MarketWatch released a top 10 things that your nanny won’t tell you. This list was troubling to me because they set up an age old emotional dilemma that being a nanny or caregiver is about being a replacement to the role of the parent, among some other harmful misconceptions. I am not a huge fan of anything that sets up the nanny and parent relationship for failure. The “I’m better than” or “I’m smarter than” statements in this top 10 list is a good attention getter but isn’t helping anyone, so in an effort to transform some of these points into positives.
Number 1: “Your kid loves me more than you”
I Say: “You love your kid, that’s why I’m here”
The article cites several facts from care.com including the increase on their site of parents seeking care, and the most recent International Nanny Association Survey of nannies that more nannies were working full time hours. The link the author then provides is that more nannies spending more time with children, means more quality time with the nanny and a positive association that has even one nanny’s charge who asked if he could call her mommy. I am sure that there are several nannies who have some experience, including myself, with a child calling her mommy. It can be awkward especially if this happens in front of mommy. But let’s think about this for a minute: For children adult relationships don’t have the same nuances as adults. Thus as a nanny in this situation I gently correct, that “Mommy is mommy and I am your nanny.” As often as I can for the sake of children, I help make the connection that mommy and daddy love you and that’s why I am here. Whenever possible I steer the child (and the parents) into trusting that I am not a replacement but I am part of the team. So if this is the case, nannies and parents can say it and do it. If a parent came home and we were baking cookies, we would ask mom to settle in and be our official “taste tester.”
Number 2: “You’re the worst part of my job”
I Say: “Let’s get on the same page”
Several nannies may complain that the relationship that they have with parents may be the hardest part of their jobs. I like to think that in most adult relationships, especially working ones, we have choices. Being a nanny is not the typical employer/employee relationship where certain coworkers can be avoided. When I interview with parents, I let them know my working style upfront alongside my philosophy on discipline. We recently interviewed Kellie Geres on a podcast, and she insists that every nanny know what what works for her and what doesn’t. When both parents and nannies can be honest with each other, the more happy families will be with the nanny they hire, and nannies will be happy with the family they choose to work with. Given enough time to search for the right fit and honesty about what works for them, both parties can be very satisfied. Satisfaction between both nannies and parents ultimately makes the situation better for children as well.
Number 3: “I can’t save your kid’s life (or treat his injuries).”
I Say: Just ask, “Do you have CPR/ First Aid Certification, better yet have you been retrained?”
Wow, talk about scary sounding! Relax everyone. The INA Survey, notes 13% of nannies in the sample of 600 don’t have a CPR Certification. Most nannies know what to do in case of emergency as 87% of nannies do have the certification! But no one should rest on those laurels: An average CPR class is a 3-4 hours, on one day, out of 365. I am always the skeptic that one day will make all that much of a difference so make sure you get the update every 2 years as is strongly recommended by the Red Cross. Our knowledge of what it takes to save a child in case of emergency is always being updated.
Number 4: “My presence is a threat to your relationship/[marriage].”
I Say: Let’s keep it professional
This is a very salacious statement, and while it must make for great primetime tv in real life this falls flat. This is not to ever dismiss some awkward situations some may have faced. However, no one, including a nanny is a threat to a healthy trust filled relationship. Period.
Number 5: “You’re not paying me enough.”
I Say: Appreciate my work, and let’s negotiate pay and increases
A good professional nanny can be hard to find. This is not to say that there aren’t many professional nannies, but I don’t have to tell many parents that aside from finding qualified candidates, timing, and of course fit are all so important. Like your own job, it means so much when you’re recognized for delivering results. When your nanny can meet and exceed expectations, payment and compensation is an investment that you appreciate her work, because a great nanny is hard to find. My suggestion is that parents make time to do a deep check in every 3-6 months for a review of work performance. If you work in a corporate job, this may be interesting to tie even with your own review.
Set a structure at the very beginning that will help set up fair expectations about compensation, holidays, and health insurance. I suspect most nannies are realistic about fair pay and the INA Pay and Benefits Survey does provide guidance on average pay. Honesty and transparency go a long way to negotiating fairness and garnering respect with your nannies. I have had parents be very straightforward and let me know generally their finances couldn’t support a bonus, but were willing to negotiate a perk or barter instead. But this made sense for our relationship and we talked very openly about our options. Most importantly, both the parents and I gave each other the opportunity to sleep on an offer.
As for paying under the table, aside from it being illegal, some parents may miss out on the benefits of paying for their nanny on the table for long term care. Here are some resources that can help you navigate compensating your nanny and solutions to making sure everyone is happy. These important money matters aside, this issue goes to the heart of you and your nanny appreciating each others very important roles.
In the US, here are some sources parents should take a look for nanny compensation:
Number 6: “I’ll sue you.”
I Say: Let’s talk before it gets bad
The worst case possible for a serious transgression and miscommunication in pay is to go to court. Make sure you pay on the books, and there are many payroll companies that can help you set everything up quickly and painlessly. Nannies are human, if pay becomes an issue (I have had parents that have been laid off, had hours cut, etc.) transparency and honesty is the best policy.Most issues that go to court are about pay, but treatment is another issue. I have personally never experienced any deeply painful issue, but treating your nanny as a trusted colleague can make all the difference.
Number 7: “I’m smarter than you are.”
I Say: I am a great resource for you and your family
The point of this piece is to possibly talk about the increase in the education attainment of nannies. I as well as several nannies have advanced degrees, but nannies range the gambit in their education. However, education, is not the only determinant of an excellent nanny, you know that you will consider experience and the reviews/recommendations of other parents. Not to mention the logistical considerations like days available and times available. This statement doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Number 8: “Your secret’s not safe with me.”
I Say: Your secret IS safe with me, and I’ll protect your child’s privacy online!
Your secret IS safe with me, many of the nanny boards on Facebook have nannies asking very meaningful questions regarding their charges and their work relationships with other nannies. Yes, people gossip, but professional nannies can balance out their work lives with professionalism. Posting on social media with pictures of your charges is generally considered a no-no in and among nannies. That being said, communicate your expectations in advance with your nanny and consider having a conversation about professional expectations. Broaching the subject as a way to talk about how respect goes both ways in your professional relationship is a good start. Keep in mind that if you ask your nanny’s opinion, she may do a quick survey among other peers in the industry. This is a great way to approach problems you encounter as a tea.
Number 9: “I know about that nanny cam.”
I Say: Let’s build trust, talk about expectations, and turn off the camera
Nanny cams for me as a nanny can be the pink elephant in the room in terms of building a healthy professional and trustful relationship with your nanny. Think about it: many people go to work and work fine under surveillance, but are typically aware of the presence of the camera. If a parent insists on having a nanny cam, I personally ask that they tell me about it, because while it isn’t necessary, building trust matters more. It saves us a lot of embarrassment if I find it. My advice to nannies, is to perform your job like someone is always watching. To parents, telling a nanny about the camera feels a lot less like I am waiting for you to mess up or harm my children. For me a camera is a no go and each family and nanny should be able to speak professionally and candidly about surveillance.
Number 10: “You’d better do a thorough background check on me.”
I Say: I already ran a background check, and yes, please do a background check
I’m not quite sure what “you’d better” is implying. Most successful nannies will take it upon themselves to do their own background checks because it shows a level of attention to professionalism and safety. However, the cheaper background checks are a start. So much of the public record in many states is also subject to data mining, you can find everything you need to find right over a simple Google search typing in their full name and location. Agencies will perform a more complete search. The Google Search is often thought of as negative. A Google Search of your nanny may turn up pleasant surprises that confirm some great wins in her resume.
What are your thoughts to the blog piece? What would you like to tell a parent who read the original article?