In Search of Super Nanny

How to Lose a Nanny in 10 Days

You've finally found your dream childcare provider -- wouldn't it be tragic if you accidentally drove her into the home of a more nanny-friendly family?

Your relationship with the person who watches your children is the most important (and possibly the trickiest) professional relationship you'll ever have. In many ways, your babysitter is a member of your family. But you're still her boss -- and you want to keep your employee happy so you can continue to reap the benefits of her expert car-seat buckling, Lego building, lunch making, and tantrum soothing. The person you don't want to be: the mom who -- oops -- lost her nanny in 10 days. How would you do that?

Arriving home late on a regular basis. Even worse, you don't even call to tell her you won't be on time.

Reality check: Nannies have lives, appointments, and families too. Try to be prompt whenever you can, and if you can't, at least give her the courtesy of a phone call and pay her for the extra time (depending on how late you actually need her to stay).

Expecting her to be Supernanny (or, at least, a better parent than you could be). Sure, sometimes it's hard for you to get your child to stop crying, nap for a full three hours, eat all her veggies, and stay dirt-free at the playground -- but your nanny is a paid professional. Shouldn't she be able to handle it?

Reality check: Kids will be kids, and nannies are human. Don't have ridiculous expectations that even you can't meet. On the other hand, you are paying her, so while you might try to multitask by putting your kid in front of the TV for a few minutes while you check your e-mail, your babysitter should always be on duty.

Paying her less than the going rate. Who doesn't love a good bargain?

Reality check: You get what you pay for. Trying to hire someone on the cheap can backfire -- this will be the person who is either perpetually unhappy on the job or who is just biding her time until she gets a better offer. You don't need to splurge, just consult with other moms or call your local nanny agency to find out what's considered a fair wage in your community. And expect to pay her for vacation and holidays too.

Creating a vibe that makes her feel like a stranger in your home. You put your fridge off-limits and don't let her make any personal phone calls, period.

Reality check: Your nanny is your new part-time family member. A simple offer like suggesting she help herself to the Fudgsicles in the freezer could be all it takes to make her feel welcome.

Making it clear that you don't trust her. You ask her to keep a minute-by-minute log of your child's activities -- in case you don't get to call and check in every hour to make sure she's on schedule.

Reality check: If you can't trust your nanny, find someone else. The fact that you're leaving her alone with your children on a regular basis means you can't micromanage. If you're suspicious that she's doing something wrong, talk to her about it immediately. Don't be an annoying helicopter boss (don't hover!).

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