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Working from home with a nanny around

babysitter playing with kids

Despite shelter in place orders being lifted by local officials, many companies have discovered the benefits of having employers work from home. With low to no cost workspaces, increased productivity, and 100% show-up-for-work-on-time rate, it’s no wonder employers are happy to continue working from home. Many parents, however, are now faced with new challenges. As work from home goes from temporary to permanent, parents are struggling with both finding childcare, and making it work effectively. However, it can be done. Plenty of nannies have done their jobs well with parents working from home even before the pandemic. Here are our top tips on how to effectively work from home with a nanny. 

Set Boundaries

If you’re hiring a new nanny during this time, it’s important to disclose that one or both parents will be working from home during the nanny’s working hours. It may help to seek out a nanny who has experience caretaking while parents are home, as they may even have tips or advice on how to make it work more smoothly and put parents at ease. If working with a longterm nanny, have an open discussion where you can brainstorm how to make the transition work effectively for your family. Nannying is already fraught with challenges, but attempting to contain children while their parents are just in the other room is incredibly difficult, and some nannies may not want to take on that challenge. If your nanny seems hesitant or is uncomfortable working in that type of arrangement, you should mutually part ways and seek out a nanny who is.

Communicate Guidelines

Once you and your nanny have decided to move forward, ensure that you both are on the same page about everything related to your children. Children need consistency, especially if they have multiple caretakers under the same roof at once. Be sure to communicate your parenting and disciplinary styles so that you and your nanny can both adhere to the same set of guidelines. If you set the boundary with your children that your office is off-limits during working hours but they barge in any way and you don’t remain consistent with discipline, children will continue to push the boundaries and make it incredibly difficult for your nanny to effectively provide care, and for you to get work done. Consider your nanny a partner in your child’s care so that they don’t continue to attempt to defer to you. 

Establish an Office

Kids require boundaries in all areas of life to better understand their role and where they fit in. Having their parents suddenly around all day is an exciting new facet for them that they want to take advantage of, and will at whatever costs and no matter how hard your nanny tries to keep them out of a parent’s office. To combat this, parents must establish a home office area equipped with a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Make it clear to your children that when Mom or Dad is in their office they are not to be interrupted and that the nanny is fully in charge. Ideally, this office space would be in a private room, not out in the open where kids can stop by; out of sight out of mind. To minimize distractions, keep a mini-fridge and coffee maker inside of your office to limit sightings and therefore curb disruptions in the children’s schedules. If there are any toys or clothes stored in the room you’ve repurposed for your office, make sure to remove them before starting your day.

Create a Plan

As with boundaries, children thrive with a clear routine. Understanding what is coming next and what is expected of them will greatly assist parents and their nanny while you work from home. If parents are expecting an important meeting, have the nanny take the children for a walk or play the quiet game to ensure minimal distractions. It is also a good idea to schedule time during the day, like lunch or snack time, in which you do see your children. Knowing that they will get to see their parents at a certain time will help quell their need to barge in willy nilly and will give them something to look forward to (as well as a much-deserved break for your nanny). 

Let Go

After you’ve set up and communicated all of your boundaries, you have to let your nanny do their job, just as you should focus on your own. You hired your nanny because they were trustworthy, dependable, warm, caring and the best fit for your children. Trust that they can handle the situation to the best of their ability. Refrain from checking on them unannounced as this can disrupt their activities. If you hear a tantrum or crying, resist the urge to check, this sends the message to your children that you don’t trust your nanny’s ability to take care of them. If it is something serious, your nanny will inform you. In the presence of your children, make sure that you uphold the nanny’s authority. If your child asks your nanny for a treat but your nanny says no, and your child then defers to you and you say “yes” then you’ve just set a precedent. Now every time your nanny says something your child does not like, they will come seeking you. If you disagree for some reason with your nanny’s choices, speak to them about it away from your children. You want your children to trust and respect your nanny, and you must lead by example. 

We don’t have to reiterate that we are living in strange times with uncharted territory. We are all learning new ways to cope and adjust every day. Los Angeles Nannies is here for you should you require any advice or have any questions about working from home with your nanny, or if you are searching for a new one. We’d love to hear how your work from home stories!

The first step to managing the burn out is to identify it and recognize it for what it is. Burnout can look like many different things, but the general symptoms are:

“Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal.”

Burn out is generally accepted as occurring when a nanny doesn’t have enough time for themselves to recharge, decompress and de-stress in-between shifts. This type of burn out is temporary and can be relieved simply by relaxing over the weekend or taking quality time for oneself. For more chronic burnout, however, there are many factors that can add up. Nannies who are at risk for burn out are:

  • Nannies who have a sense of personal responsibility. This type of burn out is especially present in nannies who do more emotional care giving, usually for children with special needs or in homes where there is turmoil or neglect.
  • Nannies who are not being paid enough. If one’s needs aren’t being met financially, it can be very difficult to be present for the job that is supposed to be paying your rent and feeding you.
  • Nannies who work without boundaries. If a nanny is without a work agreement and their role in unclear, they may end up being asked to take on additional roles outside of care giving.
  • Nannies who work long hours without time to recharge in-between shifts.

What can I do?

Many nannies work long hours and become emotionally invested in order to provide children with the proper care that they need and deserve, and to scale back on that care would be against their beliefs and be damaging for the child. So, as a nanny, how can you take care of yourself and the child?

Engage in Self Care

Self care is a major buzzword these days, but it looks different for everyone. Self care can be manipulated into marketing schemes, so it’s important to recognize what acts are actually beneficial to your rejuvenation between stressful care giving shifts. Shopping as self care may be good for some people, but if the cause of your burn out is due to financial stressors, it probably won’t do you any good. Self care is whatever you need to do to shake off the day. Exercise is a proven method of de-stressing and releasing endorphins, the chemicals in your brain that are responsible for happiness. Exercising every day also helps you manage stress and deal with whatever is coming up for you. Taking a bath, reading a good book, watching a movie or engaging in a creative activity are also wonderful ways of engaging in self care for nannies.

Practice Mindfulness

Change your perspective while you’re at work. Instead of focusing on the negatives, “I’m not being paid enough for this”, “I am giving so much to this family”, or “I’m not getting enough help” think about all of the positives that are present, like “I am making a wonderful connection and a difference in this child’s life” and “I am capable and strong and can handle any adversity that is thrown at me.” Many caregivers get disheartened when their work goes unnoticed. Often, it is those types of families that the work is needed most. 
Visualize the fact that connecting with and nurturing their child is making a huge impact in their life. Think about how doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen is creating a safe environment for the child. Changing the way you look at your role can have a huge impact on your mental health and your burn out. Take control of your days by engaging the child in fun activities that are also fun for you. Have a dance party, make a silly craft or just get a change of scenery. If it makes you smile, it will also make the child smile.
 

Draw Clear Boundaries

It is ideal for all nannies to have a close connection with their charges and with their families, but that closeness can often lead to feelings of guilt and obligation. If you are asked to do something you know will tire you out or leave you cranky and irritable, it’s okay to say no. Your job as a caregiver first and foremost is to care for the child, and anything that impedes on your ability to do so is outside of your job description and therefore not your responsibility. If you set expectations with the family, they can understand what you need and how better to allow you to assist the family.

Reach Out

If burnout is not managed, it can lead to more severe mental illnesses. Ask for help if you are having symptoms of depression or anxiety that you can’t manage yourself. Nannies are hard workers and often work alone, but there is no shame in asking for help when it is needed. If you are getting the help that you need in order to do your job correctly, then all parties benefit. Tell your nanny family that you are having difficulties performing, and have an open and honest conversation about how you can work together to make things better.

Accept Your Situation

Burning out as a nanny is a common affair and is not something to be ashamed of or to stress out about even further, but it also shouldn’t be the new normal. Once you accept that you are burned out, you can start taking steps to make your work-life balance healthy again.
 
If you are a nanny experiencing burn out, reach out to us! We can offer a number of solutions from drafting nanny work agreements to advice on how to set boundaries. Remember that you are not alone, all caregivers have felt this way at one point, but there is no reason that you need to continue feeling stressed.

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