Setting the ground rules – babysitters, nannies and au pairs

With two full time working parents and three kids, we need help to manage our life and a few years ago we enrolled in an au pair program and have brought three different young women into our home to help care for our children.Livia with the kids 2007

Since we lived in Brazil, speak Portuguese and we know how wonderful Brazilians are with children, it was a no brainer to hire Brazilian au pairs and they have each been wonderful. That said, the US is different from Brazil and our house rules are likely different from those in other homes here and abroad – aren’t everyones?

To make it easier for me to explain the schedule, house rules and set expectations for our au pair, I asked friends who were in the program for any guidelines they Karlla at Disney 2008were using with their au pairs. From their contributions, I created the K-family Au Pair Guidelines. People who work with me are familiar with my First Day Memos that exist to rapidly acclimate a new team member to my staff and direct their efforts for the first two weeks (and usually the first 3 months). My Au Pair Guidelines are no different – they exist to prevent issues down the road – all the rules and expectations are clear. I think about 10 other families have taken our guidelines and modified them to their family.

All four - Ana, Livia, Karlla and Thayane with the kidsWe’ve been exceptionally lucky – we’ve hired women who turned out to be responsible, loving and a pleasure to have in our home. We’ve also tried to create the opportunity to stay lucky with the upfront work of the Au Pair Guidelines and the 2 week overlap between outgoing and incoming au pair for training. Plus our Brazilian babysitter (pre-au pair) always helps the girls find their way.  I find at work and at home the upfront investment pays off in less conflict, more satisfaction for everyone and a great experience.

How do you set ground rules for people who care for your children?