How to Nanny With Stay at Home Parents

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Being a nanny with a parent working from home can be a challenge for many reasons. For some children, it can be difficult to adjust to a new nanny or caregiver. It takes time for the bonds to form and for trust to blossom. This can be especially difficult when one or both parents are also working from home. Some children may defer to a parent if they’re just in the other room, to the horror of many caregivers who know that parent happens to be on a conference call. As a new or long-term nanny who finds themselves caregiving alongside a work from home parent, how can you set the boundaries needed for the child to thrive?

Communicate!

While the child is not present, have a conversation with the work from home parent. If the child frequently calls upon the parent during the day, ask the parent to verbally defer to you so that the child hears from their own mouth that you are the authority on all matters. Some parents may not mind being sought out during the day, but it is important that as the caregiver during your working hours, your authority is not undermined in the eyes of the child. Our Honest House Promise details what a positive, healthy working environment looks like for all. Ask the parent leading questions so you both can be on the same page and avoid any awkwardness in front of the child. Some questions to consider:

  • How do we handle mealtimes and bathroom breaks where you and the child are in the same space?
  • Do the children need to play in areas away from where you will be working? Does the noise level matter?
  • If you plan on interacting with the children during the day, how involved would you like me to be? Is there a task, such as laundry or meal prep, that could get done while you interact with them?
  • If the child needs comfort, at what point would you like to be notified or involved?

Leading questions can help set the foundations for a positive and productive working environment for all. If the idea of communication sets your stomach into knots, here are some effective tips on better communication.

Establish a routine

It is no secret that children thrive under a routine. The idea of having a parent working from home while a caregiver is present may be a novel idea to them, and they will try and push the boundaries to see how they relate in this new environment. Children will want to update their parents during the day, showing them what they made and telling them a funny joke, especially since they’re just in the other room! But designating times throughout the day, such as meal time or “hand off” time where children know that they will have an opportunity to see their parents, can assist nannies in quelling the child’s urge to barge in on the parent’s zoom call to tell them about the especially tasty grape they ate. Here are CDC tips on establishing routines for children.

Being a nanny with a parent working from home can be a challenge for many reasons. For some children, it can be difficult to adjust to a new nanny or caregiver. It takes time for the bonds to form and for trust to blossom.

Create designated areas in the home

Having a “kids section” and a “parents’ work section” can greatly assist in creating the types of spacial boundaries children understand and relate to. Discuss with the parents areas that are “off limits” for the kids and request that you both enforce that with equal measure, ensuring that the message hits home. Having specific play areas that are unique to the child will help make the bitter pill of not being allowed in a certain area easier to swallow.

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Recognize that bonding may take longer

If a child has the choice to be comforted by someone they just met vs. the parent in the other room, they will of course choose the parent. If you are having difficulties forming a bond while a parent is working from home, ask the parent to help you form trust with the child by reassuring the child that you are there for them and you can be trusted. If the parent is verbally reaffirming their choice in you, the child will have an easier time opening up. Engage with the child as much as possible during this period, and if feasible, take them on outings where they can more easily recognize you as the caregiver.

Be ready for parents "popping in"

Having a parent that works from home who frequently checks in can make it difficult to establish authority and trust with the child, and can sometimes lead to meltdowns and disruption of activities. This is why it’s imperative that you create firm boundaries and communicate with the parent your needs as a nanny and stick to the schedule as much as possible. 

There will always be a learning curve when nannying while a parent is working from home. In any relationship, communication is key. Make sure that you and the parent have an opportunity to voice your needs and expectations so that a clear routine and schedule may be formed to allow the child to thrive and avoid any meltdowns or confusion. At the end of the day, as a nanny you are there to create a safe and loving environment for the child and it is important that both you and the parents remember that often. Look at these tips for developing a happy and healthy parent – nanny relationship.

If you have any questions or concerns or are having a difficult time performing your nanny duties while a parent is working from home, reach out to us and we will do our best to assist you.

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