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  • How To: Nanny Contract

    3 Tips to starting your relationship with your child’s new caregiver off on the right foot.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    For many parents, the task of simply finding a caregiver for their precious bundles can be overwhelming. But once you’ve managed to find someone, it’s important to focus on creating a successful employer/employee relationship that will set you both up for success. Here are a few things you should be thinking about, and some tips to help you establish the right relationship from day one.

    1. Do you have a work agreement? It’s not too late, if the answer is no. You can still create an agreement that memorializes all of your intentions/needs/duties in a clear easy-to-refer-back-to document. Keep in mind that the nanny you’ve hired has likely worked for other families, and, as you know, every family does things differently. Help her out by explaining your daily routines, your parenting philosophy, religious tenants etc., if you haven’t done so already. Remember to ask whether she had issues at previous jobs that she wished she’d been able to talk about with those employers, so you can avoid any of the same pitfalls. Spelling things out enables and empowers both you and your nanny BEFORE any issues arise (and as a parent, you know that with kids involved, there will always be issues that arise). In fact, you may want to schedule quarterly or monthly ‘check-in’ meetings, or at the very least build in an annual review, so you both have the opportunity to share your thoughts on how you feel everything is going or if there are new changes to consider.

    Don’t feel like you need to muddle through creating a document from scratch; there are a number of sites with templates and tools to help you both communicate what is right for each of you, and especially for your children. You can check out a few here, here and here.

    2. Remember that the nanny you employ is your employee. Think about how you are or want to be treated by your employer when you consider vacation days, sick days, bonuses etc. (Note that in NYC, you are required to give your domestic worker employee 2 sick days and 3 rest days). Not only do you have legal obligations as an employer, but you also have the opportunity to show your nanny that you respect her and want to treat her accordingly. Have you considered or already discussed paying your nanny ‘on-the-books,’ providing healthcare, or workers compensation? Now is the time to sit down and discuss these things with her, or do some research to explore your options. She may or may not be familiar with NY law, and/or may have additional insight to share with you. To help you see where NY stands, you can find specific state requirements here.

    3. Pay fairly and cover reasonable costs. Whether you’ve already decided on how much you will be paying your nanny or you are still negotiating, remember that not only should you factor in an hourly or weekly rate, but an overtime or additional hours rate. Also include any transportation costs both during regular working hours and if you ask her to stay late or babysit on a night she does not typically work for you. Rates fluctuate depending on your job description, the number and age of your children, and any additional non-childcare related responsibilities you’ve agreed to. There are numerous ways to find out about going rates for other families in situations similar to yours: parent listservs are a good crowdsourcing go-to, and every neighborhood has a least one. Be sure to ask around because a nanny that finds she isn’t being paid as well as her colleagues is likely to feel unappreciated. You can also consider using a living wage calculator to determine what she would need to earn in order to support her or a family.

    We all hope that the people who care for our children feel like a member of the family, but at the end of the day we have to remember and respect that working for your family is your caregiver’s job, no matter how happy she is to work for an amazing family like yours.

    For more tips and resources, please check out these guides at HireOurNanny.org.

    This article is by Alix Ford, courtesy of Well Rounded NY. Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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  • Dear Nanny

    Sometimes you actually do get to pick your family. Jessica reflects on one of the most meaningful relationships in her life.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    Dear Nanny,

    I met you just a few days before my baby came. I’d never interviewed a nanny before, and I had no idea what to ask you. I read every article, and printed three pages of questions I’d found on the internet. But I didn’t ask a single one. Instead, I rubbed my belly and tried to imagine the baby that would soon be on the outside — what life would look like in a week, in three weeks, and in three months when it was time for me to go back to work. It just looked murky and abstract.

    I interviewed two other nannies, mostly because I thought I was supposed to. And I couldn’t picture leaving my baby with any of you. But I knew I was going back to work, and although I didn’t know much about motherhood, I had heard that leaving a three-month baby home alone wasn’t an option. So I trusted the moms whose children you had already raised, and I hired you.

    A week before I was due back at the office, you arrived at my door. I handed over detailed notes about everything the universe had so far revealed about my baby. I showed you how bouncing on the exercise ball calmed her, and how she’d only finish the bottle if you tilted it just so. I lectured you on her likes and dislikes, I quizzed you on her daily routine, and I made you swear up and down and back and forth that you would do everything JUST like I did it. Because after all, I was the expert. Then I cried when I left for work, just 12 weeks after my baby was born.

    Those first few weeks, and even months, were incredibly difficult. Each day, I second-guessed my decision to go back to work. I wondered if I’d made a huge mistake, if I was outsourcing motherhood to you. You were a relative stranger, and you were raising my baby! Would she grow up feeling abandoned by me? Or unloved? Would she forever blame me for leaving her in someone else’s care for the better part of her days?

    But as the weeks and months wore on, I watched her melt into your warm embrace each morning. I heard the sweet giggles you shared while I got ready for work, and witnessed the knowing glances you exchanged at the end of the day. It turned out that hiring a nanny didn’t mean she was losing me. It meant she was gaining you.

    Thank you for letting me have the milestones — I know she first rolled over under your watchful eyes. But you didn’t tell me, and you shared my excitement on that Monday morning when I regaled you with stories of baby’s incredible feats.

    Thank you for letting me take the credit — while I’m at work all day, you patiently teach all those “please” and “thank-you”s that impress all the mommies at the playground.

    Thank you for letting me keep my role — she’s never once acted confused about who her mama is, a fear that anyone with a nanny knows well.

    You’ve quietly become the glue that holds us all together. You remind us to buy milk, you surprise us with a home-cooked dinner on those extra-long days, and every so often, you trade in your warm bed for my pull-out couch, so mommy and daddy can have a much-needed date night. Thank you.

    When I was home again on maternity leave with #2, we became a caregiving team. And this time, instead of imparting my alleged baby wisdom upon you, I asked for yours. I willingly handed her over when I couldn’t get her to stop crying, and begged for your advice when something — anything! — seemed wrong. Never once did I tell you how to take care of her. You already knew. You knew it all along.

    You suddenly got sick this past summer, and I was distraught. You, who I once couldn’t imagine in my life, now I couldn’t imagine life without. Suddenly, it was my turn — our turn — to take care of you. And as we nursed you back to health, we realized that aren’t just our nanny, you are our family.

    On your birthday this year, we threw you a surprise party. We invited the children who called you their nanny, the families who you watched over for so many years. All the girls (yes, they were all girls) used familiar sayings (your sayings) and told warm stories about your life before you walked into ours.

    And they were all so amazing, those generations of girls…the kind of girls I hope my girls grow up to be. The kind of girls I know they will be. Because you’re raising them, dear nanny. You’re raising us all.

    This article is by Jessica Pallay courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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