Successful Nannying

Anyone who has cared for children for an extended period of time will tell you the same thing: good communication with your employers can make the difference between a good job and a complete nightmare. Childcare is unique in that the work continues for the parents even after you leave for the day, so knowing what happens when you’re not there is vital for your success as a childcare provider. Moreover, a good working relationship can help you avoid common job problems such as confusion about salary and working hours.

The Nanny Log

A nanny log can be the best friend of busy nannies and parents. Odds are good that you don’t have time at the end of each day to update the parents on every development. And even if you do, you may be so exhausted that you’ve forgotten something. A nanny log solves this problem. Simply write major developments and important information – such as new words, foods eaten and times of diaper changes – into a daily notebook that the parents read. This not only makes two-way communication easier; it also provides an accounting of all the work you’ve done each day, which may cause the parents to appreciate you much more than they otherwise would!


Every once in a while, it’s a great idea to take photos of your charges playing and engaging in daily activities to send to parents. This can reassure them that their children are having fun and help ease separation anxiety. It also encourages open communication and fosters a friendly collegial environment.

Discussing Problems

Many sitters enter the childcare field because they’re nurturing, playful people. These are often the same people who hate confrontation and have difficulty standing up for themselves. While you may feel like you’re being nice and accommodating by avoiding confrontation, avoiding problems can make them substantially worse. After all, if you’re being underpaid, it’s much better to talk about it the first time it happens than to wait a year. The same is true of a child with behavioral problems, and many parents appreciate and trust nannies who are direct, open and honest in their communication. If you have difficulty with confrontation, try some of the following tips:

  • Use the compliment sandwich – say one positive thing, then address the problem then say another positive thing. For example, “Johnny is so energetic, but I worry that his energy makes it difficult for him to concentrate. He’s such a smart kid that I think his difficulty concentrating could harm him at school.”
  • Use “I” statements. Focus on the way you feel and your perceptions rather than attributing motives to the kids or parents. For example, “I thought we agreed that I would be paid for my mileage. I know life is busy so I wanted to check in with you and see if you forgot or I misunderstood.”
  • Be specific. Don’t say, “I feel taken for granted.” Say, “We need to do what we agreed to in the nanny contract.”

Pre-Screen Families

One of the most important skills that seasoned sitters learn is how to screen families for potential problems before even taking the job. Use your interview to check for red flags, which include:

  • Families that refer to the job as easy are unlikely to want to pay you fairly for your work.
  • A parent that asks few or no interview questions likely is not a good communicator; you may have difficulty talking openly with them or obtaining information about the children once you take the job.
  • Parents that do not want full-time nannies to have a contract or salary are unlikely to stick to the original conditions of the job.
  • Parents who do not want to pay taxes on your salary will likely try to find other ways to cut corners.
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