Working with a stay-at-home mom can be challenging for a nanny, and some nannies can’t successfully navigate this unique situation. Other nannies, however, find it rewarding and enjoyable to work with a stay-at-home mom. If you accept a position where you’ll be working with a stay-at-home mom, here are some tips that will help you be a team player and enjoy the experience.
Decide who’s in charge. When both mom and nanny are together, does mom have the final say about what happens? Do you both have equal say and do you share a commitment to back each other up? Or does the buck stop with the nanny? Kids quickly pick up on an unsettled chain of command and will use that to play nanny and mom off of each other.
Clearly define the nanny’s role. Every stay-at-home mom will have different needs and those needs may change depending upon the individual situation.
Your employer may want you to be available to her throughout the day, but only help out when she needs an extra set of hands or take over when she has something else she needs to do. This situation is common with hands-on moms who want to be an active part of their child’s day, but want help with the more mundane tasks like diapering, dressing, and feeding. This mom may play with the baby during his alert morning time, then hand him over for a diaper change and a bottle. She may ask you to start dinner while she plays with her toddler in the backyard after nap. Or she may read a story and put her preschooler down for a nap, then leave you in charge for the afternoon while she does errands. Nannies who work for these moms need to be comfortable taking direction, have a pitch-in attitude, and be able to step in and out of situations easily.
Your employer may want to work side by side with you as an equal partner. Both you and the mom will take on tasks as they come up. This situation is common with moms who have multiples or large families where the workload is too much for one person. There aren’t “nanny” or “mom” jobs. The nanny and mom work as a tag team, helping each other out to make sure the needs of the kids get met. Nannies who work for these moms need to be able to quickly assess what’s needed and jump in to do what’s necessary without direction.
Your employer may want a full charge nanny that allows her to connect with her child here and there throughout the day as her schedule permits it. This situation is common with moms who are at home but active with household or volunteer projects. She may drop in and have lunch with her child one day or sit with him for 10 or 15 minutes while he’s building a Lego fort on another day. The nanny is in charge, and while the mom is mostly hands off, she pops in and out during the day to check in. Nannies who work for these moms need to be self-directed and able to work both independently and with others.
Adapt to the mom’s personality. Whatever your role is, there will be things about your employer’s personality that don’t mesh well with your personality. Maybe you’re a neat nick and your employer isn’t. Maybe you thrive on having a set schedule and knowing exactly what comes next and your employer likes to play everything by ear. Maybe you’re more of an introvert and your employer is a complete extrovert. Because you’re working together each day, these issues have to be addressed and resolved or they’ll cause problems in the nanny/parent relationship. You may want to sit down with your employer and share your concerns, then work together to come up with an approach that works for both of you. Or you may need to simply do some internal work to come to a place where you can accept the trait. There are drawbacks to every work situation.
Remember that you’re the employee. It’s easy to get caught up in what the mom should be doing or should stop doing when you work with her every day. Sometimes, your ideas may work better than what’s currently happening. However, it’s important to remember that you are the nanny and your employer is the parent. The choices about how to raise her child are ultimately hers, and it is your job to support those choices. This is the biggest challenge nannies face when working for a stay-at-home mother.
Working with a stay-at-home mom isn’t for every nanny. However, if you have the personality and temperament that makes you a good team player, it can be a rewarding job option.