How to Best Manage Your Child’s Caregiver
By Danielle Wiley of Foodmomiac
Though in-home childcare is an absolute lifesaver (and necessity) for many families, it can often open up a whole new set of problems. From small annoyances such as leaving a mess in the kitchen sink, to inappropriate behaviors such as drinking on the job, if something can happen, you can bet that at some point it will. The following rules can help mitigate some situations before they occur, and will help to keep you as prepared as possible for the inevitable. These ideas are also useful for any child caregiving situation.
1. Put all of your house rules in writing.
And when I say “all,” I mean all. Do you like lights to be turned off in rooms that aren’t currently being used? Write it down. Do you require the good pots and pans to be handwashed and not thrown in the dishwasher? Write it down. The key mantra here is that nothing is obvious. Our rules even include items like “Please hold the childrens’ hands when crossing the street,” and, “Don’t leave the children unattended in the bathroom.” And, oh yes, we even include, “Do not drink or do drugs while working.”
2. Market the rules – no one wants to read a 10 page Word document.
We used to throw all of our rules into a giant Word document, but then I realized that they weren’t being read. It was at that moment that I put on my marketing hat and did what I do with my clients. I created a dazzling PowerPoint presentation! Well, OK, maybe not dazzling, but it’s certainly more fun than single-spaced words crammed onto a page. Each “slide” has a different category, including, “General House Rules,” “Dishwasher Details,” and “Laundry Details.” I also added slides listing fun activities to do with the children (one slide for rainy/cold day ideas, and one for sunny/warm day ideas).
3. Address problem issues the moment they happen while acknowledging the great stuff effusively.
This is key in the management of anyone (at work OR at home), but it’s worth noting. If something is bothering you, speak up. Otherwise, the behavior will continue, and one of two things will happen: One, you will suddenly find yourself more angry than necessary over something that was at one point a simple fix. Or, two, you will realize that too much time has passed, and you must now live with this behavior until a new caregiver shows up. On the flip side, when your caregiver does something great? Tell her immediately, and with as much gusto as you can spare.
4. Find out what makes your caregiver tick.
Does your caregiver respond best to monetary rewards? Praise? Hugs? What makes her happy? What motivates her? By finding out how to best reward your caregiver for a job well done, you will end up with a caregiver who wants to do her job well. It’s that simple.
5. Trust your gut.
If you are not feeling comfortable with your caregiver, GET A NEW ONE. Yes, your life will be thrown into temporary upheaval, but a mother’s instinct is a powerful thing. We have had many caregivers over the past seven years, and every single time I got a weird feeling, it turned out that I was spot on.