Tuesday Advice: 8 ways to ease into a new nanny job
Starting a new job or filling another’s shoes is one of the greatest challenges nannies face in their career path. Because of the nature of childcare many positions do not last more than a few years. Sooner or later you will once again be on the first day of the job. So let’s take the sting out of it.
1) KEEP CALM LOOK CALM
Everyone has a first day, even the beloved nanny you are replacing. So put on your big girl pants and show up smiling and with a game plan.
2) HELP MOM/DAD FEEL IN CONTROL
New employers will be extra twitchy on day one, so remember that they will be more receptive to change when they feel in control, and control = trust. How do we convey trust?
- Eye contact. Make lots of it.
- Listen to what they say because they know how their house runs best.
- Smile and loosen up. Don’t stand with crossed arms and a fixed stare.
- Be fluid, moving your eyes between the parents and the children.
- Roll with first day tantrums. The children now in your care may be experiencing incredible anxiety. Be compassionate.
- Divert. Use something fun to take the children’s minds from the intensity of a hand-over.
3) INVOLVE THE CHILDREN
Accept that the children may be upset or anxious and explain it’s also a new situation for you too. Ask the children to show you around the house and if there is a younger sibling, let the older child/ren direct you on how to comfort them. On the first day bring each child a small gift. It needn’t be expensive, a single flower per child or a coloring book will suffice. Gifts convey to children you are invested in them.
4) KNOW THE HOUSE RULES IN ADVANCE
If you have any questions you need to ask them before you show up for work. Write them down so you can refer back to them if need be. Go through the rules with both the parents and children present. Just so you know everyone is on the same page. Communicate your boundaries with the family and what you will not tolerate: (e.g.) hitting.
Examples of things to discuss before employment starts:
- Bedtime routine
- Rules for screen time/media
- How to get along with siblings
- When and where homework should be done
- Rewards and consequences for good or bad behavior
5) PLAN ACTIVITIES
One of the main causes for kids misbehaving is boredom. Be proactive and plan special and fun activities, like games, art projects and snacks to create during the first few weeks until you all find your own natural rhythm.
6) OFFER REASSURANCES
The children in your care will feel more secure knowing mom and dad are just a phone call away. Let them know they can call their parents and leave the number near the phone, but try to discourage them from doing so unless it’s really important. Ask the parents to have a time during the day to check in, over the first few months until everyone settles down. Tell the children that while you are there to care for them, you are not expecting to replace their last nanny in their hearts. Offer hugs and love when they express their sadness or separation anxiety but never force them on a child. When children are ready they will initiate tactile interactions. Encourage the children to talk freely about their previous nanny.
7) BE YOURSELF
You are unique. You will bring special gifts to the new family. This is what you do. Be confident and strong. Own your power and let your heart lead the way but never let new employers or their children take advantage of you or attempt to strip you of your dignity. No position is worth a miserable work life.
8) ARRANGE A PROGRESS REPORT
After 4 weeks arrange a meeting with your employers. Ask them if there is anything you could be doing better. Share with them how you feel things are working out. Childcare is a partnership not indentured service. A regular face-to-face meeting with parents will help keep things running on track. It will also demonstrate your commitment.