By Kelly Miller
This article is the first of a two part series in which we talked to nannies and parents that have been placed together for over 4 years. We asked, “What advice do you have for other families or nannies to have a successful long-term relationship?” Here is what experienced nannies had to say.
Communication and flexibility were repeatedly mentioned as the number one key from nannies. Nannies mentioned being able to talk to their employers openly and honestly about anything.
Nanny Mary Ann is a perfect example; after being with her family for 1 1/2 years, she was considering leaving her job. But she talked to her employers, and they helped her realize she felt isolated. They set up a playgroup through an Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) class, and Mary Ann made sure to get out and meet other nannies. Also, both parents and nanny keep a daily journal. It started out being just about formula and bottles, but now has evolved into daily activities and funny quotes from the child. Mary Ann and her employers know what is happening when they aren’t there, and the child will have a journal to look back on when she is older.
Carol, who has been in her job with school age children for over five years, said, “Be as flexible as you can be; be willing to do things outside your job requirements.” She does things for her family like she would do if at home. When I called, she was touching up paint chips on the kitchen cabinets. She realizes not all nannies would know how to do this, but she would do anything to help her family out during busy times of year.
Mary, who cares for three children, said that she has a good “mesh” with her family. She and the parents have the same goal for the children, and they discuss homework and what activities they should be in. She also said that it is important for a nanny to have freedom. “I can just put the kids in the car and go wherever we want to; the parents trust that we will be doing safe age-appropriate activities.”
Patty, who has been with her family for six years, stated that she and her family have been very respectful of each other's schedules. In the beginning, they accommodated her school schedule, and now the kids are in school so her duties have changed. “Communicate about what will happen in the future; never assume what your duties will be.” They talk each fall about the coming year.
Ann, who is in her second four-year nanny position, commented that it is very important that both parties keep in touch about what is going on with the kids. Nannies should be appreciative that they have a job, and families should also show their appreciation to their nannies.
Connie, who is in her third nanny position, says, “Don’t build up little things that bother you; either let them go or voice problems right away.” She also said that both sides need to give a little to make it work so the nanny can feel like part of the family.
Nanny Louise said that she consciously tries to “strike a balance between a businesslike situation and being part of the family.” She feels that if you are totally treated like a part of the family, it would be easy for nanny and family to take advantage of one another.
Most importantly, one nanny said, “Enjoy what you do!”