Nanny No-No’s and How to Spot Them

Posted on by admin | in Become A Nanny

Interviewing potential nannies can be a stressful experience. You have a wish list longer than the kids in Mary Poppins and know you’ll have to compromise in some areas, but everyone has their deal breakers. Or perhaps you’ve already found your dream caretaker, but something feels off. You don’t want a revolving door of people entering your children’s lives, but you need to make sure your values and your children’s safety is not compromised.

Here are a few nanny “no-no’s” and how you can spot them before any damage is done.

The Textaholic

When there are infants or toddlers involved who don’t exactly have a big vocabulary to share their observations while you’re away, a lot can be swept under the rug. While many of us have become addicted to our tech devices, distracted texting and caring for very young children do not mix. Pay attention before and during the interview.

Are all of your communications done only via text (this is not necessarily a red flag, but something to be aware of in case there are other signs you are picking up on)? Is she walking up to the meeting staring down at her phone, texting as she strolls (could the same happen while your toddler is in the stroller)? Does the nanny place her phone on the table, or is it stashed away in her bag during the interview? If it is placed out in view, is she getting frequent chimes and glancing down at it, or even going so far as to check it as you chat? If it is a distraction during an obviously important meeting, the odds are she will be similarly distracted while with your child, if not more so. If you excuse yourself to use the bathroom or refill a drink, does her hand immediately reach for it – and does she stay engrossed until seeing you return?

Again, she could legitimately need to check in on something important, but it’s worth bringing up in conversation and making your position clear on tech use while watching the kids (such as not while using the stove or when they are eating, never ever during bathtime, not while out in public at the playground, not when driving or in any other situations which could quickly go bad).

Driving Safely Home

You hired a nanny, not a chauffeur, but if some of her duties include transporting the kids from activities or school, you are well within your rights to check her driving history. If there are reckless driving tickets, DWIs or other egregious demonstrations of a lack of judgment, these will be easy to pinpoint as a reason to avoid contracting her services. Other things to keep an eye out for may be more subtle, but are still very telling. When she pulls up to your house, is she wearing a seatbelt? To not do so is not only against the law in most states, but if it is a habit and she never wears one, she is adding risk to your children in the event of an accident by compromising her ability to retain control of the car when she is not strapped in.

Regardless of laws, it sets a bad example for the children in the car and suggests a lack of appreciation for the gravity of vehicle safety – and might make you wonder how diligent she is in remembering or following safety regulations for your children. You also might note whether your nanny answers your phone calls in the car while driving. An offhand query to the kids of whether nanny talks while driving might be warranted as well. This is the time to make clear your expectations of her not talking on her cell phone or texting while behind the wheel.

Inappropriate Media Use

While you can’t shield your kids from every inappropriate situation or off color experience in the world, they shouldn’t be exposed to these things from their nanny. If you find your television tuned to less than child-friendly programming, stations that play songs with explicit lyrics or your computer history shows YouTube clips or other sites being accessed at a time when she should have been directly supervising and caring for your kids, it’s probably time for a(nother) discussion outlining what is okay and not okay in your household.

If there are particular elements you are uncomfortable with, perhaps in your house some swearing is not unheard of but sexual references are a huge no-no, or violence of any sort provokes bad dreams in your sensitive child – detail what is to be avoided and (assuming you are okay with media use at all) suggest a site like CommonSenseMedia.org which explains specifically what to expect to gauge potential pitfalls in advance of viewing.

Loose Lips Sink Relationships

While the prior categories deal more directly with your children’s safety, your own sense of wellbeing and serenity is also important. One of the biggest elements of the nanny-parent relationship is trust. The nanny will have access to the inner workings of your home, which is where they should be left. Barring any concern for the safety of your children, there is no excuse for your nanny to be sharing details of your private life or about your home to others.

One red flag would be if she chooses to be chummy with you over a coffee or a chat by telling stories about her previous employer. Although rumors or something overheard by a friend might have been the only way you were made aware that your nanny was inappropriately sharing in the past, today’s dependence on social media means a simple Google or Facebook search could reveal  a lot more than her latest LOL Cat fave.

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