If you are a nanny that is employed by a work from home parent, you will face challenges in your work day that those employed by parents who work outside of the home will not. It is very possible to have a healthy and successful nanny/parent relationship in this case; the key is clear communication and specific boundaries. If you are considering working for a work from home parent, the best time to discuss these details is during the interview and upon hire. Failing to do so can result in frustration and confusion for you, the parent, and even the children. When accepting a position for a work from home parent, it is always a positive thing if you click first as people. Getting along and having a general like for one another can make the close proximity much easier to navigate. So, what are some things you should consider and discuss prior to beginning work? You will first want to discuss with the parent if they have their own separate work space in the home. A parent who goes into an office and shuts the door is much easier to work around then one who plans to work in the common area. Talk to the parents before beginning your new nanny position about their office space versus where you and the children will be spending most of your at home time. Make sure it is an arrangement that will work out for both of you on a long-term basis.
Find out if the work from home parent plans to be in and out of common areas during the day. Take the time to have an open discussion and set clear boundaries. It can create confusion for the children about who is in charge when Mom or Dad is popping in and out all day long. In addition, it can disrupt the daily routines of the children with you the nanny. The parent may wish to have lunch with you and the children a couple of times a week which is a perfectly acceptable arrangement as long as the children’s rules are set ahead of time. If you have told the children that they need to eat their vegetables before going outside to play, it is important that the parent backs you and does not step in by changing this. If you expect the children to remain in their seats during lunch it is not helpful when a parent lets them get up and carry their food into the family room. The result can be a child who no longer respects their nanny and her rules knowing that their parent will allow otherwise. Openly talk to the work from home parent about this. This topic carries over into other aspects of your day. If you have put a child in time out it can wreak havoc on the situation if their parent comes in from working and lets them out of time out before you have said it is ok. It is absolutely imperative that the parent backs you as the nanny. This includes your rules, your discipline, your routine, and your schedule. This should all be discussed in great detail ahead of time and agreed upon by both the parent and the nanny. The children should know without a doubt that their nanny is the adult in charge when she is there.
Some work from home parents find it difficult to hear their little ones crying or fussing, whether it be settling in for a nap, or having a conflict that is being worked out with proper discipline. It is important for you as the nanny to be able to perform your job at your best without a parent constantly stepping in. Set some ground rules together to avoid this becoming an issue. The most successful nanny/parent relationships in a work from home situation are when the nanny is clearly in charge and able to go about her day with the children with minimal or no interruptions from the parent.
Discuss with the parent what the noise level expectations are. Are they in an office where the noise does not carry to? Are they able to handle some background noise on a regular basis if not? Do they have conference calls? If so, what is expected of you and the children? Set up a plan for handling times like that when the parent will need quiet. Perhaps this is a time when you can plan an outing with the children, play outside, or simply have some quiet indoor games and activities that will keep the children calm. These are all things to address before they occur.
Some children tend to run to their parents throughout the day if they can see them and are aware, they are home. This can be very challenging for a nanny. It is natural for a child to be confused that their parent is home yet unavailable. Talk through this when discussing roles and boundaries. It is much less confusing for the child when their parent is off working in a part of the house where they cannot see or hear them. This is another reason why location of the home office is important to plan and discuss. Many nannies will not accept a position where the work from home parent can be seen by the child all day because it simply makes their job extremely difficult.
Clear boundaries and set expectations are so important for both the nanny and the work from home parent. Remember not to interrupt the parent if at all possible. If it can wait until later then it should. Short of an emergency or a very rare quick question it is important to respect the parents work space without interruptions. Following these guidelines and keeping communication open with regular discussions as schedules and such change, will go a long way in keeping everyone’s work space running smoothly, and the children happy and settled!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro