first time hiring a nanny. (*If you are a family welcoming a nanny – check out this post for some tips for you!)

When you start a new nanny job it’s important to be aware of ways to help the first few months go smoothly. It’s a busy time of year, with many new roles about to start. So we are sharing a few tips that you can use with families to make sure everyone has the knowledge and tools for success.

1. Understand the requirements of your new nanny job.

By the time you start a new nanny job you should have a good understanding about the duties and expectations in this specific role. One important way to do this is to have a contract/work agreement with the family. This should outline the specifics about employment terms of course, but it should also indicate the responsibilities of both the nanny and the family. It might include house rules, family values, and medical/health information.

It’s a good idea to ask the family to write down a typical daily/weekly schedule so the children’s routines and activities are clearly communicated. There will of course be nuances in those routines, so it’s a good idea to also take your own notes when you have discussions with the parents/other nanny or get shown how they do things during a trial or transition day.

2. Be prepared for a transition period!

Starting a new nanny job is a big change for both you and the family. The children may be used to only their parents caring for them or they may be familiar with another nanny who is leaving. The parents are also either welcoming someone new or someone for the first time into their home. This can be daunting or overwhelming, and it’s often the parents whose expectations nannies need to be particularly careful about managing during the first few weeks.

Every new nanny job is unique but it’s important to aim for that sweet spot of a gentle transition that doesn’t linger so much in the in-between that children feel confused. Try not to be frustrated if parents initially pop in frequently. This is something you might address if it becomes disruptive long-term, but give the family a little grace at the start. Discuss expectations for the transition with the parents. We recommend spending a day or so with the parents/exiting nanny when starting a new nanny job, but as an observer/’new friend’ rather than trying to be the authority figure while their trusted adults are still there.

3. Meet the family where they’re at.

As the nanny you are walking into a home with a family who has their own way of doing things. Please don’t go into a new nanny job trying to change everything – this can be disruptive and unwelcome. You will of course have your own ways of doing things and valuable input you can bring to the household, but get to know the family first.

Most children will respond best to a caregiver who comes in and maintains familiar routines and expectations. Parents also will generally feel most comfortable with a nanny who is supportive of what they have been doing as a family. If and when you do want to make changes in the home that you feel will work better for everyone, this can come in time after you’ve established a positive relationship.

4. Focus initially on the core relationships.

Building new and positive relationships with children and families takes time. It’s important to be understanding and prepared for that when you are starting a new nanny job. There are two major things we’ve seen nannies try to rush into when starting a new role, which can sometimes lead to a strained or slow connection with the children. These are household tasks and outings/playdates.

In a typical nanny job, where the bulk of your time is spent with the children, they should be your focus in the early days. Any extra tasks to help the household can be built over time. In most roles it’s much more important to focus on spending quality time with the children. Establish a great connection and trust initially before juggling tasks that take your focus away from the children and their needs. Having a solid relationship and understanding of the children will make it easier to branch out with more tasks in the future.

Similarly, depending on the child, outings and playdates can be overwhelming or distracting early on. It’s wonderful to get out with children and they thrive on social interactions, but it’s important to develop a strong relationship between yourself and the child before introducing too many distractions and other people to get to know. 

5. Establish regular check-ins.

Excellent communication is an important part of all successful nanny/family relationships. In the early days it’s important to check in regularly with the family. When you start a new nanny job, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the family on how things are going. In a good position you will feel comfortable asking questions and also making requests of the family if there is something you need.

It’s important to check in when needed with the agency (if you used one) – especially in the early days. A good agency will want to help you and the family to succeed by supporting you to clarify and communicate.

Consider planning mini meetings for weekly check-ins with the family for the first few weeks, then official check-ins at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. Some nannies and families like to have a meal together every few months, others prefer to use email as their tool for this type of communication. Whatever works for you and the family in your new nanny job – make sure you’re communicating!

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