How to Keep Your SupernannyPosted: April 23, 2013
Ok y’all, so you roped yourself a Supernanny! Congratulations! Your kiddos will be in amazing hands when you can’t be there, they will always cherish their times and memories with her, and will be given more than ample attention and barrels of love. Your Supernanny will keep your kiddos happy, keep your household running smoothly, and be a source of support and love in your family’s life. Now how do you keep her in your kiddo corral? Simple, just treat her with the same respect, professionalism, and care as she gives you.
Here is some darn-tootin’ truth-tellin’ on how to keep your Supernanny! This post is one that I felt very compelled to write having seen so much of the material available all from the client’s point of view. When I was first thinking about writing this blog, several years ago, anytime I googled “nannying,” “appropriate pay for nannies,” “professionalism with nannies,” “how to treat your nanny,”etc. or conducted research about the nanny workplace, most of the information was skewed to a perspective not in the interest of the nannies. One particularly incensing article entitled How to Hire A Nanny Who Won’t Hit on Your Spouse, portrays nannies−not as reliable childcare and an extended family member (which they are)−and more like wanton women hell bent on destroying marriages. Look, it was Jude Law and that was 8 years ago! How long must true Supernannies be subjected to this stereotype? The lack of information available from the Supernanny’s P.O.V. is one of the many reasons I created Y’all Behave. I wanted to sprinkle in real, concrete, important information about how to treat your nanny—both professionally and personally—within all the fun and fancy of nannyhood itself. I think it’s important (and valid) for Supernannies to recognize their worth, and to choose and commit to families who value them as well.
Don’t “nannyblock” your nanny! Do not refuse to share your nanny’s phone number/contact information with neighbors and friends who inquire about using her (unless your nanny specifically asks you not to share hers- she may have more work than she can handle!). If you are paying your nanny a competitive wage, and are a pleasant, professional employer, she would have no reason to give your hours to someone else. It is unfair to keep her from finding more hours of work, especially if she is not full-time with you, just because you are worried that she may go off to greener pastures. Be the greener pastures!
Don’t discuss cheaper nannies! Leaving names/numbers/prices of other babysitters written down in plain sight of your nanny or reminding her that there is cheaper childcare out there when she wants to negotiate a raise is a big time nanny-client faux pas. Look, if you want a high schooler who charges less, hire a high schooler who charges less. If you want to put your kids in daycare or after school programs, that is your prerogative. But if you want, and can afford, a career nanny who is a responsible(and professional) provider of transportation, meals, entertainment, and a steady routine (not to mention a source of individual attention, a feeling of security, and true kinship), pony up the extra cash and hire a Supernanny. And if you’re lucky enough to have a Supernanny, don’t try passive-aggressively questioning her worth.
Be understanding of your nanny’s unavailability! Being the people-pleaser that I am, loving the kiddos as I do, and genuinely always wanting to be able to help families (just as I’m sure most other nannies do), I hate when I am unavailable to them for above and beyond hours. I work hard to make sure couples have date nights, and am happy to work evenings whenever I am able. However, it’s not always possible for me to nanny evenings or weekends, as I have commitments myself (and have usually worked a 40+ hour week). Do not greet your nanny’s lack of availability with terse texts or e-mail replies, frustrated sighs, or attempted guilt trips of some sort. Those tactics may have worked at times, but eventually I stopped worrying about it and–if the guilt-tripping continued—taking jobs period, for anyone who made my lack of availability personal. Anyone I nanny now is well aware when they hire me of my availability and they also know that I will inform them of any/all travel plans months ahead of time. In return, they rally and make care-giving ends meet while I’m away, respecting my need to have a life of my own. All are genuinely grateful and respectful of me, and my time. I’m a lucky nanny!
Respect her hours! When you first hire your Supernanny, both of your schedules/hour expectations should be made perfectly clear. Thus far I have enjoyed my time most when it is split into multiple families. The change of pace/surroundings keeps me on my toes, and I feel better about going on my trips with Mr. Luke when I leave several families without a part-time nanny as opposed to one without a full-time one. (Because of this spreading of the nanny love, one of my top criteria is whether or not a family and my schedules match up.) I am always very careful to let families know about my unusual schedule with Mr. Luke and my traveling, and my regular families are given at least four months, usually more, before I miss more than two days of nannying. I give advanced notice anytime I cannot make a day of work. In return, I expect that if my hours will be cut or canceled (due to a change in the family’s schedule, the family leaving on vacation, etc.) that they will give me advanced notice as well.
Now, if someone is ill, or there is a family emergency, anything of that nature, I am, of course, completely understanding of a cancellation, things happen. But I find cases of consistent/arbitrary cancellations combined with no notice unacceptable. When you cancel on your nanny last minute it is a huge inconvenience for several reasons. Firstly, it is most likely too late for her to find another job, meaning that her weekly/monthly budget, which depended on the hours promised is now going to come up short. Remember, this is her full-time job and sole source of income. Secondly, it is a complete disrespect of her time. Last minute cancellations are extremely frustrating for your Supernanny, not only from a fiscal point of view, but because, due to the last-minute nature (of weekend or evening jobs especially!), it is too late for her to make the sold-out concert with friends, catch a ride to her hometown to spend time with family, make the movies with her partner/pals, or do something she would have planned had she not carved out the time committed to your family. Depending on the hours in question more/less notice is required. (For a weekend evening, you should give your nanny at least a 5 days’ notice as these are nanny primetime, though a week would be more appropriate. For a full day’s hours, she should know one to several weeks prior. Ask your nanny what time frame she feels is appropriate.) Think of it this way: You canceling on your nanny the day/week of is as much of an inconvenience as her cancelling on y’all the night you have pre-paid tickets to see a concert, coordinated with friends, along with dinner reservations before, and no alternative childcare. Put yourself in her place and be respectful. If you absolutely must cancel “just because”, pay her for a minimal evening: 3-4 hours. You may still have inconvenienced her personally, but you will be professionally considerate.
Do not share your nanny’s wages! Bravo for you sharing your awesome Supernanny’s contact information! You are clearly confident in your partnership with her, and yourself as a client. However, divulging what you pay her is a big no-no. What a nanny charges you is dependent on a number of factors: how many children, ages, proximity to her other jobs and home, number of hours, whether or not she uses her car, etc. and what she may charge for one family may be different from another. It is up to her to set her wages. As I’ve gained experience and know-how, I feel that my value is higher, and what I charged four years ago is no longer my going rate. Inversely I have charged families a lesser hourly wage, knowing what they could afford, and taking into account that they had only one child and required lesser hours.
Be on the same page with your nanny! Your nanny is a valuable resource for you when it comes to keeping up with your children’s interest and behavior. Touch base with her often to discuss any high points, developments, or behavioral snafus. Your Supernanny may recognize a talent or ambition of your child that you have not been privy to, such as an athletic prowess witnessed at the park or a penchant for a certain activity such as music that could prompt you to enroll him/her in a summer music camp. There is no end to the insight your Supernanny can provide, and she’ll do so gladly (after all, her main goal is to keep your children happy and the bonds of your family strong)! When it comes to helping develop good behavior and habits for your child, a Supernanny will work with your disciplinary style and systems of reward. Be open with her on your disciplinary strategies and parameters. She is more than happy to uphold your standards, and it is important that you reciprocate by backing her up when she is implementing discipline as well. The nanny-client relationship is based on mutual respect, yes, but mutual trust is equally important.
Reward your nanny with just desserts! Holiday bonuses and pay raises are customary at most jobs and should not be overlooked with your nanny. In addition, if your nanny uses her car for the majority of her days with your kiddos, along with filling up her tank, get her car washed and detailed quarterly. Car seats and kiddo messes can wreak havoc on a nanny’s ride. (It’s not her crumbs and hand prints in the backseat!) If your children have been going through a tough behavioral time that you know must be extra stressful for your nanny, or she has had them 24/7 for a prolonged period of time while you vacation, find a way to show her that you appreciate her constant care and patience. In the past I’ve received gifts running the gamut from massage certificates to smoothie gift cards to a bag of coffee to red wine. All were much appreciated! Those personal touches made my weeks/months, and it truly means the world to know that in return for my care of their children, the parents want to take care of me.
Very special thanks to Katie Mayfield Leslie who is an ever-giving source of articles, information, and opinion from her Supernanny point of view! Thank you for everything you send me and for being such a phenomenal Supernanny and pal!