Even with states lifting stay-at-home orders and allowing businesses to bring workers back to their offices, many parents of young children continue to work from home during the pandemic. Companies are slowly returning their employees to the office so it could be some time before everything is “back to normal” in the working world.
In some cases, having employees work from home has been so positive that companies are giving their workers the option to continue to be remote even if they could return to the office.
If you are working from home for the foreseeable future and plan to bring back your nanny – or hire a private, in-home caregiver – you will need to figure out how this type of arrangement can be successful. You will only be able to work from home if you can meet your employer’s needs and expectations. And that will depend on your nanny effectively handling your childcare needs.
1. Set expectations from the beginning
Be clear in your job description and hiring process that one or both parents will be working from home. You may even want to seek nannies who have experience with work-from-home parents as they will likely be more at ease in that type of arrangement.
When bringing back a nanny, let them know how you think it will work and get their input. Encourage their honesty about caring for your children with you also in the home. If they seem enthusiastic, then move forward with planning for their return. However, you do not want someone caring for your children who is not comfortable in their work environment. So be prepared to mutually part ways with no hard feelings if your nanny declines the offer to continue with your family.
2. Discuss parenting style and guidelines for care
You would do this whether you were working from home or not. You and your nanny need to be on the same page as far as parenting style, discipline, dietary guidelines, preferred activities, house rules, expectations of the job, and more. Hiring a nanny is like adding another member to the parenting team. Get their input. They may have valuable advice from past experiences with other families. Your nanny is a partner as you raise your children.
Include relevant language in your work agreement so you have these key points in writing.
3. Establish your home office
In an ideal world, you have a nice, quiet room away from your children to do your work. That may not always be the case but you do need to set where you will work during the day. It could be a spare room or bedroom but it shouldn’t be somewhere out in the open like the kitchen or dining area. That would be too disruptive for your children and nanny.
Wherever you “set up shop,” close the door and hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign. You may want to add a mini-fridge, microwave, and coffee maker to your “office” to limit the times you need to leave the room and possibly cause disruptions in your children’s daily routines.
4. Create a daily plan with your nanny
Children thrive on a routine. By maintaining one, it becomes so much easier for you and your nanny even if you are in the home. If you know you have an important call, plan to have your nanny take the children out for a walk or play in the yard to assure you have peace and quiet. Or set a time each day where your nanny will take the children out of the home so you can make your calls without interruptions.
You may also want to schedule some time during the day when you get to spend time with your children. It could be having lunch with them or reading a story together before their nap time.
Not only will this time with you become part of their routine (and something they look forward to) but also help create boundaries and ground rules for when you are working at home. Believe it or not but children flourish when they have boundaries and rules to follow.
There could also be times when you temporarily remove the “Do Not Disturb” sign from the door meaning your children can visit you in your office.
5. Let your nanny do their job
You hired a professional caregiver to look after your children so you can work. Let them do their job and you can do yours. After your nanny arrives in the morning, say a quick good-bye to your little ones and head to the “office” as you normally would if you were commuting to work. Remind them that you will see them at lunchtime.
It is going to be tough enough for your children, knowing that you are nearby, but can’t be with you. They may not think their nanny is really in charge and it becomes more difficult for your nanny to establish their leadership role when parents are around.
So limit any trips to see what your children are up to. A good nanny will have a plan to engage your kids throughout the day and your quick visit can disrupt “arts and crafts” or reading time. These interruptions can be hard to recover from and may frustrate or confuse your nanny. Remember your home is your nanny’s workspace where they are tasked with caring for your children. If your nanny is following your parenting guidelines, adhering to house rules, and fulfilling their responsibilities, and your children are safe and happy, just leave them be.
If you hear crying or a tantrum, resist the urge to “check things out to make sure everything is ok.” Your nanny will let you know if it is serious and needs your attention. Otherwise, let your nanny handle it. This will help build their confidence by working through any issues with your children who will also become more comfortable with their caregiver as a result.
6. Show your nanny respect
You have hired a professional caregiver they deserve to be treated like one. Remember that the nanny is in charge and you are there to back them up as needed. If your child wants ice cream after lunch and your nanny says that is not allowed, they may turn their attention to you to get the sweet treat. By saying “yes,” you have now undercut your nanny’s authority. As lovely as your child may be, do not put it past them to play nanny against parents (just like they may pit mom v. dad) to get what they want. There goes any semblance of peace in your home and you will have a disgruntled nanny on your hands.
If you do have a disagreement about how your nanny is providing care, it should be discussed away from your children and in a calm manner. Safety concerns should be addressed at the moment. Otherwise, leave it for later. Do not argue, voice your displeasure, or constantly correct your nanny in front of the children. They will pick up on your behavior and think that is the appropriate way to treat their caregiver. By respecting your nanny, your children will start to learn the right way to treat people. You, your nanny, and children will all be better off.
The same also holds true for your nanny. They need to support your decisions and help show your children a united front.
7. Define the workday
If you are expected to be in your home office and ready to work by a certain time in the morning, your nanny needs to understand that and be on time. They cannot think that since you are working from home, they can be a little late. At the end of the day, you need to stop work at the specified time and let your nanny go. Taking a few minutes to “wrap up a couple of things” can easily stretch to 30 minutes and become quite irritating for your caregiver.
8. Communicate on a regular basis
Make a point to check in with each other on a weekly basis. It could be during an afternoon nap or you ask your nanny to stay late one evening just to catch up. Talk about how things are going – both the good and the areas that need improvement. Discuss evolving childcare needs like potty training, starting a baby on solids, cutting down on screen time, or encouraging more independent play. Some more pressing matters can be addressed at the end of the day.
GTM can help
Now more than ever legal pay is essential for all household employees. Without it, nannies are lacking the safety net of paid sick leave and unemployment benefits that millions of Americans are relying upon for financial assistance during the pandemic. But nanny taxes and payroll doesn’t have to be a hassle. Let GTM Payroll Services manage it all for you from paying your nanny, withholding and filing taxes, and handling all of the paperwork. To learn more, call (800) 929-9213 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert.
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