A few years ago White House Nannies added a question to our list of nanny interview questions: “How do you feel about working for a family where a parent works from home?”
For many nannies, it is quite an adjustment to have their bosses at home all day due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. I’ve listened to some thoughtful talks given by nannies, including stalwarts Rachael Lubin and Laurin Green. I am taking their advice to heart when writing our White House Nannies suggestions for how families and nannies can work together most successfully.
Below are some common scenarios we recommend addressing with your employer:
To quote Rachael Lubin, a Vice President on the Board of Directors of the International Nanny Association, “Nannies are not forever. Parents are. That relationship supersedes all others.”
This reality may be more apparent now with parents working from home. Many nannies are used to being in charge when they are on duty and they like it that way. Working at home with a working parent may necessitate more give and take on the issue of control. It will be important for you and your employer to have a conversation about how involved they want to be during the day.
I truly believe that no parents are going to ask what a nanny does all day now that they are also home all day with their children. But, if a parent is wondering what did get accomplished, it may be a good time to dust off that old baby log and do an updated version. We recommend Our Nanny Diary. Nannies can share with the parents all that went on during the day while they were “at work.” You can bet there is going to be additional academic work added to the list of to-dos for many.
Setting physical boundaries is very important. Especially for children who aren’t used to having their parents at home during the day. I really like Rachael and Laurin’s idea of having a sign that parents can put on their office door. Red = do not enter; Green = you can come in for a visit. A simple visual cue like this is easy for a child to understand can help support a nanny as she tries to set boundaries.
Also, if a parent’s workspace is physically close to the children’s space, having a noise-canceling machine may be a great purchase. Hearing a parent’s voice may be a trigger and a distraction for the children.
Have a plan if temper tantrums seem to be the order of the day. DIscuss how nanny and parent can be on the same page when figuring out how to deal with a flailing toddler. It is a well-known fact that children behave way better for their nannies than their parents.
It is important to present a united front. When everyone is on the same page on everything from naptime, to tantrum reaction, to food, to screen time, to discipline—then working together (but separately) can work like a well-oiled machine. How to get there has a lot to do with communication.
Identifying meaningful times and disruptive times is important. If a parent likes to eat lunch with the children, that can work. If feeding the baby is what works for mom, then move over and let her do it. If being there after naptime is what a parent likes best, then that time is theirs.
Similarly, you should communicate times that it would be best for the parents to stay out of the way. Schedules are beautiful things. Not to mention a routine/consistent rhythm for the day is beneficial for the children
Everyone needs respect when doing their job, especially now. It’s not easy to keep emotions in check. These are truly stressful times for everyone. Children are stressed and yet they certainly can’t all articulate what they are feeling. Try having official weekly meetings where everyone can express concerns make suggestions, or discuss milestones
And let’s look at the bright side of this bad situation. Parents now have precious time with their children which they normally would not have had. Special and stressful. Especially stressful. Depending on the day!
If you’re struggling with your new working environment, we’re here to help and answer any of your specific questions. Feel free to call 301.654.1242 or email [email protected]