By Angelique Dormehl – Good Night Consultant
Being a great nanny requires more than having a truck load of patience and a genuine love for children. Nannies work long hours in homes and most often work without supervision from parents. Parents depend on their nannies to keep their children safe and well-cared for and to provide the highest level of childcar, and in some cases, nannies are required to run and clean the household too.
Besides your nanny being, friendly, loving, kind, honest, punctual, flexible, reliable, pro-active, clear criminal record and creative, your nanny should also have the following characteristics to make her a GREAT NANNY. “Someone who likes children” is just not enough:
- A great nanny loves the company of children and she should have the patience of a saint. Nannies spend a majority of their day with little to no adult interaction or supervision and must truly enjoy spending their time with children and babies. The caregivers for our children influence the children in their care and must acknowledge the importance of the role they play in the lives of the children, babies and us as parents. A great nanny will always be committed in making a positive difference in the lives of the children for whom they care for.
2. A great nanny is able to form a connection with children from the word “GO”. Nannies naturally make connections with children. So always make sure your children/babies are present when interviewing nannies for a position, you are trying to find your perfect nanny. You will immediately know when it’s the right one. She will interact and acknowledge the children even in the interview. If she can handle an interview with children and babies present, she can handle any situation.
3. A great nanny is safety conscious. Nannies are solely responsible for the safety of children and babies in their care while on duty. Most childhood incidents happen to children under the age of 5 and these accidents happen at home, most of these accidents are preventable. So, help your nanny help you. That means making sure your nanny has everything she needs, not only to prevent an accident from happening but also to be able to handle any situation when it happens. We as parents tend to forget that at the end of the day, it is our responsibility to empower our nanny to fulfill her duties to the best of her abilities with the tools we provide her with. It is not the nanny’s responsibility to supply a first aid kit or check the batteries for the thermometer; yes, it is her responsibility to inform you when something is missing or has been used up, but always make sure that all the basics are in place. Always keep an easy-to-access list of emergency numbers.
Make sure to include your medical aid info, including the Poison control center number, the closest hospital, your pediatrician, GP, security company, neighbours and family members to contact whenever there is an emergency, make sure these numbers are visible to her on a fridge. Your nanny should also know at least one person’s number from memory, as well as your address. I have come to realize that 50% of the time, the nannies do not know the physical address of their employers and this is crucial in any emergency situation. Also have a basic first-aid kit readily available in the home (not locked up, this will not help in an emergency situation) and make sure your nanny knows the basics of CPR & choking as well as how to use a thermometer. Believe me when I say, your nanny CAN save a life!A great nanny understands the importance of routines, whether it is sleep, feed or play routines. Regular routines and sleep schedules are important, just as important as getting your nanny on-board with your routines. Make sure to explain and discuss all routines with your nanny before she is left on her own. Perhaps make her part of the process. In a lot of instances I have noticed that we assume that the nanny knows everything… Yes, she might have done a course and worked in other employers’ homes. But have you explained to her your children’s routines, how you would like your babies to be put down for sleep, have you taken the time to see how you would like things to be done?
4. Lastly a great nanny must be able to communicate honestly and openly with her employer. We as parents need to keep the communication lines open with our nannies. That means considering your nanny’s suggestions, thought, ideas as well as concerns. It also means being honest with your nanny if you notice her handling a situation inappropriately or that makes you feel uncomfortable.
5. The last tip is on how to be a great employer. Always remember that overloading your nanny with household tasks can result in her feeling run-down and unable to dedicate her time and energy to the needs of your children and babies. Ensure your nanny has enough rest time after work and over weekends. Let her get enough sleep! We all know the importance of sleep.
Always remember that a nanny is not just an employee. Your nanny is practically part of your family, it’s like having a “second mom” or big sister in the house. If you want her to be part of the family, treat her like part of your family. They will be looking after your most precious…. By treating your nanny like part of your family, you will have the reward of happy, safe, stimulated children and babies. Let her know she is important. She needs to hear it from you!