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 aspects of the nanny’s schedule and any specific rules, like screen time guidelines, or given them instructions for how everything works — like 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 they get started and over the first few days of work. They’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 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 their 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 they need 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 duties, such as agreed-upon housework, cooking, etc.
- Make sure the nanny has necessary access. Your nanny needs their own set of 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 them 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 they may need to use. If you expect your nanny to be answering the phone a lot or taking messages, make sure they are 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 they are 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 naptime 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 them 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 them 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 them how often they 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 the nanny 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 swingset, trampoline or on their bikes. If the kids have set quiet time or naptime, let the nanny know so they can keep them on schedule.
Free download: Emergency checklist for your nanny
- 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 they are comfortable with it before you walk out the door. If you have car seats, show the nanny 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 their own vehicle while on the job, you may want to include reimbursement in your nanny contract. If the nanny is driving your vehicle, make sure your gas tank is filled or provide them with a per diem for expenses.
- Communicate any rules that pertain 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 they’re going to be driving your car.
- Have a written protocol. For the first week, write down protocol until your nanny gets 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 them 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 their personal social media activity when they’re with your children. This includes whether or not you approve of them posting photos, videos or updates about your children.
- Create a collaborative calendar. Consider making a shared calendar to refer to and encourage them to add to it as they get 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 your nanny’s name. Most schools will not release your child to someone who is not on an authorized list.