From Sheila: I want to introduce you to Amy McCready. Some of you might know her famous free PositiveParenting.com webinars on getting kids to listen without yelling (or nagging)! Below, she shares great tips on working with a nanny, sitter or daycare provider to make sure you are all implementing the same parenting strategies.
Entrusting your child to the care of another person – whether it’s a nanny, day care center staff or just a sitter for a night out – can be a big leap of faith for parents. The younger your children, the more stress it can cause. Being on the same page as your caregiver on things like routines, discipline, naptime, meals and more can help ease anxiety and avoid conflicts.
It’s important to ask questions when you’re interviewing a nanny or sitter, or touring a day care center. While you may assume that naptime should always start at noon, a daycare center may have a schedule that starts at 12:30. And while you’ll have more control of how your nanny schedules the day, nothing can be assumed. One sitter may use time outs as discipline when you prefer other methods. Discussing what types of behavior get discipline is important too.
Without discussion, tension can easily build between parents and caregivers. Kids may live with one set of rules with the sitter and another with mom and dad – and they can use that to pit one caregiver against the other. “My mom lets me have two snacks!” or “Jackie lets me stay up at naptime!”
Even after asking initial questions, you’re still likely to face an occasional clash. But with some work up front, those disagreements will be easier to solve. The following guidelines will help you be on the same page with your caregiver, creating the best situation for the two of you, and most importantly, your kids.
1. Be clear on the non-negotiables. A short list of three to five non-negotiable items will let you feel confident that certain priority issues will be taken care of every day, while the nanny has the flexibility to make those items work within her own personal style. You might say “healthy snacks only,” allowing your sitter to be creative with ants on a log or animals made out of fruit. Or, 1:00 may be naptime, but the day care teachers can set the pre-nap routine.
2. Have a daily or weekly review. Sit down for a few minutes every week to discuss with your caregiver what went well and what challenges they faced. If Taylor has been hitting other kids or Avery has been talking back, you can create a plan together to address the issue. You can also discuss what might be causing the behavior in the first place. Be a team. Remember, your caregiver will know a lot about your children and probably have a good deal of experience helping other families with similar situations.
3. Have a plan for disagreements. Even if you’re on the best of terms with your sitter, or that sitter is even family, you’re bound to have a disagreement about how to care for your child at one time or another. These issues can be emotionally charged and difficult for parents to bring up, even with a paid caregiver.
Don’t wait for that first problem to come up to decide how you’ll handle it. When you disagree with something, begin your message with “I feel.” For example, “I feel like you are undermining our house rules when you clean up Logan’s toys for him.” Being respectful and calm and carefully choosing your words will go a long way in starting a productive conversation. Allow your caregiver to share concerns, too. Then work on solutions, brainstorming ways to address the problem.
4. Know when it’s not a good fit.
If a caregiver isn’t willing to agree to your non-negotiable list, meet weekly or otherwise respect your family rules, that person may not be a good fit for you and your child. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions when it comes to hiring a sitter, nanny or day care provider. When you do, you’ll have the peace of mind that your child is being cared for in a way that benefits them and respects your family dynamic.