An Open Letters To Parents : From Your Nanny (Part 2)
**This blog post series (two parts) was written by our SGS Program Coordinator, Allie Swanson (and only slightly edited by our writing crew).** Last week, we started an open letter to parents and discussed the qualities of a good nanny and some beginner tips. This week, we’re back to share some stories from the trenches and some additional points for parents to consider.
I personally nanny in my spare time, and from the parents to the caregivers, you would be surprised at some of the things I’ve heard.
One family told me that their nanny had major family life issues and was trying to deal with the U.S. immigration system. The family thought it was harmless that she did most of her “business” when the kids were napping. However, she once made a call to El Salvador on their home phone that cost more that $600! She paid it all back, but it was a shock! Checking your email and making a personal call here and there is normal, but without clear expectations you can’t expect perfect results. And with children nothing, could be more imperative than being detail-oriented when talking with your nanny.
Another story came to me recently from a good friend of mine who is also a caregiver. She discovered hidden cameras in the home that she was nannying in. None of these had been discussed with her at any length. How would you feel if someone was watching you while you work 24/7? But on the flip side, is it within the parents’ rights to see and hear everything that goes on within their home? Yes, I think so. However, are they supposed to tell the nanny about the cameras? Probably.
Most parents understand that nannies often work long days with long shifts. Something to point out is that they are “on the job” the entire time. Unlike a traditional 9-to-5 job, you can’t take a break from watching a child. Even when a child goes down for a nap, nannies will proceed to do household chores like unload and reload the dishwasher, fold laundry, pick up toys, clean the kitchen, etc. All while checking the baby monitor every 5 -10 minutes. So with this in mind, it might be reasonable for a nanny to take a personal call or text one or two times during their work hours, right?
Unlike traditional jobs, nannies don’t often have basic labor rights such as rest breaks, lunch breaks, and bathroom breaks. In reality, most kids have seen their parents talk on the phone and the kid feels ignored, or in some cases even participates in harmful behavior like texting while driving. The fact is that parents are just as guilty. It’s hard to argue that parents hold nannies to a standard that they rarely adhere to themselves.
So what is the common thread between these stories, these facts, and these questions?
It is crucial that parents and caregivers are on the same page as far as expectations of the family and expectations of the nanny. In this digital world, we need to be specific about what parents want their child exposed to, and what they actually are exposed to.
People are spending upwards of 10 hours a day in front of screen, but who is thinking about the effects? In a world where a lot of parents stick their child in front of a screen just to get a break from all of the talking, the crying, the nagging, the pestering, the attitude, the whining, or the annoyance, who is communicating that to the nanny?
We often mention here at SGS statistics about screen time, and we pose questions on what it does to the human brain or the overall effects on your health that technology has. Is screen time inhibiting your mental capacity, your decision-making skills, or your clarity of mind? For any person this would be important, but none more than someone who is responsible for a child’s life.
It is important to note that simple steps can be done in each family to combat any unwanted influence from another parenting source. For instance, creating a specific time and space that is devoted to family time can trump any other voice that might be contrary to your own.
Dedicate this time specifically to your children. Talk to them, listen to them, catch up with them, and let them tell you about every little detail in their lives. In those moments, you are there to listen and to relate to them, not to judge or condescend to them.
It’s also important to understand your child’s love languages, strengths, and fears, so that you can communicate these things to their caregiver.
If you do or don’t want your children being taught by others on certain topics, it is important to discuss it with everyone who has an influence on your child. Whatever beliefs, likes and dislikes, or parenting techniques you have, it is important to communicate them specifically and clearly to the caregiver.
That’s where we come in! Smart Girl Society has created “The Nanny Contract”, which allows parents and nannies to clearly communicate expectations, qualifications, and parenting strategies. It allows everyone to be on the same page, and there are no assumptions about anything! Also, it’s a contract, so (God forbid) something happens, it also outlines who is liable in the case of an incident.
Some of the things that The Nanny Contract addresses are:
- Should nannies be allowed to use video streaming services without a parent’s consent?
- Should nannies be allowed to post pictures on social media of the children being without a parent’s consent?
- Is it OK for a caregiver to chat or text with friends and family while also watching a child? Or should the cell phones be used only in emergency situations?
Smart Girl Note: For more articles on written by our Smarties & Ambassadors, please click here!
Smart Girl Society, Inc., is an Omaha-based nonprofit working to educate and inspire smart & confident girls, women, & families. Through educational workshops, civil outreach programs, and technology & social media research, we work with girls, parents, & educators to true authenticity on social media and in real life. We educate how to remain safe on social media and how to avoid becoming a target of sextortion. We also inspire action for students to focus on their personal brand development, leadership, educational opportunities, and healthy social skills. Interested in learning more? Check us out!