Time is valuable to all of us and is a resource that once lost you cannot get back. It is for this reason that just as you like for people to respect your time, you should show the same respect for your nanny’s time. Your nanny has set aside specific days and hours for you. With many families the schedule is a set-in stone consistent one, while with some it can vary week to week. If your schedule is the type that varies it is especially important that you respect your nannies time. When your nanny has a solid schedule, it is much easier for her to plan appointments as well as her personal life outside of that. If your nanny has a schedule that changes, it is important to be courteous and give her the schedule in a timely manner. Once your nanny has her schedule, she can then plan her personal life and other commitments accordingly. It shows a lack of respect for your nanny’s time to leave her waiting and wondering what her week is going to look like. You would not want this being done to you so show her the same respect and professionalism. Some of the common complaints of nannies regarding schedule are being given their schedule late on a Sunday night leaving it nearly impossible to plan their week. Having to ask and ask again beyond the agreed upon scheduling day for the following weeks schedule. Parents who text their nannies late at night asking them to come in two hours earlier than scheduled the next morning has also been a complaint. Likely your nanny planned her evening and often even her bedtime based on when she was scheduled to work the next morning. Changing this at 11pm is not only presumptuous it is also an invasion of her personal time that late at night. Short of a true emergency this should never happen. Scheduling communication is one of the biggest ways you can respect your nannies valuable time. Not doing so can result in a frustrated and burnt out nanny.
Scheduling your nanny outside of agreed upon hours is also an issue regarding her time. Whether she has a set schedule or one that varies, it should be agreed upon and put in your contract what days and hours that schedule will vary within. You cannot expect your nanny to be available and on call 24-7, yet sadly this happens all too often! Be sure that the schedule you are giving your nanny is within the days and times agreed upon in her availability and your work agreement. You may be asking yourself if it is ever ok to ask for something outside of this? Sure, within reason, but realize that you are asking her, and she may or may not be available. Your nanny is a person with a life outside of work just like you have! Should you choose to ask her for something out of the norm be understanding and accepting if she says no and do not push. If she says yes, do not take this as an open door to start asking this of her on the regular. Many nannies have had to just say no to date nights for their nanny family because saying yes once can snowball into it becoming an expectation. Your nanny works hard and has the right to her off time. Realize that if she does something outside of the normal schedule it is an extra. Thank her for it and don’t make it become something you begin to expect.
Plan to return home from work in a timely manner. Just as you expect your nanny to show up for work on time, she expects you to relieve her on time. Failure to do so can create frustration for your nanny. You never know what commitments or appointments she may have and places she needs to be after work. When parents stroll in 20 minutes late this can really mess up her evening. Just as your nanny is from time to time going to be late to work, she understands that this will happen to you sometimes as well. Sometimes there are things beyond our control and we all understand this on occasion. Call her immediately to let her know that you are sorry and are running 20 minutes behind. It is when this becomes a regular thing that your nanny begins to feel taken advantage of. Once in a while parents may ask if you can stay 30 minutes late. When possible, a nanny is willing to accommodate this, but she appreciates being asked rather then it being assumed that she is just free to stay. Another common issue is when parents want to discuss the day’s events when it is time for the nanny to leave. If she works until 6pm she is ready to walk out the door at 6. Coming in and wanting to discuss the day’s events at this point and keeping her another 15 minutes to do so is not showing value to her time. If you wish to discuss the day plan to arrive a little early. These conversations should take place during her paid time and not on her personal time. If you must wait to discuss the day the following morning when she arrives for work to avoid this then that is what should be done. There are many apps these days to log daily activities, and you can also leave a regular written journal for your nanny to mark down meals, nap times, and places they went that day. This allows you as the parent to have something to glance over to discuss later rather than asking your nanny for a full day’s recap when she is trying to head out the door.
If you don’t need your nanny randomly on a Tuesday (which falls into guaranteed hours) it is fine if this is last minute, everyone enjoys a surprise day off. However, if you are aware of this in advance it is kind to let her know so that she can plan something if she wishes to do so. One time when it is absolutely imperative to give your nanny proper notice is when scheduling your family vacations. Again, this falls under guaranteed hours, but if your nanny has a week off that you are aware of surely, she would like to make plans to! She may even want to get a plane ticket to take a trip to visit friends or family. Not giving her proper time to plan for this can leave her with a week off and nothing fun scheduled which can be very disappointing. Keeping a family calendar is a great way to stay on top of trips and getaways so that your nanny can plan her time off as well.
Now that we have discussed some ways in which you can respect your nanny at work and with her schedule, it is also important to respect her off time. The parent and nanny relationship is more personal than most employee/employer relationships, but you still need to show her the same respect for her privacy that you would if she worked in an office and you were her boss. Blowing up her phone with texts and phone calls constantly in her off time is not only a violation of her time, it is also extremely annoying, and can even come across as harassment. I once had a mom who would call me every day at 6 am to give me a full run down of the day and her expectations. I did not work until noon so I was never awake at 6 am. If I did not answer I would get long voicemails where she would talk until it cut her off and then call back to finish. In speaking with many other nannies, it became clear that this type of thing is far too common of a problem! If you’re calling your nanny at 6am it should be because of an emergency, not to go over the days plan. Leave a note at the house, if you’re going to be there plan to chat for a few minutes before you head out, or call her during her work hours to discuss! You don’t want to drive away a quality nanny by invading her off time, it is really unprofessional and unacceptable.
There are many little ways along the way that you can show value for your nanny’s time. If you wrapped up work an hour early on a Friday and are able to let her get a head start on her weekend this is a great way to not only value her time but show that you appreciate her! If she has scheduled a Doctor’s appointment and gave you the date and time ahead of time be sure to mark it down and plan on it. Don’t just “forget” as if it isn’t important when it is. The rule of thumb is to value your nannies time the same way you value your own. Treat her how you wish to be treated. Communication, kindness, and respect for each other’s time can go a long way in making the nanny and parent relationship successful!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro