The Weekly Check-in
Is something about your nanny driving you crazy?
Our nannies are all highly intelligent and professional, but that does not necessarily make them mind readers. Most ‘hiccups’ with between a family and nanny stem from a communication issue. These can be avoided and swiftly resolved with a strong weekly check-in routine.
Nannies appreciate feedback and will be eager to adjust their behavior! Don’t be afraid to be as specific as possible. This creates a highly functioning working relationship.
Here are some examples of common issues (that might be driving you crazy) that are completely trainable:
- End of day tidying: Have a pet-peeve about the state of your home when the nanny is on duty? Tell them “It’s important for me to come home to a sink free of dishes”
- Phone use policy reminder: If you notice or suspect your nanny may be using her phone inappropriately, be specific and remind them when they can and cannot use their phone.
- Discipline style: Did you catch your nanny saying something to your child in a way that made you uncomfortable? Seasoned nannies will be coming from households that have different styles than yours. They are used to and happy to adjust to the new family, they just need direction. Be sure to further inform them of your preferred style / approach, and if possible, get them the books that detail your preferred style (ex: Positive Discipline, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, Simplicity Parenting, Love and Logic, Free Range Kids, etc.)
- Household etiquette / rules of the house: These can take time to adjust to, and it’s your job as the employer to remind your nanny of them. In a weekly check-in, kindly point out times you noticed a rule being violated. This includes your television policy, rules for your children, manners to follow, etc.
- Household attire: Have you been recently bothered by something your nanny wore to work? Tell them! What’s OK for some families may not be OK for yours. Nannies should be happy to adjust what they wear (attire guidelines are standard for most jobs!) Common offenders: Perfume, yoga pants, heels, makeup, or ill-fitting clothing.
- Daily documentation formatting: If you feel you aren’t getting enough information about your kid’s day, show the nanny exactly how you would like the daily reporting to look, and what to include – they may not get it right the first time!
- Daily routine adjustments: Consistency is important, and routines vary greatly from family to family. Feel free to discuss (and re-discuss) bedtime traditions, mealtime expectations, getting ready for school, preferred bottle sanitation methods etc. during your weekly meetings to stay on the same page.
- Dietary requests: Did your children eat mac and cheese every day last week? Don’t let it happen again by leaving your nanny a list of acceptable meals, and checking in weekly on what the kids have and haven’t been eating. Do you have a trick for getting James to eat her broccoli? Share it with your nanny in the meeting! As the nanny continues to prepare food for your family, you will most likely learn a trick or two from them as well.
- Food policy: use this time to remind the nanny of what is off-limits for them. It’s perfectly acceptable to keep your stash of orange Gatorade to yourself.
- Guest policy: review who can and can’t visit while a nanny is working. I was a live-in nanny and the family I worked for knew my boyfriend (now husband) well. He was allowed to (and encouraged to) go on adventures with the us during the day. This might be completely unacceptable for some families, but it worked for us. Be sure to review any visits that made you uncomfortable, and set expectations in the beginning to avoid them.
- Conversations with kids: this is a big one! If you’d like the nanny to talk more around your baby, tell them! Also outline how to answer tough questions the kids bring up, off-limit topics, how to discuss religious / spiritual beliefs with them. Again, if you tell the nanny what you expect, and check in regularly, they will quickly learn exactly how you’d like these conversations to go.
- Driving policy: review which cars to use, rules for each one, and how to report mileage if they drive their own car.
- Communication style: varies greatly, and nannies will be happy to adjust to yours. Examples: “We prefer you text us as soon as any issue comes up, or we prefer you tell us about any non-emergency issues you’ve had during our weekly check-in”
- Where to store personal effects in the house: It’s always the little things that start adding up. Use the meeting to discuss all of these! If you are a type-a person and seeing the nanny’s jacket on the floor is driving you crazy, or her shoes tucked next to the back door, just tell them.
During a check in, anything that wasn’t already in it your household manual should be added. All families are dynamic and ever-changing, and as tedious as this document can seem, it is invaluable for staying on the same page with your household employees.
If you do not already use a household manual, having the details from the training questions listed in the training manual written out will serve as a great place to start. In addition, the household manual should include:
- Your nanny’s job description
- A sample schedule of a ‘day in the life’ of your household
- Schedules for household events (when does the trash get taken out? Deliveries?)
- Emergency contact information
- House information (how to work the dishwasher / alarm / heater / etc)
Other tips for training your nanny:
Set Overlap Days.
If your schedule permits, schedule at least two partial overlap days in the first week to spend time with your new nanny and family together. Be on hand to answer any questions that come up
Try to be as detailed and thorough as possible when explaining things for the first time – this will provide clarity for your nanny and prevent the need to re-explain or go into more detail later on.
Establish a Check-In Routine.
Schedule regular check-ins with your nanny at the same time every week. During your check-ins, review anything that may have come up over the week. Leave time for your nanny to ask questions or to clarify instructions as needed.
Every family has determined their own set of household values, rules, and schedules. Adding a new member to your household and routine can create stress for all parties involved. If you are having a hard time knowing how to bring up an issue, check out our blog on difficult conversations.
Have additional questions? email us at firstname.lastname@example.org