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Follow this checklist for your nanny’s first day on the job

Jen Geller
Aug. 30, 2018

Once you’ve found the perfect nanny for your family, you know it. It’s an exciting time, and sometimes important tasks can get lost in the mix. It’s easy enough to remember background checks and pay negotiations, but have you explained all the specific rules, like screen time guidelines or housing operations — or how to use your complicated old dishwasher? You can’t be over-prepared when it comes to the care of your children.

Use this checklist to make sure you and your nanny are on the same page before she gets started and over the first few days of work. She’ll thank you for all the specifics when something unexpected pops up. If it helps, print out this page and check items off as you complete them to ensure peace of mind and a successful start to this journey with your new nanny.

Contact and personal information

  • Exchange contact information. This includes things like home address, phone numbers (work and cell) and email for your nanny and for all members of your family. Determine the best way to reach each other during the day or in case of an emergency. For your paperwork, you may need her license number and taxpayer ID number.

  • Make important numbers easy to access. Write down numbers for the pediatrician, school and a close friend, family member or neighbor, and keep them in an easy place to find in case she needs them.

  • Keep signed copies of your nanny contract on hand. You and your nanny should each have a copy of the signed work agreement or nanny contract. This should include the agreed-upon pay, days and hours for work and any extra things, such as agreed-upon housework, cooking, etc.

House rules

  • Make sure the nanny has necessary access. Your nanny needs her own set of the house keys, as well as entry cards or passes to the school, community center or indoor play space that your family uses, if you want her to take the kids there.

  • Explain all housing operations. Make sure the nanny knows how to operate the heat/air conditioning, TV, washing machine, dishwasher and any other household appliances she may need to use. If you expect her to be answering the phone a lot or taking messages, make sure she is aware. If your house is childproofed, demonstrate how toddler safety gates operate.

  • Lay out kitchen rules. Explain which dishes and kitchenware are OK to use if she is going to be doing any cooking.

  • Notify your nanny of expected visitors. Be sure your nanny is aware of any visitors you’re expecting each day. That includes lawn crews, pest control, pool cleaners or any other maintenance workers who may be around the house.

  • Detail all pet care. Does your nanny need to let any pets out to go to the bathroom, walk them or feed them? Is there any weird behavior to look out for, such as digging under or jumping fences or excessive barking? This goes especially for nap time, when you don’t want the kids being woken up by loud animals.

Safety and health

  • Discuss allergies and intolerances. Remind your nanny of any allergies or particular food issues your children may have and whether there are any items of food that are off limits, like super sugary items or your own stash of Rocky Road. For children with serious allergies, put food away that would be harmful them.

  • Be sure medicine is easily accessible. Show her where Benadryl, EpiPens or any other emergency allergy or asthma medicine is located. Go over all dosage requirements. Outline this on a paper you can hang in a visible location.

  • Go over bathing rituals for the kids. Explain things like which shampoo and soap to use, and remind her about safety concerns (i.e., experts advise that children 6 years or younger should not be unattended in a bathtub).

  • Explain the diaper and potty situation. If the nanny is changing diapers, tell her how often she should do it and what ointments to use, if any. If you are potty training, explain the routine again.

  • Set rules for playtime and naptime. Let her know where it's safe for the kids to play outside (if they can play unattended anywhere), and explain the rules for watching them on the swing set, trampoline or on their bikes. If the kids have set quiet time or naptime, let the nanny know so she can keep them on schedule.

Transportation

  • Explain all the specifics of your vehicle. If your nanny will be driving your kids, address specifics pertaining to your car. If it has a keyless ignition, computerized dashboard or GPS, make sure she is comfortable with it before you walk out the door. If you have car seats, show her how they operate. A nice thing to do is to program your GPS with the addresses of school, the doctor's office, dance class, soccer practice and the kids' best friends' homes. It may seem like a pain, but it's easier than shouting directions over the phone while you’re at work.

  • Decide how gas will be paid for. If your nanny drives her own vehicle while on the job, you may want to include reimbursement in your nanny contract. If she’s driving your vehicle, make sure your gas tank is filled or provide her with a per diem for expenses.

  • Communicate any rules that pertain to her behind the wheel. Like, for example, texting or talking on the cell phone while driving is unacceptable. It's not only unsafe, but it’s also illegal in most states.

  • Update your auto insurance. Your auto insurance plan should be updated to cover your nanny, if she’s going to be driving your car.

Daily routine

  • Have a written protocol. For the first week, write down protocol until you get into a routine: School schedule, naps, classes and practices, extracurricular activities, meals, snacks and homework. Loop your nanny into the timing of things, such as when to be outside to catch the school bus, how long it may take on a busy morning to drive to school and how long it realistically takes your kid to get dressed and eat breakfast. As a general note, before you leave the house in the morning, you might want to give her a rundown of the day's events, especially if there are changes to the routine.

  • Explain screen time rules. Clearly state rules for phone, TV and computer time in your house, or else your 7-year-old daughter may convince your nanny that she never leaves for school without a full viewing of “Camp Rock 2.”

  • Set social media guidelines. Discuss how you'd like your nanny to handle her social media activity when she's with your children. This includes whether or not you approve of her posting photos, videos or updates about your children.

  • Create a collaborative calendar. Consider making a calendar for her (and you) to refer to and encourage her to add to it as she gets more comfortable. On the calendar, schedule regular check-ins with your nanny to go over any concerns that come up. A collaborative calendar app like TimeTree might be helpful.

Spread the word

  • Let everyone know about your new nanny. Alert your child's school, your building's doorman and friends about your new nanny and give them her name. Most schools will not release your child to someone who is not on an authorized list.

Read next: Difficult conversations to have with your nanny

Lauren Garcia updated this article on Aug. 16, 2018. 

Comments
Jen in Dover, NH
June 12, 2017

We found a perfect Nanny for our kids on care.com. Both my husband and I work from home, so its important that we all have a good relationship. As far as things to put into place the first day we started using an app called Daily Nanny, dailynannyapp.com and its been so helpful with tracking, communicating and keeping all her shifts in there for easy payment!

User
June 12, 2015

A sitter I recently had is not sending my house key back to me. Its been two weeks since an unfortunate dismissal of their services. They will not respond to my text and I've been nothing but polite. Just confused on all of it. Its not really that big of a deal. Just frustrated with how unprofessional their making them selves out to be. Thank you.

I am a college student and a nanny. The kids I watch always come first over school work. The only time I do school is naptime. I am studying Early Childhood Education and hope to be able to open my own daycare center. I am reliable,caring, and attentive to the children. Shame on those nannies who take advantage. It is hard enough for me to find a job in my area because of the size of the town.

User
May 25, 2014

I'm an older nanny. Sometimes I see ads for young nannies. I think it's up to the parent to choose the nanny she or he feels is a good choice for her family. I don't have children of my own, and I feel that this makes me appreciate children more than I would if I had 6 of my own. Some people just enjoy working with children whether they have their own or not, but many people, who have no children of their own, are very good with children.

User
May 25, 2014

As a nanny, I think it is always a good idea to let the nanny know when someone is going to be coming by the home while you are away. That way she or he will know who to expect.

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