It is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year filled with family, friends, decorating, parties, holiday traditions, and more. Everyone celebrates the season differently so what should you do if your family and nanny share separate faiths or have unlike approaches to the holidays?
Even though It can seem like a sensitive topic, start with open and honest conversations about the holidays.
Here are eight tips to manage the holiday season when you and your nanny celebrate differently.
1. Communicate early
If you know you and your nanny do not have the same beliefs and may approach the holidays differently, it is best to talk about it before the season gets too crazy and hectic. Guide your nanny on how you want the holidays to be handled. Talk about your traditions and those of your nanny, appropriate crafts and activities for your children, and gift-giving.
Set expectations for your nanny around the holiday season and what to share with your children.
For example, if you incorporate Santa into your holiday, how should your nanny handle questions about his legitimacy? Saying “let’s wait until your parents are home” is a fine answer!
If your nanny celebrates different holiday practices, what do you want them to share about those traditions with your children?
Or if you prefer that your nanny is not part of your family’s holiday celebrations, make sure that is known well ahead of time to prevent any misunderstandings or hurt feelings.
2. Show respect
As with other aspects of the working relationship you have with your nanny, show respect in how you handle differences in holiday observances. Support your nanny and have an open mind about others’ beliefs. You can practice your own traditions while also respecting those of your nanny.
While a nanny-family relationship is first and foremost a professional one, the nature and location of the work can create personal connections between a caregiver and parents. Talking about faith traditions and holiday observances can bring you even closer together.
3. Ask questions
Is it appropriate to give a Christmas present to your nanny when they celebrate Hanukkah? Do you know if they even partake in gift-giving? Asking questions can alleviate confusion and reduce stress.
Your nanny’s religion may advise against giving presents. Alternatively, if you would like to make a holiday gesture, you could donate to their favorite charity. Or your nanny and children can shop for presents to give to organizations that support families in need.
4. Embrace learning
Having a nanny of a different faith than yours is a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn about other customs and traditions not only during the holidays but throughout the year. Sharing in someone’s celebration can be fun and exciting for your children and a good way to reinforce that everyone is unique and not every family observes holidays in the same way.
With learning comes questions. Children may ask why Santa does not come to your house or when will you get a Christmas tree when those traditions may not be part of your holiday season.
5. Embrace teaching
And the reverse is true. Your children can teach your nanny about their celebrations and the meanings behind them. What a great (and fun) way for your children to learn more about and embrace their faith as well. It is healthy for your children and nanny to talk about their similarities and differences and understand how diverse their world is.
6. Focus on similarities
Even though celebrations may be different, you are both creating wonderful memories and sharing special times with loved ones.
You also hired your nanny for a reason. They are professional. Your children adore them. They understand your parenting philosophy. Even though there may be differences, focus on what brings you together.
7. Giving time off
Paid time off and holidays should be discussed when putting together your nanny contract or work agreement. As a Christian, you may consider Christmas a paid holiday. What if your nanny celebrates Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other religious holidays and needs time off other than Christmas? Will you consider those paid holidays as well? Or will your nanny need to use their paid time off to take the other days? Any potential conflicts should be addressed well in advance with your nanny following the guidelines agreed to in the work agreement when asking for time off.
8. Create a holiday schedule
In any event, it is a good practice to create a holiday schedule in advance, so your nanny knows when they are working and what days they have off. You also may want your nanny for extra hours during the holidays. If they agree to it, your nanny could watch your children in the evening so you can shop for presents or attend the office holiday party.
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