Establishing a Positive Relationship with Your Nanny

Published on: January 13, 2020

Long-time expat and mother of two Alfiah shares her experience about life with a nanny and the best ways to build a happy environment in the home.

By Alfiah Strohal

I’ve lived in many countries over my 18 years as an expat. I lived in Europe for six years and another six years in Dubai before moving to Bangkok 6 years ago. Upon arriving in these new countries and cities without my support network of family or friends to call on, I found it a challenge to find trustworthy and experienced babysitters and domestic workers.

It can be hard for your loved ones to accept help from a stranger. Initially, it will be important for you to be present to help the nanny and the care receiver to establish a successful relationship. You can show the nanny how you do things, so the help that is given will feel familiar and comfortable. 

Choose an option that works best for your family
When I lived in Vienna, I had a part-time maid and au pair to help me around the house. Then when we moved to Dubai, I got a full-time maid who only did the housework and I had a nanny who just focused on my kids and playing with them. We also sent both kids to the playground every day for a couple of hours from the age of 18 months. This was important as I believe that kids need to interact with other kids. 

All in all, we had an au pair from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Turkey. They gave good values to my kids and even helped with homework. I would describe it more like a sister-like relationship. My kids respected them a lot. They didn’t see them as a helper. I had a good relationship with the maids, nannies and au pairs and we explained to them that we would like them to be part of our family. 

Where to start
Hiring someone through an agency will give you some choice for nanny selection. Most agencies have done background checks and bonded the people who work for them – be sure to ask if this is the case. 

First steps
Take time to become comfortable with the person who is sent, allow them to spend time with your children so they become comfortable with each other. Typically, an agency will attempt to match the nanny to your specific needs and requests, so if you aren’t immediately comfortable with the nanny sent, consider giving it a day or two to warm up to each other. 

It’s all about communication
Good communication is paramount. Treat the nanny as a family member. It’s the key to having someone who supports you in the household. Encourage your nanny to keep a diary with information regarding your child’s day to day routine. Keep communication current; address problems as soon as they arise. The higher the trust, the better the relationship.

Set your house rules
Parents must clearly tell their nanny about their household rules. It is good right at the start to set out YOUR rules for your kids. No chocolate snacks means no chocolate snacks, not too much screen time means just that.  I don’t like my kids spending too much time with TV or games. My limit is 1 hour per day so my nanny must respect this rule. 

Keeping the children in the loop
If they are old enough i.e. around 3, let your children know that you will be getting someone to come and help mum and play with them! Reassure your loved one that hiring help does not signal that you are going to abandon them. Remind them that mum will be back soon. 

Keep the communication open so that any minor issues that may be causing some concern can be dealt with early and as they arise. Sometimes cultural differences can mean slight differences in approach to child care and child-raising. 

Developing Trust
Trust comes through honest and open communication. If the nanny is doing a great job, be sure to tell them. A smile and well-deserved praise can make a big difference. None of us likes to feel our work is not appreciated. When you find the right person for your caregiving needs, they are worth their weight in gold. This will be obvious with your children happy to see the nanny and you can go off to work relaxed in your mind that things at home are going well. 

Fair play 

Parents must make sure that the nanny’s pay rate is appropriate and that they are paid on time. In case the nanny has to do overtime, make sure that they are paid for the extra time they give. 

Ensure that everyone in your house treats them with due respect. They are a hired professional so treat them as such.

Nannies are human too, and of course, they get sick as well. If the nanny is not well let them have a day off. The last thing you really want is the nanny working sick as of course, this can spread illness to your children and you! 

It’s essential that no communication barriers exist between parents and a nanny, you need to work together as a team. 

So, whilst it can initially be a little stressful hiring a nanny, following the steps above can ease the stress and make the whole exercise beneficial to your child and of course to the mother and father!

About the Author

Alfiah was born and raised in a rural town in Indonesia. She lived in Vienna, Austria, where she gave birth to her two daughters, and in the United Arab Emirates before moving to Bangkok in 2013. Alfiah is the founder and manager of Kiidu, an online marketplace for finding a nanny, maid, senior caregiver, and driver in Thailand. Visit kiidu.com.


The views expressed in the articles in this magazine are not necessarily those of BAMBI committee members and we assume no responsibility for them or their effects.

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