Leaving someone alone in your home with your children is a huge leap of faith. Not only are you trusting them with your children, you’re also trusting them with your home. Are they taking care of your baby the way that you would? Are they having friends over? Do they snoop through the house and try on your clothes? Maybe you’ve noticed your alcohol bottles getting a little lighter or just have a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. No matter what your reasons, in most places you can legally spy on your babysitter, nanny or au-pair. Best of all, all you need is relatively inexpensive equipment and an internet connection.
Install a Nanny-Cam
The easiest way to spy on your child’s caregiver is with an old-fashioned nanny-cam. Today’s models are sleek enough to slip into a child’s teddybear where they’ll have a birds eye view of the entire room. Note from a professional: Don’t put the camera in your child’s favorite bear. Choose one that’s decorative and isn’t likely to get picked up or played with. If the idea of turning your child’s teddybear into a nanny-spying cyborg isn’t appealing, you can always hide a camera in a mirror or other fixture. Today’s cameras are so small that they can be mounted nearly anywhere.
If you find out that your locality requires some form of consent before recording, consider adding the possibility of being periodically recorded to your contract. The right verbiage will make it so your caregiver never knows when he or she will be on camera. If you don’t already have a contract with your caregivers, now might be a good time to make one. The contract can include permission to record, along with a list of expectations, hours and more.
Once the nanny-cam is purchased and installed, you may struggle with whether or not you should tell your nanny that you’re recording her. That’s normal. If you didn’t feel guilty, that would be a big red flag that you need to fire your nanny as soon as possible. Regardless of your personal feelings, we suggest that you don’t tell your nanny she’s being recorded. Why? Not telling her will give you the most authentic glimpse into how they interacts with the children. If your area requires you legally to inform your nanny that she could be getting recorded, be upfront about your surveillance equipment, but don’t tell the nanny where it’s located. You may even want to install a decoy camera that doesn’t work, but will help throw him or her off the trail.
If the nanny insists on knowing where the camera is or is not okay with being recorded, you should take that as a sign and keep looking for the right person to care for your child. If she’s fine with being recorded, but seems put-off that you would want to watch her, highlight some of the benefits of having a camera, like improved safety and video footage of your child’s milestones that you might otherwise miss.
Never lie to your nanny. Your relationship should be built on mutual trust, so if you asks you outright if you are video recording her and you are, simply tell her yes and explain the benefits of the device. Watch her reaction and go from there. In general, most caregivers don’t mind being recorded and may even be extra diligent about caring for their charges knowing that mum or dad could look at the camera at any moment. Nanny-cams shouldn’t be seen as devices for prying, but rather as security measures.