By Sheri Lopez, originally posted here.
As a nanny, there is a lot of emphasis placed on standing out during an interview. Naturally we want to do a great job letting potential employers know why we are the best candidate for their childcare position, but I think there may be too much focus on getting the job and not enough planning for what happens if you do get the job.
The first day of work for a nanny can be exciting and stressful at the same time. It’s exciting to start a new chapter in your nanny career with a new family and new children to nurture and guide. However, there can be a lot of stress that comes from new routines, being in a new home, adapting to a new family structure, and learning the inner workings of the home.
1. Keys Please
Get a key for the house and know where the spare key is hidden. Some families do not like to give out keys to their home; instead they give the garage door code. If this is the way they choose to handle entry to their home, be sure to remember the code and how to enter it on the key pad. If you need to write it down until you remember it, that’s okay, just do not share the code with others and once memorized, destroy the piece of paper. Know gate codes and obtain any key cards or passes needed to access the home, property, community center, activities or the children’s school, too.
2. Know Your Numbers
These days most communication is done using our cell phones, which is how most nannies communicate with parents. You should also have the parents’ business numbers programed in your cell phone. You never know when a parent may leave their cell phone at home or in the car.
3. In Case of Emergencies
Get emergency contact numbers of several relatives, friends, and neighbors. We are a very mobile society, so it’s wise to have a long list of people to call if you need them.
4. Service calls
Know when the landscaper or pool service person is coming. Plan ahead if animals need to be let out. It is also a good time to make sure all the doors to the home are locked and that you have your cell phone with you. Ask the parents if these service providers have a regular schedule they follow and know whether they call in advance of arriving or if they just show up? Knowing this helps you plan, prepare, and stay focused while strangers are on the property.
5. Phone-y Business
Always keep your cell phone with you. It is important to be able to get to your phone quickly in the event of an emergency. I always wear pants or shorts with pockets, so I just slip my cell phone in one and it stays there all day. Establish how communication will flow, via phone, text, or email, and which parent is the final decision maker if the parents give you different answers to your questions.
6. Safety First
Know the location of all first aid kits in the home and what’s in them. Know where the thermometer is kept and how it works. Find out where medications are stored that the children may need while in your care; know the dosage amount and when to give it. Be sure you know how to operate any medical equipment the children use, such as a nebulizer or EpiPen®. Make sure to obtain permission before giving medication to children. Also be sure to record the time, date, dosage amount, and any reactions for the parents’ review and record keeping. Know CPR, first aid, and how to swim. Ask where the family’s emergency meeting place is and whether they have an emergency code word. Where are fire extinguished located in the home? Have you ensured that they are not expired? Where are the smoke detectors? Are they operating correctly? Are there carbon monoxide monitors in the home?
7. Medical Matters
Get a signed, dated, and notarized (if needed) medical release form for each child, granting permission for you to make the decision to treat each child in the event of an emergency. Also get a letter of permission from the parents for you to take the children to the doctors.
8. School Daze
Submit all necessary forms granting you permission to remove your charges from the school property.
9. Appliance Heaven
Make sure you know how to operate the dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, TV, microwave, oven, stove, door locks (some are self-locking), what dishes the children can use, and if and when the children are allowed to use the TV, computer, iPad, or phone. Also ask the parents to show you how to operate all childproofing items in the home. Be aware of what cleaning products the parent’s want you to use to clean the children’s clothes, toys and belongings.
10. Pet Perfect
If your NannyFamily has animals, know what you are to do with them when you leave for an outing during your workday. Are dogs to be left outside or kenneled? Know if and when you are to feed them.
11. A Signed Agreement
Make sure your work agreement is complete and signed and you and the parents each have copies for your records. This should include the agreed-upon pay, days, hours, and other items.
12. Home Phone Conundrum
Ask if you should answer your NannyFamily’s home phone and if so, know how they would like you to answer it and where you should place any messages.
13. Diaper Days
If you are caring for a child in diapers, know where the extras are stored and what products to use for diaper rash. If a child is potty training, know where clean underwear are kept and learn any potty training routines they may already have in place.
Have a clear understanding of the children’s routines and when and where they have to be dropped off for school or activities. Know the amount of time it takes to drive them to school. This way, if you are in charge of getting them up in the morning you know how early to wake them so that you can plan accordingly. Know what the children’s nap and bedtime routines are. If a bath is to be given, know what products are to be used. Some parents prefer to bathe their own children and put them to bed and prefer that this not be one of the nanny’s tasks.
15. Play Dates
Know where the children are allowed to play in the home and outside and who they are allowed to play with.
16. Ensure That You’re Insured
If you are driving your NannyFamily’s car, be sure to ask how it operates, and if they would like to take a test drive with you before you take the children anywhere. Also discuss whether or not they are covered with the proper vehicle insurance. Know how to operate the children’s car seats. Ask how the hands-free cell phone device, GPS, seats, and temperature controls work, and find out where they keep the car insurance. Go over the rules of the road, such as no texting and only talk to parents while in the car using the hands-free device. Also, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land with a private tour of the area so you can get your bearings.