Starting a new job can be an anxiety-inducing experience for anyone. But for a nanny, it can be utterly nerve-wracking. After all, you’re stepping into a family and caring for the most important members — the kids.
But with a bit of preparation, you can help calm those new-job jitters and be ready to enter the family dynamic with relaxed confidence.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first day:
Understand what’s expected of you before you start.
According to Michelle LaRowe, nanny industry expert and lead educator at NannyTraining.com, prior to accepting any job as a nanny, you need to truly understand the expectations of the family. You need to know exactly what the family’s needs and parenting style are and what your role is in meeting them. Do they let their baby cry it out during nap time? Will they require meal prep and some light cleaning? What is their discipline style? These details should all be ironed out before starting a job. LaRowe encourages nannies to work with families to draft a written work agreement to address the nanny’s duties and responsibilities, as well as the parent’s obligations to the nanny to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Determine any overtime and vacation days upfront.
Conversations about time off and money can be uncomfortable. The details regarding time off (Will they be paid or unpaid?), wages, raises, taxes, expenses for travel, and food should be hammered out before your first day. LaRowe urges nannies to understand their rights and protections. For example, live-out nannies, as well as live-in nannies in some states, must be paid overtime for all hours worked in a 7-day period and nannies cannot be paid a salary, but must be hourly employees. LaRowe also cautions nannies to understand how the IRS classifies them. “Many nannies and families mistakenly believe paying taxes are optional or that nannies are independent contractors. Nannies employed by families are W-2 employees and as such, there are tax and payroll responsibilities that must be taken care of. LaRowe encourages nannies to point families to reputable nanny tax and payroll services like New York based GTM Payroll Services.
Take time to bond with the kids.
Discover their interests and what they like to do, and make sure there is ample time to do it on days when you’re working. It would help if you also got to know the child’s emotional habits. Do they get overwhelmed in crowds? Will they have a hard time separating? Be prepared to be a supportive, calming, and protective presence in their life.
Prepare for the worst.
Accidents happen, and they can feel a bit amplified when they happen on your watch. Ask your employer about a plan of action should there be an injury or medical emergency. LaRowe encourages nannies to work with families to develop a household binder that outlines important information including emergency contacts, emergency action plans and other relevant details about the home, such as how to shut the water main or electricity off. Save important numbers like the pediatrician’s on your phone. The best nanny is a prepared one!
Be ready to give details to the parents.
Parents are inevitably going to want to know what their child did all day. Be prepared to discuss where you went, how you got there, who the child played with, what they ate, and more. Check out Our Nanny Diary for printable pages that can help you track how the children spent their day. You can also download the Stroller Patrol app so parents can be updated throughout the day without having to call or text.