Nanny of Oz

An internationally experienced nanny & consultant

Interviewing for a nanny role is a skill rooted in finding the right balance between professionalism and selling yourself, and warmth and being yourself. It can be tricky, and for some people it’s something that only becomes easier with practise. Add today’s virtual + pandemic age and interviews often take place virtually, which can add a level of challenge and awkwardness.

Head over to read my blog post at Nanager with tips on how to prepare and take the technology complications of video interviews out of the equation so you can focus on getting to know each other during the interview. Remember, you don’t have to have professional tools set up to make it work – just look at my makeshift laptop stand in my ‘home office’ (living room)!

Click here to read those tips!

References are a key part of presenting a picture to families of what you can offer as a nanny. They ideally come in two forms – written letters of recommendation, and contactable referees who can speak to a prospective employer on the phone. Using both written and verbal references is a valuable tool to selling yourself in your job search, and minimising the concern of ‘bothering’ past employers. Everyone provides references differently, but this blog post covers what I think is the ideal way for nannies to navigate each of the two forms of references.

Written Letters of Recommendation

I absolutely ADORE my reference letters. (I’ve even pulled some of my testimonials from them, including one dating back to the early 2000s!) I feel like they each present a unique testimonial that shares the type of service I provided and relationship I had with each family. In order to make the best use of these documents, I suggest the following steps:

  1. Ask employers for a letter of recommendation. This might be towards the end of a position, when the family knows you will be looking for alternative work. I also suggest having a request in your work agreement for a letter to be provided at the end of each year of employment. I advocate for this because I’ve heard of many situations where nanny/family relationships unfortunately sour as time goes on, and sometimes parents who are upset or angry that a nanny is leaving are not willing to provide a reference that provides full and accurate information.
  1. Send a few letters of recommendation with your application. Along with your cover letter and resume, these documents provide a picture of what you are like as a nanny and person, and the working relationship you have had with previous families. I like to choose letters from families that have similar ages or needs to the family I am applying to work for. I highly suggest removing any contact details for your referee from these letters when you send them out in advance of meeting a new family. You can always show the originals if the new family wants to see them once you’ve gotten to a point of knowing you’d like to work together.

Referee Contact Information

As much as it can feel like a nuisance to allow people to call your old employers, it’s an important part of the process when a family or agency is considering taking on a new nanny. I do think it is important for references to be verified verbally (in the case of international references, I recommend asking questions initially by email and then verifying with a quick phone call). The question is, when is it appropriate for the references to be contacted, and how often? Most happy past employers say they are willing to be contacted whenever needed, but as nannies we often don’t want to impose on them too much. So:

  1. This should not be included in the resume that you send when you apply for jobs. (‘References available on request’ is the standard and acceptable thing to include there!) I only provide the contact information for my referees after I have met with a family and am sure that I am interested in a role. Usually these days I email my reference contact list after the interview, along with a message about enjoying our meeting. You could also hand out the contact list on paper at the interview if you prefer.
  1. If families expect me to provide contact information for references before an interview, I explain to them that the privacy of my employers is important and I am conscious of respecting their time, so I only give their numbers out after we have met for an interview. I have never had an issue with this, but I have heard that some nannies do. If parents did have a problem with this, I honestly would lump them into the same category as some parents I have encountered who expect me to be available immediately rather than giving appropriate notice/completing my commitments – they would not be the type of people I would want to work for if they do not understand and value my commitment to professionalism and respect for my employers/clients.
  1. In regards to agencies, they typically will need to speak to references before you meet with a family. I would happily provide my referee’s contact information after I have had an interview with the agency and a discussion about any specific job I’ve applied for, so that I know it is something I am interested in pursuing. Even when agencies have verified references, some parents might still want to speak to your past employers themselves. While, again, this can feel like a nuisance, I do feel it’s an important step if it will help parents make the decision to hire you. Sometimes for parents there is nothing like speaking to a fellow parent and hearing how you impacted their lives as a nanny!

If you haven’t already been doing so, I think it’s a great idea for all nannies to ask employers for letters of recommendation. They don’t replace verbal references, but I’ve found them to help in my applications and in reducing the urgency for prospective employers to speak to past employers before I feel it’s appropriate. Some parents are busy and might ask you to write your own for them to sign (don’t – I really feel like nanny jobs are too personal for that to be done, and I find I notice when the style a nanny’s letters are written in are all the same), or might take some time to get it done. If your employers (or past employers) aren’t eager to spend the time writing one, let them know that you would appreciate it to stand out in your job search, and you hope it will reduce the need for people to want to contact them too often.

Happy reference gathering!

Happy December!

It’s the time of year when nannies and their employers start thinking about the upcoming holiday season – schedules, responsibilities, and of course presents. Nanny jobs are unique in that they are not only a work relationship, but a very personal one as well. It can be tricky to know what to do in terms of gifting.

It does depend somewhat on the relationship – how long the nanny has worked with the family, how close they are with the parents (sometimes through no fault of anyone, a nanny is very close with the children but doesn’t spend much time with the parents), and how many days a week the nanny works. It also depends on financial abilities.

Personally, I think it is always appropriate for a nanny to give the children at least a small present, and for the parents to make sure that the nanny gets a present from the family (even if it is something small just ‘from the children’). Heartfelt cards are also always appreciated and really lovely to exchange. If you have a close relationship and/or know each other well and can afford it, more elaborate gifts might be exchanged. The more personal a present is, the better it will be received, but here are some ideas for nannies and for families to get you thinking.

Nanny Gift Ideas

1. Something related to their interests. This is really vague, but the key is to pay attention to what your nanny says and does. I feel so seen and special when an employer notices something about me and chooses a present that fits in with my interests. This special something might be a coffee gift card, a household appliance that the nanny appreciates using in your home, or a voucher for an activity they enjoy. Hot tip – ask the children! All of my nanny kids, from probably age 2, would be able to answer the question of “what does Manda like?” with a range of relevant things!

2. Extra paid time off. Particularly if you have more downtime during the holiday season, consider giving the nanny some bonus free time. This could be anything from a half day to a week, and you could combine it with treating the nanny to a special activity they could do during time they’d usually be at work. They might enjoy a spa treatment, or if you have friends who employ their nanny friend you could get together to surprise them with an adults-only high tea. (Give them some heads up about the need for whatever clothing or preparation they’ll need, even if the main event is a surprise!)

3. Cash bonus. Usually I agree with the idea of tying a bonus to the ‘Nanniversary’ (the completion of each year of employment) rather than to the holidays, but 2020 has been a strange year. If you have required your nanny to adjust their schedule, responsibilities, or ways of doing their job this year and are in a position to give them a bonus, that could be a really wonderful way of thanking them for their service, flexibility, and support. So many nannies have stepped up in unexpected ways and dealt with challenging changes this year, so a monetary bonus coupled with that heartfelt card I mentioned earlier…. What a treat!

Family Gift Ideas

1. A photo calendar. I take soooo many photos of the children I work with! One great way to share those with the family is to give them a calendar with images you’ve taken of their children’s experiences over the past year. There are several companies where you can design them and have them printed. Takes a bit of planning, but it’s reasonably cost-effective, useful, and very personal. If (or when) you have too many photos to choose from, you might want to create photo books as well!

2. A voucher for an experience they can do as a family. Maybe you often take your nanny kids to the zoo, but the family doesn’t tend to go together, you might want to provide the incentive. Some other ideas are mini golf, an upcoming concert or show, a special animal experience, or an art workshop.

3. Free babysitting. It can be tricky or even awkward to purchase something for parents who pay our wages. But as nannies we can provide the invaluable service of childcare! Offering an evening of your time as a gift for a family can be a way of giving parents something they will appreciate at a low personal cost.

There’s certain things a lot of people think must just be a given if you’re a nanny. But we’re all unique and have different interests and strengths! I decided it was time to ‘own up’ about some of these that just don’t apply to me.

Loves to bake? Doesn’t happen often.

Ah, that nurturing scent of freshly baked muffins, and the joys of mixing and icing cookies with children… It’s just not something I tend to do often. I think I’ve baked maybe 15 times in the past 8 years. (That’s how rare it is – I can remember specific instances!) I guess I don’t think of it as an activity and only really do it if there is a special occasion or purpose for it. I much prefer cooking (savory meals).

Baking is something I can do (and I’ve had the chance to do a little more during my current time away from nannying during the pandemic), but I wouldn’t call it a natural skill. I’m not a big fan of sweets, and I live alone so I wouldn’t often think of baking things for myself. The children I care for typically don’t need regular baked goods either. Baking together is a great activity, but for me, it’s a sometimes activity. I do love to make treats for teachers and visitors when the occasion comes up though!

Artsy Craftsy? Not so muchy.

Whether coaching the kids through intricate creations from Pinterest (which I actually don’t use…) or letting them put together their own creations (no matter how much mess it makes or how many resources they use), many nannies have a knack for crafting. It’s never been something I’ve gravitated towards, and only has a large focus in my work if the children show a particular interest. The mess and clutter of using tons of resources honestly made me cringe when I helped out in one of my nanny children’s kindergarten classes!. 

For the occasional birthday or holiday I’ve helped children make things for their parents or teachers. Once a 2 year old decided his mother would like a pop-up snake birthday card, so we made it happen! I have always given opportunities for children to explore arts and crafts of their own ideas. But there are no daily or weekly creations showing up from their time with me. I’m much more likely to have them drawing in the sand or dirt, or creating a pattern with leaves, rocks, and flowers.

Adores babies? Give me a toddler.

This is something that nannies are actually somewhat divided on. Not every nanny is a ‘baby nanny’, and I certainly don’t identify as one. When I was starting out as a babysitter, I never had the opportunity to work with babies, and it wasn’t something I pursued later. Sure, there have been babies that I’ve enjoyed spending time with – baby siblings of former nanny kids, and babies of other people I love – but I’ve never had a passion for taking a full-time ongoing nanny position starting with a baby. 

On the other hand, I LOVE toddlers.. Which is a feeling a lot of nannies and parents don’t share with me. Really, once they start talking (or just before) and walking is when I’m in my element. I feel like my strengths lie in caring for toddlers and preschoolers, rather than meeting the needs of young babies. Also, everyone is familiar with baby sleep experts, which is not me, but I have been really successful at promoting great sleep habits and routines in that 15mo-4yo age range.

At-home purpose-made resources? I’d rather be out adventuring

I’m on Instagram. I see so many of the intricate activities and resources and plans caregivers have put together for young children. They make me feel inspired and a little envious, but it’s not actually something I tend to want to do. I’m quite the minimalist, and as much as I love some of the learning tools people make, I’m an advocate for learning through natural resources, play, and daily life. Sensory kits are amazing, but they use so many materials. Sorting coloured shapes into bowls is great, but we don’t need something purpose-built for that.

I prefer going to the playground, to the beach. Exploring the natural world and local community, and travelling (when we can!) to learn about objects and environments. Counting pushes on a swing, singing about the colours that we see, feeling the textures of the trees. Interacting with people we meet at the park, schedule playdates with, or encounter in a business. I don’t love staying in the house all day, but when we need to there are existing household items that can facilitate learning and spark a sense of fun. Finding matching socks in the laundry basket is a fun one! So while I have to admit I sometimes have fantasies about having themes of the week or a ton of specific resources, when it comes down to it that’s just not my style. And that’s ok.

Deciding how to go about finding a nanny requires parents to strike their own right balance between time, effort, and cost. Using an agency will typically be a more expensive way of searching, but will mean there are professionals to take the lead. These professionals will spend the time and effort needed to present only the most suitable nannies to a family for consideration. Searching for a nanny without an agency will save money, but will require parents to put in more effort. This can absolutely be worth it though.

My perspective as a nanny

As a nanny, I have sometimes used agencies (especially for a lot of my temp work, as they can find me the jobs and ensure that the working arrangement is legal). But the majority of my roles have been found using online sites or word of mouth. Interviews and negotiations for these positions have then been directly with the families, which I’ve really liked.

When parents create their own job ad, this typically gives it a more personal touch. The content and way it is written give hints about the family beyond the basics. A family’s personality tends to shine through, showing me their values and priorities. Likewise, my response to these ads is usually more personal and tailored to the family. One of the most important things for me is finding the right fit. Having complementary personalities, shared values, and a role where I am able to meet the needs of the children. These are some of the most important things I look for when starting a new job.

My thoughts for parents

A benefit of seeing the full spectrum of interested nanny applicants, is that you will continue to refine what you are and are not wanting in a nanny. You’ll discover ways to express your needs and values more clearly. This might lead to adjusting your ad and/or what you say to applicants throughout the screening process. These adjustments will bring you closer to your ultimate goal of finding a nanny who is a wonderful fit with your family. One who can meet your needs, and who can bring the energy and skills needed in the role.

Many nannies (including myself) are registered with several agencies, in addition to searching for work in other ways. But if a job ad is posted by an agency that a nanny is not already registered with, it can be a deterrent to need to go through the agency’s registration process before speaking with a family… even if the ad sounds promising. By advertising directly to nannies, this removes the possibility you might miss those candidates. You may also reach a different group of nannies by advertising on platforms than agencies do not use.

The bottom line

Finding a nanny definitely takes work. By eliminating the ‘middleman’, you will need to field all the applications you get from nannies in response to your ad. But, once you hear from a promising applicant, you can move forward right away by reaching out to them. Things can move more quickly this way. By putting in the time and effort to advertise and screen the nannies, rather than using an agency, you could also save money on a lot of the extra costs associated with finding a nanny. This could mean your overall spending is less. And/or it may mean you are able to offer a top quality nanny a higher rate. 

What can parents do

Luckily for parents, Lauren at Nanager has come up with Find Your Own Nanny. This means parents now have options. As a parent, you can decide how you want to go about your nanny search (and how much you want to spend). Would you prefer to do more of the work yourself and spend significantly less money to find your nanny? Find Your Own Nanny guides parents through the steps of advertising for, interviewing, and hiring a nanny. Aside from giving you step-by-step guidance, Lauren at Nanager is also available if you need extra help along the way. Having access to professional guidance, but putting in the effort to have more autonomy in your own search, could just be the right balance you’ve been looking for.

I’ve worked as a nanny in several places and have seen that the industry norms vary depending on the location. One area of difference is the typical process of how a nanny and family choose one another. In some areas, after interviewing and any reference/background checks, one nanny is offered the role, accepts the role, and starts working with the family. In other areas, families will ask one or more nannies to work ‘trial shifts’ where they spend a day or more working before the family decides whether to offer them the job.

The idea behind doing trial days (as I understand it) is to test out whether the nanny and family are a good match for one another, whether the nanny is capable of and happy to do the job, and possibly to compare the work of one nanny with another. I can see why people think this is a sensible step, and acknowledge it could be helpful in certain circumstances… After all, it’s only when nannies and families work together for a while that they’ll see how things will go. Trial shifts, in theory, allow more time together than just an interview.

But you know what I think? I think trialling/testing out a nanny before offering them the job is an awful idea!! In my experience, trial days rarely give much indication of what a typical working relationship would be like. Most of these that I did, I left hating the experience, and I never felt like I made a quality impression. A day where a nanny is on trial is not a day like any other. The pressure the nanny can feel, the fact that everything is new – not only the tasks and environment, but the relationships, the way parents can feel torn between enticing the nanny with unrealistic displays or testing the nanny by throwing them into the deep end to see how they’ll cope… it can be a recipe for disaster! It could end up being a real trial by fire that leaves one or both parties feeling burned.

It’s really important for children to spend time getting to know their new nanny, but as an experienced nanny, I’ll tell you – I never expect much from children when I first meet them, especially if their parents or other caregivers are around. I assume that if a young child has a choice between their known and trusted caregiver and a stranger, they’re going to go with the known person for the big things. When they do transition to a new nanny, it can take some time to build the connection and routine to help them feel comfortable. I do not see the benefit in forcing or rushing this, and prefer to move at the child’s pace. Having a potential new nanny (or multiple nannies!) come in, whether the child understands why they are there or not, can be disruptive for the children and can cause unnecessary stress on them and the nanny. 

Children are also unpredictable, and all sorts of things can impact their mood and actions. It could be something completely unrelated to the visiting nanny that determines whether a child is happy and settled, or whether they are cranky and acting out. Seeing how the nanny deals with a child who is struggling could be a good thing to see, but again since the visiting nanny hasn’t established a relationship with the child, I don’t think it’s a great indication of the nanny’s skills or ability to respond appropriately to a child.

When it comes to the parents and the nanny, let’s assume they want to make a good impression on one another. Parents might be tempted to make the home tidier than usual, or have meals set up and ready to go, or alter the routine of what they typically do during the day. Nannies might go into a day of work with top level energy (especially if they haven’t been working every day), or go overboard with activities and resources brought from home, or be so eager to please that they say yes to everything. What happens if that nanny is then hired for the role and everyone learns that the way they presented on the trial day is not the everyday reality? You might say that’s to be expected, but then I’m not sure I see the point of having that trial day as a way of testing things out.

So what do I think people should do instead of trials? Should they just interview a nanny, choose a nanny, and have them sign a contract to start while hoping for the best? Not exactly… I believe in a substantial interview process (which might be one or more interviews, at least one where the nanny meets the children) where parents and nannies discuss everything from experience to personalities, daily duties to childcare philosophies. Then I think speaking to the references (and reading letters of recommendation) can be more effective than a trial day for finding out a lot of things. Is the nanny reliable, caring, trustworthy, helpful? Do they respond appropriately to the children, do they plan and facilitate activities, do they form positive relationships with the children and the parents? Parents can even provide their potential new nanny with a previous employee’s details to speak as a family reference. After this, then working out a formal job offer and work agreement, I think it’s appropriate to begin working together. 

As a nanny who values the joy I have in my work, I’d hate to feel trapped in a role that didn’t turn out to be the right fit, so I recommend having a ‘probationary period’ where there is little or no notice needed for either party to decide it’s not working out. Depending on the job, for me the timeframes have ranged from 0-7 days notice for the first 1-3 months of the job (usually we know within a week or so). Doing this, you have your trial with a low risk period and an ‘easy out’, but without the pressure and disruption of testing each other before deciding whether to work together. A nanny working in a family’s home is such a personal situation, that the initial process of getting to know one another should aim to be thorough enough so you feel comfortable moving into a work agreement. The nitty gritty details of whether a nanny can perform the duties and whether the expectations of a family are suitable? That can all generally be determined before working together. Whether it’s the right personality fit for spending all that time together, and whether you’re able to work together to meet everyone’s needs? That is something that will more likely be confirmed after a few weeks rather than a day or two.

Oh wow.. Has it been a week!

The Melbourne nanny community has been on a wild ride of changing information and adjustments since Stage 4 Restrictions were announced (in an attempt to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak that has exploded like nowhere else in the country). The nanny industry is a small industry in Australia, and we tend to not be given a voice when it comes to regulations made by authorities. The dilemmas we face in our small industry turned into a growing issue on Sunday when many parents realised that they would not be allowed to send their children to childcare centres under the new rules. Childcare is only available for ‘permitted workers’, which left a lot of parents scrambling.

Parents began advertising and reaching out to people in the community to try to get nannies to replace centre care. Personally, I immediately felt uncomfortable about this. Okay, I began to panic. After all, I have been advocating since March for nannies to limit their work to just one household! Ads began popping up for “someone to watch my children for 3 hours, 3 days a week while I work from home” and “a babysitter to watch my child once a week, so I can get things done around the house, because she won’t be able to attend childcare”. This sounded like a recipe for disaster, which was confirmed with the number of caregivers advertising that they were available to help other families on days they weren’t already working.

HELP!?!

I truly understand that parents need help. Under normal circumstances I’m an advocate for nannies because we can provide so much to a family, whether parents are in an office all day, travelling, or just need an extra pair of hands to help them out. As a nanny I proudly support people’s physical and mental wellbeing by providing care. But let me state the obvious: These Are Not Normal Circumstances. We are in really challenging times, and I trust the authorities who say that we need to drastically reduce the number of people moving throughout the community, and the number of physical contacts people have, in order to get this outbreak under better control. I’ve got my eye on the future, that we’ll be rewarded with after the devastating effort we’re about to put in.

It has taken several days for information specific to nannies to be released by the State Government. Those days were filled with speculation and misinformation spread by media, local MPs, agencies, nannies, and parents. I’d still appreciate clearer, more specific rules. At ‘the moment of printing’, the most recent official statement I have found is the Permitted Worker Scheme page of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website, which was updated today. My summary of the information under the Childcare Permit heading is that in-home childcare is only allowed for permitted workers, who already have existing arrangements in place with an in-home care provider, when no other adult living in the household is capable of providing care. In addition to this (as has been made clear about childcare in general), vulnerable people are also eligible to receive care. This eases my mind about the virus’ spreading potential if so many people try to get nannies to work when they are not allowed to access centre care.

It’s not perfect. This is going to be an incredibly tough 6 weeks for many families and nannies. Nannies may struggle financially if parents do not pay them during this time at home, and they may need to reach out to unemployment services. Parents working at home in ‘non-permitted’ roles will have to find a balance between caring for their children and getting work done. I truly hope employers are understanding of this and provide their employees with flexibility. We have to take care of one another. Many children will need to learn how to play independently, take more responsibility for their own school work, and will miss their normal routines and caregivers. My hope is that Melbourne (and wider Victoria) will put in the effort to make this period of restriction succeed so that we can move forward into a less restricted new normal.

My personal pleas to nannies and families? Follow the rules, as a bare minimum. Don’t look for loopholes to try to get around those rules. The rules are there for a reason, and unfortunately that’s not to make anyone’s life easy during this time. Aim to do things that cause the least potential risk to yourself and the community. Please, if at all possible, limit nanny work to just one household. Consider the approach New Zealand took during their successful lockdown – think of the nanny’s home and one family’s home as a bubble that is as small as possible in order to protect people. Follow public health and hygiene recommendations as. best you can – hand washing, masks, distancing. Behave as though you have the virus, and take precautions to avoid spreading it.

Use resources that are available to you – apply for unemployment benefits to get you through, communicate with others to find a solution to your needs, reach out for support when you need it from family, friends, your community, and professionals. Call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline if you need information or help (1800 675 398). I’m also here for those who need help with ways to communicate within their work arrangement, sourcing information, or any other support I can provide (from a distance!).

Stay safe, stay home, and THANK YOU to those who can do that and also to those who are providing essential services that don’t allow you to completely isolate yourself.

What if the first impression you make, when applying for a nanny role, is with an outstanding resume and a thoughtfully written message about why you’re right for the job?

To make nannying a successful career, it not only matters how you interact with children, but how you sell yourself in order to get the interview. Being a nanny doesn’t usually involve a high standard of written work. But applying for a job with a CV/resume that has grammatical errors or is poorly formatted can be off-putting. If your resume doesn’t accurately show your experience and qualifications with an appropriate amount of detail, it can really do you a disservice. Also harmful is when your written communication expressing interest in a job is unprofessional or inappropriate.

Parents and agencies (and that friend of a friend who is advertising a job) notice these things. Putting some effort into your choice of words can really make a difference when it comes to standing out amongst your competition. Whether you are a keen babysitter who is interested in taking on more substantial nanny work, a qualified child care educator looking to transition to working in homes, or a career nanny who has been working in the industry for ages, I think everyone can benefit from spending a little time or money on creating or refreshing their resume.

I’ve written a post for Nanager that provides some basic advice on what to think about when applying to work with a family or agency. The CV/resume, cover letter, and initial communication is what will get you in the door. No great caregiver should be missing out on being a top candidate for a nanny job because they didn’t present well on paper. Please get in touch if you’d like to chat about your needs and ways I can provide more specific help.

You can read my post here on Nanager’s website.

You can reach me by email at thenannyofoz@gmail.com.

Happy job hunting!

With so much flurry and focus on getting our minds around the need to ‘homeschool’, I want to encourage nannies to remember the importance of another kind of support. Children are going to need more than substitute teaching from us during this pandemic and extended period of time at home. They are going to need the emotional support we can provide through consistent and responsive care. Children who were previously in any kind of school or childcare environment are dealing with a disruption in their educational norm. But they have also had their social life changed and their daily routines modified. Not to mention the impact their awareness of COVID-19 may be having on the way they are feeling. 

Behavioural changes might occur while children process these emotions. Some may become more clingy or regress to behaviours typical of a younger child. Others may act out and express anger or frustration. Nannies always provide high standards of physical comfort and care to children in the home, but there are a few other things I feel are particularly important at this time. 

Open and frequent communication

It’s important for nannies to speak with parents about information that is acceptable to give the children. Information should be age-appropriate and avoid alarm, but I am a strong proponent of honesty and transparency. Ideally the virus and changes to lifestyle will be topics that the children are able to discuss freely with trusted adults. Many children will be curious about why their routines have changed, and may be worried about the impact the virus could have on them and their loved ones. It’s important to let children know that their questions and concerns can be voiced, and that all their emotions are valid and worthy of expression. They might need guidance on how to communicate these things in a suitable way.

Now more than ever, it is valuable to have regular informal meetings with the children (perhaps a conversation over breakfast and dinner). These can be used to touch base with everyone’s feelings and any support they may need. It’s so important to tune in to each child, as everyone processes things differently and responds better to different kinds of support and encouragement. Some children might feel empowered by reminders that the measures they are taking (practising good hygiene and social distancing) are reducing risk. Others might have anxiety that presents as nervous energy that needs to be channelled physically. In addition to expressing feelings, these meetings can also be a great time to plan the day together or remind children of what will be happening.

Continue old routines and establish new ones

As caregivers we may need to plan a little more, to ensure the days/weeks are balanced and to encompass activities that are varied and meeting children’s needs. Transitions between activities should be considered thoughtfully and these can be a great time to use routine. Children thrive on routine. It’s beneficial for them to know what to expect at certain times throughout the day or week. Many of their routines have been disrupted, but some – such as the normal morning and evening routine – should be quite easy to keep. Children will feel comforted by familiar habits such as getting dressed for the day and reading stories at bedtime.

New routines can also make this time more fun and offer predictability. Perhaps children are now able to have a daily lunch date with a parent who is working from home, or have their nanny join them in a dance to their favourite song at the end of an online class. Maybe Friday afternoon is movie time, or a virtual playdate is set up with a friend for a certain time each week. Children of all ages should have input into the building of routines and scheduling of activities they need and want to do. This will assist in their acceptance and enjoyment, and will also help them to manage their expectations and know that their needs will be met.

Get outside

All this talk about staying home and reducing time spent in public spaces might make a lot of us nannies feel claustrophobic and isolated. Children are no different. They are used to the freedom and activity of climbing on playground equipment, the social stimulation they get from their peers in school and on playdates, and the challenge and interest that come from interacting with a variety of adult leaders in classes and storytimes. They will be missing all of these things while they are temporarily absent from their world. While we can’t make up for everything, nannies can certainly help. 

While following rules and guidelines of social distancing and restrictions on movement, we can still get out of the house. Pretty much every area still allows exercise as a valid reason for being outside. Taking walks or bike rides, whether around the neighbourhood sidewalks or to a local park, are necessities for getting bodies moving and maintaining a connection to nature. If the household has a yard, nannies can allow for extra time outside by having picnics or even doing schooling in the open air. This will help to energise and stimulate children’s senses, and reduce feelings of restlessness and disconnection.

Our role as nannies is to support children by using positive and proactive tools, while remaining flexible and allowing them even more grace than we usually might. This is a tough time for everyone, and children require their needs to be met in the best way we can manage. This is not going to be perfect, nor will it be an adequate replacement for everything they are craving from their normal lives. But when we approach with the intention to connect and work with the children to find temporary solutions, I believe we can create a positive environment in the home. An environment that strengthens relationships, and that even builds some moments children will remember fondly when things go back to ‘normal’.

The following COVID-19 update of my post, advocating for the value of nannies as a form of childcare, was shared on the website of the incredible agency – Nanager. I am honoured to have my voice shared by Lauren, who is passionate about pairing quality childcare with effective home management:

“The Value of Nanny Care (especially during COVID-19)

The childcare sector is going through major upheaval at the moment, as is the entire world! Recent announcements inform us that the Australian government is providing free access to childcare centres for all parents. But what about the concern of whether it is safe and responsible to have children in a group environment (while we are otherwise practising social distancing strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19)? Some parents may be considering a change in their childcare arrangements. Engaging a nanny or nanager is a form of childcare that incurs a higher cost than centres. But there are so many benefits for parents who choose to use a well-suited nanny (be they experienced, qualified, and/or just a really great fit for the role). The benefits are even greater when we consider the current pandemic. 

Nannies are the solution many families are seeking.

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