I really like the nanny I hired, how do I make the relationship work?

At Cambridge Nanny Group, we hear this question all the time, and there are a lot of different answers. For starters, realize that your job doesn’t end once you find a suitable nanny. For your arrangement to be a success, you must be a good employer — the sort of boss you’d want to have. Here are some some pointers:

COMMIT TO DRAFTING A FAMILY/NANNY AGREEMENT

Cambridge Nanny Group in Chicago, Illinois highly recommends families create a Family and Nanny Agreement, or Childcare Agreement, when employing a nanny. Although not legally required it sets the framework for a successful relationship because you’ve worked out details ahead of time and the ground rules are firmly established. The contract should not be a onetime document that gets tucked away in a drawer. It’s a living, breathing document that should be amended regularly. Be sure to include a clause that requires you and your nanny revisit it on a certain date. Most families review it annually, but it can be updated at anytime should changes occur, like the addition of a new baby or a change in work hours. Think of it as a tool that ensures you and your nanny are on the same page at all times.

COMMIT TO CONDUCTING AN ANNUAL PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AND APPRAISAL

Fundamentally, the annual appraisal is designed to serve as a tool that helps families increase productivity, communicate expectations, establish goals for the coming year, and report the employee’s success in meeting the past year’s performance expectations. The purposes for the annual performance appraisal include but are not limited to the following: highly motivated, productive employees are those who know what they are supposed to do and how well they are doing it, who participate in planning how their work will be accomplished and who have open, honest rapport with their employer. . Supervisors are strongly encouraged to make the annual review meetings participative and collaborative.  All employees who receive an annual review should sign the review to indicate they have read it. The employee’s signature does not indicate agreement only that the employee has read and received the annual review from their employer. . Watch for announcements from Cambridge Nanny Group bi-annually concerning training session for families and employees on the annual performance appraisal best practices from Cambridge Nanny Group.

OFFER A FAIR WAGE

Just as you wouldn’t be happy earning a below-average salary at your own job, neither would your nanny. Depending on where you live, how many children you have, the duties involved, and your nanny’s experience and education, you may pay anywhere from $400 to $700 a week or more for 40 hours of work. If you offer room and board, the range is a bit lower, from $400 to $600 a week. But if you plan to have your nanny work longer than eight hours a day or more than five days a week, you need to compensate her for that. To determine what a competitive salary is in your area please contact our office.

PROVIDE GOOD BENEFITS

To ensure that your nanny stays, work out a comprehensive incentive package in your agreement, which should outline days off, paid holidays, and vacation time. Some parents provide a car for their nanny to drive (make sure she’s covered by your car insurance — the premium can be hefty). Others offer to pay for classes at a community college or for a gym membership. If you’re chipping in for health or car insurance, specify this in the contract.

TREAT HER LIKE A PROFESSIONAL

Her job may be in a home instead of an office, but nannies take their job seriously, and so should you. If you’re confident of her abilities, show it. Trust that she’ll do a good job and don’t second-guess her decisions. If there’s something that you’d like done differently, don’t assume that she’s wrong and you’re right. Be respectful of her approach, and suggest without undermining her that you have your own particular way you’d like it done. Address any complaints or concerns you may have in a constructive manner. Avoid attacking her personally and stick to the issues at hand.

LAY DOWN GROUND RULES AND RESPECT THEM

Remember, you hired your nanny to care for your child. She’s not the housecleaner, so she shouldn’t be asked to do extensive housework unless her contract — and her pay — includes that expectation from the beginning. Don’t ask her to run errands unrelated to childcare unless she agrees to certain duties (such as picking up your dry cleaning) ahead of time in her contract. If her hours end at 6 p.m., make sure you’re home at that time (emergencies excepted). And if you have to ask her to stay late, compensate her fairly. Remember, she has her own life, and if she doesn’t live with you, she may have a family to go home to at the end of the day.

SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION

Remember how good you felt when your employer told you how important you are to your co-workers? Your nanny needs to hear the same thing. She’s doing a very important job for you, and it’s important to tell her often how much you value her and the job she’s doing. You might write your nanny a thank-you note anytime she does something especially wonderful or bring her a small gift. If you’ve stopped at the market on the way home, bring her some fresh fruit. If it’s been a stressful week for all of you, a bottle of bubble bath would be a nice acknowledgement. Celebrate her birthday and other special events. She’ll also be thrilled with an unexpected cash bonus for a job well done.

BE FLEXIBLE

Allow for some changes in your nanny’s schedule, as long as they don’t take advantage of this. Sometimes you have to take time off during the workday for doctor’s appointments or other personal errands. So will your nanny. As long as they give you plenty of notice in order for you to find a substitute or adjust your schedule, try to accommodate her needs.

BE COMMUNICATIVE

Whether you have compliments or complaints, make sure you touch base with your nanny consistently and often. If she feels you’re open to talking, she’ll be more likely to approach you with ideas and concerns. Spend a few minutes at the beginning or the end of each day checking in. If you don’t see your nanny in person every morning or you’re too rushed to talk, try writing down your thoughts. Many nannies tout the benefits of a written to-do list. Note what you want done, with the date you wrote it down and a “due date” if you need it done by a certain time. Leave a separate column where you can indicate the priority of the various items, so your nanny knows what to tackle first when she has a few free moments.

BACK HER UP

If your nanny attempts to impose agreed-upon restrictions on your child, don’t undermine her authority by reversing her decisions. After all, she’s only doing what you asked her to do. And you need your child to respect your nanny’s authority just as she does yours.

BE CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR NANNY AS A PERSON, NOT JUST AN EMPLOYEE

Her job may be to care for your child, but she also has her own life. If she’s young, she needs time in the evenings to see people her own age. If she has a family of her own, don’t keep her overtime any more than you have to or she’ll feel like she has to choose between your children and her own. Without prying, find out a little bit about your nanny. Does she like music? Is she a movie fanatic? If she has children, ask to see their photos. The more you get to know her, the more she’ll feel like the important member of your family that she is.

RESPECT HER PRIVACY AND TEACH YOUR CHILD TO DO THE SAME

If your nanny lives with you, make sure everyone in your home knows that when the day is done, she’s off-duty. Her days off should be truly her own — no asking for last-minute household or babysitting help. Communicate this to your child as well: For example, if your nanny has Sundays off, make sure your child knows that Sunday mornings aren’t the time to knock on her door and ask for breakfast.