10 Top Characteristics to Look for in a Family

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If nannies could create a wish list of the characteristics they’d like to see nanny employers have, it might look something like this.

  1. Respectful. Nannies look for families that not only understand but also respect the work they do. Many in our society don’t view working as a nanny as a real job so it’s especially gratifying when employers respect the contribution their nanny makes to their family and respect her role as a childcare professional.
  2. Honest. Being honest is critical to a successful employment relationship. Parents must be honest about their expectations and use daily communication, regular family meetings and performance reviews to provide their nanny with sincere feedback about how she’s doing. They must also be honest about their struggles and challenges, as individuals and as a family, that affect and impact their nanny.
  3. Reliable. Nannies rely on families for their financial security. It’s important that employers pay their nanny on time, for the full amount they owe her and withhold appropriate taxes. Even though they work in an informal setting, nannies are real employees and should be paid accordingly.
  4. Considerate. This trait always makes the top of the list when nannies are asked about the type of family they want to work for. Parents that do simple things like cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, calling if they’re going to be late or cleaning up the Sunday night playroom mess are sought after employers.
  5. Even keeled. Nannies, like many of us, often think when someone is angry or upset it has to do with something they’ve done or not done. So working for a parent whose moods and reactions are unpredictable can be stressful and unsettling. When Mom comes home and gets upset because the kids haven’t had dinner yet is it because they’re a mere 10 minutes off their normal schedule or did she have a bad day at work? Even-keeled employers offer a stable work environment.
  6. Collaborative. The best approach when it comes to kids is always a team approach. Nannies love working for parents who value their input and want to work together to do what’s best for the child. They understand their role is a supporting one and enjoy helping parents tackle challenging behaviors and ages and stages transitions.
  7. Relaxed. Nannies embrace the fun and frivolity of childhood. They enjoy working for families that are relaxed, laid back and won’t be overly upset by the normal messiness and unexpectedness of kids. Parents that understand it’s impossible to vacuum up every speck of glitter after a craft project or that sometimes pajamas is the perfect outfit choice for a rainy, overcast day or that there are times when you simply don’t get out the door in time and are a few minutes late for school or an appointment. Working for a family that takes things in stride is a big plus for nannies.
  8. Generous. This is a pretty obvious one. Nannies like to work for parents that pay them a competitive hourly rate, that give them a bonus at the end of the year and that offer them a benefit package that is truly valuable. But nannies also like to work for families that are generous in spirit. A dad that lets his nanny leave 30 minutes early because traffic was light and he got home early. A mom that gives her nanny a purse she received from a client, knowing otherwise it will sit in her closet and never be used. A family that offers their mountainside cabin to their nanny because she loves to ski and needs some time away from the city. Generosity comes in many forms and all of them are appreciated by nannies.
  9. Communicative. Being good communicators is a trait every nanny wants her employers to have. The nanny / family relationship is so much more successful when parents clearly articulate their expectations and boundaries, when they can offer practical feedback about what’s working and what needs improvement and when they can talk to their nanny about all the child-related issues that are bound to come up.
  10. Appreciative. Who doesn’t love a heartfelt thank you? Nannies invest so much of themselves into their jobs. They take their responsibilities very seriously and love to hear that their hard work and dedication is appreciated. Parents that say thank you at the end of a long day, that help their child make a special card for their nanny’s  nannyiversary or send flowers after their nanny went way above the call of duty are beloved by their nannies.

Deciding what kind of family to work for can be challenging for a nanny. Finding one with some of these traits can make the choice, and job, much easier.

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