One parent asks the Working Moms Group:
“I'll be returning to work in February and am doing all the reading (thanks PSP!!!) to prepare for our nanny search. My question is - does anyone have advice they can share about things I should consider wanting, needing, expecting, providing, etc. in this type of situation that is specific to the WFH situation? For example, do you agree not to pop in during the nanny hours? I would love to learn from your experiences. Side note, the hubs does not work from home at all.”
Members replied to recommend…
Find someone whose temperament is a good match with yours.
“Our nanny started in September 2020 and we've had a great experience so far. In the beginning, both my husband and I worked from home and since July of this year it's just been me working from home. In addition to the core attributes you are already looking for in a nanny (and of course all the COVID stuff), I think the biggest lesson learned for me is that a lot of what I love about our nanny comes down to her personality and temperament. These things are hard to figure out when you are interviewing - but when you spend all day with the person (even with all the outside time they get), it ends up being important. In retrospect, I really appreciate that our nanny and I have similarly calm temperaments and energy - I think it helped us fall into a natural rhythm easier and be open with each other when boundaries around meetings, or noise, etc needed to be reassessed as my daughter aged. She's not 20 months old so it's very different (and a bit louder) than when we were first starting out.
Knowing, and being clear with others, about the level of quiet or distraction you can tolerate and still be productive at work is important. This is kind of daunting to think about at 2 months postpartum when you have so many other things on the brain - but if you think it through, it may help you come up with some questions to ask the prospective nannies to get a sense of their personality/temperament and how they typically plan the kid's day. It could also help you outline what you need or are looking for so the prospective nanny can also determine if it's a good fit. Based on my experience these things change over time and it's good to frequently reassess and lay out new boundaries on how much interaction you will have with the kiddo during the day. In the beginning it may be you going to the baby (or not), but as they get older they will come to you and want to play, sit on your lap, etc. just because they see that you are right there in the apartment/house. I have found it hard to say no to that interaction so I've carved out time when it's okay and when it's too distracting and I just ask for the nanny to step in if I have a meeting or an in-depth task and can't have distractions. My daughter (mostly) happily goes with her nanny to play or read or go outside when we say that's what it's time to do.”
Agree on boundaries around your level of interaction with the nanny and child.
“One issue to consider is that many nannies feel a lot more comfortable when you're not wfh (which makes a lot of sense) and will want to set boundaries themselves. In my case that means pretty much pretending my 10-month old son is not in the room next door for the time the nanny is here. Occasionally we will cross paths in the kitchen or living room but especially in the beginning, it does help the baby to bond with the nanny if you're not in eye or earshot. I got a temporary coworking space for the first few weeks because I couldn't bear to hear my son crying and not be able to help. Within a few days the situation was much better, and he's delighted when the nanny arrives in the morning. But I continue to steer clear to give her plenty of space because she's made it clear that that is what's most comfortable for her and what she thinks is best for my son. Given that she has 15+ years of experience, I trust her. But it doesn't always feel good.
I've discussed this with other wfh moms and it does seem to be the common approach. That said, one of my friends found a unicorn nanny who's happy for her to come in and out, play, chat and nurse etc. That said, she does say it takes an hour or so to do the handover in the morning... So perhaps the common approach does make sense for the babies.
I imagine this is less of an issue once they're older (or much younger before separation anxiety sets in), but it's certainly one of the things I didn't expect and have struggled with. That said, I have zero problem getting on with work with no interruptions! (Also I use noise canceling headphones which make it SO much easier whether your baby is singing, squealing with delight or boo hooing).”
“For the day-to-day, it's about finding a rhythm that works for you and communicating clearly in the beginning how you want to work together, so that's definitely something you should think about while interviewing. You'll find that they go out for a big portion of the day, especially as your baby gets older. Now that our son is nearly 1.5, they're basically only home for meals and nap. When they're here, our nanny knows it's fine to ask me a question if I'm not on a call. Sometimes we chat for a while during his naptime if I'm not too busy, but usually she just eats her lunch/reads/texts/etc. I prep his meals (she feeds him) but other than that I'm hands off until she leaves.”
This might even mean that nanny and kid leave the house while you stay in.
“My nanny kept distance from me when she was in the house so that I could focus on work. This mattered when my son got older. Our nanny sent pictures to me during the day so that I still felt a part of his day. That helped me feel connected to him while away. Those daily pictures, in particular, helped when I went back to the office.
During the shutdown, she recognized that having a child in the same house as mom and dad would be distracting. (Knowing we were home working, our 3 yo son kept coming into our rooms). Given she didn’t live far away, we decided it best that he spend the day at her house.”
Agree on Covid precautions you’re both comfortable with.
“Our nanny started in November 2020 and I think a lot of it is trial and error/unique to your family, but happy to share what's worked for us. We are both WFH and I'm at our dining table and my husband is in our bedroom. At the time, we asked about what sorts of covid safety practices they followed and also talked to them about masks—since we are both on zoom calls all the time, we knew that wearing masks in the house wasn't going to be an option for us, but we also agreed that since we were trusting this person with our child's life all day, we would trust them to be unmasked at home as well. We gave her PTO to get vaccinated and boosted and recover.
Discuss what supplies would be helpful for you to provide.
“In terms of things to provide - we provide masks, PTO for vaccine/boosters (and for other things), and as my daughter has gotten older more art supplies and crafty stuff so they can do rainy/snowy day activities (more than I would have thought to get for just our personal use).”
The PSP Guide to Hiring a Nanny
Childcare and Work section
Work/Life Balance section
Working Mother Topics section
WFH without childcare: Top tips for making it work