Employing a nanny can create unique challenges when you’re trying to navigate a divorce. In addition to thinking about how best to support your children through this life change, you also have to consider the logistics of helping the nanny navigate your custody agreement, how to manage your schedules, and the specifics of running your individual households. Divorce is never an easy decision, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a negative experience. Here are some tips for navigating divorce with your nanny and making it a smooth transition for everyone involved.
- Create a family calendar
You likely already have a family calendar that is accessible to, and maybe even maintained by your nanny. That calendar will become more important than ever now. It is vital for everyone to be on the same page about the visitation schedule, doctor visits, kids’ sporting events, school functions, tests, projects, and other activities. You can use Google Calendars to create an easily accessible calendar online, or you might try a shared family calendar app like Cozi. It might also be helpful to keep a paper calendar in a central area of each home so children can easily see what’s coming up.
- Keep The Nanny Neutral
The nanny’s job is to support the children and make life easier for the whole family. She should not be expected to take sides, mediate arguments, or engage in conversations that reveal personal and unnecessary details about your former partner. In order to do her job well, the nanny needs to be a neutral third party who can devote all of her energy to caring for the children and helping them navigate their new schedules.
- Communicate Directly
If you need to communicate something to your former partner, be sure to call or email them directly, rather than expecting the nanny to deliver messages back and forth. The nanny should not become a go-between just because she works in both homes. If you’re discussing things via the nanny, she will inevitably end up being “in the middle” of your changing relationship, and that could lead to unnecessary miscommunications, arguments, and conflicts.
- Update Your Work Agreement
You will probably need to update your nanny’s work agreement to reflect the changes of your new living situation. For example, you may need to rework the way vacation time is structured, how expenses are reported, or make changes to the days and hours that your nanny is expected to work. Discussing these things ahead of time will eliminate problems down the road and make it easier for your nanny to meet your needs.
- Track Spending Carefully
The way expenses are tracked and reimbursed may change depending on the terms of your divorce and your finances. If you provide the nanny with a vehicle, you will need to discuss how that vehicle’s fuel, insurance, and maintenance will be paid for. Additionally, you’ll need to decide how to cover your nanny’s spending money, cell phone costs, or any other expenditures, such a groceries, household items, etc. One option many families use is to give the nanny a credit card to use for expenses and then they split the bill. You might also consider giving the nanny a separate credit card for each household. Either way, the nanny should be expected to track all expenses and you should communicate clear expectations for how much the nanny is allowed to spend.
- Share Updates About the Children
Consider using an app like Nanny Notes, Daily Nanny, or Baby Connect to log daily updates about the children. The nanny can use these apps to write down any notes about children’s physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as to log daily briefs about the children and make note of any incidents. Even if the children are not with a particular parent on a given day, it is helpful for both parents to be constantly in the loop.
- Create a Familiar Environment in Each Home
It may be helpful to purchase duplicates of favorite books, toys, clothes, toiletries, and other items so children have access to the same belongings no matter which parent they are spending time with. This will go a long way towards helping the nanny handle last minute schedule changes and establish consistent routines in each household.
- Maintain Consistent Rules
In addition to having similar belongings at each home, it will be easier on everyone if children also have to follow the same rules and routines at each home. For example, if children are only allowed to have 30 minutes of screen time at one home and two hours at another home, that creates inconsistency and is difficult for the nanny to enforce. Having similar expectations at each home will make it easier for your nanny and your children to adjust to the new normal.
- Stay Positive
Divorce can be a difficult emotional process for everyone involved. But, no matter what you might be going through, strive to maintain a positive, cooperative attitude when it comes to working out the challenges of childcare and guiding your nanny. Approaching the situation with negativity will only complicate things and potentially make life more difficult for the nanny and for your children. At the end of the day, everyone needs to function as a team to make this work.
- Communicate Your New Expectations to the Nanny
The changes that accompany a divorce mean your nanny will need to be exceptionally organized, flexible, and communicative. Your nanny likely already possesses all of these traits, but it may be helpful to meet with the nanny to reiterate your expectations and how you expect your households to function.