Covid-19 has brought about a lot of changes, one of which being that many parents are working remote for the time being. As a nanny this can be new and tricky territory to navigate, but it is so important to support your nanny family as much as possible during this unusual time. Nannies are used to having their own schedules and daily routines with the children in their care. Much of this is already upended as of course there are no story times, trips to The Science Center, Museums, or playdates. You are likely spending much more time inside the home than ever before. This can make for long days that take some creativity and working together with the parents to make work for everyone. Let’s look at some specific ways you can be proactive in supporting your nanny family.
Be Understanding: Just like both your personal and professional life is very different right now, remember that the same goes for your employers. This is especially true if they are not used to working from home. Parents who work outside of the home are used to going to work and separating that from their time at home with their little ones. They are truly not accustomed to being at home and not interacting with their children. It probably feels very unnatural to them! They may find it difficult to not pop in to visit with you and the kids during breaks in their day. Try to be as understanding as possible. Some extra patience can go a long way! Take a quick bathroom break or grab a glass of water and give them a few minutes with their kids. Come back and chat with them about what you guys are up to. In most cases the visit will be just that short and they will be heading back to work. Parents may be rushing around a bit more from their coffee or lunch breaks resulting in leaving messes behind. Don’t just assume that they are leaving it expecting you to clean it up. They are doing what many people do in a hurry and leaving it to come back to later. Don’t let this create added stress in your day, they know it is not your mess to clean up. Be flexible when it comes to some shifts in schedules. Parents working from home, especially those that normally don’t, may have times in the day that they need to have the house quieter. Perhaps they are on conference calls and do not have a designated office that keeps them away in a part of the house that is quiet. Even if you normally have indoor play at 10am, be willing to make adjustments. This may be the time that the parents would appreciate you taking the kids for a walk or some backyard play so that they can focus. Remember that your work space is now their work space as well. A little flexibility on your daily schedule of activities can go a long way. Think of this as a temporary schedule change the same way not doing your usual outings with the kids is. Create a daily schedule that works for everyone during this crazy time.
Communicate: This is by far the most important thing that you can do as a nanny to support your nanny family during this pandemic. Request a sit down and discuss your worries and concerns and listen to theirs. If you and the kids are accidentally interrupting important parts of their work day with activities or noise levels talk about it. Sitting down to come up with a plan that works for both the parents and you is a great idea! If the times they pop in are interrupting getting the children settled in for a nap, or even just getting them upset and worked up and leaving you to deal with it, discuss it. This is the opportunity to make a plan and daily schedule together that works for everyone. If their schedule changes daily with times of important calls, ask them to communicate that with you. Perhaps every day will be slightly different but you will know what times are best to get outside and get some fresh air, and they will know what times are best to pop in for a visit. There may be times due to weather that you cannot go outside while the parents need things to be quiet. Discuss plans and options for all of this. This may be a good time for Sesame Street or a favorite movie, snuggling with some books, or doing some quiet coloring together. Figure out what works for everyone and have some options ready. Know what parts of the house are best for you and the children to be playing in so as to be out of their way while working as much as possible. This time is a good time for open communication. Make the most of it and talk about all of your and their concerns.
Social Distancing: This is something that you should support your nanny family with. If they are being proactive about not visiting with friends and family that do not live in their home it is reasonable and fair for them to expect that you do the same. Sticking to only seeing those that you live with and of course running essential errands can help everyone have some peace of mind. Follow whatever cleanliness measures they are doing to stay safe. Leave your shoes at the door, wash your hands well upon arriving to work, and help with keeping common surfaces clean.
Go the Extra Mile: Know that your nanny family does not expect you to suddenly become a teacher, a chef, and a housekeeper on top of being a nanny. You may find yourself with some extra tasks on hand but they know this too! Do the best you can with anything that has been temporarily added. If you have the time and are able to rinse the dishes they left and put them in the dishwasher then do so. It surely isn’t expected but it will absolutely be appreciated. Keep the kids your number one priority, but if you are rinsing your own dishes just go ahead and do theirs with it. This can reduce some stress for them as they adjust to working from home during this time. If they happen to be taking a break when you are making yourself a cup of coffee offer them one. Maybe you enjoy cooking and are already cooking lunch for you and the children. Ask if they would like some lunch. If they are busy and you see that they are rarely stopping to eat, consider just wrapping up a plate for them and leaving a note with it in the fridge. Coming in the kitchen to find some food set aside can certainly brighten their day and will be appreciated.
Remember that this is a temporary change and it is important to navigate it together and to take care of each other. A little give and take and putting in some extra effort can make this time go more smoothly for everyone!
Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro