Hire a new nanny or sitter lately? Nicole Knepper, author of Moms Who Drink and Swear, book author -- and a licensed counselor, offers these tips for transitioning your new hire (she kept it G-rated, we swear!).
But sometimes changes have to be made. If a part-time sitter moves away or a certain nanny was better for your infant than your 3-year old, it’s best to just cut. the. cord.
And yes, people, it takes work. And it’s even more work for the working parents who are now tasked with choosing a new stranger to care for their precious children -- and train them to be co-parents (while hoping they fall madly in love with their offspring). What could be more stressful and overwhelming than this hiring process?? I’ll tell you: The transition period after the choice is made.
But it doesn’t have to be bad. Honestly. Listen. I’m a professional. Here are some things to remember:
- Change can be good, but it can also be hard. Whether parents are going through the process of hiring and training a caregiver for the first time or they’re old pros, the transition period is a critical time. You need to give yourself the first few months to get used to each other and learn how to work together to create a seamless transition -- for the kids and for each other!
- What if, as a parent, you find that the caregiver’s methods don’t jive with yours? What should you do? And what if the reverse is true? What if the caregiver struggles with you, the parent, or worse, your child? Oy! Use my three-part strategy I call “Being OPP.” And no, there’s no profanity in this. Why would you ever think that?! It means being Open Minded, Positive and Patient. During this transition period, being OPP is critical to the success of failure of your future partnership. Now keep reading.
- The first step is to be open-minded. It’s hard to balance work and family life. Both caregivers and employers need to understand that each party has equal responsibility for making the partnership work. Stress at work negatively affects people at home. Eliminating or significantly reducing potential stressors in a working relationship is the key to a successful partnership. Being open-minded means that both parties should be willing to do things differently, to compromise, to tolerate the inevitable discomfort that comes with any type of change. There is no guarantee that a parent and a caregiver will find their methods of caregiving to be 100% compatible, but both parties need to be willing to consider each other’s point of view -- to compromise.
- Now, look for the positive. You need to encourage each other while in the process of getting to know each other. This is a must for cultivating a successful partnership. Being open minded facilitates this positivity! This transition period can be such a great time of learning -- for both parties, as well as for the children. When children see adults working together, respecting each other’s opinions, and encouraging each other, it fosters a sense of safety and trust between them and the new caregiver. They think: If Mom and Dad like and trust the caregiver, then I can too!
- Ahh, patience.The transition period has no defined timeframe. It could be a week, a month, and maybe even a few months before things are working smoothly and everyone experiences the easy calm that can, and should always be a part of this very important partnership between caregivers and the families they serve. So Be Patient – or ELSE!
- Have a nanny contract in place where all expectations are clear from the start. If you never explained that your work hours were all over the place, or she doesn’t have every holiday off, you are going to ruffle some feathers – fast.
- Give things at least three months to fall into place. If it’s not working the way you imagined, I’m sorry, but you should start the hiring/interviewing process again. The right fit will be out there.
- And remember, professional caregivers don’t see caring for people as simply a job. They see it as a calling. Those who choose to care for your loved ones in your absence have their own way of doing things, tried and trusted methods that allow them to successfully accomplish the tasks set forth by their employers, as well as the persons they are charged with caring for. Parents have their methods and strategies as well. Employees and employers hire each other, but anyone who has ever started in a new position knows there are always kinks to work out.
What are your strategies for transitioning to a new babysitter or nanny?