When a stay at home parent chooses to hire a nanny there are extra details that will need to be discussed to ensure that the working relationship runs smoothly on a daily basis. Quite like a work from home parent, the parent and nanny will be sharing some common areas throughout the day. With a stay at home parent who does not work these details become even more important. As the parent you will want to be clear on why you are choosing to hire a nanny. Are you looking for a nanny who will work as a Mother’s Helper? Are you planning to be a team and spend the day with your nanny and the children? Are you hiring a nanny to care for a new baby while you tend to the older children? Do you wish to hire a part time nanny so that you can have some personal days to schedule things as you choose? These are all things to consider upon interviewing potential nannies so that you can be clear what their role will be as well as your own.
It is imperative that you set clear boundaries and guidelines and outline them in your contract. You will want to discuss who will be taking on each specific duty. If you are hiring your nanny for your baby and she will not be in charge of the older children, be sure that this is spelled out for both of you. In this case is she allowed to take a break when the baby naps? What role will she play with the other children? It is important to not just assume that she knows what your expectations are. Take the time to go over the details of your needs and what you expect from your nanny. This includes daily chores such as children’s laundry, meal prep, bottle washing, pick up’s and drop offs, and organizing play dates and activities. List what you will be responsible for and what your nanny will be responsible for. Prepare a calendar with daily schedules so that each of you know who is doing what every day. Some stay at home parents with multiple children often find it helpful to hire a nanny so that they can split up the time allowing quality time with each child. The parent may be planning to take one child out for the afternoon and leave the others with the nanny. This type of arrangement allows the parent to spend some one on one time with one child at a time while knowing that the others are receiving quality care and attention. Be sure to let your nanny know which children she will be caring for each day so that she can plan age appropriate outings and activities as well. If you are a parent who prefers taking the children out as a team this can be a benefit since you will have two adults supervising and participating in the day’s events.
You will want to be clear on certain topics ahead of time so that nobody is confused or unsure as they arise. Discuss what situations you wish for your nanny to be in control of. Discipline is extremely important to be on the same page with. Your nanny will need to know if and when you expect her to be the disciplinarian. If you as the parent plan to be in charge of discipline, make sure that you have told your nanny this. Remember as the two adults in charge you are a team! You want to make sure that nobody is stepping on anyone else’s toes or allowing the children to work you against one another as could be the case when there are no clear boundaries. The children need to know who is in charge and that you as the adults have each other’s backs. For example, if your nanny put a child in time out for five minutes and you walk in the room, you will want to make sure the child knows that they remain in time out until their nanny lets them out. Not supporting each other and being clear on who is in charge of what can wreak havoc on your nanny/parent relationship and create confusion and chaos for the children.
It is quite normal for a child to become upset and have a fit or cry when the stay at home parent goes into another room leaving the child with the nanny. This can be difficult for the nanny to navigate as well. Think about how you would like for her to handle the upset. Perhaps you have special activities that she can use to distract the children when you need to tend to other things. This might be a good time for the nanny to take the children out to the park, an event, a walk, or out for a special treat.
The nanny/parent relationship with a stay at home parent can be a very positive one! The key is to have a plan in place before she begins. Taking the time to sort through these details and ask questions is the best way to start and keep things healthy and running smoothly. As with any nanny and parent relationship, set up times to discuss changes in schedules, how things are going, and answer any questions that have come up. Keeping the lines of communication open will ensure that you have a happy working relationship for the long run!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro