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The key to healing your Nanny heart during Covid-19

Hey Nannies, I just want to start off by saying I am here for YOU. I am aware that hundreds of Nannies have either lost their jobs, been furloughed or laid off during the Corona-virus pandemic and you may be struggling to manage feelings about the uncertainty of your future, the well-being of your family and the fact you’ve lost touch with the heart of your role – your Nanny children. I know many will be worried about fiances, healthcare and finding a new job, all while coping with the loss of routine and sense of security. Below are a list of key things you can do to help heal your Nanny heart and maintain your mental health during this difficult time.

Allow yourself time to grieve

While loosing a Nanny job unexpectedly is devastating, there also comes the added loss of loosing a child/children that very much felt like yours. However you must remember that your Nanny family most-likely wouldn’t of told you, you no longer have a job or furloughed you if it wasn’t for the corona-virus. I am sure them, themselves along with their children will be grieving the loss of you at this time.

You may be feeling heartbroken, sad, upset, angry and possibly shocked given how fast this pandemic has affected our lives and changed everything that was ‘normal’ to a ‘new normal’ around us. It is natural to grieve from job loss, for you it does mean a change in lifestyle and daily routine. However, it is important you don’t hide how you are feeling, express your emotions just how your body and mind naturally wants to – in doing so will allow you to heal and move on.

Focus on what you can control

dream job

The Corona-virus pandemic and your unemployment is out of your control, so instead focus on what you can control. Can you use this time to update your Nanny portfolio, check out online courses and see if you can find something new you haven’t learnt before or an area in your line of work you’d like to extend your knowledge on. You can be adding to your Nanny tool belt, helping you become more employable when all this is over. Remain updated with the facts on corona-virus, your rights as an employee and what it means for you going forward. If finance is your biggest worry, take a step back, review your spending and see where you can make cuts to save money. Look into government resources and consider applying for unemployment benefits.

Maintain a daily routine

While staying in bed all day is optional now you don’t have to go to work, it is not healthy. Keeping to a regular routine is important for your mental health. Try maintaining your usual morning, afternoon and evenings the same as if you would when going to work. Have set wake-up times, shower times, exercise times and bedtimes so you don’t sit on the couch staying up too late binge watching TV and then sleeping in. Get into the habit of getting dressed into normal clothes as if going to work – now I’m not saying that you should be in a suit walking around the house, although I don’t know any Nannies that do wear suits to work. Just don’t stay in your pajamas all day as this will make you feel lethargic, less motivated and you will accomplish less. Practicing self-care and good hygiene will boost your mood and overall sense of optimism.

Move your body

gym

Exercising regularly can boost your immune system and change your mood. If you don’t have access to exercise equipment, find things around the house as substitute, like tins of beans. In-fact, you don’t even need equipment to get your body moving. Find some form of exercise that you enjoy – it could be dance, yoga, functional training, circuits, running, jogging, walking. All of these things can be done by just using your own body weight. There are many free apps available on smart phones that give you access to thousands of different workout routines to get you moving during this time. The Nike training app is one I have been using. Alternatively you can find many personal trainers, yoga studios and influencers on social media running free fitness classes on zoom or Facebook live.

Focus your mind

center

Practicing mindfulness is something not many people make time for during their day, yet it can really help us to focus during times we feel anxious and unsettled. Use these ways to help practice: Breath mindfully, take a few minutes during the day to focus on your breathing, close your eyes if you feel comfortable and focus on your breath. Be aware, of your emotional state and take a moment to pause and examine the sensations of all five senses – sight, touch, taste, hear, smell. Taking this moment to focus on these can help bring you back, when feeling out of balance. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3 things each day that you’re thankful for during this time.

Limit your time job searching

Nannies I can understand your worry about finding your next position quickly, however your health is more important. Set your mind at rest knowing there will be a continuous increase in Nanny jobs when all this is over. It is predicted there will be a baby boom and Nannies will be the most sought after employee around. Spending all your time searching for a new job can be stressing and depressing so limit your time. When deciding on your daily routine set aside a few hours during the day to send in applications to proper Nanny agencies. Agencies are there for a reason, to safe guard Nannies and families. Stay up to date with the government advice to ensure it is safe to go back to work or start a new job.

Pursue a new hobby

planting

We will most likely never experience this time again where the whole world was on pause and everyone is made to stay home. Take this as an opportunity to complete that project you never had time to finish, rearrange your bookshelf, learn a new skill, photography or crafting, get out in your garden and grow some vegetables. With more and more businesses and entrepreneurs going online offering classes, many of them free, you have no reason why you can’t take up a new hobby, to help lift your spirits during this time.

Sleep well

Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This is important to help reduce stress and improve your mood. Your chances of getting sick are lower and it can help you think more clearly when planning your isolation days.

Stay connected

chat

We live in a time where social media and keeping in-touch virtually is at it’s peak. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Make sure you take advantage of all the possibilities given to us online to keep in touch with family members, friends and Nanny families. The possibilities of keeping in touch without the physical touch is endless. Video chat, call, write letters, send photographs and videos, play multiplayer games online, host a quiz or virtual party from your home, use social media to share what you get up to, go outdoors and spread out while you hang out. You do not have to go through this tough period alone, remember to ask for help.

Mommy’s Having A Baby

Help them become friends before the birth…

Starting to introduce that Mommy is having another baby is so important to any other children living in the same household. Taking the time at least a few months before the birth to prepare yourself and the older child, will be a much easier transition than doing no preparation at all. The older the child the more they will understand, but for toddlers it can be more difficult. If there are already multiple siblings in the family, then the transition is usually smoother, however with an only child introducing that they will be ‘graduating’ to big sister/brother early on is important as pretty soon, they will have to learn to share you and your time – something they’ve never had to do before.

In the early months of pregnancy, start talking about babies and how little they are. If the child doesn’t yet know about pregnancy number 2, start asking them if they’d like a baby sister or brother, introduce the idea that it would be a positive change and they would have a friend to play with as the baby got older. If your child is young and can’t really communicate their feelings verbally, then still talking about having another baby in a natural way will slowly get them ready.

Explain to the child what is growing in Mummy’s tummy and that they are going to be the best big sister or brother, you can ask them to kiss, sing and read to mummy’s tummy to help encourage them to accept a second child and start a bond between them both.

Reading child friendly books are fantastic ways to help prepare for their ‘big sister/brother’ role.

Book titles:

  • We’re Having A Baby – Marion Cocklico
  • Mommy’s Having A Baby – Braylen Jefferson
  • I’m Going To Be A Big Sister – Brenda Bercun
  • I’m Going To Be A Big Brother – Brenda Bercun
  • Babies Don’t Eat Pizza – Dianne Danzig
  • Brand New Baby Blues – Kathi Appelt
  • My New Baby – Rachel Fuller
  • There’s A House Inside My Mummy – Giles Andreae
  • Waiting For Baby – Rachel Fuller

Getting a baby doll is a great visual aid, this helps your child understand what the baby will look like once it arrives. You could buy a dolls cot, bottle and pram and allow them to explore through pretend and imaginative play. Show them how to rock the baby, feed it and stop them crying. Taking the doll on outings with you in the day, is another great way to slowly introduce baby number 2 into their life.

Get the older siblings photos/baby book out. Little children love looking at themselves as a baby and if you have photos from when you were pregnant with them, show them and explain how your tummy changed and got bigger as they grew. Taking your child to a baby scan is also another special bonding activity, but if this isn’t an option you could always just show them the baby scan pictures when you get back.

Take your child out on baby related shopping trips and allow them to pick out a few clothes, maybe even the outfit the baby will return home from the hospital in. Don’t forget to get your older child something too, maybe a special outfit to wear when visiting the baby for the first time. They could also help you find nursery furniture, this all helps with the bonding process. If you have an active toddler who’s not into shopping, then have them ‘help’ assemble the baby’s cot or draw a picture to hang in the nursery.

If your child isn’t interested in anything to do with another baby, leave it a few weeks and then try introducing it again. Sure enough they will come around. Like I said, the earlier you introduce the idea that your having a baby, the more time you have to prepare.

Most importantly, remember not to stress! Thousands of babies are born everyday with siblings already waiting to meet them and not every transition or first meeting goes well and that’s okay, it is just a matter of time, sure enough it will become their ‘normal’ very quickly.

Successful Tips when Working in a Staffed Household

1. Communication

Working very closely with staff and employers in Private households can be hard to manage, as the close network makes it difficult to not blur together personal and professional boundaries. Try to keep communication about personal activity and other outside of work situations private to you, to save bringing possible drama and conflict to work. Communication is still important with your team members and employers to ensure you are doing your job role to the best of your ability. (See my other blog Maintaining a healthy Nanny/Employer Relationship for more on this)

2. Respect each other

Having mutual respect for each other and the other staff, will have a huge impact on the role you play in the overall operation. Respect each other’s needs, time and space especially when a staff member is on a break or off work, staff need this time to relax, rest and energise for the next coming week. Cultural differences including language, religion and cuisine may be different to what you’d normally know, but taking time to learn and respect these differences can be imperative to a happy and strong multicultural workforce.

3. Always be positive

Domestic bliss comes from balance in all areas of the household. All household employees want, is to be happy and feel appreciated. Regardless of any complaints you or anyone else maybe experiencing in their role, stay positive with your colleagues. Listen carefully to what they say, be constructive and helpful, support each other and appreciate the collaborative effort that you bring to the service.

4. There is no I, in ‘Team’

To keep a household running smoothly you will need to work together, to present a united front. Be a team player, don’t add more work to another’s job. Remember that someone else’s job is just as important as your own. There will be times when you need the assistance of another and someone will need yours. Always work as a team to complete the collective goal, a smooth running and successful household.

5. Remain Neutral

Working alongside other household staff there will be days of conflict or disagreement, everyone’s job description, duties and contracts will be different to yours so ensuring you don’t take sides is important, remain neutral so you don’t then affect your own role within the household.

6. Stay Humble

A really important reminder is that when you do become part of a private household, not to become spoilt yourself. Household staff receive many benefits and intensives which is all part of their role, but can easily be taken for granted, especially after working in that environment for many years. Stay humble, keep remembering who you are and where you came from.

Shell printing using plasticine

What you need:

  • Shells
  • Plasticine for children

If you live close to the beach, then this is a great activity.

Take your little ones out for a walk on the beach and get them to find and collect as many different shapes, colours and sized seashells as they can. (You may need to help the younger ones).

Bring them home, wash and dry them.

Roll out the plasticine and then let your little’s print away using the shells. They can turn the shells over and push them down in the plasticine and lift them up to reveal the pretty patterns.

Get them to roll their finger over the pattern to feel how the playdough has changed shape.

Tip – Playdough works just as well. (There is a playdough recipe above.)

About Suitcase Nanny

With a passion for children at a very young age, Amy Rebecca Bryant owner and founder of Suitcase Nanny, started babysitting at just 9 years old and at 18 left home in UK taking only a suitcase with her and flew to the other side of the world to become a Nanny for 3 children under 5 in Australia. Since then Amy has worked for families in the USA, UK, Dubai and many parts of Europe. Over the last 7 years, Amy has travelled extensively with these families to help and support parents when taking holidays with their children.

At 23 she decided to start The Suitcase Nanny business, educating, supporting and inspiring all Nannies and Aupairs to become the next childcare extraordinaire using her ‘Suitcase Nanny guide’. Amy is an advocate for fostering and passionate about bringing awareness to those that might be overlooked in our society through education and experience. Her passion for children in foster care was ignited when her parents became licensed foster care providers back in 2013.

Amy Bryant Signature