The transition period after starting a new job can be tricky for both the employer and employee. As a nanny or educator, in addition to bonding with the children, you have to figure out when to step in, when to step out, and how to be as helpful as possible in your new role.
No matter how much experience you’ve had working with other families, each new job has an entirely different dynamic to navigate. While there is no one way to transition well, here are a few observations we’ve made over the years:
Find new ways to make the kids laugh, don’t take yourself too seriously, and be yourself! If you find yourself in a tough situation with the kids sizing you up, testing you, or otherwise acting less than impressed with you, level with them. As you know, kids are smart and will appreciate your honesty. Let them know you are in this together and want to make this a great relationship with everyone. If they are devastated by the loss of an old nanny, acknowledge their feelings and give them the space to make the connection with you in their own time. Develop some engaging activities for the first several days with them, and consider doing something like collaboratively making artwork for their previous nanny to help the kids work through the transition.
Focus On The Children First
They are the reason you were hired, and parents are especially thrilled when they see their kids thriving in your care. As the days go by you can sort out additional expectations or house rules as they come up. Use your amazing communication skills to assess the best way to relate to each kid and have them lead the conversations, actively listen and show them that you’re invested in getting to know them. This can be hard to remember if the parents are home on your first day, but at each opportunity, try to show the kids that you’re there to enhance their lives and that you’re a fair and fun adult!
Plan A Fun Group Activity
We recently had a nanny teach her new charges *plus* a few neighbor kids how to make terrariums on her first day, and it was a huge hit! Parents and children alike were so impressed with her desire to organize an exciting and educational outdoor activity. Stepping in and showing initiative like this is a fantastic way to develop a lasting relationship and gain the respect and trust of everyone involved.
Don’t Overshare Personal Information
As you get to know people, this becomes a less clear-cut concern, but particularly at the beginning of a job, the less you mention your boyfriend/politics/parking tickets, the better. Many people would advise against ever sharing personal information in a professional setting, but this is something you’ll need to navigate over time, bearing in mind the particulars of your specific situation. Working in private service can easily become quite involved and boundaries can be somewhat unusual when compared to other professional environments, so use your best judgment but bear in mind that ultimately you are an employee. Disclosing too much about your private life can make a parent wonder about your commitment to their family, and question your ability to be there for them in the future.
Asking the kids where things go is a great way to get to know them, and they are usually proud to show you around and teach you about their family. As you’re establishing a deeper understanding of how the family runs and what their daily schedule looks like, don’t be shy about admitting that you need to ask questions. This is the time where it makes sense for you to need clarification on the basics, waiting to ask these questions just makes it look like you weren’t paying attention during the first few days/weeks, so ask for information and details right away.
Don’t Make Assumptions
What was best for your previous nanny family may not be best for your new nanny family, and just like it might be uncomfortable for you when the family references their previous nanny a lot, it will make them feel uncomfortable if you’re assuming that they’ll be just like your prior nanny family. It is important to spell out as many details as possible in your employment agreement, and anything that is left out should be clarified during your first few days. It always takes time to get to know a new family, and each one has a preferred method of communicating and different ways of doing things. Be sure to re-read your employment agreement before your first day and keep a record of any expectations that are mentioned verbally.
Settling into your new role will be much easier when your employers feel comfortable offering regular feedback. Consider scheduling weekly check-in’s with the parents for this purpose and let them know how much feedback helps you to exceed their expectations by setting some parameters for what they need from you. For many of us that have worked as nannies for years, weekly check-in’s are a regular part of our bag of nanny tricks. These quick and straightforward meetings are the ideal opportunity for parents and caregivers to clear the air, get everything on the table, and reset expectations throughout the placement as things change and roles evolve. This meeting is so essential for developing a strong and unified front for the kids and allows for the best continuity of care because all active caregivers are consistently on the same page.
What are some of your favorite ways to hit it off with new nanny kids? We’d love to hear about your personal experiences – reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, and check out the other posts on the blog!
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