The Nanny Guide: Quality Care and Your Nanny

How to manage and evaluate nannies

nanny playing with girl
Inside The Nanny Guide...

Nannies often become an integral part of a family's household, which is all the more reason to continue the evaluation process as your child's needs change. Schedule regular "performance reviews" with your nanny, similar to the ways you're evaluated regularly at work. These recurring sit downs will lay the foundation for open communication. Here are some concrete review points to consider for your discussion.

  • Punctuality: Does your nanny pick up your kids from school and/or get them to appointments (e.g., music lesson, doctor's visit) on time? If your nanny is live-out, does she arrive on time?
  • Follow through: If your nanny expressed a desire to pursue CPR or child education certifications, has there been follow through?
  • Interaction: Does your nanny interact with your children in a positive and creative way? Does she make an effort to understand/ask about their needs? Does she consider activities that are age-appropriate, and make good judgments regarding the types of out-of-home activities (e.g. park, museum, library) that are suitable for your child?
  • Health: How is your child's cleanliness at the end of the visit? What is the frequency of accidents? Does your nanny pay attention to season-specific health issues like frequent hand washing in the winter to prevent colds, vigilant sunscreen application in summer?
  • Communication: How does your nanny recount the day's events? Is she sufficiently detailed verbally? Does she keep a daily log (which is particularly important to track infant sleep and feeding)? Or does she appear guilty or is vague on the details?
  • Following directions: Does your nanny follow your directions re: discipline, development, and daily routines? Do you feel there's a mismatch in child care philosophy?
  • Your child's response: Does your child seem happy and excited to see your nanny and later recount adventures to you? Or have you noticed negative behavioral changes (e.g. withdrawn, more sensitive) in your child since the nanny started? Observing your child's response to the nanny will provide important information, particularly at the pre-verbal stage.
  • Boundaries/expectations: For nannies or au pairs who perform housekeeping and/or are live-in, do you feel that the previously agreed on duties are being performed, and boundaries being abided by?

Given that nannies often become an important part of a family's life, it's critical to keep communication open via regular evaluation.

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All About the Nanny Contract

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.

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Comments (3)
Photo of Mercedez G.
Mercedez G.
Hi Irene,
One of the challenges of being a Nanny is perserverance. There will be days when the little one is grumpy, the toilet is clogged and your Aunt Mildred just popped over unexpectedly. This is when it's okay to do mellow activities, bake your favorite chocolate chip cookies and call it a day.
Posted: September 19, 2012 at 1:18 PM
Iryna V.
Dear, Irene. I can not imagine why your nanny would behave that way, especially with all the benefits you provide for her. At my job as a nanny I do not have such benefits, and on the 4th of July when I asked for a day off, the kid's dad told me that that was not a reason for a day off. For the last two years I've used 1 sick day, and no personal days. My regular hours of 8-6 change unexpectedly to evenings and late nights, and when I told them that I prefered not to work on Saturday nights, the kid's mom told me that my family and I don't do anything fun anyway. That upset me a lot, and that's why I think that your nanny should be happy to work for your family. You need to talk to her. It is not okay to act that way. Maybe this job is too hard for her, or maybe she would prefer to work part time.
Posted: September 02, 2012 at 1:16 PM
Photo of Irene G.
Irene G.
I couldn't agree more about open communication on both the Parents and the Nanny's part....but doesn't always work. As a corporate manager, I believe the best performance reviews are done consistently throughout the year, not just once. However, despite our best efforts to check in with our Nanny conistently, she blind-sided us recently and called in sick for several days back to back because she was "exhausted" and later said that we had her doing too much around the house. We had agreed up front that she would be responsible for our son's dishes, his laundry and tidying up his room only (he was 2 when she was hired). She took on additional responsibilities around the home, such as Swiffering the floors while he napped and washing our dishes as well. I had said to her she didn't need to do this but she took it on and I always thought it was kind of her. I thanked her at the end of every day and we gave her a Christmas bonus that equalled 2 weeks pay and a mid year bonus. We also take spontaneous trips and we would always give her paid time off PLUS 7 paid holidays AND the week between Christmas and New Years as paid time off. She was great for 1 year, then without warning she claimed exhaustion and would take 2 hour lunch breaks during the middle of the day. My husband works from home and she would use him as backup. Do other Nannies do this??? She also became more and more passive aggressive toward the end. We did not see any of this coming. I really don't know what else we could have done. We had the up front responsibilities in writing, paid time off, paid sick time, open communication . . . while the guidelines here are great to follow, it doesn't mean it will lead to quality care.
Posted: July 29, 2012 at 7:45 PM
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