6 Things a Nanny Should Never Say to a New Employer

Starting a new nanny job is always a big deal. You can learn a lot about a family during the interview process, but you don’t really get to start building a professional relationship until you’re in their home every day. It’s crucial to start out your new position on the right foot, too. The things you say and do in the first days and weeks can set the tone for your entire time with that employer, so you don’t want to do anything that would risk your position or lead to a poor working environment. To that end, here are some things you shouldn’t say to a new employer:

“That’s not my job.”

On one hand, yes, your job duties are going to be pretty clearly laid out in your employment contract. But saying this is almost a guaranteed way to build a wall between you and your employer. It puts you on the offensive, and it turns your relationship with your employer into a combative one instead of a collaborative one.

What to say instead: “Sure thing.” If your employer’s asking you to do some random task that falls outside your expected duties, attack it with a great attitude. If, over time, your employer continues to request jobs that you didn’t originally agree upon, you should then talk with them about re-examining your duties and possible compensation for taking on more tasks.

“I’ll get there when I get there.”

Punctuality is key, and it’s important to everyone’s schedule that you arrive at your appointed time, especially if you aren’t a live-in nanny. Being on time shows that you care about your job and that you respect just how many other aspects of your employer’s life depend on you.

What to say instead: “I’ll be right there.” Don’t let the home setting fool you: treat your employer’s home like an office, and one that expects you to work your appointed hours.

“I can’t stand it when the kids do that.”

It’s totally natural to feel annoyed by something the children in your care might do. Maybe they fight with each other or have trouble responding to basic polite requests to clean their room. Complaining about this to your employer is a non-starter, though, especially if you phrase it like this. Your job, after all, is to offer quality childcare. If the kids have a problem, it’s your job to jump in and help.

What to say instead: “Do you have any suggestions?” Working with the children and practicing positive discipline means knowing the lay of the land, so talk openly with the parents about any possible issues you might be facing, as well as anything they’ve done in the past that’s worked well or (maybe) hasn’t worked at all.

“I’m frustrated.”

Feeling this is totally normal. Saying it? Not advisable. Statements like this can make you seem like you’re easily stalled by problems, and that you’re more interested in complaining about them than in finding sensible solutions.

What to say instead: “Could we talk about this?” If you find yourself blocked in a certain area, ask your employer if they have time to sit and talk about some issues you’d like to clear up. This sends the message that you’re willing to acknowledge problems, and that you’re willing to work on them openly. It’s a sign of humility and of a willingness to do the best job possible.

“I just assumed …”

Huge mistake. Making assumptions about what your employer will or won’t do, or what they will or won’t provide for you, can have widespread negative consequences and leave both you and your employer frustrated. For instance, if you’re caring for a baby and running low on diapers, don’t just assume that more will show up later in the week. Alert your employer right away. This is a great way to show your commitment to helping the family.

What to say instead: “Here’s something I noticed.” When logistical or supply problems show up on your radar, let your employer know ASAP. If they already know about the problem, great, no harm done. If they didn’t, you just saved everyone a major headache.

“Whatever.”

This is probably one of the worst things you can say as a nanny at any stage of your job, whether it’s a new employer or not. This is a total brush-off, a one-word sentence that indicates resignation and a noncommittal attitude. It says that you’re only involved for the paycheck, and that you aren’t really invested in childcare.

What to say instead: “You bet!” or “Can do!” Literally, anything is better than just blowing off your employer with a shrug, which is what saying “Whatever” conveys. If you feel like saying it, think about what else is going on in your life or your job. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Frustrated? Tired? You could be projecting that stress onto your employer in a bad way. Remember: there’s always a better, more proactive option. Communication is the most important aspect of a good working relationship.

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