Whether you’re a nanny leaving a position and handing over to a new nanny, or a parent hiring a nanny, there are plenty of little things you can do to help the new nanny feel welcome and prepared. Here are 5 helpful and fun simple tips from a nanny who has been on both sides of the situation countless times.
1: Write out the routine.
Every child and family is different. So while an experienced nanny will be able to work out the basics to meet the children’s needs, any new nanny in a role will benefit from having the routine provided. The ages of the children and needs of the family will determine how much information you want to provide, but at least include the expected feed and sleep times for the day. You might also write up the naptime/bedtime routine you follow and cues you’re aware a child displays to indicate their needs.
Remember that every caregiver is different and will create a unique relationship with each child. Often they develop different routines and habits, and usually these are perfectly acceptable. Be sure to let the new nanny know of any ‘must follows’ in the routine (such as the timing), and assure them that you trust they’ll find their own way with the children. The more detailed information (such as the preamble to naptime) is a guide just in case they need it.
2: Give them a tour of the home.
Most nannies are very comfortable hunting around for things in new households and figuring things out. But to set them up for success (and save time and potential frustration for all of you), plan on showing your new nanny around the home before they start. Show them where things are and how they work. You might also provide written instructions about the appliances as a back up that they can refer to over time.
Make sure to check in with your new nanny after the first few shifts to invite them to ask any questions that have come up as they’ve gone through their days. If you are the exiting nanny, exchange phone numbers with the new nanny and invite them to reach out if they want to ask anything.
3: Go out of your way to help them feel welcome.
In the beginning, a new nanny is going to feel a bit like a guest in your home. So before they begin, try to look at the home through fresh eyes and identify anything you can do to make things more welcoming and easier for someone new. This means making sure there are hand towels and the soap and toilet paper is stocked and easy to access.
Don’t forget about also making space for the nanny and their belongings too. Have a safe place where you can invite your nanny to put their things when they come into the home. You might need to clear space on a shelf in a crowded living area but trust me, it’s worth it. This makes such a difference in helping a new nanny not feel awkward or like an intruder. Make sure there’s a bit of room in the fridge for any food/drink they bring for the day, and consider offering a drawer somewhere in the home for the nanny to keep things like a change of clothes or resources they might want on the job.
4: Provide a list of places and activities.
Most children have favourite places to visit and activities to do. Often the names young children use for playgrounds and other places that are not the official map name (“train park”, “new beach playground”, “rainbow park”, and “Jeannie’s cafe” spring to mind)! It’s helpful for a new nanny to have a list of places the children enjoy and the names they call them.
You can also provide more information (such as the child’s typical cafe order, a heads up that parking is $2 and they’ll need coins, or tips on which public transport route is the best to take).
5: Arm them with the tools to win the children over.
In addition to all the tips above, it’s a good idea to inform the new nanny of some activities the children love doing. Particularly for first days and one-off shifts, you might like to have some special resources tucked away in case the nanny wants to pull them out. (but please, let that be the nanny’s choice rather than putting pressure on them to have to do those things because you’ve told the children! A nanny might have their own plans.)
One last idea that’s a little out of the box – music! I love listening to music with children and creating playlists that include songs they love, songs I choose for them, and songs I like (that they often end up loving too). Providing a new nanny with a link to an Apple Music or Spotify playlist, or giving them a list of songs or access to the household’s media, can allow them to continue building a shared mix of music they enjoy. Kids love being able to choose which song to start with when they get into the car for a drive, so it can be a fun way to help the nanny and children connect with one another!