8 Ways to Have a Great Relationship with Your Nanny
Advice for talking to and interacting with nannies.
Ellen Seidman, Contributor
Articles> 8 Ways to Have a Great Relationship with Your Nanny
mom and nanny laughing

I have two loves of my life: My husband and my nanny. She's been with us since my son was born seven years ago, and I do everything I can to let her know how much I adore her. Take the other evening, when I went to an event thrown by a local mom's group. It was "spa night," and we were treated to manis, pedis and massages. We could also make our own bath salts, poured into a little glass jar and tied with a ribbon. I knew right away what I was going to do with mine: I came home and handed it to our nanny. "It's for you, so you can take a relaxing bath -- you deserve it," I said.

Granted, I sure could use a relaxing bath (or twenty) myself. But I'm always trying to make sure our nanny feels cared for. This is the woman who I trust to take care of my kids. She's my partner, my copilot, my wing-woman in parenting. I want to keep her happy -- and I want her to do good by my kids and me, too. And just like having a good relationship with my husband, that takes time and attention. Plenty of other moms I know feel the same -- and have their own smart strategies. Read for yourself about the ways they've built great relationships with their nannies.

  1. Make Expectations Clear From Day One
    "If you want your nanny to help with dinner or do laundry or light cleaning -- and she'll have the time free during the day to do them -- let her know from the start," says Betsy, a mom of one. "You don't just want to spring major new demands on a nanny, because then she'll feel taken advantage of." Some moms refuse to ask their nannies do housework, as tempting as it may be. As Judy, a mom of one, says, "Sure, I'd like some help, but I don't want to send the message that my baby isn't the top priority. She is."

  2. Care -- Really Care -- About Your Nanny
    "I care about my babysitter's mental and physical health as much as I care about my family's," says Denise, a mother of two. "I do it because she's part of my family, and I want her to feel that way. Also, the healthier she is, the better she'll be able to take care of my kids."

  3. Pamper Her
    "My babysitter has been with us since Brodie was 11 months old -- now he's five! -- and I try to help her enjoy herself. You know, like giving her job perks!" says Dani. "I'll tape some of her favorite shows on TiVo so she can watch them when Brodie's asleep, and make sure I have her favorite snacks around." Adds Betsy, "On my nanny's birthday, I give her a personal gift -- like a scarf -- and some cash in an envelope, and I'll have Melinda draw her a card. Really, she's like my child's other mother!" Hedy, a mother of two, goes even further: "I buy my nanny's two kids presents for the holidays. It makes her really happy, too."

  4. Don't Get in Her Way
    "My sitter has raised her own kids, so I generally give her a lot of autonomy," says Kara, a mother of two. "Even if she does some things differently than I do, I figure it worked for her, no harm done. And we always make sure that our kids, who are two and five, know that her word is final when we're not home. This has gotten important now that my oldest is playing more with kids in the neighborhood and asking them to go over, or to go to their house. Whatever Cynthia says goes! It conveys respect and also makes things run more smoothly."

  5. Be Generous
    Most moms give their nannies an end-of-year bonus (sometimes, as much as an extra week's salary), plus an annual pay raise. "I believe really strongly in not nickel-and-diming my sitter," notes Jessica, a mother of two. "If she works an extra half-hour, I'll round up to an hour. If she bought my kids a $6 lunch, I'll reimburse her $10. My friends think I'm crazy, but I see the payoff. She always comes when I need her, and more importantly, she's happy and cheerful and works hard to make our lives better in every way."Learn more about holiday tipping and bonuses for nannies

  6. Pick Your Battles
    "I avoid speaking up about minor stuff that bugs me," says Kara. "Like, my babysitter has a habit of opening the microwave without first pressing 'Stop.' I think it could screw it up and if my husband did it, you'd better believe I'd ask him to stop! But I've held back. My philosophy is that the less I critique and make requests, the more impact it will have when I have an important change I want her to make."

  7. Speak Up About Big Issues
    "If I have to talk with our nanny about something I'm not happy about, I try to get home from work early so we can talk before she leaves, or I'll ask her to come in a few minutes early in the morning," says Joanna, a mom of two. "Leaving notes about biggie things is not okay -- your nanny, and your children, deserve a discussion. If you leave a note, your nanny might feel attacked. It's so easy to read the wrong tone in a note."

  8. Help Her Stay Organized
    "I have a large calendar hanging on the kitchen corkboard where I write down the kids' activities and playdates," says Hedy, a mother of twins. "That way we can remember what's happening when. It keeps us both sane!"

Check out child care near you:
Lafayette, CA
Midland, TX
Denison, TX
Cottondale, AL
Hartford City, IN
Or take a look at some other care options:
Or take a look at some other care options:
Get the right care—
right when you need it.
Get the right care—right when you need it.
Already a member? Sign in
(20) Comments
Kristine G.
Kristine G.
Parents should also demand that the children respect the nanny even when they are around. A lot of children start acting out as soon as parents arrive. If I say no when they the parents are gone it doesnt mean you can do it as soon as they walk in.
May 20, 2015 at 9:48 AM
Margaret H.
Margaret H.
One more thing NEEDS to be addressed!! Parents and their childcare attendants MUST maintain respect for each other in front of the children!!! Anyone caring for a child is an older person and as such should be treated with respect. If you disagree on ANY point, discuss it out of the hearing of the ones who need to be obedient to and respectful of the adults in charge of them. This goes for teenagers too!! Both as responsible caregivers and responsive children. I worked for one family whose father was more of a problem than the kids, and eventually they were all as rude and disrespectful as he is. It was a revolving door for nannies at that house.
November 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM
Ashley C.
Ashley C.
Wonderful advice! I especially loved 7. The wrong tone or understanding can be conveyed in a text or email. If something 'big' happens it's important that the parent speaks directly to the caregiver to avoid confusion. I have had this situation happen to me. The little one and I went out for a lunch date in her stroller. There are restaurants close by but they are in the more expensive range. We decided to walk to a local fast food place (2 miles away). I had already packed the little ones lunch and their wasn't any food to eat for me in the cupboards (besides soup, which is what they normally only have for me to eat). I pick up lunch and we walk back home. The mom texts me later that night (on Halloween) and asks me if I ate out. I told her yes and she began to text me that I had went to a bad area of town and she didn't want me crossing any streets with three lanes. I would like to mention that I am unfamiliar with the place she lives and she has never before indicated to me that she was so close to bad neighborhoods. Her little one and I go for walks all the time but she had never before mentioned that she lived close to bad areas or mapped out where we could or couldn't go. I apologized and told her that making her uncomfortable was the last thing I wanted to do and promised not to go there again. If we would have been able to talk in person, my Halloween would have been more enjoyable and I would have known how she felt better than from what I had to guess from her texts messages.
July 14, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Akum H.
Akum H.
Great article! I especially love emphasizing dialogue between parents and nannies. There's nothing worse then letting something simmer, especially because the kids will pick up on any tenseness!
June 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM
Erica W.
Erica W.
I wish my family I nanny for would read this, esp #5 be generous! sometimes I feel I am treated better by the families I babysit here and there for than the family I am with part time nannying their 3 kids.
June 21, 2014 at 2:56 PM
Sofia F.
Sofia F.
Love this article!! Good for Parents and nannies
May 3, 2014 at 3:54 PM
Katrina M.
Katrina M.
I have been so blessed to have a great working relationship with my employer(s). One family for 10 years! Rocking the youngest to sleep with a bottle and now in the third grade. Each employer (family) is unique and so is the nanny. For example, I would buy a cute outfit every now and again for an infant I cared for. The parents would be delighted I thought of their child when I was not working. Another family was offended and told me to ask permission before doing so. Point being- Communication. The best thing that helped me was having a notebook. I would write the day down the days schedule. Sleeping, feedings, diaper changing, outings, moods etc. Tape in receipts if went to the grocery store or out to frozen yogurt. Even if me, the nanny, was in a rush to leave, or couldn't remember every detail of the day it could easily be reviewed by me or the employer.
December 14, 2013 at 1:49 AM
Cayla R.
Cayla R.
I love this. I think all mothers should read this befofe hiring a nanny. I am currently in a position as a nanny where I feel somewhat neglectected. I don't feel very appreciated. I think I will ask them to read this article. I may be over sensitive, but I do a lot for the family and don't get treated like family of even like an equal. That's why I love nannying! The whole reason I got into this feild was to be a part of family.
November 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Jeanne B.
Jeanne B.
Wow, this is great! I often times feel like I don't give my daughter's babysitter (whom she calls "Nanny") enough. I pay her whatever she asks (she won't accept more, and she doesn't watch my daughter all the time, just at the most 3 times a week for a few hours. But, I still feel as though she is doing a lot for me and should be rewarded. She is a mother of 5, works and still helps me with my daughter. I could NEVER repay her with how much she is appreciated.
July 16, 2013 at 9:39 PM
Angie S.
Angie S.
I just read this article and agree with one of the parents' posts from way earlier. Families can be taken advantage of too... My husband and I are a young couple, new parents, new jobs, new chapter in life and the whole nanny situation was something completely new to us. I tried to do my research- finding online articles about hiring nannies, what nannies typically do, how much to pay, etc. I asked friends who have nannies and of course got several different takes. In the end, my husband and I wanted to be our normal friendly, relaxed selves and make the nanny feel as comfortable as possible, welcome in our home, free to use whatever she might need (as opposed to some of our friends/acquaintances who prefer to maintain a strict boss/employee relationship). I drafted a contract and reviewed it with the nanny who was in agreement. Basically, our child was the main priority (obviously) with light housework in addition and potential travel (for errands, meeting at pediatrician's office for appointments). This particular nanny comes in almost every morning and fixes breakfast for herself though I'm obviously trying to get ready for work and will often have my child on my hip. At times, I have handed over my child so I could get showered and ready, feeling as though I was interrupting the nanny! She frequently reads while nestled in a blanket on the couch, or watches TV or naps (to her credit, she only naps when my child naps). The only housework she does is wash my child's bottles and pick up most of her toys. I've asked that she empty the diaper genie when it's full or wipe down some of the more frequently used toys (just a couple that are frequently used, stood/ sat in and spit up on). She often "forgets" to do these chores. Or, to my surprised dismay, will say that something couldn't be done because she was holding my child or because my child was asleep. Can my child not be placed in her crib or walker momentarily? Does the nanny not know how to move quietly? I started off making extra effort to be nice and friendly to make the nanny feel comfortable. It's getting harder and harder to put on a nice face. My child is safe and cared for (though not educationally entertained or frequently interacted with)- she is frequently allowed to roam around on the floor with her toys while nanny maintains her roost on the couch. My husband is away with schooling and only makes it home for some weekends, so I am basically a single mom for the time being, and a busy health care professional. I have PLENTY to do after my baby goes to sleep but I have to set it aside to complete house chores that the nanny should have done and could easily have done. Her daily reports include my child taking 1-,2- and sometimes 3-hour naps during the day. This irritates me because I see that as time that much could have been done around the house. Or at least SOME things. She views this as extra reading time. I will admit, I am not a natural in the boss/leader role when it comes to the nanny. I don't want to hurt her feelings and that leads to me stifling a lot of things and being very resentful. She has done nothing above and beyond since the day she started! I wish I was exaggerating. My husband and I are very disappointed in our first nanny experience and are actively seeking another. This nanny is a very sweet person but is seriously lacking in the nanny department, though she boasted several years' experience, a near perfect punctuality record (has been late for me so many times, I need more than my two hands to count...), and has worked with several families and done such "great" things with the children of those families. I can't even get her to make the transition from giving my child only breastmilk to giving her baby food along with the breastmilk. She frequently forgets the food, actually stating that "the transition is so hard to make." I feel that as usual, my kindness has been taken for a weakness and this nanny, though sweet personality, is doing as little as she can get away with. And in that situation, it's hard to speak up about how much I "appreciate" her. I don't want to be the harsh, mean boss but when I politely remind her that she should "empty the full diaper genie" or "wipe down the toys," it is either done once and not again or not done with some excuse as to why it wasn't done. I couldn't accept this nanny as part of the family at this point because there is just too much resentment. And my husband and I often discuss how awkward it would be to reprimand the nanny because this is the person we're leaving with our child and we wouldn't want an angry person keeping our child (crazy, I know, but this is how we think). She seems to have forgotten the contract and is not responding to nice reminders, so.... looking for another one. This has been a lesson learned.
July 10, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Virginia L.
Virginia L.
Great article! Martha C. is right on point.

Parents should read this before hiring a nanny, especially if they have never had a nanny before. Often the nanny has more experience than the parents. Even though its not exactly the same we nannies pour our hearts and souls into caring for children. Their safety, health, and happiness are our priorities. And, yes, it absolutely hurts to be under appreciated, to feel as if when the parent walks in you aren't welcome any longer.

As a nanny, I fall in love with every child I care for, but I have never felt like part of the family. This article describes the ideal relationship between parent and nanny. I hope to find that one day.
June 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Alexandria A.
Alexandria A.
Awesome article!
April 9, 2013 at 1:18 PM
Jamie T.
Jamie T.
I really appreciated this article and some of the comments. I have worked for four different families as a long-term nanny and I took classes in childcare in college. 3 of my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive and the fourth experience was enough to make me want to stop nannying for good. My current employer is incredibly kind, she and her husband are always thanking me and telling me they appreciate my work and it is very hard for me to leave them at the end of this month because I will be moving. My previous employer harassed me, was condescending, underpaid me, micromanaged me, and demanded work from me that I was unable to provide because I was watching her children. I feel that it was my fault for agreeing to take the job even though I knew the pay wasn't enough but I feel that my employer did not treat me with respect even as worked very hard to take care of her beautiful children and keep her house clean. I would urge families looking for nannies to consider whether they really want a nanny or a housekeeper. I have been offered positions which required "light housekeeping" only to find out that the family expected me to wash floors, clean bathrooms, do everyone's laundry from start to finish, shop for groceries, vacuum, and dust. Please do not expect your nanny to do these things while you are paying her the rate to watch your children. Light housekeeping includes picking up the children's play areas and bedrooms, preparing healthy meals and cleaning up after them, and folding laundry or emptying/loading the dishwasher if there is time. I am happy to help the family I currently work for with folding a basket of laundry and I clean the kitchen everyday, but they do not expect me to do these things. They have three children under three and they understand that there are times when keeping the kids safe, happy, fed, and clean is about all I can manage. Be realistic and respectful, understand that your nanny is not a superhero and be grateful that they work hard to teach and care for your children as if they were her own. Nannies can repay this trust and respect by giving their whole attention to child care and not spending all their time on the phone or kindle or plopping the kids down in front of the TV for hours on end. If you are realistic and upfront with your nanny about the duties you wish her to perform, hopefully she will feel that she can be realistic and upfront with what she will be able to accomplish while you are away. I really appreciate what Lillian said, if your nanny goes the extra mile and is able to help you clean up one day, thank her and don't expect her to be able to do it every day, her top priority is making sure your kids receive the best care possible, if it isn't find a new nanny that WILL make your kids the top priority.
March 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Lillian D.
Lillian D.
I am a mother and grandmother,who is currently seeking to be hired as a nanny. I have lovingly cared for my own child, grandchild, an many of my nephews and nieces from kindergarten to university. I take the opportunity to read articles and comments of care providers and families they worked for to get the scoop on what's going on out there. I am however, alarmed and puzzled at the experiences comments, and advises given here, although informative. Having owned and operate a business and have related to workers in various circumstances, I am aware of the challenges associated with worker/employer relationships, but most of all, I believe caregiving, especially where children are concern should be considered and applied at a different level.

When a child is left in the care of a total stanger, there is going to be a level of anxiety on the part of the parents, and also the caregiver. I believe from the outset there should be a clear and un-compromised understanding of what is expected on both sides, if there be any change this should be discussed and agreed upon; inevitably, there are times when situation arises, but none should be taken for granted.

At this point, I must say, am a Caribbean national and of course, we see and do things a bit differently from others; though we respect others and expect the same in return, we are not the kind of people who measures things according to pay. Yes, we do draw the line, but think nothing of washing an employers' un-mentionables if we feel to. I am not here saying caregiver should do the same, but small stuff, we don't make a big deal of. We work because it's a job and if in our opinion, we are being taken for granted or taken advantage of, then I personally will have that discourse with my employer in a respectful way, and if it can't be resolved then we say good-bye.People are people and no two the same, so lets be real, if you are a nanny be a nanny in all true sense, get trained or research what it takes to be a good nanny; and if you'r an employer do not ask your nanny to be a housekeeper and a nanny, the two cannot work, and if your nanny cleans up your mess today, please do not expect her to do the same day after day. She is a nanny and so she should be.
March 6, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.
Great article!!! I just have to say I have the best "familes" most notice when I go the extra mile and that is all I need to keep me motivated to help out (IE unload dishwasher). Sometimes I get a little extra but that's not why I do it. I love the families and the children. I am currently 6 months pregnant and my families have been awesome with flexibility for appts. etc. They even ask how I'm doing and want to see my ultrasound pictures.
February 19, 2013 at 1:39 PM
Stanja P.
Stanja P.
This article has very good advice on how smooth out the kinks before they start! Thanks. Very useful advice.
February 7, 2013 at 3:51 PM
Miah A.
Miah A.
As a Nanny that all sounds really good :) Those ARE the things that make me feel valued and appreciated as a nanny. It's always good to know that you are not only doing your best at what you do but others are noticing and appreciative of you!
November 6, 2012 at 7:12 PM
April M.
April M.
This is WONDERFUL. :) A must read for all nannies and parents. Even the small things go a long way when showing your nanny you care. I love the families ive worked for and will go out of my way to be a rock or hug when needed, and a listener when the parents or kids have had a bad day. Live is a two way street smile and show your appreciation, it goes a long way.
September 28, 2012 at 1:58 PM
Michelle R.
Michelle R.
Wendy R--with all respect(because Im totally not looking for some petty, FB-type situation-LOL)...I dont agree with your assumption that the woman who 'adored' her nanny chose not to indulge her w/ the actual Spa Treatment, but just pawned off the bath salts. She stated that it was some local event, given by a certain group of moms. It may have been an event where it wasnt an option to bring a guest...especially if that nanny wasnt a mother herself(being that it was a local 'Moms Group' event) I feel the writer was genuine about giving her nanny the handmade souvenier(that was intended for herself) as a token of appreciation.
September 27, 2012 at 2:08 AM
Symone' C.
Symone' C.
I love this article !! Simply it stats facts as a sitter/nanny of 10 plus years I find that many of these things if not all of them are true.
July 17, 2012 at 11:52 PM

Leave a Comment

You can post a comment by logging in to your Care.com account or post as a guest.

Success! Your comment is waiting to be approved. It will post soon.
Post another comment
Join free today
Sign up now! It only takes a few minutes.
What best describes you?
Thanks—you're almost there.
Create your login below.