How To Build a Successful Nanny-Family Relationship

Laureen was a nanny for 10 years before joining a backup care service that is now part of the family. Laureen’s enthusiasm for helping families means she enjoys handling early morning phone calls from parents needing last-minute care. She speaks from experience with great advice for parents on how to build a successful relationship with their nanny. Here is Laureen’s advice.


I’ve heard it said that finding a nanny is almost like finding a third spouse. You want someone you’d be comfortable seeing in your home on a daily basis – no matter what you look like – or what your mood is. You often want them to read your mind, and feel good about leaving them with your children. Clearly, compatibility is key. But so are boundaries.
I spent over ten years being a nanny, employed by several families, but only a few parents made me feel “part of the family” while still enforcing rules and guidelines. Sounds tricky, right? It wasn’t! But I can tell you that the families in which we had the best working relationship (and I felt part of the family) were the families where I had a deeper, better bond with their children.
In an office setting, boundaries are clear (or they should be), and rules are in place. However, it makes a big difference when your employee works in your home and cares for your children. I get that. I actually think rules and boundaries should be similar to what they would be in an office. And this can help make your relationship even better.
Here are 6 ways you can enhance your nanny-family relationship:

1. Don’t hire until you are comfortable with me
I’m talking comfort and trust. This involves extensive reference checking, a phone interview, and a criminal background check, as well as two face-to-face interviews: one with just the parents, and one to see me interacting with your kids.

2. Provide a written contract
Include all your expectations spelled out for me. Therefore, we never have to disagree over what my job entails, which benefits you’ve promised, paid time off, or what hours I was committed to. (Learn how to write a nanny contract >>)

3. Make daily or weekly suggestions for activities
I’d love your ideas for activities to do with the kids – but please don’t micromanage. If we miss a music class because I feel the baby is too tired, trust my judgment. Sometimes it’s nice to acknowledge that my years as a nanny give me lots of hands-on experience with children (often more than new parents have!).

4. Give me positive feedback as often as you can
As you know, it’s a wonderful – but demanding – job. And I’d love to hear that you think I’m the best person (besides yourselves) to take care of your child.

5. Tell me what needs improvement
I am not perfect and I want to learn. So please, whatever I can be doing better – please let me know. If the children are old enough to understand our discussion, let’s figure out a good way to do this productively.

6. Have a sense of humour
The home environment can create some interesting scenarios and both parties need to be flexible and laugh them off. Here’s a funny story for you: One day when I was with a family I love, the baby’s diaper exploded over my clothes. So during his nap, I did a load of laundry and wore a towel around the house. Well, the dad came home early – and I can’t imagine what he thought when he first saw me! However, he kept his composure, listened to my explanation, and then made some benign joke that allowed us to chuckle together, albeit a bit awkwardly. I’m still grateful that we could diffuse our mutual discomfort with that bit of good-natured laughter.

Over the years, I have known dozens of nannies, and every one of them has truly loved her charges. Any job dissatisfaction stemmed from the way parents treated them. The best and most reliable nannies are the ones who “fall in love” with the whole family, like I did. But what goes the furthest is sincere appreciation, expressed frequently. If you want your nanny to love you and to therefore be the best nanny she can be, tell her she’s already the best nanny you could hope for, and mean it.
But if for some reason you have mistakenly hired someone you don’t like and fully trust, find another childcare solution, and let her go. The right nanny for your family is out there somewhere. Believe me, I help families find nannies every day here at



  1. How To Build a Successful Nanny-Family Relationship
    Louise | Thursday,October 24.2013

    I had a nanny from Hong Kong. I treated her like a member of our family…I was very kind and generous. For the first year, she was great. In her second year, she began to stop doing things. First, the cleaning went and I was easy going about it. Then she wouldn’t do things like arts and crafts with the kids b/c it was “too much” for her. I continued to go with the flow. She then asked for 6 weeks vacation after fulfilling her 24 months. I sacrificed and managed to get 5 weeks off work. I asked her months before she went if she would stay with us until the end of August of that year. She went on her 5 week vacation came back (with open permit) and I got a bad feeling. I asked her directly and found out that she already had a job lined up starting in a month! She wasn’t going to tell me until last minute. She even set up herself to get paid for a stat holiday. After all my kindness, generosity and goodwill, she took advantage of me! Luckily I found a fantastic replacement for the summer – a young ECE college student who needed a summer job.

  2. How To Build a Successful Nanny-Family Relationship
    Jean Kilmartin | Saturday,November 02.2013

    I really enjoyed reading this article and I fully agree. I think sometimes because the Nanny is older the younger parents feel discomfort in telling the Nanny what is wrong with her approach. A good Nanny will take any information to heart and remember that times change and so do upbringing methods. I look back at my daughter and her time out approach and I couldn’t have agreed more. It saves the throat and a new approach to teaching the children what they did wrong. Boundries as to right and wrong must be discussed prior to hiring.

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