Summer is finally here! The playgrounds are packed, ice cream trucks are singing, and the water sprinklers are on. This is wonderful news not just for the kids but also for mom, dad and … the nanny! But along with the fun of summer in this amazing city, there are many dangers and concerns that can arise with the extra time spent out of the home.
In any relationship, regular and intentional communication is important, but in a nanny-family employment relationship, it is even more so. Beyond the fact that this “job” carries the weight of being responsible for your most precious little people, this position does not come with an HR department and every family’s parenting style and expectations for their child is very different. So before issues come up this summer, take a few minutes to chat with your nanny about your summertime policies and safety concerns for enjoying the great outdoors.
Here are some topics that you may want to address with your nanny:
Where is your child allowed to go while outside? Specific parks/playgrounds? Hoboken only? Jersey City with permission? Walking only, or is it ok to take public transportation to Jersey City or NYC? Is your nanny allowed to ever take your child by car (personal or Uber/Lyft/taxi)? Is the nanny allowed to run her own errands while out? How much time are you comfortable with your child being out of the home? Is there a minimum amount of time you would prefer your child to spend outdoors on nice days?
Are you comfortable with your nanny observing your child in play from afar or do you want her to be actively involved in play? How should she handle bringing toys from home to the playground (sharing, collecting toys to bring home, etc.)? Be sure to remind your nanny to check the temperature of the playground equipment so as to protect little legs and hands from burns.
Water Park Rules
What is the appropriate attire for your nanny while at the water park? What about your child? Should your child wear a swim suit (swim diaper?) or are street clothes acceptable? Should your child wear a specific pair of shoes or can they be barefoot? Are you ok with your child’s clothes being taken off/changed in public?
Also, be sure to point out water balloon choking hazards for young children and broken balloon clean-up for older children!
Are you comfortable with your nanny changing your child’s diaper in the grass or on a park bench? What are the approved locations for your potty trained/training child to use the bathroom? Can your nanny leave your child with a trusted nanny or mom friend while she goes to use the restroom for herself or should she bring your child with her?
Is nap time allowable in the stroller? Do you have concerns with blankets tied above the stroller for shaded naps? Do you have a clip-on fan for the stroller? Discuss the length of time which is developmentally appropriate to have a child awake in the stroller vs. mobile and free to move around.
Food on the go
Is it allowable for your baby to have a bottle and solids on the go? A picnic lunch for older children? Are they allowed to have ice cream and other cool treats? If so, how often and do they need permission from you? Will you leave cash for the nanny to use or should she submit receipts for reimbursement? And please discuss with your nanny the importance of food caution with allergens (peanut products in particular) and the unintentional dangers that feeding your child outdoors can cause to others!
What temperature or conditions are you not comfortable with your child being outside: air quality alerts and/or extreme heat advisories? Will you inform your nanny of any unsuitable conditions daily or should she check a weather tracker?
Outdoor Preparation and Safety
What should your nanny bring outside? Some items to consider: a cooler for snack and cold water; cash for emergencies; sunhat, sunscreen, spray bottle, fan, etc.
Discuss animal safety such as: Animals (wild and domestic) and insects in the parks. What should she do if she finds a tick on your child? Are you comfortable with your child petting a stranger's dog with your nanny?
Do you have emergency contact and medical information in the stroller or diaper bag so someone can reach you in case your nanny loses her phone or in the event that your child or nanny has a medical emergency?
Phone use: now is a good time to remind your nanny that being distracted on their phone is a safety concern for your child, and to reiterate the importance of engagement with your little one.
Parents often assume that the nanny knows what the family wants as “common sense” (you know, the same way I assume my husband know what I want without telling him...hehe). But, having a sit down to lay out all your expectations up front will be so much healthier for the relationship than waiting until a concern arises.
Holly Flanders is a Hoboken mom, and owner of Choice Parenting, Childcare Consulting Service. For assistance, questions or to schedule one-on-one coaching or group class, visit