Prevent nanny problems before they occur.

Nanny Problems

by Laura Agadoni

When looking for a nanny, you want to be confident you’ve picked the right one. You probably have a vision of hiring Mary Poppins. Who wouldn’t? Mary Poppins was awesome: trustworthy, likeable, fun, creative, experienced, devoted and loving. Face it: you’re not getting Mary, but you don’t need to settle for a problem nanny, either. Once you understand the possible predicaments that can arise with a nanny, you can prevent them.

Unclear Boundaries

You might come to think of your nanny as your BFF, but she isn’t. You are her employer, and she is your employee. It’s good to have a friendly relationship with your nanny, but don’t blur the line between employer and employee. This advice, by the way, also applies to your child. You aren’t her friend,either -- you’re her mom. You can be a friendly mom, but it’s not good if you're a friend (instead of a mom) to your child. Set up a professional relationship with the nanny to avoid having her take advantage of you. A nanny should never say, “Oh, I know you needed to get to work early today, but I was out late partying at the bar. You know how it is.” A friend might pull this; an employee wouldn’t.

Poor Communication

Establish a regular time to communicate with your nanny. Problems can develop if you haven’t set this up in advance, and you feel awkward speaking with her about what’s on your mind. You might want to have a routine where your nanny checks in with you daily about the goings on of the day. In addition, hold formal weekly or monthly meetings without your child around to discuss whether your nanny is doing her job to your standards. If you don’t formalize the process, you might be hesitant to approach your nanny for fear of sounding like a nag. But without communication, resentment can brew. If you start open communication from the beginning, you can avoid possible problems.

Lack of Mutual Respect

You and your nanny need to respect each other. Neither of you should feel better than the other or try to take advantage of the other; the goal for both of you should be to raise your child in the best possible way. The most successful relationships are those in which both you and your nanny are givers -- not takers. Neither of you should ever utter a “tsk-tsk,” with arms crossed accompanied with a head shake while watching the other care for your child. Respect your nanny, and hire one who has respect for you. That way, you can work together to solve problems, instead of blaming or looking down at each other.

Misunderstandings of Expectations

From the beginning, lay out what you expect from your nanny, so there will be no misunderstandings. You can’t expect your nanny to read your mind. Sure, she is a professional, and you might be a first-time mom, but if you aren’t clear about your expectations, you’re setting up your nanny for failure. Specify the hours you expect your nanny to work, and also specify what the pay and benefits are, as well as any other particulars you might have. If your nanny isn’t living up to her end of the bargain, you simply need to whip out the contract to remind her.

About the Author

Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.

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