Creating Harmony in the Work Place

One of the most challenging environments nannies encounter is when they’re working with the work-at-home parent. There are times when the children don’t know who is in charge, the nanny doesn’t feel comfortable disciplining children or the children run to daddy when they have a question. The experience doesn’t have to be challenging, however. It’s important to sit down with the parents ahead of your first day of work and work out the logistics of being together in the same house the entire day. Here are a few pointers to get you started.
Separate work from play – Parents should create a designated workspace to work from, preferably one that is away from the play space and has a door. This will allow the parent to separate themselves from the children and allow the nanny to do her job. It’s also important for the kids to know that mommy is at work when she’s in her office and she’ll be home from work when she’s done.
Create a schedule that works – Both the parent and the caregiver should create a schedule that works for the child or children in the home. By creating a schedule for the children they will know what to expect and when to expect it. Schedule breaks from work around mealtimes, so that the parents can join the child for lunch or so that they may put the child down for a nap in the afternoon.
Make sure you are on the same page for discipline and routines – It’s important that the children know who is in charge when mommy or daddy is working, and that the same question will result in the same answer no matter who they ask. Have parents relay the children back to the nanny when they have questions about the daily routine or activities; the day will go much smoother once the children realize that the nanny is in charge while mom is at work.
Define your start and end times – When a parent works from home it’s easy for them to work over their allotted time; after all, their commute is short and they are mere steps away from any activities. Define your start and end times together and stick to them, that way everyone knows what to expect at the beginning and end of each day, including the children.
Hang a “do not disturb” sign on the office door – Hang a sign on the office door when parents absolutely cannot be disturbed, such as during a conference call or consultation. Let the kids know that when the sign is up they cannot interrupt mom or dad and that they will have to find another solution in the meantime.
Discuss how to resolve conflict – You will be working together in close quarters, so it’s best to decide how you would like to best resolve conflict. Before the position begins, sit down with the parents and talk about how you’d like to communicate with each other and how to bring up touchy subjects.
Plan outings with the children – Plan special outings with the children in your care to have them away from the house during specific times of the day. Museums, parks, play dates and story time are all wonderful ways to keep children occupied and out of the house. It will keep their minds off the fact that mom and dad are working in the house and it will give the parents a few quiet hours during the day to really focus on tasks.
Discuss work-time vs. home-time with the kids – Let them know that mom is at work, even though she’s home, and that she’s not to be disturbed while she’s working. Kids will understand this concept quickly if you stick to what you’ve discussed!
Communication – How are you going to handle communication throughout the day? Is it okay to pop into the office to ask a question or should you call or text the parent even though they are in the same house? Find a solution that works for everyone and is least disruptive to the children and parents.
It is possible to work harmoniously with parents who work from home, and it can even be a really wonderful experience if everyone is willing to work their hardest at making it a positive experience. Communication is always the key and it’s important to remember to keep discussing what is working and what isn’t so that you are able to find solutions for those things that are not.
-Erin McNeill
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MissMannah said...

Absolutely, very well said. My last position was for a WAHM and it worked out beautifully because she listed her expectations in the interview. Whenever the baby started crying for her mom, I would simply steer her away from the office, shut the door and say "Mommy is working now." My MB never interfered with my job and she made it clear that I could come to her whenever I needed to with questions. Mutual respect is the key to a good nanny-employer relationship.

Never Again said...

This is a great list, and I think these things could work well. The problem is, most parents will not stick to it, even if they agree to. I will never ever take a job with a WAHP again. it adds way too much stress to a job.