Nannies have been fired for texting and calling on their cell phones excessively during working hours. What makes the nanny profession so different from any other child care job is that nannies are largely unsupervised.
The nature of the nanny profession can entail isolation and often work long hours, up to 10-12 hours per day. Nannies are asked to work 24/7 while parents are out of town. Some nannies barely get to the bathroom during the day. They rarely work a 40 hour work week and lunch time means feeding the kids, and they often don’t get a real break. If they can find windows during the day to get a few personal things done: making a doctor appointment, paying a bill, calling a sick relative, making a play-date with another nanny, or using their GPS to get directions, that’s good. Sometimes it’s the only adult contact they have during the day. This isolation can be hard for nannies; however it also makes it easier for them to misuse this time to advance their own social agenda. A day care worker has a supervisor watching her!
There is a time and place to make personal calls during the day: nap time or waiting in the car for children to get out of school. Parents want and need to reach the nanny during the day, and many of our Moms prefer texting rather than phone calls for changes in schedules or last minute grocery items. And what parent doesn’t love getting a photo or video of their child while they’re at work?
Nannies are paid professionals whose job is to pay attention to the children and put the family ahead of their own needs during working hours. And they are paid well, getting benefits, overtime, bonuses, holidays and paid vacations. We encourage our families to openly discuss cell phone use with their employees so expectations are clear, and there is a place in our working agreement to address it.
Open-ended discussions and trust bring better results than micromanaging.
A great nanny is present, observant and interactive, and having your cell phone with you at work can be useful, but disruptive. It is really hard not to get caught up with connecting all the time. Nannies and parents can be plugged in to the outside world but miss the wonder, creativity and joy of the children in their care. It’s actually refreshing to throw yourself into the life and needs of another so you have no time to think about yourself. Children discern their value from caregivers who give them eye contact, interact playfully and are fully involved. Use common sense, stop and think—don’t just react to the ringtone. Here are some ideas to help you stay balanced:
1. Turn off your ringer and set it to vibrate, or have special ring tones for different people.
2. Use your cell phone only for important calls. Ask friends and family to call you after work.
3. Let the phone calls go to voice mail. It is more time efficient to check messages than to take the call and tell the person that you cannot talk.
4. Put your cell phone up when it is play time, meal time, bath time, when driving, and only have it on you when it’s nap time or the children are at school.
5. Turn off email, twitter, and facebook-all you need is the phone at work.
Be all there, turn down the ringtones and you’ll have a lot more fun on the job!
Beth Weise, CEO