Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tips for Working at Home and Having A Nanny

lesley riley said...
Lindsay - How can you establish boundaries between a mother who works in the home and the nanny? who gets final say? How do you keep the children from running to mommy since they know she is there?
December 26, 2007 2:23 PM

Thanks for your comment Lesley. That's a great question. In my experience, this is a relatively common although challenging situation. Often times, this can be remedied by setting clear expectations and time boundaries. Here are some tips to achieve this healthy balance:

1) Set-up a schedule that includes everyone. Build in time when you will see your child so they know when they will see you. Not only will this reduce the anxiety your child may experience related to wondering where you are and wanting to be with you, it will also help you to really focus and get work done. If you are trying to reduce this behavior, one of the worst things you can do is dart in and out of the common areas in perfect visibility of your child. Doing that sets you up for getting no work done, and your child feeling as though they are in an unpredictable environment where they do not know when they will see mom, as well as how long it will be until they will see mom again. This can increase anxious avoidant attachment behaviors.

Here’s an excerpt of a sample schedule:
9AM Nanny arrives, Mom goes to home office. Child engages in some sort of activity depending on age that helps them transition – Perhaps off to the playground! This activity should mark that “we are ALL starting our day!”
10:30AM Mom takes a break. Pops out of office and into more of a common area. Nanny is giving child a snack, Mom visits and has a snack as well! Then, Mom back to work.
12PM Lunch! Everyone has lunch together. Discuss each other’s morning, what are the plans for the afternoon.
1PM Nap time.
3:00PM Snack time. Mom pops in for snack with child and nanny.
3:15PM Mom returns to work. Nanny and child get ready to go outside to park for a playdate.
5:00PM Mom home from “the office”. Good-bye to nanny. Get re-cap of the day from nanny.

2) If at all possible, for your own sanity, work efficiency and your child’s sense of security, set up a space that is specifically for your work. So that everyone knows that when mom is in that corner or in that room, she is working! Setting this clear physical boundary will help all involved. Having a separate space will allow you to have a sense both visually and psychologically of your own space and a sense that when you enter that space – you are “going to work”! The most ideal situation would be having an office space in your home in a separate room. For many children, no matter what the age, if mom is “out-of-sight” it helps children with “out of mind.” Not that they will forget you, it just allows them to focus on their activity more when they are not constantly thinking about “when will I see mom again?”

Now, we all know that families, don’t follow schedules and children don’t wear wristwatches! So, a couple of things to think about:

1) To help make a schedule more child-friendly, create the schedule together. Use a poster board and perhaps take some polaroids or digital pics of them doing each activity so that they can look at the schedule and see what they can anticipate throughout the day. Allow your child to take the pics of you for the parts of the schedule when they will see you.

2) Review your schedule with your child. In the beginning, use the poster board schedule with every transition- have your nanny bring your child over to the schedule look at, discuss it, and narrate aloud: 1) what the day has included so far and 2) what your nanny and your child will be doing next! This, the predictability aspect will give them a sense of safety and security.

3) Be consistent. If you are going to create a schedule, be consistent and follow it yourself as well. If you develop the schedule and then constantly fail to follow it, there is no longer anything predictable about that schedule, and it loses its influence.

4) That said; don’t feel like you have to be too rigid with the schedule. Staying on schedule improves the chances of everyone (nanny-parent-child) feeling as though they are in a predictable environment, however, it should not be a “breakdown moment” if your nanny feeds your child snack at 10:30am instead of 10:15am.

5) When developing your schedule, look for natural transitions like mealtimes to use as your transition back to your office or for your child to begin a new activity.

6) If the schedule is used correctly, over time everyone should get in a groove and know what to expect and no longer need the physical representation of the schedule. At that point you can make your child “the expert” by asking them questions like, “What happens after naptime?” They will feel happy to share the answer with you because they know – and they will be looking for your praise and recognition, “That’s right! We do have snack after nap! You are so smart!”

7) Also, keep in mind that every family is different and every family will have a different schedule!! What works for your family does not always work for another!

8) Having a schedule allows everyone – parent-nanny-child- to feel as though they are in a safe, secure, predictable environment.

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1 comment:

Linda De La Cruz said...

It's great that this service is available. I wish I would have talked with someone when I had our nanny living with us. Life was so hectic with my husband and I both working outside of the home, that some issues went by without being addressed. We had a nanny living with us for three years and one issue we had was that our nanny was depressed. I am a therapist and I speak Spanish so I was in tune with her mood and bought her self-help books. She offered to watch the kids after I was home from work, even though she was technically off work. I agreed many times because: 1. Sometimes I was so busy I could use the help.
2. I didn't want to say no to her because she appeared depressed and being with my children seemed to help her deal with missing her own children in Mexico. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken the time to deal with the issue/talk with someone to gain perspective. I value all my time with my kids, and now that I don't have a nanny in my home, I multi-task and still get work done while spending time with my kids.