We're really excited that you have decided to work together. These are the top tips that our families and nannies have shared with us for a great family-nanny relationship.

Only have 10 seconds?

These three steps will make the biggest difference!

  1. Plan time for a handover at the end of every shift
  2. Have all the adults in a WhatsApp group so that everyone knows what’s been agreed
  3. Sit down all together to discuss boundaries, and show the children that the adults are a united front

Have a little more time?

We’ve got some great in-depth advice on a range of topics!

 

Communication

We think communication is the most important thing in a healthy working relationship. Almost all of the advice we give on any topic comes down to speaking to each other openly, honestly, and regularly.

  • Have a WhatsApp group with both parents

This ensures everyone’s on the same page, and both parents can see any photos and updates! There’s also a record of anything that’s been agreed, so that you can go back and check if you’ve forgotten.

  • Talk about how much communication you would like to have

Would families rather only have essential questions and emergencies, or would they love to see updates through the shift?

  • Reply to messages as quickly as you can – no more than 24 hours

Quick responses are helpful and reassuring for everybody. During working hours we expect the nanny to have a charged phone so that the family can contact them. Outside of working hours, both families and nannies will be getting on with their lives but we recognise that it’s reassuring for everyone to have quick responses, and often important for planning purposes. We think in most cases it’s reasonable to expect a response within a day. Even if you don’t know the answer just yet, it’s really useful for the other person if you can say when you think you might know.

  • Plan for a handover at the end of each shift as part of the paid working hours

You can update each other on any great things that have happened, any behaviour incidents that the nanny has managed, any bumps or bruises or signs of illness, any information given by the school. This helps everybody stay on the same page and give the children as much consistency as possible.

 

What a nanny might be thinking and feeling:

“There’s so much that happens every day, there’s no time to pass it all on as I’m heading out the door, sometimes I remember things when I get home that I should have passed on like a bruise and I worry that the family will think I’m irresponsible for not explaining it. I’d be happy to stay longer to talk through things but then I feel guilty about taking up the family’s time when they’re home.”

What a family can do to help:

  • Tell your nanny if you’d love to get updates throughout the day
  • Factor time to have a handover chat with your nanny into their working hours every day
  • Your nanny might not know everything you want them to pass on so if you have any questions about school, what activities they might have done and the children’s behaviour ask them

What a family might be thinking and feeling:

I really miss my children during the day and I’d really love to see pictures of all the fun they get up to with the nanny but I’m worried the nanny will think I don’t trust them if I check in too much. So much happens in my children’s days and because I don’t pick them up from school I don’t get to chat to their teacher very often, I’d love for my nanny to talk to me about what’s happened during the day when I come home but they always seem like they’re rushing out the door.’

What a nanny can do to help:

  • Ask the parents how much communication they’d like throughout the day. Most would really love to hear what you’re up to but some may find it distracting at work
  • Take time at the end of the day to tell the parents anything of note that’s happened that day. This could include the fun things you did, any behaviour you struggled with and any bumps and bruises the kids got during the day

 

Feedback

Even in the best working relationship there will always be things that could be going better and it’s important to tell each other. If there's nothing you think could be better, tell your nanny or family that!

  • Give each other feedback during the end-of-day handover

The end-of-day handover is a great opportunity for both nanny and family to give each other feedback about how you can best support each other. We think that regular informal feedback keeps any little niggles from building up and helps everyone stay on the same page.

  • Sit down once together once every month for more in-depth feedback

It’s also a great idea to put some time in the diary for nannies and parents to sit down together for some more in-depth feedback every month. This doesn’t have to be anything scary, it can just be a cup of tea at the kitchen table, but it does give everyone the chance to reflect on what’s going really well and if there’s anything that’s not going so well. Planning this chat ahead of time gives both sides a chance to think about what they’d like to discuss, which will help you get the most out of the conversation. Remember, always try to be constructive with the feedback you give, and don’t neglect to talk about the positives as well as what you’d like to change.

 

What a nanny might be thinking and feeling:

“ Even though I get on well with the children, I worry if the family think I’m doing a good job. I only see them for a few minutes at the end of each shift so we never really get a proper chance to talk about how things are going. I have some little questions but I never seen to be able to find a good chance to ask them.”

What a family can do to help:

  • Give your nanny feedback about what you think they’re doing well as often as you can and let them know if there’s something you want them to do differently as soon as it comes up. Otherwise they won’t know what to change and little niggles can turn into bigger problems
  • Have monthly feedback session with your nanny to make sure they feel confident and appreciated and so that they know you’ll tell them if there’s something that’s not going so well

What a family might be thinking and feeling:

“ I have some little worries and some things I would like my nanny to do differently but I don’t know how to talk to them about them. They’re doing a good job generally so I don’t want them to feel unappreciated but I’m worried this might build into bigger issues if we don’t talk about them soon.”

What a nanny can do to help:

  • Use end of day handover to ask for feedback. Parents will really appreciate you being open to feedback and offering them opportunities
  • Set time aside once a month to have a feedback session with the family; this is a great opportunity to give them your feedback but also to really impress them with how ready to improve you are

 

Changing shifts

In any working relationship it’s important to value each other’s time and give plenty of notice if you need to change joint plans. This only becomes more important when children are involved as it’s best to give them as much consistency as possible.

  • Give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel a shift – at least 48 hours

Some flexibility is really useful when plans need to change, and this goes hand-in-hand with consideration for the others involved. Giving as much notice as possible gives everyone time to plan, e.g. families may need to arrange alternative childcare and nannies will need to be offered the hours another time so you’ll both need time to plan this. The minimum notice for cancelling a shift should always be 48 hours.  Many families will pay for a shift that is cancelled with less than 48 hours notice because nannies relies on this role as a primary source of income. Parents coming home earlier than expected should be treated the same way and nannies should still be paid for the time they set aside for the shift.

  • Nannies should still work if they possibly can when ill

It’s a good idea to discuss what would happen if the nanny is too ill to work. We expect nannies to go to work if they possibly can, but that it’s OK to have a film afternoon in these situations, as long as the children are picked up from school and are safe!

  • Let each other know if anyone has an illness that might be dangerous

If anyone thinks they might have something contagious, they should let the others know, and come to an agreement about how to keep everyone safe.

 

What a nanny might be thinking and feeling:

“I feel unwell this morning, I think I’m coming down with a cold, I could go to work but I could really do with some rest and I don’t think I would have the energy to do anything particularly exciting with the children. I don’t know if the family are able to arrange alternative childcare before this afternoon. I think I should probably just go but I don’t want to make the children sick.”

What a family can do to help:

  • Be flexible when your nanny isn’t feeling well, try and strip the responsibilities back to the bare minimum of making sure the children are home safe and supervised
  • Let your nanny know what you would do if they absolutely couldn’t make it in to work. If it’s easy for you to work from home this may enable they to take a day to recover if they need it and if there’s nothing you can arrange they know to do whatever they can to work

What a family might be thinking and feeling:

My nanny called in sick at noon today so I spent my lunch break trying to arrange alternative childcare. I still couldn’t find anything so I had to leave work really early to make sure the children got picked up in time. I understand my nanny’s not feeling very well and might not be up to all of the energetic activities they usually do with the children but I’ve been left in such a tight spot without a nanny today”

What a nanny can do to help

  • Work whenever you possibly can, even if you won’t be able to do everything you normally do with the children, you should still be able to take them home and keep them safe while you’re poorly
  • If you absolutely cannot work let the family know as soon as you think this might be the case so that they have time to make other plans

 

Setting boundaries

Children need as much consistency as possible so it’s really important that there are clear boundaries. Experience has taught us that one of the keys to this is that families and nannies act as a team – a united front.

  • Sit down all together and discuss with the children that the nanny is in charge and what the boundaries are

At the start of the arrangement, it’s important for the parents and nanny to establish the nanny’s authority which will empower them to keep the children safe when under their care. Having a conversation with all the adults (parents and nanny) and children together, where the parents can explain to the children that the nanny is in charge when they’re around demonstrates to the kids that the adults are a united front, and helps create authority for the nanny early on.

  • If there is anything that you need the other adults to back you up on, let them know

If you’ve told the children they can or can’t do something tell the other adults so they don’t accidentally contradict you. It’s best to do this in a WhatsApp group with the parents and nanny or mention it during end-of-shift handover. This is particularly important where there have been any safety and behaviour issues.

  • Make sure everyone knows the rules – adults and children!

You won’t be able to cover every eventuality, but it’s a good idea to talk about some common situations where children might try to push the boundaries, and what the nanny should do in those situations. This will help them to be consistent with the family’s normal rules and use their judgement in new situations.

  • Prepare for the children’s behaviour to get a bit more challenging after the first couple of weeks

It’s totally normal for there to be a honeymoon period at the beginning where the children are on their best behaviour, and equally it is totally normal for children to test the boundaries with a new adult. This helps them to feel safe.

 

What a nanny might be thinking and feeling:

The children don’t always listen to me. I’m concerned that when the children don’t listen to me I struggle to keep them under control and keep them safe and it makes me feel unsure of myself and stressed that I won’t be able to get the things done that I need to get done. I worry that I’m doing the wrong thing if I put consequences in place, and am not sure what sort of consequences the parents would be OK with me using. I don’t want to be too soft or too harsh!”

What a family can do to help:

  • Make sure to allow some time before the nanny leaves for a handover about the day
  • Reinforce the nanny’s authority to the children wherever possible, e.g. when X is here, it’s their job to look after you and keep you safe so they are in charge
  • Help to calibrate the nanny to your way of doing things, by giving examples of issues that might arise and what you would do in those situations, e.g. if they don’t switch the TV off when asked, there will only be time for one game before bed

What a family might be thinking and feeling

“I don’t always know the full story of what’s happened that day, and so may inadvertently undermine the nanny if I just hear one side from my children. I worry that the nanny isn’t consistent with the boundaries that I put in place and that might mean that homework doesn’t get done.”

What nannies can do to help:

  • At the end of every day, spend a few minutes going through what happened. Include all the great things and be sure to mention any behaviour issues, as well as how you dealt with them. Be open to feedback on this and adjusting how you do things
  • Remember that your first responsibility is to keep the children safe, not whether they like you. If you’re consistent with boundaries, they will trust you, and when they trust you, you’ll be able to develop a great relationship
  • Look for the root cause of any behaviour – all behaviour is a form of communication so ask: What are they trying to tell me by acting like this? You’ll be able to deal with any issues earlier and earlier. – Say you are cooking and little Bobby is constantly under your feet and making it dangerous, instead of telling him to sit over there with his toys where it’s safe, think about why he is doing that. Does he want to make sure you don’t forget about him? Try telling him a story with himself as the main character!

 

Responsibilities

We know that every family is unique and has different needs for their nanny so we leave the responsibilities of the role a little bit open. Families and nannies can adapt the role as much as they like as long as you’re both happy with any changes.

  • The main responsibility of this role is to pick up the children safely and on time

We all remember a time when someone was late to pick us up and how it made us feel. Children don’t go to a logical or reasonable explanation like “Oh they must just be stuck in traffic”. Not only will children think they’ve been forgotten about and that no one cares about them, they may even try to make their own way home and run into danger. Because of this nannies should always err on the side of being early. Nannies aren't paid extra for being early as making sure you're there on time is the most important part of your role.

  • Focus on building nanny-child relationship for the first couple of weeks

We think the first couple of weeks are a really important time for nannies to build relationships with the children so we recommend limiting other responsibilities first to create time and space for them to bond.

  • Mutually agree any additional responsibilities and revisit these often

All of our nannies are expected to supervise homework, make simple meals and tidy up after each activity but once the nanny has settled in there may be some other things that they could do to help out! Some of our nannies are experts in a subject area and would love to do some extra tutoring, some are keen cooks who challenge themselves to come up with new recipes, and some are more than happy to do some extra cleaning. The best thing to do is to talk about what else could or should be included in the role, maybe at your first monthly check in, and mutually agree any additional responsibilities. Make sure to think about what it’s really possible to accomplish in the working hours alongside the childcare though, and remember that this can be regularly revisited. We recommend that you revisit responsibilities after the first month, and at least every 2 months after that. Remember that things can change on the nanny side and the family side throughout the year, and it's worth checking that the arrangements still suit everyone.

 

What a nanny might be thinking and feeling:

“When I first started I was really focused on getting to know the children so it was really helpful when the parents left prepared meals to take some of pressure off. Now I feel a bit more confident I’d love to make things a bit easier for them by making dinner myself but I’m not sure if they want me to. I’m still not sure exactly what they expect or want me to do.”

What a family can do to help

  • Take the pressure off your nanny at the start by limiting responsibilities
  • Tell your nanny if there’s anything else you’d like them to do, they may be happy to take on some more bits and pieces
  • If your nanny is doing everything you need from them tell them, nannies thrive on positive feedback

What a family might be thinking and feeling:

“I was happy to keep doing some of the things I was really hoping the nanny could do at some point while my nanny was settling in but now I don’t know to ask them to take some of these bits on. I can’t keep doing everything so it’s really important that my nanny takes on a few extra responsibilities but I’m not certain what it’s okay to ask for.”

What a nanny can do to help:

  • Once you feel confident in managing the kids let the family know as they may be waiting to ask you to take on a few more small things
  • If there are any extra responsibilities that you’re happy to take on, tell the family
  • Equally if there is anything outside of the standard nanny role that you don’t feel willing to take on, tell the family as early as you can. Maybe you can negotiate and swap doing a bit of laundry for leaving extra dinner for the parents

Support from us

We are always around to support you. Just email us at care@korukids.co.uk or speak to someone on the phone by calling 02080505678. We'd also love to hear your feedback on this guide and if there are any of your concerns we've missed.

Aside from everything we have all learned at Koru Kids while supporting our nannies and families, our team have a wealth of knowledge about working with children and working with the people who work with children! Our team is made up of former teachers, foster carers, and nannies, and parents with nannies so we are more than prepared to help with any issues you might be having.