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Skills Every Nanny Should Have

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Currently there aren’t any regulations around what a caregiver needs to know or be able to do in order to work as a nanny. However, every nanny should have a basic skill set before she begins working in a private home caring for a child. Exactly what skills she needs will depend on the family she’ll be working for and her own personal nannying style, but most industry experts agree that the skills listed below are essential to quality care.

Be able to perform CPR on an infant, child or adult. Being CPR certified is one of the most basic safety skills every caregiver should be able to perform. Hopefully, a nanny will never have to perform CPR, but if she’s in a situation that requires it she should have the skill and confidence needed to perform it until medical help arrives. CPR certification should be renewed every 2 to 3 years, depending on the certifying organization.

Be able to administer basic first aid. When working with kids, accidents are bound to happen. A child may get stung by a bee, fall and scrape a knee, or hit his head during a wrestling match with a big brother. A nanny should know what the proper treatment is for a variety of injuries and also know when she should get the child additional medical help. She should also know how to create a basic first aid kit and make sure she has one available to use at all times.

Be able to correctly administer over the counter and prescription medicine. Kids get sick, and not just on their parents’ watch. A nanny should be able to read and understand the instructions for handling and administering medications, and be able to give the child the accurate dosage at the correct time intervals as well. She should also be able to keep a detailed, accurate journal of the child’s symptoms and the medications she’s administered. A nanny should also be able to recognize the symptoms of an adverse reaction to a medication.

Know how to baby proof an environment. Ultimately, it’s a parent’s responsibility to install baby proofing products in their home. However, every nanny should be able to baby proof the environment she’s in. She should be able to assess a home, a hotel, or a public play space and take the precautions needed to keep her charge safe. This could mean making adjustments to the environment, like putting temporary locks on drawers or securing the mini blind cord out or reach, or it could mean simply keeping the child away from unsafe areas, like unsecured bookshelves or unfenced pools.

Be able to swim. For many of the families who employ a nanny, swimming is a fun part of life. It’s critical that every nanny know how to swim and be able to adequately supervise a child at the pool, the lake or the ocean. She should also know the signs of drowning or aquatic distress and be confident in her ability to help a child in distress.

Be able to install a car seat properly. The effectiveness of a car seat depends on it being installed properly. Although there are community resources, like fire stations and car dealerships, who have certified passenger safety technicians that will install a car seat for you, a nanny should know how to do this also. There will be times when she’ll have to take a car seat out and reinstall it or install an additional seat for a playmate or car pool friend. She should also understand the car seat recommendations and laws for children in her care.

Understand how to prepare a well-balanced and healthy meal. Unlike group care, there are no set nutritional requirements for nanny care. Caregivers must develop a menu based on the parents’ and child’s food preferences. A nanny should have a working knowledge of what a child needs nutritionally at each age and what portion size is recommended for each age group and be able to create tasty, balanced meals and snacks.

Know how to create a fun, developmentally appropriate day. It’s up to the nanny to plan a day that meets her charge’s individual developmental needs. In order to be able to do that, she must have a strong foundation of child development knowledge, an understanding of how different activities best support her goals, and how to pull it all together in a home environment. Because many nannies work with multiple ages, a nanny also needs to know how to create an environment that supports the learning and development of different ages.

Quality nanny care relies on skilled caregivers. Parents should make sure their nanny has the essential skills needed to provide a safe and healthy environment.

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10 Tips for Hiring a Nanny

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Hiring a nanny can be a tough process. In addition to being such an important decision to make, it’s also a very personal one. Here are some tips that can help you effectively move through the search process and hire a nanny who is a great choice for your family.

  1. Understand your search options. Families hiring a nanny have a few choices in how to search for the nanny. Parents can use a full service placement agency, online nanny job sites, online classifieds or tap into the word-of-mouth network. Which search avenue is right for your family depends on how much time, energy and money you want to invest in your search. Placement agencies are more expensive, yet require less time and work. Other avenues cost less, but the lower price tag means that parents have to do a lot more legwork.
  2. Research the nanny rates for your area. Offering a competitive salary and benefits package is the key to attracting quality caregivers. Talk with local placement agencies, nanny support groups and area nannies to get a feel for what the going rate is for the type of job you are advertising.
  3. Know what your family needs. Before you start your nanny search, spend time creating a detailed job description. Think about the hours you need for your nanny to work, the tasks you want her to take on in her role, and other unique responsibilities she’ll have, such as traveling with your family or working a flexible schedule. When you have a clear picture of what your needs are, you greatly increase your chances of hiring a nanny that can consistently meet them.
  4. Make sure that you have reasonable expectations. More and more families are tailoring their job description to meet their individual needs. It’s important to remember that even the best nanny can’t do everything. Think about how much time and energy your nanny has during the day and how much of that you want dedicated to the care of your child, then build your job description around that. Although nannies don’t have scheduled breaks during the day, even the most energetic caregivers need some down time to rest and rejuvenate.
  5. Have a clear idea of what type of nanny you’re looking for. Nannies come with a variety of different backgrounds. Think about the experience, education and skills you want your nanny to have before you begin your search. Having a clear vision of the type of nanny you’re looking for will help you quickly and accurately identify potential candidates and speed up the initial screening process.
  6. Take the time to do an in-depth interview. After you’ve narrowed down your choices, put each candidate through a comprehensive interview. Talk about what she can bring to your job, how her experience and education will be put into action with your children, and how she’ll fit in with your household. Make sure to leave time for the nanny to ask questions too.
  7. Use a working interview to help you make your final choice. Before you officially offer a nanny your job, invite her to do a working interview. This will give you the chance to see her in action and it will give her the chance to get to know your family better. Most of the time, the working interview simply confirms your decision. But sometimes, it brings an issue to the surface that would have become a problem later on.
  8. Talk with all of a candidate’s references. Before you decide on a nanny for your family, talk with her past employers and her professional references. Those people will give you a more complete picture of who the nanny is and will help you uncover potential problems before she’s on the job.
  9. Don’t skip the background check. It can be tempting to jump right to the hiring stage after a great interview and reference check; however, it’s important to run a full background check on the candidate before making that final hiring commitment. Most of the time, nothing will show up in the criminal or driving check. But sometimes a problem does come up, and you want to be aware of it before you invite the nanny into your home to care for your child.
  10. Work through the details of your nanny contract before your nanny starts. Usually both the parents and the nanny are anxious to get started, especially if either party has been searching for a while. It can seem like a reasonable idea to put working through the details of a nanny contract on the back burner so that the job can start sooner. Unfortunately, when the establishing the contract gets put off, those details end up being forgotten until a problem arises.

Finding the right nanny for your family is an important decision. Being smart about the search process and taking the time to really get to know potential candidates will help parents make the best hiring choice for their family.

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30 Must Read Blogs for Those Considering Hiring a Nanny

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Making the decision to return to work after the birth of a child, whether it’s at the end of your maternity leave or several years later, is never easy. And while the idea of leaving your child in the care of a trustworthy, dedicated private employee is often more comforting than the thought of a large center-based daycare plan, there are some things you’ll want to take into consideration before making that plunge. These 30 blog entries discuss the details of employing a domestic worker, and cover everything from typical duties to the importance of tax compliance. These posts are great resources for parents considering the engagement of their first nanny.

Typical Nanny Duties

There can be quite a lot of misconception when it comes to what a nanny’s job typically entails versus what’s depicted in popular entertainment and even “reality” television shows. These five blog entries tackle the sometimes-sticky subject of what duties you can reasonably expect a private, in-home childcare provider to perform and those that don’t usually fall under her purview.

Nanny Contracts

A written work agreement between your family and a childcare provider, commonly referred to as a “nanny contract,” is one of the single most important documents of your working relationship. Detailing expected hours, duties, compensation details, rights and responsibilities, a nanny contract can be a very valuable tool when it comes to preventing future disputes borne of misunderstanding and can even reduce caregiver turnover.

Background and Reference Checks

It wasn’t too long ago that an employing family was forced to rely upon private investigators to conduct a thorough background and criminal history check. Thanks to the Internet and the computerization of public record, however, modern families are able to take this task into their own hands. These five blogs offer helpful advice, hints and information about nanny background checks, and are must-reads for first time nanny employers.

Live-In Nannies

While live-in nannies aren’t quite as common as they once were, there are still families that hold on to the venerable tradition of a boarded nanny. These five blogs discuss the needs particular to a live-in nanny, along with advice on etiquette and how to determine the best way to engage a live-in childcare provider.

Live-Out Nannies

The majority of nannies today maintain their own residence instead of living in their employer’s home, and report to your home for work as scheduled. For some families, this arrangement is ideal; others find that providing their nanny with room and board in addition to her salary is more convenient for them. If you’re considering a live-out nanny as opposed to one that lives in your home, these five blog entries are quite informative, from both an employer and nanny point-of-view.

Tax Compliance

Compliance with state and Federal tax laws regarding domestic employees is shockingly low, especially considering the stiff fines and penalties that you could face as an employer if your arrangement were discovered. These five blogs take on the very serious and often complicated topic of nanny taxes, explaining why it’s important to be among the few that are properly compliant and how to go about accomplishing that task.

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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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10 Top Characteristics to Look for in a Nanny

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Sometimes it’s hard to know what to look for when you’re hiring a nanny. There are so many things that are important, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process. Here are ten characteristics that quality caregivers share. Using this list as a guide might make the process a little less daunting.

  1. Love of children. Of course the top characteristic of a nanny is her genuine love of kids. Education, experience and special skills matter but none of those will make a person who doesn’t truly love working with children a quality caregiver. Enjoying children and feeling honored to be a caregiver to them is the foundation that everything else is built on.
  2. Enthusiastic. Nannies work long days and often have a lot of responsibilities. For some, that can quickly squelch their excitement about the job. Others take it all in stride and let their natural enthusiasm for working with children lead them through the day. A nanny that can stay excited about coming to work day after day is one who your child will enjoy spending time with.
  3. Fun. Childhood is all about fun. Look for a nanny that truly enjoys what she does and will plan fun, well rounded days for your child. Being silly, finding the humor in everyday situations, and having a upbeat outlook on life are all key elements to look for in your next caregiver.
  4. Nurturing. The idea of nurturing a child is at the heart of a nanny’s role. Being able to connect on a deep level, build a safe, loving relationship and offer a stable environment are all important elements of nurturing your child. A nanny that is sensitive to your child’s individual needs, builds an engaging day around his interests, and tailors her caregiving style to mesh with his personality and temperament is a great find. One that is committed to staying in a job long term to provide that all important continuity of care is even better.
  5. Common sense. Your nanny will make endless decisions about your child’s health, safety and well-being throughout the day. You want a nanny who can accurately assess an emergency situation and decide the safest course of action. And one that can make good choices about simple things like what to make for lunch, how to handle a surprise mess and who to call when the sink overflows.
  6. Punctual. You rely on your nanny to arrive on time in the morning. Getting out the door when you’re supposed to helps you make the early morning commitments that are critical to your job. Her punctuality is also important throughout the day as she does school drop off and pick up, attends classes with your child and manages her time to ensure she completes all the needed household tasks. Being punctual and having good time management skills will keep everything and everyone on the right track.
  7. Trustworthy. Parents have to place an enormous amount of trust in their nanny. Of course the biggest show of trust is allowing her to care for their children. But they also trust her with their home, car, and lots of sensitive information about their family. A nanny’s trustworthy is an important part of the hiring decision. Knowing your caregiver is going to love and care for your child at all times and make good decisions based on his health and well-being is a must. Knowing she’s going to respect your home and property, protect your privacy and keep what she sees and hears on the job confidential is also important.
  8. Flexible. This trait can make or break a nanny’s ability to work successfully in your job. Nanny care doesn’t come with a standard 9 to 5 schedule or a job description that never changes. Built-in flexibility is often one of the main reasons parents choose nanny care over other types of care. When interviewing candidates, talk about what kind of flexibility they offer and what their comfort level is in regard to scheduling, daily responsibilities and the household environment. Nannies that can easily adjust and adapt to change tend to be more successful in nanny positions.
  9. Communicative. The success of the nanny / family relationship depends on the ability of the parents and the nanny to clearly communicate with each other. Search for a nanny that is comfortable asking questions when she’s unsure of your expectations or directions, that regularly shares important information about your child with you, and that honestly addresses any issues within the employment relationship.
  10. Reliable. One of the drawbacks of nanny care is that you’re solely relying on one person for so many important things. Not only is your nanny your primary childcare provider, she’s also your household support person. So if you can’t count on her to show up every day on time and ready to work, you have a serious problem on your hands. References are a great source of information on a candidate’s reliability.

Deciding if a nanny has what it takes to work as your nanny is an important decision. Taking the time to study her resume and get to know her as a person will help you fit all the pieces together so you can make an informed decision.

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5 Profile Mistakes Parents Make with Online Listings

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We often get questions from parents regarding why their family profile doesn’t seem to be getting as many responses as they think they should be receiving or sometimes the responses they are getting in their opinion are just not a good match.  It often gets down to the amount of effort they have put into creating a profile for their family as well as how realistic they have been with the requirements.  One thing is certain, their are plenty of caregivers out there that would love to work for you if you properly describe your job.  Here are some of the common mistakes parents make with their nanny job listings:

1. Leave out the details.  Sometimes in a hurry to get through the sign up process parents will leave out some important details.  Perhaps they figure that they will eventually get back to them.  You really should take the time to get these in there because things like proposed work schedules and family preferences can make a huge difference in the number of nannies that apply for your job.

2. Advertise for the wrong type of provider.  If you are looking for a live-in nanny you need to be very clear about it or any other type of specialization  like (live out nanny, full-time nanny, part-time nanny, backup nanny, etc.).  You definitely need to make sure that any special needs are well addressed as some nannies are better equipped than others to deal with those.

3. Not calling references.  It’s absolutely critical that you check references.  This includes professional references, personal references, and even educational references.  If you feel like you are running out of time and can’t get that done then make sure you use a resource like eNannySource to do the reference checks for you.  You may think you know the person that you are interviewing but checking with previous employers gives you an opportunity to support your hiring decision.

4. Not doing a background check.  Yes, a background check is different than checking references.  Background checks will help you discover not only any crimes that your prospective nanny may have committed but also any minor issues that could be highly relevant to being a nanny (like traffic violations for excessive and regular speeding, etc.).  You can use a service like GoNannies to get your background checks done regardless as to whether or not you used them to find your nanny.

5. Underestimate the importance of a personality match.  It’s really important to be on the same page as your caregiver and that usually involves genuinely getting along with them and their personality.  If you are not comfortable with the caregiver then your children may not be as comfortable and you are more likely to second guess them and your hiring decision.

The biggest mistake parents make really is just rushing through the profile creation process.  It’s important to remember that this is your chance to describe the opportunity and to set expectations upfront.  That’s really huge to finding a great candidate so be sure to take the time to do it justice.

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10 Ways to Scare Away a Good Nanny

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So you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family and are ready to begin your nanny employer relationship. The hard work is over, right? Wrong. Like any relationship, the nanny and employer one will take a focused effort to build and maintain. While most nannies are dedicated and loyal employees, there are a few things that can really make them question their decision to accept employment with a family.  As you move forward in your nanny employer relationship, strive to draw your nanny closer, not scare her away.

To keep the relationship moving forward, avoid doing these 10 things that are likely to scare your nanny away.

1. Use forceful language. When it comes to your nanny, the old adage is true: sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. While you’re the boss and you get to call the shots, work to ensure that your interactions with your nanny are respectful and considerate. Instead of saying “I’ll be late and I need you to stay,” say “I’m really sorry to be running late. If you could stay an extra 30 minutes, it would be a huge help.” Being aggressive or forceful may lead your nanny to wonder what she’s gotten herself into.

2. Talk down to her. Speaking to your nanny like she has potatoes for brains won’t earn you the nanny employer of the year award. Saying things like “Let me put this in simple terms for you” when giving instructions, or responding to your nanny by saying “We already thought of that” when she makes a suggestion, conveys an “I’m better than you attitude.” A condescending attitude does nothing but make your nanny feel like you think she’s stupid. But don’t worry, nannies who are treated this way tend to smarten up quickly… and leave their positions.

3. Expect her to clean up after your mess. Unless your nanny specifically agreed to take on housekeeping duties, don’t expect her to clean up after you. While most nannies will go above and beyond to ensure that their work space is cleaner when they leave than when they came in, taking advantage of your nanny could send her straight for the door.

4. Volunteer her to do things without asking her first. Volunteering your nanny to care for your visiting family’s children or committing your nanny to be in charge of the carpool without asking her first is asking for trouble. While most nannies are more than happy to go above and beyond and pitch in wherever needed, it’s the not asking them before volunteering them that drives them nuts. If you keep volunteering your nanny for things without giving her advance warning, it will result in her volunteering to help find you a new nanny.

5. Appear unapproachable. Telling your nanny “I don’t have time to talk to you right now” or asking your assistant to take a message whenever your nanny calls you at work sends the message that what she has to say is not important. Successful nanny and employer relationships are based on open and honest communication. If you don’t encourage communication and instead turn your nanny down whenever she tries to speak to you, you’re sending the message that you don’t value what she has to say. If you constantly show your nanny that you don’t care about her thoughts, eventually she’ll question how much she cares about working for you.

6. Call every five minutes. Nanny employers should absolutely make it a point to check in with their nanny in some form every day. But when parents call their nanny every few minutes all day, every day (which some really do), it sends the message to your nanny that she is not trusted. Nanny and employer relationships are built on trust. If a nanny doesn’t feel like she is able to gain your trust, she may consider finding a family whose trust she can more easily obtain.

7. Become infected with nanny envy. Feeling jealous that your nanny gets to spend time having fun with your child is only normal and natural. What’s not is constantly reminding your nanny that you are jealous of her. Repeatedly saying things like “I’m so sad my child loves you more” or “I wish there was a way I could stay home” may lead your nanny to believe that you may be thinking about staying home. If a nanny feels like her job may be in jeopardy because you’re having a hard time dealing with jealousy, she may start looking for a new one.

8. Friend her on Facebook. Your nanny has a life separate from her workplace and, chances are, she would really like to keep it that way. While being your nanny’s Facebook friend may seem like the reasonable thing for you to do, to some nannies it may be interpreted as “nanny stalking.” If your nanny feels like you are trying to keep tabs on her outside of the workplace, she may feel uncomfortable enough to reconsider working for you.

9. Get a new pet, without mentioning it first. While at first it may seem like getting a family pet has no impact on your nanny’s duties and responsibilities, the reality is that it does. If your nanny shows up to work on Monday morning and is greeted by a new puppy, it may be the last Monday she shows up.  As the only adult home, your nanny will be left with no choice but to reinforce training, to feed the puppy, and to clean up after it. If you decide to purchase a puppy over the weekend, be sure to purchase the services of doggy daycare with it, at least until you talk to your nanny.

10. Refuse to pay her when your plans change.  Nannies are typically paid 52 weeks per year. If you opt to go on a family vacation and leave your nanny at home, you are still responsible for paying her. If you decide to take a day off and call your nanny to tell her she doesn’t need to come in that day, your nanny deserves to be paid. When your nanny is available to work and, by no fault of her own, you decide not to use her services, she should be paid. Messing with your nanny’s paycheck is a surefire way to welcome conflict into your relationship. Most nannies have caring personalities and, by nature, don’t enjoy conflict. Rather than engaging in a battle of wills, your nanny many instead opt to walk away. Literally.

Most nannies want to grow close to their employers, and value their working relationships. They also value job security, and typically will do most anything to make a relationship work out. As you move forward in your nanny and employer relationship, be cautious about doing things that could push your nanny away. If you push your good nanny too far away, chances are, you could end up pushing her away for good.

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Is Light Housekeeping a Nanny’s Responsibility?

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There’s hardly a phrase more confusing in nanny lingo than that of “light housekeeping,” yet it’s a phrase that is widely and consistently used in job descriptions and work agreements all of the time.

In the nanny world, light housekeeping typically means leaving the home in the same condition it was in when the nanny arrived. If there were no dishes in the sink in the morning when the parents left for work, there should be no dishes in the sink when they return home. If a nanny arrived in the morning and the floors were sparkling clean, and then she and her charge tracked in mud after playing outside, it would be reasonable and expected for her to clean up the mess and restore the floor to its original morning condition prior to the end of her workday.

In addition to childcare, nannies are also generally responsible for undertaking all tasks related to providing care for the children. While each job will vary slightly, depending on the family’s needs and if a housekeeper is also employed, most nanny jobs require that the nanny do the same household tasks as they relate to providing childcare.

Nannies typically:

  • Do the children’s laundry
  • Launder the children’s linens
  • Keep the children’s areas neat and tidy
  • Sanitize and disinfect toys
  • Sterilize and clean bottles
  • Prepare nutritious meals and snacks for the children
  • Pick up after meal preparation and meals
  • Wash the children’s dishes
  • Pick up after activities and arts and crafts
  • Pick up after themselves and the children
  • Keep the family provided vehicle clean
  • Organize the children’s toys
  • Organize the children’s closets

Some nannies may also take on additional household related tasks. They may do the children’s grocery and clothes shopping, as well as purchase the supplies needed to properly stock the nursery. In some cases, nannies may also be responsible for ordering age-appropriate supplies, toys, and arts and crafts, depending on the arrangement that was made.

Nannies typically do not:

  • Do the parent’s laundry
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Mop the floors
  • Dust the furniture
  • Prepare family meals regularly.

In each family and nanny work arrangement, light housekeeping should be clearly defined. It’s what is in the contract that will dictate what the family’s housekeeping expectations are and what the nanny’s housekeeping responsibilities are. Instead of, or in addition to, using the term “light housekeeping” an employer’s definition of what light housekeeping means should be defined.

Many nannies do agree to take on additional non-childcare related housekeeping tasks. They may do this because the children spend mornings in school or they simply enjoy cleaning and would gladly take on the housekeeping tasks in exchange for increased compensation. If your nanny agrees to take on additional housekeeping tasks, she should be provided additional compensation for them and allowed adequate time to complete them when childcare is not her responsibility. For these nannies/housekeepers, it should be stressed that when the children are in her care, childcare should be her main responsibility.

Often times a nanny will go above and beyond the call of duty simply out of practicality. If a nanny is doing the dishes from lunch and her employer left a knife and dish in the sink after breakfast, for example, she’s likely going to wash them too, rather than simply leave them sitting there in the sink. If a nanny is preparing one of her favorite homemade pasta recipes for the children’s dinner, she may make enough for the entire family, since it’s easier than tweaking the recipe for smaller portions.

When these random acts of kindness become expected by employers through, resentment and relationship problems in the nanny relationship can occur. Light housekeeping is going to mean different things to different people. Clearly articulating the duties and responsibilities that meet an employer’s definition of light housekeeping will help to prevent job creep and miscommunication over housekeeping related expectations.

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7 Things That Makes Nannies Fit In With Their Families

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Michelle LaRowe

Being in this industry you have got to fit in people’s lives and in their family. Because once I don’t fit in with that family I am replaceable. – Justin

As I’ve tuned into Season 1 of Beverly Hills Nannies, perhaps no other words have been spoken as eloquently and accurately as these words by Nanny Justin in episode 5.

When nannies are seeking employment and parents are seeking caregivers for their children, the importance of finding the right nanny and family match is often overlooked. While of course a nanny’s experience, education, background, and references are essential in helping to determine if she is capable of providing quality childcare, these things don’t necessarily tell you how well a nanny is going to fit into the lives of the family with whom she’ll work.

So what makes a nanny fit in with her work family?

Lifestyle. While a nanny doesn’t necessarily have to share her work family’s lifestyle, she definitely has to embrace it for the relationship to work out. A nanny doesn’t have to be wealthy to work in Beverly Hills, but she certainly has to be comfortable working in an upscale environment where cutting coupons and penny pinching may not be allowed.  When a nanny and employer begin to judge each other’s lifestyle choices, tension will arise.

Parenting Philosophy. In any nanny and parent relationship, the parents are the final authority on how their children are raised. If a nanny believes children need limits and boundaries and the parents believe that children should never be told no, it will be difficult for the nanny to adapt and embrace the parent’s philosophy of childrearing. When the parents and nanny don’t share a similar parenting philosophy, conflict can occur.

Discipline Style.  If the parents are laid back, lax about house rules, and allow the children to speak to the nanny as they please, but the nanny prefers doling out time-outs for inappropriate behavior, stress will ensue.  Children strive with consistency of care, and when the nanny and parents aren’t on the same page there will be friction in the family home.

Moral Compass. Parents don’t necessarily want a clone of themselves helping to raise their children, but they do want someone who has the same perceptions of right and wrong and good and evil as they do. When the nanny and parents aren’t in moral alignment, the relationship can become strained. If a nanny is a huge supporter of PETA and feels that wearing fur is terribly wrong, and the family’s winter outdoor wardrobe consists of mink jackets and fox gloves, there’s going to be ill feelings.

Culture.  Nannies don’t have to share the same culture as their employing families, but they do have to respect the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors of the family for the relationship to succeed. A lack of acceptance of the family’s culture may lead to a lack of respect. Without mutual respect, the nanny and parent relationship will fail.

Commonalities. Nannies and parents don’t have to have everything in common, but those who do share some things in common are typically most comfortable around each other. Whether it is knowing the same people, practicing the same religion, driving the same kind of car, or having the same life priorities, generally speaking, the more the parents and nanny share in common, the better.

Value. Nannies fit into their families by meeting a felt need. When the need is met by the nanny, she brings value to the family. As the needs of the family change, the nanny must adapt and continue to meet the family’s changing needs. If the nanny doesn’t meet the family’s needs, she no longer brings value to the family and is viewed as replaceable.

Nannies who are not only skilled caregivers, but also fit into the lives of their work families seamlessly, typically tend to stay with their work family for several years and are viewed by them as indispensable. Once they no longer fit in, however, whether it is due to a change in the family’s circumstance, situation, or needs, they are considered more easily replaceable.

Fitting in with a work family is essential to employment success. Before nannies take on a new position and families a new nanny, the nanny and parents should be confident that the nanny will fit in well with the family and that they are truly a good match.

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9 Challenges Working Moms Face and How Nannies Can Help

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Juggling the demands of a career and a family is a difficult task, even for the most driven and accomplished women. Both demand the majority of a woman’s time and resources, leaving her to balance these two aspects of her life very carefully, with almost no time left for herself. If you’re returning to the workplace after the birth of a child, or even after a long absence from your career while your children were very small, there are areas in which a nanny can offer assistance that you will not have access to when opting for center-based care or a casual babysitter. Here are nine of the challenges that you’ll face, and ways that a qualified nanny can help you through them.

  1. No Time for Transportation – Whether your young children have play dates to attend or your older ones are signed up for extracurricular activities in the afternoon, the bulk of your kids’ travel will most likely occur during regular business hours. Teenaged babysitters will still be in school themselves during this time, and very few daycare centers offer pickup services, either at school or practices held after class.
  2. Managing Kids’ Dietary Habits – The necessity of feeding a large number of children means that the fare at daycare centers is likely to be processed, cafeteria-like food laden with chemical preservatives and fat. A professional nanny will prepare meals for the children in her care, and will adhere to any dietary guidelines you put in place.
  3. Supporting Children Academically – If your kids are in the habit of doing homework right after school, you will almost certainly be at work when they return and attempt to do it. Young babysitters and workers at daycare centers may not have the inclination or the ability to help them academically, but many nannies offer tutoring as part of their services.
  4. Never-Ending List of Household Chores – Nannies typically don’t perform any household chores that aren’t directly related to the care of her charges, but most will make exceptions to that rule for an increase in salary. Coming home to a clean house and a non-existent laundry pile allows you to devote the precious hours after work to spending quality time with your brood, rather than plunging headlong into housework the moment you return.
  5. Managing Household Repairs and Maintenance – Most servicepeople and repair technicians will not enter an empty home, or perform their duties on the property when no one is home. Because your nanny is an adult who’s authorized to act on your behalf, much-needed repairs and maintenance work can be completed while you’re in the office, rather than shelling out extra for the same job at weekend rates.
  6. Making Sure Kids Get the One-on-One Attention They Need – Kids need individual attention on a regular basis, which is something that they’ll be hard-pressed to find in a crowded daycare center. With a professional nanny, your kids will receive personalized care from a qualified and capable individual.
  7. Encouraging Active Habits and Limiting Kids’ Screen Time – Under the care of an experienced nanny who understands the importance of active play and limited screen time, you can ensure that your kids escape the pitfalls of the sedentary lifestyle that’s becoming part of the new normal for today’s children.
  8. Keeping Kids Healthy, and Caring For Them When They’re Not – Daycare centers will not accept a child with a fever or obvious signs of illness, leaving you to scramble for alternative childcare in the event of a cold or miss work to care for them yourself. Veteran nannies understand that caring for a sick child is part of their job description, meaning that you’ll be able to go to work knowing that your under-the-weather little one is in caring, capable hands.
  9. Long Hours and Late Nights – A demanding career often leaves women in the office long after business hours, but daycare centers typically aren’t open much later than early evening. Late pick-up fees can be quite steep, but this irregular schedule also affects the routine that your child is accustomed to. Kids need structure, and a good nanny can provide that by keeping them in a familiar environment and minimizing any disruptions caused by your temporary absence.

“Nanny envy” and “mommy guilt” are phrases that are thrown around very often among working mothers and nannies, with moms feeling guilty about leaving their children behind to pursue their careers and worrying that they will eventually come to love and trust the nanny more than their own mother. It’s important to remember that these feelings are perfectly natural, and that even the very best nanny won’t, not will they try, to take your place in your kids’ hearts.

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