One of the many potential challenges facing nannies during the pandemic is where the parents are at home more or even working from home full time. For those nannies who prefer sole charge, this can feel extremely daunting.
Having your boss looking over your shoulder is, for most of us, an uncomfortable experience particularly when it’s likely to coincide with a dip in the child/ren’s behaviour - the parents may not have as clear boundaries as the nanny does and, the child/ren will be adjusting to the new situation too – they may feel unsettled / confused by their new routine.
Some parents may not consider their working from home an issue or, where they recognise there may be a need for “minor adjustments”, some may expect their nanny to deal with the situation alone. Both responses run the risk of the nanny being turned into the “bad guy” which is obviously far from ideal and has the potential for making a tense situation worse.
I find that communication is key with the employer so a chat with them about managing everyone’s expectations is a great place to start. Perhaps then a follow-up meeting with the children too (depending on their ages) to explain things like “Mummy & Daddy are working so they can’t be disturbed” so the children can understand the new arrangements. However, if the children are very young it is unlikely any explanation will be quickly understood. You and your employer are going to have to work together and be prepared for things to take a little while for everything to settle down. Adjustments and compromises may have to be found.
Perhaps you will be asked to vary your working hours slightly and this may involve a temporary change or amendment to your contract of employment. Remember, any changes must be agreed with you and not imposed upon you.
My employers were very good to me during lockdown (they put me on furlough and topped up my salary from 80% to 100% ) so I have no problem with being flexible with my working hours, but this may be an issue for other nannies with their own family considerations.
The question of how to keep safe during the pandemic is also of paramount importance, both for the nanny and the nanny family:
are there agreed safety procedures in the home i.e. hand washing facilities, hand sanitisers, additional cleaning etc?
how is social distancing from the parents being managed?
what about visitors to the home – friends, extended family, and even work colleagues now both parents are home all day – how are these situations being managed?
is everyone in agreement about keeping safe when out with the children? What constitutes an appropriate trip out for example?
Personally, I have both parents working from home so we have a WhatsApp group where they ask if the kitchen’s free so they can make their lunch/coffee, etc. The toddlers I look after are prone to crying if they see mum or dad unexpectedly, so we do our best to avoid this.
While it can be difficult to approach the employer with regards to managing their household, their own home (your workplace), good communication is absolutely vital and if this can be done in a calm and purposeful way then the whole family will hopefully benefit.
Pauline Daniel, BAPN Membership Ambassador