Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Transition Period

The First 3 weeks to 3 months

You’ve found “The One.” Your very own Mary Poppins. A nanny, the person who will partner with you in raising your child. And s/he is arriving tomorrow. Now what?

The first 3 weeks to 3 months is a very critical period in your relationship with your nanny! Poor communication, making assumptions, and not enough time spent educating your nanny about you and your family could easily result in a failed match. How do you avoid this? Read on for The Nanny Doctor’s tips!

The week before your nanny arrives:
Celebrate the arrival of your new nanny and his/her joining your household. There are many things you can do to help your nanny feel welcome!
• For a live-in nanny, tell the kids that you are going to decorate your new nanny’s room. Take them to a party store and ask them to pick out what they think their new nanny will like. Let them pick out whatever they want. What’s important here is they are getting excited about welcoming their new nanny into their home and their lives! If your 5 year-old boy picks out a race car motif – so be it! If you have an infant, decorate the nanny room yourself!
• Live-in or Live-out -Have your children make artwork (drawings or a banner) or handmade cards welcoming their nanny into their home!
• For a live-in, consider sending her a bouquet of flowers from the children that are there waiting in her room upon her arrival!
• Throughout the week, drop your new nanny’s name into conversation. When your child asks about something that you know your new nanny is interested in or will be involved in, say something like, “You know what? I think Katie really likes ballet, I’ll bet she’d love to see you perform on Saturday!”

The first week:
• Plan to be present more than usual during this transition period. This is when you want to spend time with your nanny and educate them about your family.

• Communication is the key! Positive, clear communication – free from emotion and judgment. Discuss what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Empower your nanny, don’t shame them. Remember, in an emergency, you want the nanny to feel comfortable reaching out to you – not scared.

• Make your child the expert! They may be a little shy at first, but this activity will help them to gain a sense of control over this big change! When your nanny comes over, encourage your child to be the tour guide of your life! Say things like, “What do we do after dinner?” or “What time is nap time again?” Your child will enjoy “schooling” your new nanny and your nanny will appreciate your child’s involvement.

• Plan some sort of activity or plan for the nanny to attend a birthday party or soccer game. When all else fails – make cookies! Baking is a great activity to spend quality time together and start to build a new relationship!

Things to consider:
• Consider your nanny’s own cultural background. Ask your nanny about her own family’s traditions.
• Consider the last “nanny-family” this nanny had. Unless you educate your nanny about your family, s/he will operate off of the last family’s set of family rules. For example, I recently worked with a family where the family was very laid back and informal. They hired their dream nanny and were quickly upset by the way that she shuttled their children away from them in the house and said “No” quite often. The family was upset. When I was called in, I immediately got to the bottom of it with the nanny. What had been going on the whole time was that this nanny had just come from a formal household where children are literally seen and not heard and the nanny would have been fired if the children had been too loud or interrupted the parent’s schedule. By helping that family to identify their own family’s identity and facilitating communication between family and nanny, they are now a happy household and a failed match was avoided!

• Consider any special skills or training that your nanny brings to your family. Acknowledge and value these skills.

• Your new nanny needs to know she has your support! Your children need to see that you are confident and sure of your decision and that you value and respect your new nanny. Back your nanny up in front of the children. If your children behave rudely or inappropriately towards your new nanny ensure that your children know that this is unacceptable. If you disagree with your nanny, back her up in front of the children (unless its clearly a safety issue) and pull her aside after the incident and discuss your differences at that time.

Take it slow and learn from each other! Building this relationship honestly, openly and lovingly will promote a happy, healthy household in the long-term.

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