How to handle a nanny that is constantly on her phone

As a parent, I have been guilty of it… Using my phone during times when I should have been present for my kids. Checking Facebook at the park, responding to texts at a swim meet, or taking calls in the car.
Even though most parents are guilty too, the thought of having an employee do this is frustrating, especially when it involves safety. It can also be embarrassing to hear from the kids or other mothers that your nanny is constantly on her phone.

In an effort to meet the needs of all parties, I always recommend a few key steps:

Understand the communication needs of the job. Do you like having pictures texted to you throughout the day of your newborn or toddler? Does your nanny need to arrange playdates or communicate with other parents or your older children? Is your nanny an emergency contact at your child’s school? If you answer yes to any of these, the expectation of phone use is a given.

Communicate early and often. If you are hiring a nanny, make sure to discuss your level of tolerance for phone use. Explain the need for professionalism during working hours and request that phones be used only for work-related issues. Set boundaries for personal phone use (defined downtime such as waiting for school pick-up or during a child’s nap) and ask that the phone be on low or silent during times with the children. While it would be unrealistic to set a “zero use” rule with your nanny, it helps to discuss this issue up front and make it part of the agreement.

Work together with the nanny to come up with a plan. I’ve learned that including the nanny in the solution is the best way to make both parties happy. Discuss with the nanny what she and you think is reasonable when it comes to phone use. Then, include those notes in your agreement or employee review cycle.

Buy a nanny phone if needed. If it is a continuous problem, consider purchasing a specific phone for your nanny to use during her shifts. This allows her to stay connected but also limits the use to work-related issues.