For nannies who opt for live-in positions, they quickly learn that the most difficult part of the job isn’t caring for the children, but instead is learning to fit into their work family’s life and become a member of their household.

Live-in nannies may relocate from across town or from across the country to accept a new position. In addition to adjusting to a new job, live-in nannies must adjust to a new home, new housemates and a new community. For many live-in nannies, the initial experience can be overwhelming. Joining a local nanny group, getting involved in a church, joining a gym, or attending a class provide a way for live-in nannies to meet new people and make friends.

While it can be tempting for live-in nannies to spend their off hours alone in their quarters or hanging out with their work family, it’s important that live-in nannies find interests and activities away from their work family so that they have the opportunity to refresh and recharge. When live-in nannies don’t take time to cultivate a social life or develop interests outside of work they are at an increased risk for burnout.

Each family has its own culture and way of living life. Live-in nannies who have taken great care in selecting the families for whom they work typically find themselves working with a family they are compatible with and living in an environment that they are comfortable with. But even in the most comfortable situations, there’s an adjustment period as the family and nanny learn to live together.

Live-in nannies should always ensure that their written work agreement not only addresses care related duties and responsibilities, but also addresses housemate responsibilities. Live-in nannies should ask for a specific list of what items are included with their board and what are not. Specifically, live-in nannies should inquire about toiletries, detergents and other household type items like tissues or toilet paper.

While live-in nannies live in their employer’s home and are typically given much freedom to utilize the home, it’s truly not an equal housemate situation as if two roommates were sharing a home. As a courtesy, live-in nannies should ask which, if any, rooms are off limits and how comfortable the family is with the nanny being around when she’s not on duty.

The boundaries between a live-in nanny and her work family may become established over time, so live-in nannies shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Since the adults in the home may keep different hours, live-in nannies may wish to inquire and ask questions, such as if it is okay to have the television on in the living room after 10pm or if doing so is too loud or too late.

When it comes to live-in nanny and employer relationships, communication is a key component. In addition to having open lines of communications, live-in nannies should try to have weekly meetings with their employers to catch-up, discuss concerns and resolve any issues.

10 Rules Every Live-In Nanny Should Follow

Live-in nannies, by the very nature of their jobs, can find themselves in awkward situations. Live-in nannies become members of a household without being acquainted with any of the other household members beforehand – a la Goldilocks. Just as it took Goldy and her housemates some time to assimilate and live together comfortably, so does it take a live-in nanny and her new work family.

So what are some of the “rules” that all live-in nannies should live by?

Live-in nannies should vow to:

  1. Live By Your Personal Code.  Everybody has their own personal standard of behavior. A well-trained nanny will come equipped with good family values and a clear sense of right and wrong.
  2. Follow The House Rules. A nanny’s job is to help a household, not necessarily take it over. Every home has its rules and hierarchy. It is up to a nanny to see where she fits in with the existing structure.
  3. Remember Your Position.  What is your position? You aren’t (usually) a blood-relative, but you’re much more than a weekend babysitter. You don’t need to kowtow to anyone, but you do need to respect the philosophy of the home and remember you’re a paid employee.
  4. Do the Lifeguard Scan. Nannies can borrow freely from a lifeguard’s training. Lifeguards are taught to constantly scan a pool, tracking for anything that doesn’t look right. Nannies should also be scanning, whether at the playground or in the home.
  5. Keep Personal Life Private.  Families have enough to deal with when extra work also means it is necessary to bring someone new into the family circle. The last thing a family can use is the added drama of a nanny with boyfriend problems. Keep that stuff out of the workplace.
  6. Keep it Clean.  It’s alright to know all the swear words, as long as you don’t use them. Parents may not want their nanny to look and act like Mary Poppins, but they aren’t looking for the mouth of a trucker, either.
  7. Wear a Uniform. Uniforms for nannies aren’t usually required any more, but a nanny is still responsible for dressing properly for the job. The PJ’s and bunny slippers may be alright for around the house, but let’s get some real clothes and shoes on for the trip to the library.
  8. Keep Confidentiality. If you don’t know a lot about Las Vegas that’s because what happens there stays there, and this is the same way it should be where a nanny works. Nobody hires a nanny to broadcast family foibles and problems to the world.
  9. Follow the Rules of Hygiene and Health. Perform all proper ablutions, handle food properly and sanitize the areas you are responsible for.
  10. Don’t Take the Last One.  Don’t take the “last one” of anything, whether it’s a chocolate bar or a turkey leg or glass of orange juice. These are all items of superstitious worship in every family. Removal of one of these talismans may be reason enough for the sun to refuse to rise in the east.

Most of these “rules” are simply about exercising common sense; if a nanny is conscious and considerate of her new surroundings, she will be better able to “get into the flow”.