How to Best Manage Your Nanny while Homeworking
As a nanny, you know that each family is different, as is every child. But when you’re hired for a position where one or both parents are home regularly, questions and challenges may arise. Whether a parent works from home, is a stay-at-home parent or is just occasionally home during the day, it’s important to know how to navigate this potentially uncharted territory.
On this blog, we’ll give you tips on making an at-home arrangement easier for everyone and reconciling common challenges that may arise.
1. Establish authority and guidelines
Adjusting to a new nanny can be difficult for children but even more so when one or both of their parents are home. Child care experts who work with at-home parents, agree their jobs are made easier when the parents let them have authority when they’re watching the kids.
To establish this kind of trust and authority with your at-home employers, work with them in the beginning to help ease any confusion or tension that may come up.
Clear delineation of roles is so important. Make sure everything is discussed ahead of time. This might involve asking your employer questions like:
- What times of day will you be home? Do you want your child(ren) home then, too?
- How and when should I communicate with you when everyone is home?
- Do you mind the children seeking you out?
- What will we do about lunch times, bathroom breaks, etc. when you and the children will be in the same space?
- Do the children need to play in a separate area of the house, away from your office or the space you’ll be in?
- If you plan on interacting with the kids, how involved do you want me to be?
- If the children are injured or need comfort, at what point do you want to be notified or involved?
2. Create a routine
Establishing a schedule or routine is another way to help nannies, parents and children adjust to an at-home parent arrangement. Most parents will already have a routine in place for their kids. Working together can ensure the routine will still work when a nanny enters the equation. Nannies should ask families about their current routine in the interview stage and make sure it’s something that works for you, too.
In addition to scheduling things like meals, naps, playtime, activities and outings, it can also be helpful to establish “parent time” — a point in the day where there is a clear handoff of authority.
Whether your employer already has a routine in place for their kids and themselves or you need to create a new one together, consistency is key.
If the parent plans on interacting with their child throughout the day, try to make those times as consistent as possible. This not only helps maintain a consistent schedule but helps children understand when ‘parent time’ is over and [the nanny is] back in charge.
The same goes if you’ll be caring for an infant or a child with special needs who requires their parent’s regular hands-on care or attention. The schedule might need a little more finessing, so work together to navigate the daily tasks at hand and any challenges that arise.
3. Stick to designated spaces
Depending on the layout of your employer’s home, discuss creating separate areas for the parents and kids. Not only does this help reinforce boundaries, but it can significantly cut down on distractions for everyone involved.
There is nothing harder for a nanny than trying to distract a toddler who knows their parent is right in the next room.
Work with your at-home employer(s) to address questions like:
- Are there areas in the home that are off-limits for the kids?
- Are there areas in the home that should be avoided to eliminate distractions?
- Can we create a designated play area?
- Do I have permission to take the children outside or travel to kid-friendly places?
Of course, in smaller apartments and older houses, this may require some creativity on your part, but it can make everyone’s jobs a lot easier.
What should you do if the setup isn’t working? Schedule a chat with your employer outside both of your workdays to talk about playrooms, outings and activities.
4. Be aware it may take longer to bond
Another challenge nannies might encounter is that bonding with the children might take a little longer with parents around. It is only natural for a child to want his or her parents more than someone they just met. But how do you work through it? It comes down to working with the parent to come up with ways you can build stronger relationships with the kids and engage them as much as possible. This might mean taking the children on outings to the park more often or asking the parents to give you the “inside scoop” on their favorite treats or games. Find ways to have fun and to distract the child(ren) from their parents’ presence.
5. Be prepared for parent pop-ins
Having parents constantly popping in and out can make a nanny’s job that much more difficult. Whether they’re just going to the bathroom, want to say “hi” to the kids or they need to walk through the house to get to their office or bedroom, these parent sightings can lead to a disruption in your activities and even to a meltdown. To avoid this, keep to a schedule and maintain clear lines of communication.
Texting is a simple way for you and the parent(s) to communicate without the child(ren) being upset by their parent’s presence. If texting isn’t available, do a brief check-in each morning to hammer out schedules and what the parent(s) needs from you.
Remember: there’s always a learning curve
As in any child care position, communicating and working closely with your employer is key to ensuring a smooth transition. The most important factor is being a team and making sure “everyone [is] on the same page and [has] the same goals for the child.
At the end of the day, adjusting to an at-home parent situation may simply take time. It can be hard at first to get used to, and you might feel awkward and uncomfortable.
There’s a learning curve for everyone involved. Thankfully, though, that curve eventually evens out. Just like other nanny positions, you will get into a comfort zone soon enough.
At Good Nanny Finder, we take safety very seriously. We do complete nanny background checks. All candidates go through our extensive nanny screening services. Very few of the applicants who apply are accepted due to our stringent requirements. Our Excellent Nanny Services include Part-Time Nannies, Full-Time Nannies, Temporary Nannies, Babysitters, and Family Assistants.