As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, more parents are working from home than ever before. If you rely on childcare and have a nanny looking after your children at home, their work environment has now become more challenging. In our experience, nannies typically shy away from positions where Mom or Dad work from home because of the many challenges that can arise, particularly if space in the home is limited.
Our new reality means that nannies and parents are going to have to adapt and coexist. At Nannies on Call, our goal is to set up successful long-term childcare arrangements where both nannies and parents are happy. Here are 5 tips to make that happen:
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Did we say that enough times? We hear from nannies complaining about parents or parents complaining about their nannies on a daily basis. The culprit: lack of clear, daily communication. We encourage you to have weekly sit down check-ins with your nanny. Talk about and write down expectations, issues that have arisen since you have last sat down and, of course, offer praise for what you appreciate your nanny is doing well.
- Boundaries – The nanny/parent workplace is a hard one. It is the family’s home, the nanny’s workplace, and also the parent’s workplace. Families, of course, feel comfortable in their own home, but they have to remember it is also a workplace for the nanny. Taking conference calls in the kitchen while the nanny is expected to feed the children lunch and keep them quiet or having Dad walk around the house in his underwear (you laugh, but this happens) is not appropriate. When the nanny is in the home, treat it like a work environment and have professional boundaries in place. If you wouldn’t do it in your office outside the house, don’t do it at home while your nanny is trying to work.
- Trust – It is important that you trust your nanny 100%. If you don’t, then she should not be working with your family. For nannies, working in a home where one or both parents are at home often leads to micromanaging. Every time a child cries, Mom or Dad come running, or when siblings fight, the parents step in. Parents undermine the nanny’s authority and the more they do this, the less likely the nanny will be able to soothe a crying child or break up the fight which, in turn, is going to leave the parents feeling like the nanny cannot handle their job. When you go off to work in your home office, close the door and resist the urge to interfere. If you hired an extraordinary nanny, they will be able to handle these daily issues.
- Clean work environment – Imagine for a moment walking into your office and there are dishes piled up, dirty laundry on the floor, and papers everywhere. This is the number one complaint we hear from nannies. They leave the house clean on a Monday afternoon and when they return on Tuesday, it looks like a bomb went off. We understand that this is the parents home. They can choose to live however they like, but as soon as you bring a nanny into the home it becomes their working environment and the dynamic may need to change.
- Ending on time – It can be easy for your day to run long. A meeting runs over or you just lose track of time. 10 minutes one day and 30 minutes another adds up. Nannies are often not paid for this extra time and it can lead to resentment. Make sure you are communicating regularly about end-of-day protocol. Can the nanny come knock on your office door to let you know they are leaving? Can they arrive 30 minutes late the next morning if you run 30 minutes late the evening before? Do you need to set an alarm on your phone so you can let the nanny go on time each day? No matter what you decide to do, make sure you are communicating so everyone’s expectations are clear.
At Nannies on Call, we have been hearing feedback from both nannies and families for almost 20 years. Being a nanny when both parents are working from home is one of the most difficult and stressful jobs. Many families are able to develop a successful relationship with their nannies by understanding that their home is also the nanny’s work environment and respecting the difficulty of the situation by implementing the above suggestions.
Do you have suggestions that have made your past nanny placement successful while working from home? We would love to hear about them!