Nannies, like mother-in-laws, come with their own set of ideas as to how everything should be handled in your home when you’re not around. When these ideas differ from yours, problems typically arise. For parents who have raised their children to be eco-minded in a household based on earth friendly practices, it may be a challenging psychological and cultural hurdle when it comes to fostering a sense of environmental awareness in a child’s part-time caregiver. Here are tips on how you can get your nanny to enact green initiatives in your home and keep your kids on the emerald path, even in your absence.


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The first step: Practice what you preach. Before entering the nanny hiring process, be sure that you are knowledgeable about green principles and that you are actively embracing the practice of sustainable living.

For the interview, nanny.com suggests the following 3 steps (modified here for your green purposes):

1. Break the ice – Solicit opinions to gauge potential nanny’s green sensibilities.

2. Tour the house or apartment – Display your green policies and note reactions.

3. Review the details – The pay, benefits, start date, CPR training and, of course, the green rules.

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Once you have found the correct candidate, implement the following:

1. Provide green gear and supplies for your caregiver to use day-to-day.

2. Ensure that your home is always stocked with healthy options for both your child and your caregiver.

3. Work with your caregiver to guarantee that your rules are not impeding the service and care he/she would like to provide.

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Ongoing guidelines include:

1. Opening the channels of communication so dialogue between parent and caregiver may flow both ways.

2. Always be open to suggestions made by your childcare provider.

3. Embrace your caregiver’s cultural tendencies (cloth diapers vs. eco-disposables, fresh cooked meals vs. organic frozen packs. These are all green, so why put up a fight?)

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The experts also agree that getting your caregiver involved in green activities fosters a greater sense of inclusion in the rules made in your home, and keeps their charges thinking green.

Here are a few green activities for caregivers to do with kids:

1. “Encourage walking, biking and public transit with the kids which can be much more of an adventure than driving.” – Shannon Pitts at GreatAupair.com

2. “Have the sitter make a poster of a big pile of plastic water bottles with the kids. Every time they find one to recycle, the kids can erase it from the pile… It teaches them to know how wasteful a simple thing as a water bottle can be.” – Bethany Sirt at SitterCity.com

3. “Encourage [green] behavior by involving the kids and nanny in a garden. No matter how big or small, a simple pot could grow a tomato plant.” – Candi at nannies4hire.com

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Finally, leading by example, communication, involvement and providing the proper resources at his/her disposal are the key ingredients in having your nanny provide green care. Shannon Pitts founder of Great Au Pair sums it up best: “Whether it’s turning off the water while brushing your teeth to learning how to reduce meal sizes to waste less, a mindset of conservation must permeate our nannies’ actions, which in turn will result in our kids modeling the same green practices.”

*photos from flickr cc