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How much should you be expected to teach your new nanny?

Nanny playing with children

Most new caregiver-family relationships are positive and encouraging from the start, and we love to hear about them! But a common conversation we have with families at the beginning of a new hire when something isn’t going quite right, is that the parent is frustrated about having to frequently instruct the nanny. Sometimes the nanny in turn reaches out to us and feels insufficient because they get the feeling they are asking too many questions. 

You loved this person in interviews and trials and have been excited to start working together. But now you are worried. Isn’t the reason you hired a professional nanny with experience that you wouldn’t have to tell them how to do their job? We want to help navigate this early part of the hire, so you can focus on how great your new nanny or sitter is with your kids and not feel like you have ended up with more work on your plate rather than less!

Why is my nanny asking so many questions?

The nanny role is a profession like any other, an employment and career for talented and trained professionals who love to work with kids. So as with any other job, there will be an introductory period where they are getting the lay of the land, learning your routines, your children’s preferences, the quirks of a household that are second nature to you because you live it, but which may not translate to other families. Imagine if you started a brand new job; even with 20 years of experience in the field, you’d still like someone to tell you where the coffee machine is, that there are weekly meetings on Tuesdays, and to walk you through the organization’s custom-built software that you have never heard of before, despite how great you were at your last job and soon will be at this one.

A nanny or babysitter may have years of experience with other families, and there are lots of skills and knowledge they bring to your position because of this, but they have zero experience with yours. So if they are asking a lot of questions it is likely these are regarding situations that don’t look the same in all families, and the caregiver wants to make sure they are following your family’s specific ways and aligning their work with yours. In the long run, isn’t this the ideal?

How to best set up your new nanny in their role

Our biggest recommendation in order to shorten the start-up period once your nanny is on the job with you, is for you to outline the position as much as possible at the start of the job. With our job contracts at the beginning of any SmartSitting hire, we also include a Job Outline template that – among other things – lists the most common routines and approaches of your childcare. This document is a great thinking exercise for you to detail the nuances of your family’s day, which in turn helps the nanny support you in the best way possible. 

  • Does your child call the lovey they can’t nap without an intelligible name? List it! 
  • Do you make sure to wash out lunch boxes and thermoses the night before so this task doesn’t take up valuable time in the morning when everything is a scramble? Write it down!
  • Is there a narrow window on Wednesday to get from school to soccer practice on the train? Give them a heads up! 
  • And perhaps most importantly, if you would prefer that the nanny or sitter make their own judgment calls rather than text you throughout the day, make sure to make this known up front. In this particular regard, families vary widely, and your new caregiver may be following the requests from previous families which does not suit you. 

Preparing for a new hire 

Take some time before the new nanny starts to think through your daily routines, as you do them. Often, much of our day is so automatic that we don’t realize what we are doing unless we write them down. If you are transitioning from a previous caregiver, ask them to jot down their tricks, routines, and know-how before their position ends, in order to help the new nanny — and your family — to a smooth transition. 

You can also set aside time at the very beginning of the position or trial to go over these routines in person. This gives the nanny a chance to see the routines and rules in action and ask any questions as they come up. 

Going through a few of these ideals up front will save both you and your babysitter or nanny time and frustration in the long run. You’ll know they are on their way to integrating themselves into your family routine, and they’ll know they are living up to your expectations and following your preferences through the day. In the end, this enables them to spend more time focusing on your kiddos and having many great days with them. 

Do you have any tips about onboarding new nannies or stories about routines you didn’t realize were unique to your family? Sitters and nannies, do you have any tricks to quickly learning a new family’s routine? We’d love to hear them! Share with us on Instagram or Facebook and help others in the community learn from your experience! And for more helpful information and updates from the SmartSitting team — don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter.

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