Establishing Guidelines for Your Live-In Nanny

rulesWhile your live-in nanny is your employee, she’s also a part of your household. That unique mix can make for some challenges in the nanny/parent relationship. Establishing guidelines that work for both you and your nanny is the best way to avoid conflicts and make sure everyone has the same expectations. Here are some guidelines that are often helpful.

Setting the house alarm. Even for young nannies, nightly curfews are too intrusive to be successfully imposed by the employer. However, there is a real safety concern from the family when a nanny comes in after the family has gone to bed. When the nanny is out late, the family can’t set the alarm for the night. Plus the family often doesn’t know if it’s the nanny or an intruder coming into the home. To get around this issue, sit down with your nanny and come up with a plan that allows her the freedom to come and go as she wants to and also gives you the peace of mind you’re looking for. That may be leaving an outdoor light on to indicate the house alarm is off and needs to be set when she comes in. Or it might be a short text from the nanny letting you know she’s getting ready to enter the house. Whatever the plan is, make sure both sides follow it consistently.

Using other areas of the house. Some families are happy to share all parts of their home with their nanny. Other families want their privacy and ask that the nanny limit her use of the home to the kitchen and her quarters. This is a personal decision that depends on your preferences and the type of relationship you want to have with your nanny. Think about how opening up your whole home to your nanny will impact your family time before you make that decision. If you have an outgoing nanny, she may join you for a Saturday night movie in the family room or for Sunday dinner. The good news is this isn’t an all or nothing choice. Some families open up part of their home to the nanny and designate other parts for family only. This offers a great balance for both nanny and parents.

Visitors. Not every family is comfortable with their live-in nanny having visitors over. This is an issue that should be discussed in detail before offering her the position because it can have a huge impact on her overall happiness in the job. It can be hard to balance the nanny’s need for a social network and your need for privacy in your own home. Are you comfortable with her inviting people over? Do you want to meet and get to know them before they’re extended an invitation? Are they welcome to enjoy the other areas of your house (e.g. the family room, the kitchen) like your nanny is, or would you rather they stay in your nanny’s quarters? Think about any restrictions you want to put into place too. Some families are fine with occasional visitors, but draw the line at overnight guests, especially those of the opposite sex. Some families also restrict the length of time a visitor can stay. Coming over for a Friday night movie is fine, but staying for the weekend is not allowed. Talk with your nanny about any restrictions you’re considering and get her input before making a final decision. Too many restrictions can be a real hardship for some nannies and may make a difference in how long she stays in your job.

Food. Providing your live-in nanny with room and board is a standard benefit in the nanny care industry. That includes meals in the home, both on and off duty. However, there are lots of questions that come with that benefit. Everyone has different ideas about what’s reasonable to provide, so this is another topic that should be discussed before your nanny moves in. Some nannies are on a restricted diet or eat mostly or all organic foods. This can be expensive, and if your family doesn’t eat that way, may seem excessive. Decide ahead of time if you have a specific food budget that you’d like your nanny to stay within. Also decide if you’ll provide her with cash or a credit card for shopping, or if she should simply add things to your grocery list. This simple topic can be a source of conflict if the parents and nanny don’t have the same expectations.

Having a live-in nanny can be a challenge, but with the right guidelines in place, it can be a great set-up for everyone.

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