Guide to hiring your first nanny
First Nanny? A survival guide by Top Notch Nannies
Most families choose to hire a nanny to solve a problem – but for those with first time nannies, there can be problems associated with nanny’s arrival that they didn’t anticipate. That’s why we’ve written our first nanny guide – and it applies to governesses and tutors too!
Share most things
Many parents, especially mums, hold a lot of information in their heads. This works for them but it’s useless to nanny. Before your nanny, tutor or governess starts work, ensure you have all the information you need about them (address, phone number, email, NI number or equivalent, driving licence details, any allergies).
Then make sure you supply nanny with the information they need: all your contact details and those of your partner and grandparents or aunts and uncles if they are in regular contact with you child, close family friends who might just turn up or call, your GP and dentist, and your child’s orthodontist, optician, paediatrician details and any other health contacts she might need. Tell him or her – and write down – any allergies or medication relevant to your child.
Arrange a clear way for nanny to contact you when they need to, so they don’t feel they are getting in the way or causing a problem in the first few days of work. Some parents set a regular daily check-in time just to touch base with their nanny for the first couple of weeks.
But not everything
Nanny isn’t your marriage counsellor or your new best friend, although they may become the latter over time. Don’t burden them with your whole family history in one sitting, or ask them to preside over spats between grown-ups in the house because they will feel uncomfortable and you may come to regret over-sharing your personal stuff. Your relationship will develop over time, and that’s how it should be.
Be precise about practicalities
Nanny needs house keys. He or she needs to know how to operate the central heating, washing machine, dishwasher, TV and computer. If you have alarm systems, electronic gates or entrance key codes, they need to know them too. But be smart about this – it’s just bad practice to give your nanny or governess a written list of numbers. Be careful with personal information that could fall into the wrong hands. For example, suggest they input the security key code as a number in their mobile contacts under a name like ‘Mrs Houseman’ – they can always scroll through to check the code but they won’t have a paper copy that could get lost or even stolen.
Routines aren’t routine
Your first nanny, or holiday nanny, needs to know about bath and bedtime for toddlers and about feeding and nappy changes for baby. This is information that you can write down and print out – maybe laminate it and stick it up inside the bathroom cabinet.
Give them plenty of time to learn how to start the car and drive around the area several times. Make sure your Satnav is programmed with the places you take for granted that you can find – nursery, Granny and Granddad’s house, the homes of your child’s closest friends etc. And double-treble check your insurance so that you’re confident nanny is fully covered on it.
Tell the world
Who needs to know about your first nanny? School and/or nursery? The GP surgery for sure. Depending on where you live, what about building supervisors, doormen etc. Friends and family? Some families throw a party so that nanny can meet the extended family, while others plan a visit to close relatives in the first couple of weeks – whichever way you do it, remember that many people may recognise your child and if they don’t know you have a nanny now, they may wonder who they are and what they are doing with your little one. To avoid awkward situations, try to inform people about his or her arrival.
Feelings aren’t facts
Many, many parents find the transition to being nannied difficult. They start to believe their child is happier with nanny than with them, or alternatively that their child is miserably unhappy with nanny and the relationship isn’t working. Neither of these is necessarily true and you simply won’t be able to judge until several months have passed. Children are naturally volatile and emote very freely – parents are hardwired to have emotional responses when their offspring express any negative emotion but ten minutes later your little one will be over their distress while you’ll still be experiencing an emotional hangover.
Over time you’re bound to see that the relationship your child has with nanny is nothing like the one they have with you … it’s not better or worse, it’s different. And with any luck you’ll have found your relationship with nanny is strong and rewarding too.