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Is a Nanny the Right Choice for Your Family?

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If any of the following situations ring true to you, perhaps your family should consider hiring a nanny. Maybe you’ve tried babysitters or have called on your parents and in-laws one time too many to care for your children. Perhaps you are working so many hours, and meeting all the kids’ obligations is just not possible.

Or maybe you travel a lot for your job and your kids are experiencing instability in their lives. As with any arrangement, “good fences make good neighbors,” so it’s important to consider the following points before you engage a nanny.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Andreas Rodriguez]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Andreas Rodriguez

What will a nanny do for your family?

The first thing you and your spouse need to consider is what you expect your nanny to do for you. In other words, what is her job description? Some things to consider in addition to caring for your children are

  • Will she prepare meals? If so, how many meals each week is she expected to prepare?

  • Do you want the nanny to perform any household duties, such as dusting, making beds, doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, or any other housekeeping duties? Will those be expected to be done daily, weekly, or on occasion?

  • Should your nanny be prepared to take your children to after school or cultural activities? If so, does she need to provide her own car or will that be provided for her?

  • What hours do you expect your nanny to work? Will she have a strict schedule Monday through Friday, or will she be asked to babysit some evenings and weekends?

Where will the nanny reside?

After you have determined the extent of the job duties your nanny will perform for your family, it’s important to decide where the nanny will live. Will she live with you, or will she have her own home and come and go on a scheduled basis?

If she has her own home and just comes and goes on a regular schedule, the contract arrangement with the nanny will be much easier. However, if she is going to live with you, it’s important to consider these points.

  • Even though the nanny is living with you, she will require a fixed working schedule. Any time she is asked to work over that schedule, she will expect, and should, be paid for that time.

  • Will the nanny have only a room, or will she also be provided a dedicated bathroom or even other parts of the home she can call her own?

  • How will you express to the children that even though the nanny lives with you, she needs her own privacy — a place and designated times where the children can’t visit her.

  • Will the nanny be expected to be on call 24 x 7? If so, that will need to be clearly communicated to the nanny, and the contract between you will need to reflect this expectation.

  • Will the nanny be expected to leave the family alone in the evenings, or will she be free to participate in all of the family activities?

  • How will the nanny’s meals be handled? Will she join you for meals or be expected to eat at different times or in a different location?

  • Will the nanny be allowed to have her own friends in your home? You know that your nanny will have a social life other than your family, so it’s important to think about how you feel about having strangers in your home and if you are going to allow her to entertain guests there.

Other items to consider

  • Can you really afford a nanny? Remember, you are responsible for taxes and maybe even retirement benefits. The nanny requires paid time off so you will need to plan on how to handle those incidences as well.

  • How will discipline be handled with the children? Conflicting messages to kids are problematic, so a discussion around discipline rules is in order.

  • Are you going to use an agency or try to hire the nanny on your own? Regardless, criminal background and reference checks are a necessity.

  • How are you going to handle your nanny’s performance reviews as well as dealing with issues as they arise? Particularly during the first three to six months trial period, there will be a need for you and the nanny to set aside specific times to discuss progress and set new priorities and goals if necessary.

After considering all of these questions, do you still want a nanny in your employ? If you were able to work through this list and give yourself honest answers, then a nanny might just be right for your family.


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