You, Your Nanny, And Your Partner: Managing That Relationship
So you have yourself, your partner, and a nanny. That’s three people in charge of the children’s welfare. That means three different individuals are shuttling the kids from one activity to the next, overseeing meals, helping with homework, and chaperoning social time. Having this many individuals involved in childcare can be confusing for the kids, and the adults. You have to run a pretty tight ship to make sure all the adults are in constant communication and on the same page. If you don’t, then it’s easy for some of your kid’s bad behavior to slip through the cracks, for them to question who is really in charge, and to just generally feel that they have no structure. You and your partner are, obviously, the top of the chain of command. But you need to work together with your nanny. Here are tips for managing the relationship between you, your spouse, and your childcare.
Discuss new ordinances
Never pass a new rule onto the kids until everyone has discussed it. You and your partner will be the ones in charge of making the rules but, it’s important that you two agree on them, and that you notify the nanny of them. Your nanny should also have the freedom to suggest some rules, since she may see things that you don’t see.
Have regular meetings, between the three of you. Go over what your experiences have been with the kids that week, or the last two weeks. What new behaviors have you noticed? Have their been any problems? Are there any developments or updates that one adult knows that the other doesn’t? Do you need to amend rules? Bed times? Is one friend becoming a problem?
Share all updates
Share all updates as they happen. It’s so easy to forget to tell the other adults something. Life is busy, and by the time you see each other, you may forget to mention this or that. So have a text or email thread going.
Enforce rules together
You should all agree to enforce new rules. If everyone agrees on a new rule, then they should all back it up. If even one adult doesn’t back up that rule, then a child can begin to feel like there is no authority in the household.
Including rules for the nanny
You and your partner, privately, will discuss rules regarding the nanny’s responsibilities and behavior. You should both enforce these, so the nanny understands that you two are united and, ultimately, the ones in charge. She is just an enforcer of your rules.
No arguing in front of the kids
Do not argue with your nanny in front of the kids, or about your nanny, with your partner, in front of the kids. These types of incidents leave children feeling that the authorities aren’t united, and that they can try to get away with things.
You each have your strengths and your weaknesses. Maybe mom is most comfortable tackling these issues, dad is best with those, and the nanny is a good neutral individual for some other topics. Discuss these, and assign topics. Then you can agree that if a child needs help with this or that, you all say, “Go to insert authority figure here.”
Stick to your assigned topics
Once you’ve agreed that…say…mom talks to the kids about dating and sex, dad discusses drugs and drinking, and the nanny talks to them about health issues, stick to your topics. Otherwise, everything becomes chaos and the kids get mixed messages.
Bust the bad cop/good cop dynamic
Make a pact that you will not create a good cop/bad cop dynamic. That means that nobody should pass off the task of punishing the kids to somebody else. If you’re the adult who is there for the incident, you will be the one to enforce the rules and take disciplinary action.
Get on the same page with disciplinary action
Speaking of disciplinary action, you should all be on the same page about what crime warrants what punishment. Don’t make these up on the spot. Discuss potential incidents, ahead of time.
Utilize video conferences/Facetime
Make use of things like Skype and Facetime so you can all feel connected, all of the time. You don’t have to feel like only the nanny gets to see the kids all day. You can agree to Facetime every few hours.
Have independent family time
You, your partner, and your children should have dedicated family time—without the nanny—at least once a week. It’s important for your kids to remember that you are the real family and this is a good way to maintain your bond.
Discuss resource boundaries
Can the nanny drive your cars? Maybe only one of the cars? Can she eat your food? Buy things for the home, as she sees fit, on Amazon? So she gets that password? These are things you and your partner should discuss.
What about disciplining the nanny?
Sometimes, you may find your nanny doing something you don’t like. How do you address it? What might lead to you letting her go? And what would just warrant a warning? Discuss these things with your partner.
Never form secret alliances
Agree to never form secret alliances. You shouldn’t have a situation by which, say, you and the nanny agree not to discipline the kids when you find them eating candy before dinner, even though you told your partner that you would. You need to all present the same ideas and rules to the kids, regardless of personal preferences.