Leaving your child with a nanny for the first time is not easy! It is typically very emotional for you and your child. CanadianNanny.ca founder and child care expert, Martha Scully, has some comforting tips & advice to help prepare parents to better deal with this daunting day…
Even if you’ve established a good relationship with your child’s nanny, it can be harrowing to leave your child alone with them for the first time. It’s a good bet both your child and the nanny will be sharing some of your anxiety.
But you can take steps to mitigate the anxiety of in-home child care. By making sure your caregiver understands and adheres to your child’s routine and disciplinary regimen, you’ll ensure a healthy, painless transition between your care-taking and the nanny’s.
Walk Your Nanny Through a Day
Take a day or two to demonstrate for your nanny the rhythms of your child’s routine. (If that means taking a day off work, consider it a long-term investment in your child’s comfort.) Be sure to adhere to your child’s routine as closely as possible: You’re trying to show a typical day. Don’t be afraid to explain as you go, and be sure your child’s nanny has the time and materials to take notes.
Showing your child’s schedule is often more complete than talking about it or writing it. You’d be amazed what you can forget when you’re writing out an explanation of your children’s day or describing it in your own words. You’ll also be giving your nanny a better sense of the intangibles involved in your relationship with your child, like the emotional tenor of your relationship with them, or how you respond to challenges or the unexpected. They’ll be better able to match your parenting style, which will comfort your child.
Give Them a Tour
This is another area where just talking your nanny through it won’t work. During the walk through, take 10 minutes to give them a quick tour of your home. Make sure they know where the first aid kit and the fire extinguisher are. Ensure they know what areas your children aren’t allowed in, and make sure they know where any and all toxic materials are stored. (This is also a great time to make sure your home is childproofed.) If there’s anything unusual about your home that they should know while you’re away — like how to operate the thermostat or if an external door doesn’t always latch — let them know.
After that, provide a tour of the neighbourhood. Make sure your in-home child caregiver has directions to the nearest playground and hospital. It’s also not a bad idea to provide them with addresses for any of your child’s friends, in case they might visit.
Provide Emergency Information
Making sure your nanny has emergency contact information might seem basic, but in the flurry of stressful activity; it’s easy to forget. The nanny should have your number and a backup number for a neighbour. You should also make sure they have the numbers for the child’s doctor, poison control, the police non-emergency line and so forth. CanadianNanny.ca provides a convenient Emergency Contact Sheet for to post on your fridge for the nanny.
Introducing the Nanny to Your Child — and Their Routine
Obviously, you should make some time for the nanny to get to know your child, with you supervising before you leave. And part of that is getting to know the child’s routine and your expectations for them.
Leave written detailed instructions regarding food, daily routines, special conditions/medications and house rules.
If your child is an infant, help them through things like how to position the child as they sleep, how to warm their food and bottle, how best to soothe them and so forth.
If your child is older (in the toddler-to-preschool range), this is when you lay out behavioural expectations. Make sure they understand the child’s toilet, sleep and food routines (including snacks), and describe any guidelines for gadgets, computer, video game, and TV use. They should also know what expectations you have about fresh air and exercise, and what rules there are about homework and tidiness.
Let them know how to best soothe your child if they’re distressed: Some children react best to blankets and teddy bears, while other children want to be distracted. Make sure the nanny knows any common fears that your child experiences. If your child is misbehaving, make sure they know what strategies they should follow for establishing order.
Before You Leave
Even if you’ve prepped well for the first time you leave your child with the nanny, you should still expect some fear. Don’t sneak out of the house, especially on the first day. Say goodbye to everyone (yes, including the nanny).
One of the best ways to remind your child that you’re coming home is to leave them with something you value. It doesn’t have to be something actually precious, but rather something important to you. This way, they know you’ll come back for it — and them.
Tell the nanny to give you a call at a set time during the day. When they call, ask to spend a few minutes on the phone with your child, checking in with them and offering reassurance.
And once you’re home, check in with both the nanny and your child to see how the experience went and what, if anything, you should do for the next time. This way, you’ll build a positive rapport with your child and your nanny, as well as between the two. You’ll establish everyone’s comfort and remind them that they can always approach you with any problems.
It may take an adjustment period for everyone, but with time, leaving your child in a nanny’s care for the day will be easy and painless.
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