Nannies and families - Learning to work together at home

Working alongside each other in such a stressful time is going to see many nanny/ family relationships tested. Here are some tips around the conversations and strategies that will help everyone establish the new norm!

As social distancing and quarantine rules become more clear, many employees are being asked to work remotely from home.   As a result, organisations take steps to ensure that employees stay connected during this time of social (physical) distancing, parents and nannies are about to be more connected than ever before.  While many nannies have worked alongside families in the home, it’s rare as it can be hard to navigate the logistics and emotions that come with working in close proximity. This means nannies and families are going to have to navigate this transition through proactive, professional, and honest conversations.  

Set up an office, out of sight

Working from home likely means more Zoom meetings, conference calls and other important deadlines that don’t need an interruption.  Because of this, it’s important to set up work in a room where you can shut the door and separate from the household . Avoid telling younger children that you’re on the other side of the door because, if they figure it out, it’s going to be a lot harder for the nanny to manage her day.  If your children are older, have a conversation with them and let them know your expectations on interuptions through the day. Conversation suggestion: When either party needs something, can it be sent as a text/whatsapp instead? What parts of the day do you anticipate you’ll have your break?

Supply resources

Just as your work provides you with a laptop and phone to continue work, it’s important you provide your nanny for the right resources to entertain the kids.  For example,extra craft supplies, strategic toy rotations and baking ingredients are all things you can provide to help the day stay busy. Conversation suggestion: What resources does the nanny need?  Is it easier for her to bring what she needs for you to reimburse the costs?

Don’t have too many cooks in the kitchen 

The children are going to get upset and want Mum or Dad, especially if they know they are home.  It’s important to remember that the nanny has her own methods, routines, and expectations of the children.   Therefore, the more you get involved, the more confusing things will be for everyone.  In the early days, check-in often with how things are going to ensure that everyone’s day runs smoothly. Conversation suggestions: What is the expectation of both parties if the children become upset?  When is the expected time for parents to become involved/leave the nanny to sort things out? 

Support and trust the nanny to do her role 

Remember, no one likes a supervisor hovering over their shoulder as they complete their job.  Parents are naturally going to become more involved but respecting the nanny’s role with the kids and home is important.  Keep up honest discussions with the nanny about your priorities and preferences but don’t micromanage. Try and balance things between discussing the changes to the nanny’s work environment and allowing things to play out.  Some children may have meltdowns and cry but if you can hear the nanny has a good hold on the situation, allow her to do her job without interruption as often as you can. Conversation suggestions: What are the nanny’s expectations for the parents’ involvement throughout the day? What should the nanny do when the parent takes a break to say hi to the kids?

Remain a united front for the children

 The younger children are naturally going to be confused and older kids are going to become restless.  The nanny’s job is going to get harder as the period of staying in the home continues. At times the nanny may need to implement discipline, distractions, and take charge as the cabin fever hits. It’s important that you remain a united front to ensure the children understand the nanny is a major decision maker in the home at this time.  Should you want to discuss their approach, methods, or scenarios, save it for a time when the kids aren’t around. Conversation suggestions:  What is the plan for when the children misbehave? What is the nanny’s role in the parenting team while everyone is at home?  

Maintain strong hygiene practices 

We recommend both parties complete the COVID-19 Infection Control Training to have an understanding of the virus and hygiene practices that need to be implemented.  Families, it’s important that you ensure the house is equipped with hand soap, sanitiser, wipes and other cleaning products.

Managing COVID-19 policies and procedures

As the situation continues to evolve, it’s important to acknowledge that there is no way for either party to confirm that they are not carrying COVID-19.  Continuing a nanny’s working relationship is a direct risk that each party must agree to in these uncertain times. Before moving forward, both parties should have a meeting to determine the expectations moving forward.  Conversation suggestions: What is the expectation if someone shows symptoms or comes into contact with an expected case? What will happen to the nanny’s pay if the role suddenly stops? What is the exposure risks do each party experience?

Have honest conversations at the right time

Keep the conversation flowing. In these times nannies and families need to touch base daily.  With the nanny supporting the family, try to consider how you can help the nanny. If she is living alone, maybe invite her to stay over for dinner or give her a roll of toilet paper if she is running low on it. Conversation suggestions: How are you going, is there anything I can help you with at the moment? As

FINALLY, be kind to one another – Working in close proximity is going to come with its frustrations.  Emotions are running high as everyone tries to navigate this challenging time. Understand that confronting conversations are going to happen, and try to ensure they happen respectfully and with grace.  The more you can openly discuss things in a professional and kind way, the stronger your relationship will be in this difficult time!

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