Navigating the nanny-child-mommy relationship

We all know that bonding is vital in the early years and has a huge impact on the emotional well-being of our children https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/healthtips/20100114_infant-bonding.html. But what happens when the majority of our child’s time is spent with a nanny? How do we make sure our children are getting the love and care that they need when they are with their nanny? Below are 10 tips to develop a GREAT nanny-child-mom relationship:

1. Give your nanny freedom to have fun with your child.

Caregiving doesn’t have to be all hard work and responsibility. If your child is going to have a good relationship with their nanny, they need the permission to have fun! Let them go out and go for walks, meet other friends, get messy, be creative and just enjoy being together.

2. Create a routine that includes communication.

Make a time every week where you and the nanny can sit and chat about how the week has been, how your child has been with her and whether she has any concerns or things that need to be changed. There are always tweaks and adjustments that can be made in the routine to account for the different phases of growth that your child goes through…therefore continued communication is vital!

3. Never criticise or undermine the nanny in front of your child.

If you want your child to feel secure, you need to show complete trust in your nanny – whatever she says goes! If you have any concerns about her behaviour it would be best to have a conversation with your nanny privately and with sensitivity.

4. Try to keep the same nanny if possible.

There is nothing more distressing for your child than multiple changes of caregivers. They may not be able to express their feelings at this point, but it will come out in other ways: upset tummy, more niggly, behavioural issues, struggling to sleep. If your child is going through a change of nannies, be aware of these things and be patient with them. To prevent this happening, make sure your interview process is thorough and once you find someone you trust, try to keep them at all costs!

5. Don’t expect your nanny to do too much housework.

If you want to have someone who is focused on the needs of your child, beware of overloading them with other responsibilities. Although it may seem like getting the most ‘bang for your buck’, you may end up with a stressed and overworked nanny, which will badly affect your child. A certain amount of picking up after herself is reasonable, but particularly in the first 2 years of life a child is a full-time responsibility. Keep in communication with your nanny about how she is coping with her tasks and make adjustments as needed.

6. Treat your nanny as well as you want her to treat your child.

Let’s face it: humans aren’t robots! Our emotional well-being affects our ability to do good work in a huge way. So if your nanny has stressors that haven’t been dealt with, that might come out in her ability to care for your child emotionally. If you want someone who is responsive and emotionally available for your child, you need to make sure you are treating her with respect and love and that you are caring for her needs.

7. Pick your battles.

There will always be differences in child-rearing styles from person to person. Make sure you know what your non-negotiables are and set those ground rules clearly at the start of your relationship. Beyond that there may be some things that your nanny does differently to you. Just as we are not perfect parents we need to have some grace for our nanny’s imperfections too. Children are resilient; as long as they have your love and long-term support, things will turn out ok!

8. Include her in important moments.

Your nanny has a vital role in your child’s life; make sure she is appreciated as the part of the family that she is. Inviting her to the child’s birthday or christening is a great way to show her that she is important to you.

9. Be open to hearing her complaints.

If your nanny is not happy about a certain aspect of her work, you want to make sure you handle that with the best attitude possible, to avoid her feeling abused. Most nannies don’t feel free to bring up a concern or complaint, so in order to care for her you can ask her regularly if there is anything that is worrying her or anything she would like to change.

Let’s talk about jealousy. It’s totally normal to have a tug-of-war going on inside, because for you to be able to work you need the help of a nanny. But at the same time it’s really hard to see your child attached to the nanny…sometimes it feels like they love her more than they love you! But let’s just get something straight: no one else can ever be your child’s mother! Your love and consistent presence in their life is the number one most important thing your child will ever experience growing up. You are irreplaceable. But wouldn’t it be great if the other experiences they have in their day are also of being loved, cared for and encouraged to explore and learn? They will only get this if we encourage a good attachment between our nanny and child instead of feeling like we have to compete for their love.One last tip to help with this:

10. Make mommy time with your child.

Your child also needs time to bond with you on your own! If you only have a nanny during the week days, this might be on the weekend. Make sure that you don’t get caught up in all the things to do, but be intentional about spending quality time with your child, even if it’s just going to the park or for a walk.

A loving, caring, loyal nanny is worth her weight in gold, there is no way to quantify just how great her input in your child’s life will be, but rest assured the impact will be great. Growing positive, respectful relationships between you, your nanny and your child will always be a win-win-win in the end.

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Written by Cara Smuts