As we work to re-adjust to our new normal, many babysitters and nannies have been called in to assist parents who are now working from home. Caring for children while the parents are home poses a whole new set of challenges—including discussing precautions for everyone’s health and safety.
We’ve pulled together a few tips to help you care for kids while their parents are home that will hopefully make your day easier in a new working environment.
Over-Communicate, Over-Communicate, Over-Communicate
Making sure that you and the parents are on the same page is more important than ever now. Depending upon the space available for you to care for the children, most likely there’s going to be an increased number of individuals sharing the same space. This can pose some logistical issues when planning activities with the kids.
Here are some questions that you could ask to make sure everyone’s on the same page:
- What are the family’s hygiene routines to help the kids follow?
- What kind of work do the parents need to get done? (Meetings at specific times, uninterrupted time to focus on work, household tasks, etc.)
- What room(s) do the parents need just for themselves? What rooms can be shared?
- Is there an outdoor space that’s safe to play in?
- Are there any activities that are off-limits due to noise/distraction?
Talk About the Day
It’s a great idea to ask for a rundown of what the day might look like for the parents when you arrive. When you’re aware of the parent’s schedule you can plan yours with the kids accordingly. This can include:
- Whether the parent has any meetings scheduled (so you know when to monitor noise levels and ensure no interruptions).
- If you’ll all be having lunch together, or to plan on doing this separately.
- If there’s anything specific that the kids need to get accomplished today, school-related or not.
- How the kids have been doing mentally/emotionally lately so that you can help manage stress levels and reactions to situations properly.
Set Ground Rules
Oftentimes, when parents are home the kids will want to seek help from their parents over you as the sitter or nanny. There’s no offense to be taken here, it’s natural for this to happen. However, when both authority figures are around, it’s important to set clear expectations on who’s in charge and who’s to take the lead on specific things.
Have an initial discussion with the parents about this to make sure you’re both on the same page. They know their kids best and will be able to fully assess the situation. Ask the parents to speak directly to their kids about what’s decided while you’re present. That way, there’s no room for confusion or information manipulation.
Topics to cover could be:
- Activities and rooms that are off-limits
- Food available for lunchtime or snacks
- Chores that need to be done
- Homework that needs to be completed
- When/why the parents can be interrupted
- Behavior-related challenges
Make a full, but flexible game plan for the day. Just like a typical babysitting scenario, some activities may or may not be a hit with the kids, and therefore might not last for as long or short as you planned. Having multiple backup plans will help ensure that you keep the kids entertained and occupied the whole time you’re there.
So much can change as the day goes on: the weather, behavior, and moods, as well as the parent’s workday. Whether the kids don’t want to do what you had planned, or the parent asks for you to do something else, allow your plans for the day to have some flexibility. Having alternative plans and being flexible will make the day go a bit smoother.
You’re Still There To Help
It might be a shift, or you may be used to it, but knowing that the parents are going to be there is a specific work environment to prepare your mind for. Take a minute to imagine or visualize what it will be like caring for kids in a house with other adults—particularly their parents. How will it be different? How will it be the same?
Ultimately, the parents have called you in to help them out—you’re there to work. It may seem strange to take charge of the kids with the parents around, but they want you there so that they can solely focus on something without the distraction of kids.