Spotlight on: providing food for nannies
Unlike most jobs, where you take your lunch or go out to grab a sandwich, nannies expect to eat their meals with their charges. This means as an employer you probably need to factor in the cost of providing at least lunch, and possibly breakfast and dinner for your nanny along with tea or coffee and snacks. While the law doesn’t require this it is customary and nannies will eat what the children eat, or if you have a baby then she is likely to eat a slightly more grown up (seasoned and unpureed) version of what she makes her little charge.
Although it might seem a daunting expense there are many benefits to nannies sharing meals with the children. It encourages good table manners, children are motivated to try new foods and it’s a time to share conversation.
If you tend to buy separate food for adults and children make it clear to your nanny what food is reserved for adults, and whether you include her in that. Similarly if you have plans for certain ingredients let her know ahead of time, either by noting it down or putting a post-it on the packaging. It might feel a little petty but there’s very little more frustrating than planning a meal then coming home to find the ingredients are no longer there.
Not all nannies will eat the same food as their charges at the same time. Some nannies do prefer to take their own food and some employers place very strict limits on what their nanny can eat but the latter situation often makes for a very strained relationship. Some nannies are also faddy or picky eaters, which isn’t a good role model for children. Be careful if your nanny is dieting how she presents her eating. Children shouldn’t be exposed to negative body image or hear foods labelled ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’. A nanny on a healthy eating kick, however, can be great for your children!
Remember that live in nannies are a special case. Part of the arrangement is that the family provide all food for their nanny, within reason, and this also includes food at the weekends even if they are not eating with you. Sometimes, if a nanny has separate accommodation or their own kitchen, they will be self-sufficient but it’s important to discuss clearly what the expectations are and assume that you will be providing at least the basics as part of your weekly shop.