As nannies progress throughout their careers, they often pursue continuing education around different childcare philosophies, modalities, and techniques. As we learn and grow in our craft, though, it can sometimes make it more difficult to find families to work with who are aligned with our philosophies. With that in mind, it is so important to create open lines of communication to ensure that everyone who is responsible for the day-to-day care of children is aligned on a collective approach. This ensures continuity and consistency of care, confidence, and positive attachments for the children in the home, and allows you to maintain a working environment of mutual respect and collaboration.
At Adventure Nannies, we help nannies and families form and strengthen these bonds over the entire course of their working relationship. Please read on to identify the most effective ways to create and foster a collaborative parenting approach with the parents you work for as you work together to support the development of your nanny kids!
Meet Regularly From The Beginning
Don’t wait for a crisis or misunderstanding to schedule a meeting or family check-in! These meetings work much better when both parties know there is a set time and place, on a regular basis, to discuss anything and everything related to the working relationship. Knowing you are both there to support one another and to be proactive as a team, creates a more open environment than the dreaded, out of the blue, “we have to talk”. These meetings are intended to create a regular opportunity for each party to raise any concerns, discuss changes in the child’s development or needs, and to ensure parents and nanny are operating with consistency as they trade-off care for the children. Plan on having these meetings when the children are not within hearing distance and are preferably otherwise occupied – after bedtime is a common choice.
These meetings should be held often, weekly for at least the first month, and then biweekly over time if you agree to connect as things come up in between. They must be often enough that they become a relaxed method of communication with a friendly team atmosphere. Scheduling one more thing after a hectic day with the children may seem overwhelming, but it is definitely worth the effort to avoid disaster down the road.
Be Receptive To Feedback
It is common to feel nervous when discussing work performance or introducing new parenting ideas or a new methodology. Anxiety and defensiveness are heightened by the nature of the work, and this dynamic can especially make feedback feel personal. Keeping an open mind to what is being said must be the foundation of your communication. It is crucial to take feedback in both directions and use it to constantly improve even the best working environment.
Similarly, know that your employers may be ready to react defensively when introducing them to a new philosophy or something you recently learned. They may feel guilt about not already having the information you have access to, or not prioritizing it. Try introducing new ideas with excitement, positivity, and collaboration. Avoid bringing up new ideas in the midst of a particularly rough moment, or at a time when it may come across as criticism versus informed support.
Keep Lines Of Communication Open Between Meetings
Communicating expectations, concerns, changes, new ideas, and charting progress on a regular basis between employer and employee is crucial to success. In any work environment, employees can expect to have daily contact with their direct supervisors, along with regularly scheduled meetings to discuss progress, expectations, and challenges. Your level of communication with your nanny family should be no different. In fact, in the nanny/family relationship, communication needs are even stronger because you are either living together, or the nanny is spending an average of 8-12 hours/five days per week in a private home. This dynamic is complex and requires mutual dedication to fostering its growth.
Bringing In New Ideas
When it comes to bringing new ideas about a methodology to your nanny family, it is never a bad idea to re-familiarize yourself with the “practices you preach,” so to speak. Gather resources and peer-reviewed studies to support your ideas, and be cognizant of when and where to share these ideas. There are ways to facilitate conversations without abruptly telling your family they are unsuccessfully using the philosophy. Offer suggestions while making it clear that if the family is not open to your new information, you are happy to continue following the philosophy they prefer. (Or, if not, suggest the philosophy and, if the family is not aligned, consider next steps in working with them.)
Planning Your Meetings
- Share a calendar with your nanny family and block out one hour every week at the same time. Prioritize this meeting and do not reschedule or cancel even when you feel you don’t have much to say.
- Start by reviewing the past week. What was expected, what was done, challenges, how challenges were approached, and how to improve the next week.
- Discuss the coming week’s schedule. Go over the plan and what is expected, identifying potential challenges, changes, and how to approach them based on the previous week. This allows you to check in on how to support one another, adapt approaches to activities and challenges as needs change, and prepare for coming events.
- Discuss any new methods or practices that you’d like to introduce to the family, and be prepared with articles and resources supporting your reasoning behind wanting to employ these new methods or ideas.
As you get used to this process and it becomes routine, the meetings may take less time, but it is essential to know the hour is available and prioritized by parents and nanny, every week. It may feel overwhelming in already hectic times, or silly when you feel like there is nothing to talk about, but you will find it saves you a lot of time and stress over time by creating the culture and expectation of transparency, communication, and teamwork. Once you’ve established consistent meetings and weekly check-ins with your nanny family, it will be much easier to discuss any details about new initiatives or parenting methodology that you’d like to investigate as a team.
Addressing The Issues
- Solicit their help: “I would like to refresh on some strategy with you because I am feeling like some of the tactics are ineffective on the kids right now.” This allows you to question the aspects of the philosophy you may not align with or highlight instances when you have seen it fail.
- Confide: “I struggle when I see that the kids are not doing what they are told, and I want to take some time to discuss the impact I think it is having.”
- Be straightforward: “I am not sure we are accomplishing what we think we are trying to accomplish. Can we re-group and pinpoint the parts of Positive Discipline that we want to uphold and make sure we are all executing them correctly and consistently?”
- If in doubt, address it: spend your time getting thoughtful notes on paper, and details clarified. Always leave room for future conversations in order to look back and evaluate whether or not you are still on track.
- Don’t make assumptions: what was best for your previous nanny family may not be best for your new nanny family, and just like it might be uncomfortable for you when the family references their previous nanny a lot, it may be best to avoid comparisons. It always takes time to get to know a new family, and each one has a preferred method of communicating and different ways of doing things.
- Remember to encourage feedback: thriving in your role will be much easier when your employers feel comfortable offering regular feedback. Be sure to let your nanny parents know how much feedback helps you to exceed their expectations by setting some parameters for what they need from you, and revisit those expectations at your weekly check-ins.
Fostering a collaborative, team-parenting approach with your nanny family can be accomplished by establishing regular weekly check-ins, communicating openly and respectfully, and presenting new ideas with resources to support your perspective. Working together as a collaborative team not only makes the work environment more fulfilling and enjoyable for the adults involved, it also provides the most opportunity for the children involved to receive the best possible care in a way that is dynamic and congruous. We hope these tips have been useful in helping you prepare for your next transition, and please feel free to check out these other resources that Adventure Nannies provides free to the nanny community!
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