True Story: I picked up one of the kids I have after school. We wanted to make “shiny” slime, so we had to make a quick pit stop by a grocery store to pick up some glitter. This was no big deal because I had permission from her mom since it was just on the way. We ran in, grabbed what we needed, and were off. As I pulled out of my spot, another car came out of nowhere and hint my bumper! 🤦🏽‍♀️ What was I going to do?! What if she got hurt?! What would her mom say?! Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. Because I was pulling out slowly, nobody was hurt! I knew what her mom would say because we’d discussed what to do in this situation ahead of time. It was in my contract.

A verbal agreement can be nice and easy. It feels less intimidating, so most people stop there. DON’T STOP! A verbal agreement carries no weight in “the real world”.

A contract is necessary! A signed contract is binding and clarifies all of the “What if…?” questions.

A contract is important because it protects you and the family. It clarifies expectations, payments, responsibilities for both sides. It’s legally binding once both parties sign. Everyone needs a contract because we are humans. We all forget things sometimes and aren’t always clear communicators. Just in case there are disputes in the future. You can never put too much information in a contract. You are covered for anything in your contract, so make sure you have the right things in it. I’m going to go over some important things to have in your contract.

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Nanny Contract

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Now, let’s go over the 10 things you need in your contract! We’ll start with the first five you’ll need in today’s article, then we’ll discuss the remaining 5 in next week’s. Let’s get started!

What goes in a Nanny Contract?

1. Pay

Salary or hourly? What is your rate? What is your overtime rate? Will you be reimbursed for mileage? When you’re driving the kid(s) around for activities, family errands will you be reimbursed by the family? If so, how much? (Check your local tax rules, but where I live, if the family pays you less than the IRS would for mileage reimbursement, you may not want to accept mileage reimbursement from them). How much is your allowance for family activities? When/How will you be reimbursed for these expenses? When & how will you send your invoices? How will you get copies of receipts for purchases & invoices to the family? Who in the family will be paying you? Clarify that you, as a self-employed nanny, will be handling your own taxes. (If you prefer to be “employed” by families, than you will have to make those necessary changes to this contract information, this is for self-employed nannies). If you are going to be a long-term nanny, you may consider asking them for health insurance support.

2. Schedules

What days and hours will you be working? What will happen to your pay if the parents come home early or decide to take a day off from work and don’t need you on a day you are supposed to work? Will you still be paid a full day? I suggest including a minimum amount of hours they will pay you, despite last minute changes to their schedules. Clarify what “last minute” means – it could be anywhere from one week to 24 hours. This will help you maintain regular pay, so you can maintain a budget. 

Don’t forget to specifically list any paid holidays and other special days, like anniversaries, you would like to have off. 

Do you want to get some paid vacation time? Make sure to include when your paid vacation will start to accumulate. Also, include what your days worked to paid vacation days are going to be (i.e. 1 week worked = 1 paid vacation day). Get specific with how much notice you and the family will give each for vacation time, whether or not it’s paid. Remember this notice can go both ways. If the family decides to take a vacation that you won’t be paid for, they need to give you the same amount of notice they expect from you. So, asking for a month’s notice for their vacations is fine if you’re a far out planner, just expect that they’re going to want the same from you. If you are anything like me, then you plan your vacations around those super great deals on flights that only appear in the middle of the night. In those cases, you may want a shorter amount of vacation notice. Either way, the more flexibility you give, the more wiggle room you’ll receive.

Pro Tip: Plan your vacations at the same time! Whether or not you are going on a paid vacation, try to match your vacations with the family. It will save everyone time and money.

Don’t forget to include sick days. I used to think this was unnecessary. “If I’m not going into work, and doing my job, I shouldn’t get paid” is what I used to say. Then, one week, I was terribly sick and while I was at home, in bed, I was feeling guiltier than ever. Just the thought of the money I would be losing by not going into work was making me worse. I couldn’t physically get out of bed, but couldn’t afford to lose the money either. It was a lose – lose situation. All I kept thinking was, I really should have included sick days for moments like these. Learn from my mistakes, give yourself a set number of sick days and personal days. Be sure to state how much notice you will give before you use either one. You may want to give yourself some flexibility with this one because being sick isn’t predictable. I would include a 24 hour notice agreement for sick days.

3. Responsibilities

Remember those should do, would do, could do lists I’m constantly mentioning? If not, take a quick glance at those and then come back. If so, those go here. You can literally just copy and paste those lists here.

This is the place for everything that will happen in your routine with the kids. When and what they should eat. Ask if they have any food allergies or what food have already been introduced. Makes notes of those here.

You can also include naptime, bath time and bedtime routines here. What do those routines look like already and what are you expected to do. Outline what your daily/weekly logs will look like and where and when they will be available. For older children, I do recommend weekly logs, just because you will normally give whichever parent comes home first a brief recap of your day and that’s all they really need. Usually babies or kids that have health concerns need daily logs.

Don’t guarantee more than you can realistically produce. An important part of keeping clients happy is managing expectations.

Clarify playdate rules. Do house guests need to be pre-approved? Yes! Everytime! Can we host playdates? Who is included in the family’s pre-approved list of playmates? Are there any extracurriculars you need to know about?

Lastly, in this section you can clarify general house rules. Make note of your cell phone and media usage here. I only use my phone and laptop during baby nap times. If my phone rings during the day, it’s usually either my husband or my mother, so I answer and try to keep my conversation less than 5 minutes. All other calls or emails, I don’t deal with until the baby is napping or having limited media time of their own.

To be a successful nanny, know & exceed parent's expectations

4. Child Development

How do the parents currently/want to raise their kid(s)? Do they want to use the self-soothe method of sleep training? What are their priorities on nutrition, safety and play? All of those notes will go here. Any educational milestones they want your help reaching should be specified. Most importantly, their preferred discipline style needs to be clearly outlined.

5. Emergency

This is where you can have all of the emergency contract and protocol information. This information can be copied from the Medical Consent Form.

A Medical Consent Form is an absolute must when watching children.

It doesn’t matter if it’s only for one night. You will need this form to consent in place of the parent for any medical treatment of their child in the case of an emergency.

Safety First Tips! Anything the parents want you to keep a close eye on. Example: A family may have a swimming pool in the backyard. They may require that you be outside in the backyard with the child at all times, rather than looking at them through a window.

Nanny contract questionnaire

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