The relationship with your nanny can be more complicated than most other relationships, simply because of the mix of professional and personal interactions. A good household manager treats a nanny with love, generosity, and clear rules and guidelines.
The best approach is to treat your nanny as both a family member, and an employee. You'll want to celebrate her birthday, let her take care of herself when she's sick, and give her clear instructions on what tasks need to be completed by the end of the day.
Here are some ways to create an incredible relationship with your nanny.
Welcome her to the family
When you first hire your nanny, explain that your goal is for her to feel part of your family. If you're in a Nanny Share, your family has now doubled in size, and she is one of the key partners in this extra-large, modern family.
Thank her, and have the kids thank her, at the end of each day. You know how you feel at 5:00pm on a Saturday? Like you need a cup of coffee to make it through the next few hours, because sometimes being at home with the kids is more exhausting than any day at work? (Is that just us?!) Well, this is her day, every day at work. So make sure she feels appreciated at the end of each day. Listen to any concerns she had, and teach the kids to give a warm goodbye and thank her for the day.
When she’s there, leave her in charge
If you’re working from home, or come home early, and your nanny is there, she should be in charge. It’s also important to be aligned and on the same team with her, especially in front of the kids. If she tells you of an incident where your child needed a timeout or was rude, form a united front with your nanny. It’s important for your kids to see that they can’t get away with bad behavior when they're with your nanny.
Set clear expectations
If you want the dishwasher emptied and the morning dishes scrubbed, make sure she knows. There’s nothing worse than coming home at the end of the day, hoping she did them and then being frustrated (with her) that you didn’t set expectations.
Splurge on her
Who doesn't like being spoiled once in a while? Your nanny deserves it. When you see her working extra hard, the kids are going through a rough phase, it’s her birthday, or she’s just going through a tough time, treat her extra well. Get her a gift card, bring home some dinner, give her an extra day off. If you're in a Nanny Share, see if you and the share-family can go in on this together.
Buy her some meals
She’s eating lunch every day with your kids. Every once in awhile, have the kids “treat” her to a lunch out. Give them $20 and make it a special outing.
Invite her to family events
When there’s a birthday party, a recital, a special event, make sure she gets an invite, and knows she’s not expected to work during that time.
Meet with her regularly
Make sure you are always available to talk about any concerns she’s having or questions she has. If you're in a Nanny Share, you’ll want to set up morning meetings or weekend chats where a rep from each family can be available to talk with her on a monthly basis. If she doesn’t need to meet, you don’t have to keep the commitment, but aim for something quarterly, even if it’s just to chat about the kids and how things are going.
Be as financially generous as you can
Give raises and bonuses when you can, and never be cheap with her paycheck. She’s an hourly worker, working with your most precious people. It pays to be generous here. Give a holiday bonus (1-2 weeks of pay), pay for sick time and holidays, increase her hourly rate each year ($1-2 dollars an hour), and always remember a little gift her birthday.