EXPERT Q&A

How can we help our nanny feel more comfortable with us working from home?

During COVID-19, more and more parents are working from home, even while a nanny is caring for their children. Learn how to help your nanny feel more comfortable with you working from home, from nanny expert Danny Rosenthal.

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Question

We’ve had a nanny for the past month and she’s doing an amazing job. We’ve noticed that she seems to get uncomfortable and nervous at times throughout the day when interacting with us. My partner and I both work from home, so sometimes we are walking around the house and will briefly check in with her and our young kids. We are trying to be kind and supportive, but are worried she thinks we are spying on her and don’t trust that she’s doing a good job. We’ve never reprimanded her or even stepped in while she’s working, so we aren’t sure why she is nervous. We’d like to know the best way to discuss this with her so she feels more comfortable.

Answer

I am so glad you’ve asked this question. First, I must give a huge kudos to you and your partner for appreciating your nanny, noticing she does an amazing job, and—this is even more impressive—recognizing that things may be a little off and you want to address them.

Working from home for parents is now commonplace, but it is a strange new world for nannies to navigate. Nannies are used to completely taking the reins during the day and making those decisive executive decisions for your family’s childcare needs while parents are away. Naturally, there is an adjustment period for working in this kind of situation. Parents working from home is foreign territory for many caregivers. I agree that she may feel more eyes on her and be a tad anxious that you and your partner are always nearby.

I must mention, even the best nannies need some time to assess and adjust to become the perfect cog in a family’s wheel. I’m sure your nanny wants to do a good job and is figuring out her place.

Your timing is perfect. You mentioned that you’ve had this wonderful nanny for about a month. And this is the right time to have a check-in with your nanny. Set aside some time and let your nanny know that you’d like to connect with her in the upcoming week. Make sure to use the word “connect.” This term seems to put everyone at ease. It is much better than asking to speak with her, or that you’d like to chat. These can immediately bring on anxiety and stress for your nanny.

Let her know that it would be a great time for her to ask any questions and that your primary goal is to make sure she is properly supported.

Now, as it relates to working from home, this is new territory for a lot of nannies and there are things you all need to figure out, and these are too often left at the wayside. These topics, described below, are a great starting point but you might have other issues specific to your situation that should be touched on.

  • You need to figure out who is in charge when you or your partner are around. It may seem silly that this is something to figure out, but every family is different here. When you are around, you can lead; other families prefer the nanny to still say in charge, with the parents referring back to them for answers. It can be handy for the nanny to stay in charge if you can only pop in for a moment or if the kids have a schedule they need to keep to.
  • Are there times of the day when you want to/can be a part of the action?
  • Are their noise levels she needs to be aware of?
  • Are there areas of the house that are better when you or your partner are in work mode?

The best thing you can do is open a dialogue. It can be hard for a caregiver to speak up and ask their boss questions. It is even harder for a nanny to ask for help because they feel that you brought them in to be the solution. The anxiety should subside once you let her know that you want to support her and for her to be happy in your home. The bottom line is: You’re a team! So be sure to let her know that. Go team!

Meet The Expert


Danny Rosenthal

Known as Danny J Nanny, he is the author behind Nanny ABCs: The Sitter’s Handbook and the host of Nanny ABCs’ Next Step. Rosenthal created Nanny ABCs to simplify childcare. His program keeps families and caregivers from reinventing the wheel. He has been recognized by Chicago Collegiate Nannies for his Outstanding Performance and Rosenthal’s expertise has been featured by the US Nanny Association, Care.com, and the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. Learn more and connect with Danny J Rosenthal at www.NannyABCs.com or via social media @NannyABCs