Covid-19 has brought about questions that both parents and nannies have never had to consider in the past. If you employ a nanny whether part or full time, this time of high stress and uncertainty is one that needs to be openly addressed and discussed. Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can support your nanny during Covid-19.
Employment Decisions: This is by far one of the biggest concerns on everyone’s mind right now. It is important that you are open and honest with your nanny about her employment status moving forward. Take the time to have a sit down and make some tough decisions together. If you have been one of the unfortunate people that has lost a job, and you will therefore need to lay your nanny off, please do so right away so that she isn’t left guessing. This will give your nanny the chance to collect unemployment. Discuss if this is a temporary layoff or permanent. Perhaps you can’t afford to keep her during this time of financial difficulty but would really like to have her back when you have secured employment. Talk about what this may look like, if it works for both of you, and make a plan together. If your situation is simply that you need to cut her hours temporarily have a discussion on that. Be sure to ask your nanny how many hours she needs in order to survive, and figure out what the new hours will look like. Keep in mind that this scenario needs to be one that is beneficial to both you and your nanny. Set a guestimate time frame of how long these temporary cut hours will be in place for. We all know that solid time frames are uncertain as the situation is being monitored, but be sure to be on a page together and keep the line of communication open with a timeline idea in place. If you are unsure if you will be able to continue to employ your nanny if this situation lasts longer than expected discuss that with her as well. Perhaps you are comfortable with 6 weeks of guaranteeing employment but are not sure after that. If this is the case be honest with your nanny. Let her know how long you can manage to keep her with the current situation and that there is a possibility of letting her go if it goes on for too long beyond the expected time frame. Please be considerate and give your nanny as much time as possible to make a plan for herself. Some things to consider are: How much notice can you give her? Will it be a month or less? Will you be able to give her severance pay? While we realize none of this is particularly comfortable to discuss keep in mind that it is absolutely imperative. Communication between parents and nannies is even more important right now.
Your Nannies Comfort Level: When a state wide lockdown takes place each person has their own unique situations as well as people in their lives to consider. While in home childcare is considered essential and your nanny is permitted to come to work, you will want to talk to her about her feelings on the matter. Ask her if she is comfortable coming to work. When discussing her comfort level some things to consider are: What is your line of work? Are you an essential employee such as a Doctor or Nurse who may be at risk of being exposed and potentially bringing that home with you? Does she live with someone who has a compromised immune system that she needs to be extra concerned about? Does she have a compromised immune system? Are you practicing Social Distancing? It is important to be honest with each other about who you are exposed to during this time. If your nanny is properly following social distancing guidelines and only seeing your family and anyone she lives with, she can reasonably expect you to do the same. Your nanny can feel safer coming to work if she knows that you are not visiting with family and friends that do not live within the home, that you are only going to and from work and running essential errands such as grocery shopping just like she is. If you are continuing to see other people and maintain a social life amidst this you are putting your nanny at risk by unnecessary extra exposure. She is well within her boundaries to not be comfortable coming to work under these circumstances. Please be considerate and on the same page as a team to protect one another. This will go a long way in giving your nanny some peace of mind during these scary times. If you are currently working from home, only running essential errands, and only seeing your nanny, this situation is ideal for everyone. If you must continue to go to and from an essential job and are therefore not working from home, set up some plans that work for both of you. Showering and changing into fresh clean clothes immediately upon arriving home is a great way to give everyone some peace of mind. Disinfecting and regularly cleaning common areas, leaving shoes at the door. Be proactive in these steps to keep everyone feeling safe and healthy. It is possible your nanny has made a decision not to come to work during this time to protect herself or someone at home who is at risk. If this is the case, she may choose to be let go whether temporarily or permanently based on what agreement you come to together. If you must let her go due to her choice and you are financially able, it is still a good idea to give her some financial assistance. This situation is affecting everyone so it is very important to look at things from all perspectives and do your best to help. If your nanny is choosing to go because for example, she has an ill family member living with her, know that this decision isn’t easy for her.
While You are at Home with your Nanny: This is new territory for many and can be complicated. Even if you already work from home chances are likely that you are in the same space as your nanny much more than usual. Decide who is in charge of the children at what times. This may sound like an obvious answer but it really becomes very gray and can get difficult when parents are in and out of the nannies work space. Are you coming In and out for lunch and snack breaks at random times? Realize that this does affect your nanny and your children. If you are choosing to take a break and be with the kids for a bit then let your nanny have a break while you do so. If you are popping in but not planning to take a break to spend time with the kids be clear about who is making the decisions. Your nanny has a routine, set habits, and a schedule with your children. Any interruption can throw this off! Be sure that the children know who is in charge during these times as it can become very confusing for them. Please be sure to not undermine your nanny. This will create tension and difficulty for all. The children need to know that they need to listen to and respect their nanny. If you are taking a break, check in with her to see if she has just, for example, said no to the children for a snack. She may be about to prepare lunch and that snack will spoil it. You want to support your nanny as always especially now. Doing otherwise makes your nanny feel like you do not respect her opinion and schedule, and it allows the children to think that they do not have to respect and listen to their nanny. This is a recipe for disaster! Set clear guidelines and boundaries together.
Show your Appreciation: Know that your nanny is working extra hard during these times. She is likely feeling cabin fever as well with not being able to take the children to their usual outings and activities. She is not seeing nanny and mom friends for playdates giving her adult interaction during her day. She may be taking on extra children that are normally in school much of the day, and as much as she appreciates you, having you in her work space is a challenge. A little appreciation goes a long way! Here are some ways you can thank your nanny for her hard work and dedication: If your work load is lighter and you can go a day without her, or even let her go early some days it is nice to do so. Pay her for this time and let her have a little reprieve. Her own life is out of sorts just like yours, so while she can’t go out and enjoy a day off, she can go home to get some rest and recharge. Consider picking up a few of her favorite lunch items to have on hand for her, or her favorite coffee. Shoot her a quick text or leave a nice note thanking her for all she does. Let her know that you don’t expect all of her chores to be up to speed during this time. Maybe she didn’t have time to finish the children’s laundry because she was busy keeping them happy and as active as possible, let that be ok!
Make Sure You are Doing Your Part: Be sure to not leave your dishes around for her to clean, or to add on other responsibilities to her work load. This is only acceptable when mutually agreed upon and compensated for with extra pay. Be proactive with your children’s homeschooling and work load. Being a school teacher is not part of a nanny’s regular job. She is taking on a lot of extra work by assisting you in this way. Be sure to do your share when she is off duty rather than leaving all of it for her. When it comes to Homeschooling make sure your nanny is fully prepared with any supplies that she will need. This can be paint, construction paper, pencils, a laptop or tablet that your child needs for schooling. Have these things in order and ready to go so that your nanny can homeschool them as smoothly as possible. If you are able to assist more with smaller children to help during this time please do so. Make sure that your school age children understand that she is in charge of homeschool when she is there, and that they are not to run to your office with questions. If you do not have children that are being homeschooled try to get arts and crafts or baking supplies for the young children in her care. This will help her to keep activities throughout the day!
All in all, we know this is a very stressful time for both you and your nanny. Keep the lines of communication open and work together as a team to help each other, and keep your children’s lives feeling as normal as possible. If you are having to add to your nanny’s workload with such things as homeschooling older children, taking on an extra child, or anything else that increases her work, consider giving her a temporary pay increase. We are truly all in this together! Navigating this time as a unit will benefit your family and your nanny in the long run!
Stay Healthy and Safe!
By: Anne-Marie Ferraro