As a nanny, you get an intimate look into the day-to-day lives of families, and sometimes that means being up front row, center when a family is going through a divorce. Divorces happen, and it’s never an easy choice or transition for anyone involved. During a divorce, a nanny’s job is more important than ever. Nannies are in the unique position of being an emotional support for their nanny children and helping parents find their new normal, and that means taking some extra steps to ensure that you’re being as helpful as possible through this transition.
Focus on the children
As a nanny, your focus is always on the children, but that is even more true during a divorce. Remember that you are a safe space for the children, and you have a unique window into how they’re feeling, reacting, and coping with this difficult family transition. Obviously you don’t want to pry into private family matters, but it is okay to let the children know that you understand they’re going through a big change, and it’s okay to come to you if they are feeling sad, stressed, or anxious. You will be an invaluable resource in not only supporting the children, but also in helping their parents stay updated on how they’re processing their feelings.
Don’t take sides
While you may be there to support the children, it’s important not to get too emotionally invested or involved in the divorce itself. Even if you have a closer relationship with one parent than the other, it is important to remain a neutral party. You shouldn’t participate in bad-mouthing one parent or the other, allowing anyone to air “dirty laundry,” or sharing your personal opinions about the divorce with anyone.
A lot of changes will take place throughout the divorce process, and it’s up to you adapt in your role as needed and to be willing to go the extra mile to help your nanny family. This could mean last minute visitation schedule changes or planning to handle an upcoming vacation in a totally new way. Whatever the case, it’s important that you are open to the changes taking place and do everything you can to make transitions as seamless as possible.
Strong communication will be more important than ever. Both parents should be open with you about their schedules and expectations, and you should strive to keep both parents informed about all activities, appointments, and updates, as well as provide them both with daily reports about their children. Many families opt to use a shared Google Calendar or a family planning app like Cozi to keep everyone on the same page. You might also suggest keeping a separate wall calendar where the children can easily stay informed about their schedules and upcoming events too.
Don’t play messenger
While it’s important that you communicate with both parents, you shouldn’t be the one communicating for them. Avoid playing the role of messenger and relaying information from one parent to the other. Acting as the go-between only makes it more difficult for you to remain neutral. At worst, it could become a bad game of Telephone, and you will be blamed for a miscommunication.
Clarify your work agreement
It is extremely important that you are clear on every expectation and specific detail affecting your job, including not just your daily schedule, but also things like how expenses should be managed and tracked and how vacation time will be handled. Updating your work agreement should be a priority for parents as they decide on the terms of their divorce and put a new routine in place. If it’s not or there are any lingering questions,, it is important that you speak with both parents about this and make sure that all parties are clear on the specifics of your job going forward.