Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Do Weekly Meetings Really Work?
Since my first interview with a nanny agency back in the 1990s I have been encouraged to have weekly meetings with the parents to ensure effective communication with my employers.
The concept of having weekly meetings is great. If nannies and au pairs have the time to meet with at least one parent without the children present once a week, it is an opportunity to talk to one another about the children or any issues that come up about the job. The concept is that nannies, au pairs, and the parent can bring up any issues during that time each week in a professional and respectful manner.
But, it my personal experience of working as a nanny for seven different families over many years, and despite the best of intentions, a weekly meeting never happens.
Parents are tired when they arrive home from work and I'm exhausted after 10- to 12-hour work days. Plus, the kids demand their parents' complete attention the moment they walk in the door.
Each family is different, but what has worked best for me is emailing the parents a well thought-out email to their personal email address, texting or calling them personally for emergencies, and using a daily log to just share important milestones of the childrens' day that don't require contacting the parents while they are working. Instead of a weekly meeting, I suggest including a set time to evaluate work performance at a set time the work agreement (such as every three- or six-months).
Each parent and family is different. Whether the parents can accept texts, emails, or phone calls during the work day will vary. So nannies, au pairs, and employers will have to determine works best for them.
If you haven't used a daily log I recommend buying a three-ring binder or folder. Nannies should list what the children eat each day on the daily log sheet. When working with infants caregivers should record the times and amounts the infant eats, when and how long they nap, and how many times their diapers were changed. Any change in feeding or diaper changes should be noted.
When working with older children, nannies should list the indoor and outdoor activities of the children, homework completed, and their mood during the day. Parents love when nannies list developmental milestones or describe funny moments with the children.
In essence, the weekly meeting of caregivers and their employers makes sense. There is no doubt it is essential that in-home childcare providers and the parents that employ them both value their professional relationship. But I have found writing emails, texting, calling, and maintaining daily logs more successful.
How do you communicate with the parents when something important comes up with your job?