One of the hardest things about having someone working in your home is knowing what house rules are reasonable. A nanny is a trusted member of the household and while you need to have complete confidence in them and their ability to do their job you also need to set out some expectations of how they behave when in your home and treat your property.
It can be as simple as expecting your nanny and any guests to remove their shoes in the porch or just inside the door. There are many different ways to broach this. One family had a large basket slippers from hotels beside the door for guests to use, another a shoe rack with labels including one for ‘guest’.
A contentious issue can be food. As an employer you should provide any meals for your nanny while on duty and most employers check what their nanny prefers to eat so they can accommodate that. If you find that your nanny is consistently using food you’ve earmarked for a specific dish then you either need to come up with a labeling system or allocate a shelf in the fridge that isn’t to be touched. If you have specific food rules, such as keeping kosher, you need to make sure your nanny knows what these are.
Nannies often ask at interview whether they can socialise with other nannies and invite them and their charges on playdates. This is really beneficial for your child but again you might want to set rules about how many can come at any one time, what refreshments your nanny can offer and where they can go in the house. If, for example, a nanny has a baby charge who needs to take a nap are you happy for them to use your child’s cot, a travel cot or mattress in your child’s room, or perhaps the guest room?
If you have a live in nanny house rules are even more important. This will be their home as well as yours and they may want to have friends over in the evening or at the weekend or even to stay the night. As an adult they shouldn’t be subject to a curfew but you might like to ask them to let you know if they plan to be out past a certain time and instruct them how to lock up the house for the night when they come in. Do you allow alcohol in your home? Are you happy for your nanny to have a glass of wine in the evening when they are not on duty? How will you negotiate use of the kitchen in the evening if they want to cook for themselves?
Where rules are discussed and agreed upon beforehand the relationship between nanny and employer will be harmonious and respectful, but if you do not talk about your expectations you risk finding yourself becoming more and more annoyed at the way your nanny treats your home.