Nanny- Family Communication
A Guide to Building Strong Working Relationships
A good family-nanny relationship does not merely exist, it must be worked on every day. Most of the issues that arise when a nanny starts a new position can easily be solved with thorough communication.
As in any job, communicating expectations, concerns, changes and progress on a regular basis between employer and employee are crucial to success. In any work environment, employees can expect to have daily contact with their direct supervisors, along with regularly scheduled meetings, to discuss progress, expectations and challenges. Your level of communication with you nanny / family should be no different.
In fact, in the Nanny-Family relationship, communication needs are stronger because you are either living together, or your nanny is spending, on average, 8-12 hours, five days per week in your home.
Meet Regularly From the Beginning.
Don’t wait for the need to arise. These meetings work much better when both parties know there is a set time and place, on a regular basis, to discuss anything and everything related to the working relationship. Knowing you are both there to support one another and to be proactive as a team, creates a more open environment than the dreaded, out of the blue, “we have to talk”.
These meetings are intended to create a regular opportunity for each party to raise any concerns, discuss changes in the child’s development or needs, and to ensure parents and nanny are operating with consistency as they trade-off care for the children. Plan on having these meetings when the children are not within hearing distance and are preferably otherwise occupied. After bedtime is a common choice.
These meetings should be held often, weekly for at least the first month, and then biweekly over time if you agree to connect as things come up in between. They must be often enough that they become a relaxed method of communication with a friendly team atmosphere. Scheduling one more thing after a hectic day with the children may seem overwhelming, but it is by far worth the effort to avoid disaster down the road.
Be Receptive to Feedback.
It is common to feel nervous when discussing work performance. Anxiety and defensiveness are heightened by the nature of the work being so closely tied to family, especially making nanny feedback to parents seem personal. Keeping an open mind to what is being said must be the foundation of your communication.
As with any profession you should expect to be reviewed by your employer, and to provide reviews for your employee regularly. It is crucial to take feedback in both directions and use it to constantly improve even the best working environment.
Planning your Meetings.
- Share a calendar with your nanny and block out one hour every week at the same time. Prioritize this meeting and do not reschedule or cancel even when you feel you don’t have much to say.
- Start by reviewing the past week. What was expected, what was done, challenges, how challenges were approached, and how to improve the next week.
- Discuss the coming week’s schedule. Go over the plan and what is expected, identifying potential challenges, changes and how to approach them based on the previous week. This allows you to check in on how to support one another, adapt approaches to activities and challenges as needs change, and prepare for coming events.
As you get used to this process and it becomes routine, the meetings may take less time, but it is essential to know the hour is available and prioritized by all caretakers, every week. It may feel overwhelming in already hectic times, or silly when you feel like there is nothing to talk about, but you will find it saves you a lot of time and stress over time by creating the culture and expectation of transparency, communication and teamwork.
This guide was made by our very own Lieschen Gargano, who holds a master’s degree in Peace in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver. Lieschen has first hand experience as both a mother and a nanny. If you have specific questions regarding a difficult conversation, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org