Empowering Families and Nannies: The Art of Negotiating New Tasks
When a nanny is first welcomed into a family, a bond is formed based on trust, caring, and shared goals. The nanny agreement details the tasks and duties the nanny will complete while working with the family, along with the family's expectations and responsibilities as an employer.
Parenting is an ever-changing journey, and a nanny's position is no exception! As the children grow, so do the family's needs, and it is natural for nannies' activities and responsibilities to evolve to meet new demands, but how do you approach your nanny or nanny family to discuss and agree on new tasks?
Fear not! As your trusted Nanny Agency, we are here to walk you through the process of negotiation and agreement on new tasks while creating a positive experience for everyone included. Here are a few things to consider:
Understanding the Essence of the Nanny’s Role
A nanny is more than just a caregiver who looks after the children. Nannies are parents' and children's guides, companions, confidantes, and sources of confidence and dependence.
The original nanny agreement lays the groundwork for the partnership, but just as children develop and grow, so do nanny-family relationships. What was expected and appropriate in infancy will need to be modified as the child grows into a curious learner, an active explorer, or an aspiring scientist.
Recognizing the changes in the nanny's role is the first step towards accepting new tasks that correspond with the child's development and the family's new needs.
Recognizing the Changing Needs of the Family
First, identify changes that might prompt the need for new tasks. For example, have the kids started attending school? Do they require aid with their homework? Is the family's schedule getting busier? Is the family in need of assistance with meal preparation or transportation to and from school?
After identifying these needs, analyze which tasks make sense for the nanny to include in their daily routine by considering their strengths and weaknesses, current schedule, and available free time within the workday.
As a nanny, you can identify these tasks too! But before volunteering to add more responsibilities to your list, discuss with the family and agree on the terms. Proactive nannies are highly appreciated; however, it is important to enlist your family's feedback to ensure a smooth relationship.
Make sure that everyone is at ease before assigning or accepting new tasks. If you don't feel comfortable doing or letting someone else do something like the family laundry, for example, suggesting this chore may not be ideal.
Tasks that match the nanny's abilities and interests will not only make them more invested, but will also help with the transition. For example, if your nanny enjoys cooking and exploring new recipes, recommending meal preparation may be a better fit than suggesting it to a nanny with no affinity for cooking or limited abilities in the kitchen.
The goal is to determine if the nanny can easily accomplish the new activities or if they will require additional training or more time to adjust. Be prepared to talk about the support you can offer, as an employer, or the access to resources that you require, as an employee, to succeed and meet the expectations. Whether you are a parent or a nanny, having a plan of action to aid with effective execution creates a sense of trust, competence, and readiness.
The Power of Open Communication
Negotiations start with open dialogue. Set aside a time when everyone is available and free of distractions to discuss expanding your nanny's responsibilities.
Nannies appreciate being involved in the decision-making process, as they can express their desire to collaborate and make suggestions. After all, nannies can provide unique insights into the children's daily routines and needs.
If you are a parent, acknowledge your nanny’s expertise and the contributions they make to the family. If you are a nanny, remember to thank the family for entrusting you with their children's care and thinking about your ability to assist with new chores. Appreciating what you do for one another sets a nice tone to begin a conversation.
Discuss the new or modified responsibilities, explain the reasons behind the changes, and remain open to make or answer questions to ensure a clear understanding. Listen carefully to every suggestion or opinion and share your vision. Open communication makes everyone feel heard, valued and ensures a clear understanding to come to terms.
Setting clear expectations is key to successful negotiations! Clearly define the new tasks and expectations. For example, if the nanny is required to assist with dishwashing, specify the frequency and guidelines. Describe your preferences or volunteer to do a load together to start on the same page.
Maintain an open conversation and allow time for questions and answers, clarifying doubts, and encouraging suggestions. Being on the same page avoids misunderstandings and leads to a successful implementation of the tasks.
Proper Compensation and Benefits
Added responsibilities provide mutual benefits to nannies and families. Busy parents can find a solution to their crowded schedule and nannies can expand their areas of expertise and skills. Discuss adjustments to the compensation package to reflect the new or modified responsibilities.
The increase in compensation must be proportional to the complexity of the tasks. Consider the time it would take the nanny to juggle more responsibilities or if it requires additional training to execute. For example, if your family is welcoming a new baby and the nanny is expected to provide care for the infant and assist with related chores like cleaning and sanitation of bottles, tidying the baby’s room, or doing their laundry, then a higher increase in the rate should be discussed.
Additional benefits may be required depending on the requested tasks. If the nanny needs to use their own vehicle to drive the children to and from school or extracurricular activities, mileage reimbursement should be paid at the legal rate. Proper compensation is key for nannies to feel valued and remain long-term with their nanny families.
Agreeing to New Terms
Do not agree on new tasks immediately. Accepting duties without a thorough grasp of the assumed responsibilities may cause discomfort and strain on an effective nanny-family relationship. When in doubt, try setting up a trial period to confirm that both nanny and family are aligned in their respective expectations. Use this time to verify that everything is going as planned or to identify potential struggles and address them.
When negotiating the terms, talk about the mutual benefits and align tasks and compensation or offer additional benefits to make it attractive. Take our infant care example into consideration and assume the nanny is also required to provide overnight care a few nights a week for the first three months. In addition to a raise in the hourly rate, a great idea to make it more appealing is to offer a paid half-day-off every week for the nanny to rest and recover.
If no trial period is required or everyone understands and agrees to the new obligations and terms, proceed to draft and sign the new terms and include them as an annex to the nanny agreement. Here is a useful template to assist with this step. This phase is critical for maintaining transparency and confidence in your employer-employee relationship, as well as for strengthening your nanny-family bond.
Gradual Integration and Boundaries
There is a learning curve when taking over new tasks! Changes take time to implement, therefore it is preferable to introduce them gradually.
Smoothly integrate tasks into the daily routine to ensure accuracy. For example, if the nanny is required to faciliate a new school drop-off, start by driving them with the nanny as a co-pilot so they can become comfortable with the route and understand what to do during drop-off and pick-up. After this, switch places and let the nanny drive a couple of times until everyone is comfortable and ready to carry this task independently.
Discuss and prioritize the tasks, then agree on a completion deadline or schedule. This step aids the nanny's planning and time management, so be explicit about how frequently or when the activities are anticipated to be accomplished. However, be aware! Expecting to complete too many responsibilities at once can overwhelm or weary the nanny and the children's development and well-being should remain their main priority!
Flexibility and Feedback
As mentioned before, getting used to new responsibilities can take some time. The family and nanny should be receptive to feedback and open to making adjustments. Working together to overcome obstacles will strengthen the nanny-family bond.
As an employer, it is important to provide positive or critical feedback from the start to make your nanny aware of any changes and allow them to swiftly make adjustments. When feedback is not provided, it may indicate that everything is working as planned and no modifications are required.
If you are a nanny, be flexible and open to recommendations, or make suggestions and discuss the necessary adjustments to ensure that the family's expectations are satisfied. Your adaptability and ability to discover creative and better solutions to potential problems is acknowledged and appreciated.
Most employees are motivated to do a good job when they get recognition. Employers, on the other hand, appreciate knowing they are the best boss ever! So just say it!
Tell your nanny how much you appreciate them! Thank them for being willing to take on more tasks and emphasize how great they are doing. Show appreciation by giving verbal or written praise, small gifts like flowers or treats, children's projects made just for them, gift cards to their favorite stores, or even a paid day off!
Nannies can show appreciation to their nanny family too! Thank the family for trusting your abilities and show how grateful you are with small gestures like leaving notes and tips about things they need to know, making them a quick breakfast if they are running late for work, or making a special dessert or treat for the family to enjoy after dinner. Any extra thing you do for your family that shows you have their back and are there for them is a great way to show your appreciation.
The nanny-family relationship is built on trust, collaboration, and shared growth in the ever-evolving world of parenting and caregiving. This evolution relies on open communication to discuss and agree on new tasks that fit children's developmental stages and changing schedules.
Families and nannies can smoothly transition to new responsibilities by understanding their roles and needs, assessing their compatibility, and setting clear expectations. Your bond grows through mutual understanding, flexibility, and expressions of appreciation. After all, the main objective of your dynamic duo is to provide the best care and support for the children.
At The STEM Nanny Company, we emphasize the power of communication as a way to help families and nannies navigate their journey to ensure a positive experience!
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