Finding and hiring a great nanny is like adding the final piece to an already completed jigsaw puzzle and hoping it fits perfectly. The whole experience can be rather challenging and daunting for both you and your baby or children, especially when often your nanny doesn’t share the same culture, native language or parenting style as you. Once you’ve found a caregiver that you feel comfortable with (it may not always be instantaneous), you need to start thinking about her future with your family and what it takes to be a good employer.
Here are some tips:
1. Read up on the law
As a mum or dad boss, it’s essential to read up on updated federal laws concerning domestic workers so both you and your nanny know where you stand legally at all times. According to the most recent approval of Federal Law No.10 of 2017, domestic workers are entitled to:
- Payment of wages, to be given no later than the 10th of the following month
- 12 hours of rest per day, including 8 hours of consecutive rest
- One day of paid rest every week
- 30 days of annual leave per year
- Medical insurance, provided by employer
- Round-trip tickets to home country every two years
- Decent accommodation and meals, provided by employer
- Working clothes (if required by employer), provided by employer
- Possession of personal documents (e.g. passport, IDs etc)
2. Draw up a contract
Before you employ a nanny, you need to be committed and financially prepared to cover these requirements. If there are any changes to your circumstances, it’s important to notify your nanny so she can make arrangements to find new employment at the earliest.
An employment contract is highly recommended and should be drawn up and signed by both parties before your nanny starts. If you don’t already have one in place with your current nanny, you can still provide one any time and the sooner the better. It makes everything clearer and more organised once in writing, so just in case of any concerns, you or your nanny can revert back and you’ll always be on the same page.
Read more: 'Help! I'm jealous of my baby's nanny'
3. Be professional about paying her salary
As with any profession, a service is provided in exchange for a monthly wage. If you have hired your nanny through an agency then you will pay them and they will arrange your nanny’s salary. If independently, it’s up to you and your nanny how she prefers to be paid. Either pay via cash or wire transfer through a money exchange service like Al Ansari or Western Union, which will send the money directly to her home country for collection by her family. Her salary should be separate to other expenses you provide such as food, toiletries, petty cash, taxis, phone bill, and try to pay at the same time each month; just as you wouldn't want to be paid late each month, neither does she.
4. Strike the right balance
Creating a balance between a personal and professional relationship in such a unique employment situation is typically the biggest challenge faced when hiring domestic staff. A lot of this will alter depending on whether your nanny is live-in or live-out:
- Lower salary
- Extra bedroom
- Additional expenses (food, toiletries etc)
- 24-hour support in case of emergency
- Less privacy
- Less defined boundaries
- Higher salary
- Your nanny can switch off and 'recharge'
- More privacy
- Clearer boundaries
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and your preference depends on a number of factors and either option can work for your family.
Knowing how much to involve your nanny depends from one situation to the next. It’s important to make her feel like a part of your family by asking her to join special occasions, such as birthdays, family dinners and outings, even on family holidays if feasible. It will help her feel valued and she will appreciate being asked. After all, your family is now her family. At the same time, you need to be respectful and considerate when it comes to her working hours, her day/s off and the way you communicate.
If your nanny is live-in, once she has completed her working hours, she should be able to stay in her room if she wants to or use the amenities of your home. At the start of her employment, you should indicate what she can and can’t do and when, if she can stay outside, if she can cook her food in your kitchen, watch the TV or use the gym/swimming pool in your building and so on.
Mealtimes can be a perfect opportunity to strike up conversation with your nanny. It could be about her day with the kids, anything that may be troubling her or something she needs. You may need to instigate and ask the questions but eventually she will open up. However, you should invite her to join your family to eat when you’re home, it shouldn’t be expected. Your nanny may feel more comfortable to eat her own cuisine in peace after a long day of work.
5. Be a good manager
A nanny plays a crucial role in our society and in turn, deserves to be treated as a professional. This means, like in any other employment situation, there is a ‘manager’ and there are ‘staff’. Your role as manager is to ensure your staff member is motivated, incentivised and looked after.
Performance reviews are recommended monthly or quarterly. This requires you to sit down with your nanny and discuss how she is doing in her role - areas for improvement, how she can develop further, what you can do to help and praise her good work. This does not mean you should only communicate at these times, there should still be daily face to face conversation. It’s important that no matter the language barriers or other differences, you speak to your nanny with respect, empathy and honesty.
Every employee needs a leader and somebody they can look up to. If you set a good standard of professionalism between you and your nanny, chances are your relationship will be better for it. Most importantly, your children will benefit too.
6. Provide Training
Regardless of whether your nanny has or hasn’t a background in childcare or previous experience, she will need training to learn and develop the skills needed to do her job properly. Even if she has worked before as a nanny or has children of her own, she would need to learn how to transfer these valuable experiences into professional childcare.
Working with babies and/or children is more difficult and demanding than you may think. If you want a nanny who will engage, take care and supervise your children in a safe, confident and professional manner, you may need to empower her with the skills to be able to do this. There are many nanny-training agencies around, but CloudNine Kids are professional trainers from the UK who run suitable courses in the UAE specifically designed to teach and support nannies including paediatric first aid, behavior management, health and hygiene, home safety, nutrition and much more. Their full program offers 18 hours of comprehensive learning about caring for babies and children at home and includes certification, home assessment and follow-up support.
7. Put on a united front
Children will always test their nanny’s level of authority, which is why you must back her up in front of your children even if you think she’s in the wrong. Your children will learn to respect their nanny based on how you treat her. If you are not happy with what your nanny did, didn’t do or said, you must take her aside or talk to her later when the kids are not around. This is the time to correct or discipline her if necessary. If your child isn’t kind or respectful towards your nanny, it’s possible he or she will treat other children in the same way.
8. Be consistent
Follow through with what you say. If you said you will be home at a certain time or if you know your nanny has a plan or personal agenda, make sure she can attend. If something comes up, give your nanny maximum notice and make it up to her. Just because she works for you, doesn’t mean she comes second. If you want her to put your children first, she also needs to be rewarded and given the opportunities that matter to her.
You don’t have to buy gifts to show your appreciation. If due, bonuses and salary increments after an appraisal or performance review are much more effective, and don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the day!