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Library & FAQs: Nanny Resources

The Nanny Log and
Why We Recommend It!

Excerpted from Nanny Handbook
© Simply Nannies Placement Service, LLC., Ruth F. Riley

A good family-nanny relationship is a lot like a good marriage: both require good communication in order to work.

This analogy may surprise you. After all, you are only accepting a job position - you have had other supervisors before and you certainly wouldn't characterize those relationships as being like a good marriage. Why is this employer/employee relationship all that different?

The biggest difference is that with other positions, chances are you did not live with your employers or coworkers. Even if you will be going home at night, you will be spending on average, 8-12 hours, five days per week in their home.

In short, the family/nanny relationship, by definition, is not an ordinary employer/employee relationship. With this in mind, we make the following suggestions:

Plan regular discussion times from the beginning of the relationship.

Don't wait for the need to arise. These meetings work much better when they are treated as preventative medicine and not as a cure. Ideally, these meetings will create a regular opportunity for each party to raise any concerns they have - primarily childcare related, but also personal issues as the need arises. Plan on having these meetings with the children are not within hearing distance and are preferably otherwise occupied, perhaps with friends, etc.

These meetings should be held often enough (weekly for the first month and if everything is running smoothly, then perhaps biweekly, with the understanding that you both are available to discuss something which comes up between meetings on an as necessary basis) that they become a relaxed method of communication which occurs in a receptive environment. Scheduling one more thing after a hectic day with the children may seem overwhelming, but the results can be worth the effort.

Be Receptive to Feedback

It is common to feel nervous whenever reviewing your work performance. This anxiety is often heightened by the fact that your relationship with your employers will most likely be more intimate than with other employers in the past. It is easy to take things more personally than one normally would. Keeping an open mind to what is being said is essential to a good relationship. It is oftentimes very difficult for the parents to point out an area of concern, being afraid that the nanny might get angry and either take out the anger on the children or decide to terminate the relationship. As with any profession you should expect to be reviewed by your employer and try to take the feedback and use it to become a better childcare professional.

The Nanny Log

The nanny log is nothing more that a summary of a day's events. It requires no special equipment, a composition book works fine. The purpose of the log is to record information of importance to the child's welfare, as well as provide the parents with some narrative information about the day and its activities. The log should not be used to communicate bad news - i.e.,"You need to get home more promptly" or issues of that sort. These are always best handled face to face.

Each log entry should be dated. At a minimum it should contain the following:

  • Medication information, including what medication given, the time(s), and dosage
  • Information on meals and nap times
  • Activities engaged in during the day
  • Child's overall mood
  • Any problems/challenges faced and how resolved

For infants, the log will be more structured, and will include:

  • Diaper changes (times) and bowel movements
  • Feeding times and amounts consumed
  • Milestones, such as rolling over
  • Temperament (fussy, tired, pulling at ear, alert and engaged, etc.)

A nanny log entry may look like the following:

"Monday June 5
Susie woke at 8:25, had Cheerios for breakfast with half a banana. We practiced colors and shapes with the laundry - she matched 3 pairs of socks by herself!

Teletubbies from 10-11 and then we went to the park. Susie met up with Mark and they played nicely on the tot lot for about an hour. Mark's mom would like to talk to you about setting up some play dates.

Half a grilled cheese sandwich and mug of Chicken Stars soup for lunch. Susie napped from 1 - 2:30. She woke up real slow, we worked on puzzles for a while and looked through that catalog you got in the mail for ideas for a flower garden. Peanut butter crackers and apple juice for snack. She helped me make her bed and scrub the carrots and potatoes for dinner, then flopped on the couch for Sesame Street at 5. She dozed off in the middle.

Grandma Anna called, said she would get you tonight.

We had a great day."

Why keep this log you may be asking? Primarily the log is a communication tool, an important documentation of the child's health, development and activities, to help the parents stay connected with the daily routines. It is the responsibility of the nanny to keep the parents informed of the child's activities, development, and health concerns. If the child becomes ill during the night, the parents may refer to the day's log for clues (teething, ear infection, food allergy). Many parents begin the day's log with a comment of their own before they leave for work. You too would want to know that the child slept poorly (so that's why he is grumpy today) or ate a huge breakfast (not interested in that morning snack).

In addition to the above uses, many families also use the log as a payroll record for the live out (come and go) nanny ... what day's she worked, when started and when relieved. Nannies can put the log to double duty as an expense tracker ... when you picked up the loaf of bread or carton of milk, or paid for the preschool field trip you can note on the log for reimbursement by the employer.

Editors Note: would argue additionally that a log is an outward sign of the seriousness with which you take your responsibilities as well as a tool to prevent serious parent/nanny misunderstandings. A parent who knows that the child had a picnic in the park today with her best friend will not get concerned by a laundry hamper that didn't get attended to.