As parents today, we are lucky that there are now so many books, expert articles and personal stories available online with detailed parenting advice. But it also means we’re exposed to many more choices and approaches to parenting than ever before.
As a newbie parent, how do you set expectations and agree on best outcomes with caregivers who are more experienced than you without offending them?
Here are a few tips that can help:
1. Hire a caregiver who is right for you
Okay, so this sounds obvious. But you’d be surprised at how many people hire nannies or babysitters they feel uncomfortable correcting. Or, those they wouldn’t want their kids to emulate. But here’s the thing, your nanny will likely spend as much time with your kids as you do. So make sure you hire someone you respect and you know will repect you — and with whom you can imagine sharing ideas. Ask specific questions during the interviews and reference checks that would allow her to explain how she works best with families. Ask things like “Tell me about a time when you had a different parenting philosophy than a parent – and what did you do?” and “When do you check-in with a family about activities you want to do?”
When hiring a nanny, make sure you consider the traits that are important for you and your family. These include the right personality, good organization and time management skills and a passion for play and education.
2. Agree on common objectives
It’s natural that each caregiver will have their own style, and it’s important to give them room to explore ideas and activities that fit with their own personality and experience. Sure, you both want the kids to be healthy, happy and safe. But maybe you are focused on raising socially responsible children. Or, perhaps, you want to avoid gender-specific toys and comments. Make sure you explain what these ideas mean to you. If you make sure you agree on common goals, you can differ on approach and then revisit whether something is working or not working together.
3. Develop ideas together
Carving out time to casually work through ideas together such as foods to experiment with, sleep schedules, outdoor or indoor activities, or which books to read with your child, you will naturally form a good working relationship. If you both feel that you are working together and not separately, you’ll feel more comfortable raising issues with each other openly and will have thoughtful discussions that lead to the best outcomes. Talking about these things once a month is reasonable and won’t come across as micro-managing your nanny. You need to make sure she feels that you trust her, and trust her decisions.
4. Create time to have open conversations
As the parent, you are the ultimate decision-maker, but it’s important to respect the opinion of your nanny. Whether it’s when she arrives in the morning, when you come home from work, a phone call during “nap,” or a weekly coffee date, create time when the kids are relatively calm and she knows she can bounce ideas off of you. This can be when she tells you she wants to take them on a day-trip, or you share a parenting article and discuss how you want to move forward putting these tips into action. Seek each other’s opinion and approach each topic like you are in this together – and she is a respected, trusted parenting-partner in your family.
5. Learn from each other
“I tried quinoa over the weekend and the kids loved it!” When working every day with a nanny, you will both have hits and misses with the kids, and can learn from each other along the way. It can be healthy foods to try, discipline plans, or just a normal “fail” you wouldn’t want the child to experience again like “Steer clear of the lion at the zoo. It terrified the baby!”
Do you feel that you and your caregiver are on the same page? What has or hasn’t worked for you?