A Nanny’s Perspective:
What To Look For in a Family
Like any good job or place of employment, the fit should be mutual. Especially in a nanny/family relationship, where the employment and the role is much closer than a typical job. Most discussion is normally centered on the family’s point of view; however, it is just as important, or maybe even more important, that a nanny chooses the right family. That being said, a nanny should know what factors are important to them and what they are looking for in an ideal fit. What does a nanny look for in a family? Some of the more important factors include:
Chemistry with the Children
Beyond compensation, location, and relationships with the parents, a nanny MUST have strong chemisty with the children. The connection you have with the child or children is the most important aspect of your job as a nanny. The children and their livelihood exist as your top priority as a nanny. As their nanny, you will be with them day after day, working on sleep training, eating, activities, bathtime, and a host of other activities that will continue to deepen your relationship with the children. In order to provide the care they need, you should have great mutual chemistry with each child. They should connect with you and you to them. This doesn’t mean they run up to you at your first meeting or interview and give you hugs and snuggle up, but they should warm to you over several interactions. Being compatible with them will not only make your job easier, but also more rewarding for both parties.
A great way to see if there is chemistry between you and the children would be to do a trial week with the right family before accepting a position. The week would be a test-run of your job and could help you gain a perspective of what working for the family would be like. The trial week would also help give the parents a chance to see how you interact with the children and how the children interact with you.
To learn more about interviewing with a family and a trial week, read “A Guide to Finding the Right Family Fit” which includes discussion about the interviewing process and what actions to take if working for a particular family that is not the right fit anymore.
Chemistry with the Family
In addition to connection with the children, you also need to have a strong and compatible relationship with the parents and family as a whole. Open communication is extremely important and in the best interest of both the children and you. A strong connection is important to create strong communication. During the interviewing process, you should ask questions about the family and their past nannies. How they speak about past child care providers is a key indicator of what they will expect from you as well as how you should expect to be perceived and treated. Also, consider how comfortable you would be when working in their home or when telling them about their children’s behavior, both good and bad. Do the parents seem open to communication? Are they easy to talk to and available to talk? Do they talk down to you or talk to you as an equal?
Also, do the values of the parents align with your values? In order to have a good working relationship, find out and be sure to ask about what factors are most important to them, as parents. Do those values align with your own?
Note if the household situation meets your needs. Divorced parents, inconsistent work schedules, extended family needs, and other situational challenges may exist. Be sure to dig in to those and determine if they are workable for you.
For more information about having chemistry or a connection with a family, check out Morningside Nannies, “Choosing the Right Family.”
Role in the Family
Before accepting a nanny job, it is also vital to understand the role you will play within their family. Nannies can be viewed in different ways by different families. Some serve a role more as employees, or babysitters, or full members of the family. Also, some positions are shorter term (1-2 years) and some are viewed as long term (18 years +). Given your own situation, how do you want to fit in to the family?
Another item to consider is how your voice will be perceived by both parents and children. Will your perspective and experience be thoughtfully heard when trying to solve problems? Will they rely on you to determine a solution or work with you as a team to solve the problem? Are they supportive or dismissive?
For more insights and perspective on becoming a nanny and a nanny’s role in the family, read, “What You Need to Know to Become a Nanny.”
Do the tasks you are told to do align with your nanny boundaries? For many nannies, there is more to their work than just caring for the children. You need to consider what jobs you would be willing to do and whether or not you would do additional tasks if asked.
A common task of the nanny is preparing food and cooking meals. Would you be comfortable preparing multiple meals for the children throughout the day or doing the family’s grocery shopping? Would you be comfortable with driving the children around? Would you mind cleaning the home and especially the areas where the children sleep and play? Although all of these may not be included in a normal nanny position, one or more of them are quite common in addition to taking care of children. Be sure to ask specific questions surrounding additional duties during the interview. It is important to know exactly what the family will require of you and what they believe the position entails.
Consider the type of discipline the family utilizes for different situations. Is this something you can support and feel comfortable with? Are there other methods the family is willing to consider? During the interview, having a discussion about discipline techniques is important. Be sure to ask about how they discipline their children and how they would react in certain situation such as when a child talks back, does not follow instructions, or has trouble interacting with other children. After learning about how they discipline their children, ask what they expect of you and if it aligns with you values.
One of the biggest reasons that families hire a nanny over sending their child to daycare or to another type of childcare provider is because having a nanny creates continuity and consistency in parenting styles, which includes discipline.
To learn more, read, “Nannies: Ask yourself these questions to know if a family is right for you.”