Thursday, November 29, 2012

10 Bits of Personal Info Your Nanny Doesn’t Need to Know

When you hire a nanny, especially for the first time, it’s natural to have lofty ambitions of securing a private childcare provider that’s part Mary Poppins and part adopted member of the family. The reality, however, is that even the best and closest nanny/employer relationships have a set of established boundaries in place that keep them functional and running smoothly. While your nanny will need to know a handful of personal details about you, such as who to call in the event of an emergency and the child-rearing pet peeves that drive you to distraction, there’s also an entire host of things that she should never know about you. These 10 bits of information are things that your nanny should not know about you, if you’d like to preserve the working relationship.

  1. Your Financial Status – While your nanny will naturally know that your income is large enough to manage her salary, conversations about your financial successes or difficulties should never happen between the two of you. She doesn’t need to know about the disastrous stock market decision you made, or the major score that will fund your retirement.
  2. About Your Marital Problems – Working for a couple that visibly struggles to get along and has no qualms about voicing their dislike for one another is a difficult pill for nannies to swallow, and too much familiarity with your marital problems is sure to end in turnover.
  3. Your Latest Diet – Your nanny will definitely need to know about any allergies, sensitivities or intolerances that you and your children have, because part of her job is to prepare the kids meals. She doesn’t need a minute-by-minute commentary on your new fad diet, though, unless she’s responsible for preparing your meals.
  4. The Jealousy You Struggle With – A seasoned veteran understands very well that most parents feel some jealousy towards them. After all, she’s getting paid to do something that most parents would love to be able to do: spend time with the children you don’t get to see as often as you’d like. While she surely knows that you struggle with a bit of nanny envy, it’s not a subject that the two of you should be discussing often, and your jealousy should certainly not present itself as anger or pettiness.
  5. Your Medical Records – Lengthy discussions about your relative health or illness should be saved for your physician, unless it has some bearing on the way that you’d prefer for your children to be cared for. Your nanny doesn’t need to know about your irritable bowel syndrome or chronic dry eyes.
  6. Your Social Security Number – Any documents with sensitive personal information like your social security number, bank account number or the like should be kept in a secure location, away from the areas frequented by your nanny. If she can’t access that information, she can’t be wrongly accused of fraudulent activity later, should it occur.  
  7. Where You Keep Your Valuables – If you don’t trust your nanny to know the location of your most expensive jewelry, you probably shouldn’t trust her with the most precious members of the family. That being said, your nanny should not be cleaning your bedroom or home office if the children don’t spend time there, so she shouldn’t know where those things are stored to begin with.
  8. Your Clothing Size – It can be very tempting to ask your nanny if she’ll do a load of your laundry or pick up your dry cleaning “just this once,” but you shouldn’t be surprised when she very respectfully declines. Nannies know that running personal errands for the boss is a slippery slope that can easily result in job creep, which is a major contributor to burn out and the abandonment of a post.
  9. Your Personal Problems – Your nanny cares for your children and your home, which can foster a very real sense of camaraderie and friendship. However, it’s important to keep in mind that she’s probably not actually your best friend, nor is she your therapist. Unless your concerns relate directly to your children in some way, it’s best not to discuss them with your nanny.  
  10. Your Political Affiliation – The old adage about not discussing politics or religion is just as true with your nanny as it is in a bar, though the discussion about religion may have to take place on a cursory basis if you expect her to take the kids to spiritual functions and places of worship. However, discussing your party affiliation and political beliefs has absolutely no bearing on the care of your children, and can lead to some pretty nasty debates.

Striking a balance between a friendly, comfortable working relationship and one that’s a bit too open is a challenge, but it’s a very necessary one if you hope to keep your nanny for an extended period and reduce the likelihood of turnover. Navigating the complex world of relating to your private childcare provider can take a bit of time to become accustomed to, but will almost always become second nature to you after a while.

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