Well done! You’ve hired a new childcarer. Finding a nanny, au pair or other child caregiver whose personality matches your family is no easy task. You’ve done the hard work, including background checks, securing recommendations, and negotiating pay. You’ve also probably spent some time going over the rules and routine of your home. Now it’s time to get back to your job — you know, your “real” one that pays the bills! So whether you are feeling teary about leaving the kids or running out the door in the morning, coffee in hand, here are a few things you’ll want to go over with your child caregiver in the first few days:
Numbers & information
- Make sure you have your child caregiver personal info on file – address, telephone number, email – and provide information for all members of your family as well (work and mobile phone numbers). Work out the best way to reach each other during the day or in case of an emergency. For your paperwork, you might need their driver’s licence number.
- Write down telephone numbers for your doctor, school, and a close friend, family member or neighbour, placed on the fridge or somewhere else that’s easy to find.
- Both you and your caregiver should have a copy of the signed contract that you have drawn up together. This should include agreed pay, days and hours for work and any extra things such as agreed housework, cooking, etc. Many parents find it helpful to have a job description attached to the nanny or caregiver’s contract.
- Your caregiver needs a set of house keys as well as all the access codes for school, nursery, community centre or indoor play centre that your family uses if you want her to take the little ones there.
- Make sure the caregiver knows how to operate the central heating system, TV, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and any other useful household appliances. If you expect them to be answering the phone a lot or taking messages, make sure they are prepared. If your house is childproofed, demonstrate how your child safety gates operate.
- Explain which dishes and kitchenware are OK to use for cooking.
Safety & health
- Remind him or her of any allergies or food concerns your children may have – are there any foods that are off limits? For children with serious allergies, put food away that would be harmful to them.
- Show them where anti-histamines, inhalers, Epi Pens or any other emergency allergy or asthma medicine is located.
- Go over any medications that the children may need, where to find it and dosage requirements. A good idea might be to outline this on a document you can stick inside the medicine cabinet or on the fridge.
- Make sure that medication is not out of date and that you have a fully stocked First Aid kit.
- Go over your children’s bath-time rituals (which shampoo and soap to use) and remind the caregiver about safety concerns (i.e. children 6 years or younger should not be left alone in the bath).
- If changing nappies, tell the caregiver how often they should be changing, and which ointments to use on the baby’s bottom (if any). If you are potty training, explain the routine again.
- Let the caregiver know where it’s safe for the kids to play outside (if they can play unattended anywhere), the rules for watching them on the swings, trampoline or on their bikes and scooters.
- If your caregiver will be driving your children, make sure that you have test driven with him or her and showed them all the car’s key features – if it has a keyless ignition, computerized dashboard or GPS, make sure the caregiver is comfortable with it before you leave them in the driving seat. If you have car seats, demonstrate how these work. You can also pre-programme your GPS with the addresses of school, doctor’s office, dance lessons, football practice and the childrens’ best friends’ houses. It may seem like a pain at the time, but it’s far easier than shouting directions over the phone while you are at work.
- Communicate any rules that you expect them to follow while driving – texting or talking on the mobile phone while driving is unacceptable for anyone, least of all someone driving children!
- Your car insurance policy should be updated to cover your caregiver, if you expect them to drive your car.
The day’s events, times & house rules
- For the first week, write down in detail how and when things happen, until you get into a routine – school timetable, naps, lessons and practices, after-school activities, meals, snacks and homework. Make sure that you are clear on the timing of things, such as when to be outside to catch the bus, how long it may take on a busy morning to drive to school and how long it realistically takes your child to get dressed and to eat breakfast. As a general rule, before you leave the house in the morning, you might want to leave a written schedule of the day’s events, especially if there are changes to the routine.
- Explain the rules for TV and computer time in your house.
- Consider making a calendar for both of you to refer to, and encourage the caregiver to add to it as he or she gets more comfortable. You should arrange regular chats with your nanny to go over any concerns that arise on the job.
Spread the word
- Alert your child’s school, your neighbours and friends, of your new nanny and his or her full name. Make some friendly introductions for him or her at the school gate, to smooth their way. Many schools will not let anyone else pick up your child unless you have already alerted them or introduced the new caregiver to the teacher.