When to Give Your Nanny a Pass?

By Jacalyn S Burke,

It’s an odd title. But sometimes nannies must be given a pass. What do I mean? Well, like stay at home parents will often understand – some days just don’t go to plan. Perhaps the weather is awful and we are home-locked. Or maybe our little one isn’t 100%, either recovering from a sickness or succumbing to one. Or our dishwasher breaks down. Anyway there’s a spanner thrown into the works and our intended vision for the day doesn’t go as planned. We’ve all seen the scene on TV when the bread-winner comes home and the house is a mess.

“What on earth have you been doing all day?” He or she wonders about his partner and home-maker.

You might well ask ... the exhausted parent replies. Where one person sees chaos another person sees a long stressful day managed the best way humanly possible.

In those situations something always gets left undone. If our nanny is attuned to our children’s needs she will choose to prioritize their emotional and physical needs over chores like housework. The problem is that attending to a child’s repetitive needs doesn’t leave a trail. The work is a hidden magic and one that helps that child to develop normally. Children thrive when they are nurtured and it might take many years before we as parents see the benefits of a loving nanny.

Toys strewn all over the floor or laundry left undone or the dishwasher not emptied – those things are visible. They can nag at us and make us wonder what does she (our child’s nanny) do all day? In those moments it is good to take a step back and analyze the bigger picture. Do our children seem happy? If they are sick that’s hard to tell. Still, there is a difference between a sick but attended to child and a child neglected while ill. It takes discernment to notice and acknowledge our nanny’s day.

Alternatively – if nannies feel under pressure to choose between housework which is visible and tending exclusively to a needy child, some will choose the chores if they feel employers expect that. Nannies that choose to nurture a child through a difficult day and who choose to leave certain errands left undone because there simply wasn’t enough time – should tell their employer so. These choices must be articulated and explained if our employer is not going to jump to the conclusion that their nanny is lazy or unmotivated.

Communication is the oil that smooths the mechanics of every human relationship. Employers and nannies are no exception. So next time you come home to a scene of chaos, ask yourself: what kind of day did my nanny have? If you as a nanny had a particularly rough day, tell your employers. You don’t have to moan or lay the blame on the children. Just acknowledge that you were not able to get everything done before the day’s end. Parents can read between the lines and understand that some days nannies – like all primary caregivers – need a pass.