Working in Harmony With Nanny in The New World

Published by Matt Mason,

Working in Harmony With Nanny in The New World

Over the past couple of years, we have all seen a lot of rapid change.  And in many households, working in harmony – between nannies and families – has been significantly tested. 

These are not necessarily new stresses, as being under one roof has existed for years, but recent restrictions and lifestyle changes have certainly increased their occurrence. So, it’s important to address them as the need for consistency and nurturing in childcare is critically important in our new world.

Imagine two conversations between nannies 20 years apart

August 2000, at a playground in a park

Nanny 1: Are you full-time?
Nanny 2: Yes.
Nanny 1: Do the parents work?
Nanny 2: The dad does. Mum works from home.
Nanny 1: How do you find that?
Nanny 2: It’s fine, so long as she lets us have our day.

Fast forward 20-years

Same playground. It’s the same conversation between nannies.  But now both parents are working from home full-time.

This is a significant shift and, in many cases, it has significantly disrupted the balance of nannies and families working in harmony.

Nanny in the playground talking about working in harmony

Both parents are at home with the nanny

Having both parents, the nanny, the children, possibly a cleaner and a dog.. all in one house – ESPECIALLY OVER LOCKDOWN – can stress the most patient of adults and children. And looking from everyone’s point of view, it’s easy to see why.  A lot is going on within those four walls!

The home office

We’ve all been entertained by seeing the online business meetings held in a room/study become less than professional because of an escapee toddler barging in or a cat wandering across the keypad. 

Funny of course, but not ideal from a business point of view to maintain professionalism on the part of the parent concerned. Which is pretty important in these uncertain and worrying times.

Let’s now go into another room: the kitchen

Here, the nanny is trying to be professional and do her job. A parent wanders in. 

Let’s be honest here: this does disrupt the nanny’s workspace.

Babies and children can react to new dynamics. Someone entering their play space, meal space, or routine space becomes a disruptive diversion to having a nappy change or managing that final piece of broccoli, which has now become even more unappealing!

Obviously, your house is your home, somewhere to relax and be free to roam around at your leisure. This is indisputable.  However, for someone else, that same home is their workplace for their working day.  Imagine how the nanny feels as her hold, on whatever the situation, is lost in an instant.

Two workplaces that happily co-exist until they overlap and become unharmonious.

Finding the right tools for working in harmony

Companies have or are adapting to the new world.  And home-working looks very much like it’s here to stay. Perhaps not five days a week like over lockdown.  But certainly, companies are a lot warmer to that previously awkward question of, ‘Can I work from home, please?’

So, to achieve harmony, we need to re-calibrate. And the key is that all parties appreciate that there are separate workspaces within the home. After all, every workplace, whether an office or home, needs time and space allowances for all those within it.

Plotting out the day for working in harmony

One way to approach this is to create a timetable. Think of it as an ‘Order Of Play’ with each event made public.

  • Who goes out when
  • Who has the kitchen, and when
  • Mealtimes/coffee breaks/snack times… when
  • Who needs quiet, and when

Working in harmony is hard to sustain if everyone is randomly disrupting any possibility of consistency and routine. It’s consistency and routine that eases anxiety which makes life easier for everyone.

Top tip: Don’t forget to plan occasional breaks everyone: children, nannies and parents! Go out if necessary or possible for a change of scene. Even if for a few minutes to have a break.

The (working in harmony) Day Board

Put up a ‘Day Board’ somewhere communal so all can view and add to it. The children will then have some system to the day that can be referred to, and the adults will have equal rights to it. It will help with managing any disruptive overlaps for sure. We’re not talking about a detailed, long-winded description, just:

  • AM: Park hours
  • Lunch in kitchen 12-1… kids and nanny…
  • 1-3: quiet time. etc. etc.
  • 5-10 minutes nanny/mum or dad or both times (not with little ones around) once a day would help with any quibbles or matters needing attention. This can be done during quiet time or over FaceTime, etc.

Comms tools that can help

The Whatsapp logo - a great tool for working in harmony

WhatsApp family groups help parents to not feel ‘left out’. And it’s normal to be curious about what’s going on during the day.  For example, when at the park, a picture of a smiley little one on a swing.  But don’t over-engineer this. It shouldn’t become a constant running commentary of every activity, with responses expected after every message.

I often see nannies behaving like professional child photographers, taking snaps of every little thing. Even setting up photo opportunities! It can, of course, be very sweet, but surely it’s more fun to play with a child than taking endless pictures? 

However, a WhatsApp group is a good way of communicating without physically causing (yes it’s that word again!) disruption.

Finding a new balance

Situations across any day are subject to change: Sick days, stormy days, boiling hot days, crazy busy days, birthdays, and good and bad days, etc.

But if everyone has the same outlook – i.e. equal respect that we all have our jobs to do – we are all more than capable of doing well and working in harmony.

So long as everyone is given the space across the day to do their job.

A voice of experience

Laura Green Professional Nanny and consultant with Army of Nannies.

The approach outlined comes from 30 years of tried and tested advice and tools: 

“My name is Laura. I have nannied for 30 years. 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.

Want to read on?

Check out this blog post about Welcoming a New Nanny

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