Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nannies rarely worked in homes where the parents were present during the day. Now, since offices have closed and many parents have transitioned to working from home full-time, it has become the norm, rather than the exception. This arrangement can present some challenges, particularly for Nannies who are used to having the parents be absent and prefer to work independently. We recognize that it is an adjustment, which is why we’ve put together a few helpful tips for Nannies placed in homes where the parents are also working.
Have a designated workspace
If the size and layout of the home allows, parents should set up a designated workspace that is separate from the main living area. This separation is beneficial for both the parents and children, as the parents can work without being distracted or interrupted throughout the day, and the children can have a better understanding of the distinction between work and family time. As a Nanny, this will also allow you more autonomy to look after the children without having the parents constantly monitoring and, potentially, micro-managing.
With parents being present in the home, there is a natural tendency for them to feel a sense of responsibility for tasks related to childcare. It is important to discuss boundaries with the parents and have a mutual understanding of what your duties are, as well as where and when they can step in. For example, if you are there to provide childcare from 8:00AM until 4:00PM, you are responsible for feeding the children breakfast, lunch, and snacks; doing indoor and outdoor activities with them; taking them to playgroup; etcetera. If the parent is working from home and wants to have some involvement during that time, it should be pre-determined and not interfere with the children’s routine. Does Mom may want to have lunch with the children each day while she takes her break? Great! This is easy to work into the children’s daily schedule. Having Mom pop in and say “hi” while you’re trying to put the two-year-old down for a nap? Not so great.
We have heard from countless parents that their children are on their best behaviour when they’re with other people, and they save their “challenging” side exclusively for their parents. This may not necessarily be true, but you can see what we’re getting at here — children are more likely to act out and demand attention when their parents are around, especially if they’re preoccupied with work. They may ignore your role as a Nanny and come back at you with “you’re not my mother” or throw temper tantrums if they’re not that articulate yet. This will certainly be a challenge, especially if it is a new working relationship or the parents have just recently transitioned to working from the home. You can prepare for this by familiarizing yourself with positive discipline methods and having proactive conversations with the parents about how they would like you to approach these situations.
Provide comfort and show compassion
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that this is a difficult, confusing time for everyone and especially for children. Be patient, show compassion, answer questions, provide comfort, and help them develop coping strategies. We don’t know when this pandemic is going to end and parents may be working from home indefinitely — we all need to be flexible and learn to adapt to the “new normal”.