How to Set Your Nanny up for Success While Working from Home
By Kyla Lopez — The Nanny Consultant
Hello Families! Over the past six weeks, I’ve assisted many nannies with the tough transition into the new working from home environment. Many nannies are struggling with the challenges that come from parents working from home, but they often don’t want to voice concerns at such a fragile time because they don’t want to add stress to their nanny family’s already tenuous situation. I’ve learned a lot about how to handle this change since we’ve been staying home, so I decided to create a little list to help both families and nannies succeed through the foreseeable future as many parents continue working from home. I hope these tips help provide some relief in a confusing and uncertain time.
Show appreciation for your nanny
This is a stressful time for families as children adapt to new school environments and having their parents home more often. But it’s also a stressful time for nannies! A little thing that goes a long way is showing appreciation for your nanny every single day that they provide care. Appreciation can come in many forms and can be so uplifting for your nanny, especially as they work during a pandemic. A quick text, little note, or gift card is a wonderful way to show some extra thankfulness. And, of course, verbal appreciation is always a great way to go.
Form a daily schedule
With everyone in such close quarters, communication is more important than ever. At the beginning of each day, make sure you communicate clearly with your nanny about the expectations for the upcoming day. While a pre-shift meeting adds more to do in an already full schedule for most parents, making sure you and your nanny are aligned will help your nanny maintain a consistent schedule for your children. If it works for you and your nanny, you can also create a daily schedule in advance, ideally the night before. Throughout the day, try to remain in your work space unless it is pre-scheduled and won’t interrupt the nanny and children’s predetermined schedule. If you do need to leave your workspace, it’s a good idea to text your nanny before coming out to see if it is a good time for them.
One nanny I worked with said, “My suggestion for parents would be to work out their daily schedule in advance and have set times to see their kids so it’s not a free-for-all. It’s better for their kids and 100% better for the nanny. My boss always communicates with me before she walks into a room so it’s not disruptive.”
Another nanny wrote, “When my bosses have an open-door policy with their kids, it can make my job much more difficult. After my nanny kiddo gets a hug and is told that it’s time to leave the office, it can end in tears or a major attitude shift.”
One helpful item to have in your home office is a mini fridge with plenty of snacks and drinks. That way there isn’t a need to pop into the kitchen. Here’s a reasonably priced minifridge on Amazon that has great reviews.
Keep your nanny’s workspace clean
Nannies are expected to leave the space they work in clean and tidy when they leave for the day, so it’s only fair that the family leaves the space the same way. Make sure dishes aren’t left in the sink and snacks aren’t left laying around the house. As a mom of three who runs a full time business, I truly understand that balance is hard. But your home is your nanny’s office and work space, and it’s only polite to keep it tidy.
While your nanny should spend the majority of the workday with your children (just like they would if you were at the office), it’s important to also schedule short breaks from work to spend time with your kids. But when you do join in on the fun, make sure you’re fully present. One thing I’ve heard over and over from nannies is that parents are often distracted on their phones when they come out to play. The parents mean well, but they’re still trying to send that last work email in the play space instead of finishing up in the office space. I’ve advised nannies that experience this to have an open conversation with their families. Your children have been tempted by your presence in the home all day, so it’s important to put work away and engage fully with them during your scheduled time. When you’re scheduling play time, a good rule of thumb is to pick a time you know you can disengage from work.
Talk to your nanny without your children present
A nanny wrote the following statement that sums up this point well: “A nanny is the third part of the parenting team. Just as parents respect their partners' discipline, the same goes for the nanny. If there’s an issue they might disagree on, you must talk about that in private—not in front of the kids. The same respect you'd give your co-parent should be extended to the nanny.” So find the right time to make bigger decisions that shouldn’t involve the children. This will likely need to be when the children are asleep, which can be difficult—but it’s worth it!
Schedule meetings appropriately
Make sure you set work meetings that won’t interfere with the nanny’s schedule. If the walls are thin and you need to take a meeting, it’s best to schedule it when you know the children will be out for a walk or taking a nap. Or vice versa: If you know you have an important work meeting that can’t be moved or you aren’t in charge of scheduling, plan for your nanny to take your children on a walk during that time. Letting your nanny know your schedule is a great start. While not ideal, another idea is to take the meeting in your garage or car.
Set boundaries for your workspace
Creating a system for your children to know when it’s OK to enter the office will help streamline your work from home situation. You could use a “do not disturb” sign or have a stop sign on the door. One local nanny had a great idea: “I made a ‘red light, yellow light, green light’ sign and put it on the office door. If the clothes pin is on red, we can’t come in. If it’s on yellow, we can knock and go in to say a quick hello. If the pin is on green, my nanny kid is allowed to quietly color in the office. It’s been a good way to allow my nanny kid to have a visual yes or no. Plus, I don’t have to text all the time to check to see if it’s okay if we come in and feel anxious we’re bothering her dad.”
Remember, your nanny is adapting, too
Your nanny was not originally hired to homeschool, and for many nannies this is a new and stressful work requirement. Many nannies find homeschooling mentally taxing and overwhelming. In normal circumstances, a homeschool teacher would be paid at a much higher rate than a nanny rate. Your nanny is homeschooling because they care and want to help, but adapting to a new environment and learning a new task is stressful. Please remember to thank your nanny every single day, and if you have the means to do so, a bonus or small items of gratitude are always greatly appreciated. If you have the time to let your nanny take extra time off or shorten their days, that can be a good option, too.
I hope these tips help you form a stronger bond with your nanny that allows everyone to navigate this tricky situation a little more easily. If you have any questions or need help finding a nanny to assist you in your work from home situation, just send me an email, and I’m happy to help.