When you have an energetic and professional nanny caring for your children it is important to remember that she too is human and has the same types of needs during her work day that you have at your own. Hiring a nanny that you love is just part of the process, now that you have her you will want to be sure that you are treating her well and being appreciative of her hard work and considerate of her needs. Let’s look at it this way: At a typical job there are coffee breaks, moments when you can take a walk outside to get some fresh air, and of course a lunch hour. This all allows you to perform at your best by taking the time you need during your busy day so that you don’t get burnt out on the job. A nanny’s typical day is quite different. She is constantly on and she cannot simply leave for a lunch hour and come back refreshed. Often during lunch your nanny is so busy feeding your children that she eats too quickly, not enough, or simply waits until a calmer time in the day to have her meal. As a parent you no doubt know what a busy Saturday with your kids is like, and how exhausted you feel at the end of it! While of course it isn’t possible to let your nanny leave for an hour lunch, it is important to let her work breaks into her day. It is extremely important for her, your children, and the nanny/parent relationship for her to have some down time.
So, what does this look like for a nanny? If the children are of napping age this is the perfect time to let your nanny rest. When the little ones are awake, she is tending to their needs nonstop, taking them for outings and activities, cleaning up after them, keeping up with their laundry, dishes, bottle cleaning, and random messes, as well as teaching them, entertaining them, and engaging in hands on play time. As you can imagine she often rarely has time to just run to the bathroom! Be considerate of her need for some downtime by letting her choose how she wishes to spend nap time rather than trying to find tasks for her to do. (Remember she is not your housekeeper) Simply put, you are paying her for her time, she has to be there, and she deserves a break just like you do. Some days that break may be 30 minutes, other days if you have a toddler that takes the long afternoon nap it could be two or three hours. During this time your nanny should be able to eat if she needs to, read, make a personal phone call, study, or anything similar that she chooses. It is especially nice to allow your nanny to nap when the children are napping. This allows her to be refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day! For safety simply ask her to make sure the doors are locked, and the baby monitor is next to her. It is so important to remember that your nanny, while a professional, is not a child care machine. She may be in school at night, going home to her own family, or any number of other things that keep her schedule packed like yours is. Giving her the chance to take a break will go a long way in keeping her happy, healthy, and being the absolute best nanny that she can be for your children. Which makes breaks a positive for everyone!
It is important to note that while you must give your nanny a break, this is not unpaid time. If you have hired your nanny to work from 8am to 4 pm, you must pay her for every hour! If she works more hours on any given day this must be added in as well including proper overtime pay. This includes when the children are sleeping. It would be unfair to your nanny and disrespectful of her time if you suggested doing otherwise. Yes, your children may be asleep for a couple of hours giving your nanny a break, yet she is not off duty. She is there making sure your children are safe while they sleep. If a child wakes sick or otherwise, she has to tend to their needs. She is in your home giving her time and this comes at a cost. It is not fair to try to negotiate a lesser rate, or to not pay her altogether when your child is sleeping, or your nanny is taking a much-needed break during quiet time. It is important to keep in mind that even during a break your nanny is always on! She cannot simply leave to run errands or do what she pleases. Treat her time with respect and pay her properly. Failing to do so will result in the loss of a professional nanny.
So, what to do if the children are older and no longer nap? Discuss some options that work for your family such as quiet time. This is a time when your child doesn’t have to sleep, but goes into their room to read, rest, or do some type of quiet activity by themselves. During this scheduled break in the day your nanny can get a little bit of down time from the children. This is very beneficial for both as it allows your child to use their imagination and not have to be entertained and overly stimulated constantly. Both the child and the nanny are then able to resume the day’s activities with a bit of reset, and a boost of energy.
Treat your nanny the way you would want to be treated!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro