Virtual nannying is on the up across challenging times. It’s been hard for a lot of nannies to stay connected to their families and charges. And while it’s difficult for adults, it’s also destabilising to children as their routines have also dramatically changed.
Virtual nannying can be an incredibly worthwhile and effective way of keeping the relationship with the child and parents going. Albeit, not in a physical way of course, but at least in a continuous way with as much constant involvement in the daily routine and challenges that arise.
Here are our five tips on how to approach and support family and nanny issues in a virtual way:
1. Be prepared
Pull together a detailed plan of the day – from dawn to dusk. You can either do this proactively and provide it to the family as a starter for ten. Or, work with the parents on building a plan. Do whatever feels right for the relationship you have with your family.
Ideally, this should include; waking times, mealtimes and snack times, outdoor (where possible) and playtimes and downtimes. Everything the day entails. Set out in as much detail as possible.
If you search online you can find many free family day planners. Find the one that’s right for you as use it as a template.
Suggestions for while stuck indoors: Time filling ideas for activities such as gardening (Playing outdoor is the best!! And it is an aid to good appetite and sleeping!). Music playing/dancing (make a playlist of fun active tunes that promote a happy mood). Reading time. Bath time (this may sound obvious but washing toys can be incorporated!). Themed days provide variety and humour too!
Top tip: If you’re looking for some inspiration, UK Nanny has a great post with a ton of home learning and activity ideas.
2. Share the plan with little ones
Parents can then share the plan with their little ones and get buy-in for the day ahead. By doing this, children know what’s ahead and, during the day, can go back to the plan to see what’s next.
It is definitely a good idea to have a backup plan as situations and moods change. Morning activities can be switched to the afternoon or days can be swapped around for example. However, it might be best to keep this ‘plan B’ under wraps so as to keep things simple and not provide too many choices! Also, be aware that the family dynamic can be broken up where possible because children do have a habit of behaving differently with different people! So share your time if you can between each parent. You may even get a break that way!
Top tip: Write out the day plan and stick it on the wall! It’s then easy for everyone to see and check during the day. You can even turn this into a great home learning activity by challenging them to tell the time against the plan. Having a different theme each day will make life more interesting too. For example a red day, a wearing hat day etc. Right now we need entertainment and variety.
3. Be there for advice
Despite not being present in the home. Many parents take a lot of comfort in knowing that their nanny is just a call away. If you are willing to, make sure the family know you are there to offer advice and help to manage any issues as if in the home at work.
Just because a nanny isn’t in the room doesn’t mean they can’t guide and support a parent who is having a difficult moment to deal with. And all being more than a little cooped-up is bound to make those moments a more frequent.
4. Menu planning
With so many restrictions in place, menu planning and meal preparation can go from a functional part of the day to a much more engaging, rewarding and learning orientated activity.
From jointly planning menus to prepping the ingredients for the next meal, mealtimes can be a very handy tool. And nannies can help parents make this so by supporting their planning.
Obviously, how far a child can get involved is age-dependent, but a lot of happiness and togetherness can be generated from the most simple of tasks.
And it doesn’t stop at the preparation. Many families have a real battle with mealtime etiquette and good mealtime behaviour including patience and tidiness.
Agreeing with your families to ask children about their mealtimes at the next video chat can be a really helpful tool when it comes to families achieving harmonious mealtimes. It can be a daily subject of discussion during the FaceTime call. ‘What did you make? How did you make it?’ etc.
Children knowing that parents and nanny are still very much in contact can influence good behaviours. The potential of disappointing a relationship a child has with an adult out of the home, when used correctly, provides a great tool to encourage good behaviours in the home.
‘So later when we have our treat call with Nanny, you can tell her what you ate everything and how yummy it was! Also, don’t forget to tell her how great you were at sitting at the table like a grown-up! She’s going to be so happy isn’t she!?!’
Aim to provide a sense of achievement through positive encouragement.
5. Structure virtual nannying engagements
Across the week, there are countless moments when a virtual nanny can step in and get involved. From reading sessions, to show and tells. Even a daily peek into the nanny’s day at home. For example: saying ‘hi’ to the nanny’s cat! Or showing a flower that may have bloomed.
Or a cake she’s baked. Maybe they could bake the same cake? Share the recipe etc.
You can even set a challenge to learning the lyrics to a fun song to sing together. Or set a dance move or picture challenge. Let your creativity run wild and find the activities that encourage the most engagement. And this can be fun! Something a child really invests in and looks forward to sharing.
We may be apart but we’re still together!
Hopefully, these virtual nannying tips show how, with a new, thought-through routine and a bit of creativity, the nanny and family relationship can still flourish, even at the most challenging of times!
And, under more typical times, this will help the days run smoothly and give precious moments alone to recharge until the afternoon shift begins!
Every situation is different, so every daily routine and family dynamic can differ. The first point of listening to how the day stands prior to starting any virtual nannying is key to providing your role.
Being the best nanny possible in the strange times we are in is all you can do after all.
Guest post brought to you by:
Laura, a nanny with over 30 years experience.
“My name is Laura. I have been fortunate to work for many fantastic families with (I think at my last count) 47 babies and children! I’ve worked all over the world for many different types of people and gained a heart bursting amount of experience.
Across COVID-19, Laura has had to adapt her approach to nannying in order to maintain a link to her wonderful charges.