10 Things to Consider Before Working for a Work from Home Parent

work from home

You’ve been presented with the perfect nanny position. It’s the next town over, you would be caring for a newborn, the parents seem super nice and the salary is within your range. Everything seems perfect, except one little thing: The mom works from home.

Working for a work from home parent can be challenging. The boundaries can be easily blurred, the parent and nanny relationship can be easily strained and the child can be easily confused over who is in charge and when.

While not all nanny positions for work from home parents will be problematic, if the duties and expectations of the nanny aren’t laid out clearly from the get-go, they are surely to be troubled.  If you are considering accepting employment for a work from home parents, here are 10 things you need to consider.

1. Are the expectations clear? Do you have a clear understanding of the role that the parent wants you to play and the duties and responsibilities that she wants you to take on? Have you determined if she wants you to be in charge all day or just when she’s “working?” Are you free to come and go with the child or do you need to check-in with the at home parent regularly throughout the day? Will you be working supervised or unsupervised? Understanding exactly what the work from home parents expects can help you made an educated and informed decision if working for a work from home parent is the right choice for you.

2. Will you have a clear handoff? Will the work from home parent be heading off to her workspace when you come into work? Will she clearly let you and her child know that you’re in charge? Will there be confusion over who is in charge when you are both present? When a work from home parent is willing to turn over the reins and communicate that the nanny is now the responsible adult, it avoids confusion for both the nanny and the child.  

3. Have you solidified the schedule? Will you be working a consistent schedule or you will have to work around the hours of the work from home parent? Are you able to commit to showing up on time, knowing the parent has no physical workplace outside of the home to go to? Does the work from home parent expect to have lunch with her child? Understanding how your schedule will work can help you determine if a work from home parent would be a good employer match for you.

4. Will there be disruptions in your routine? Once you start your day will you be left alone to do your job? Will the parents come in and out through your work space without notice? Will they pop in to say hi, just because they can? Children thrive on routine and structure. While a parent may pop in just for a moment, for a child that brief visit requires several transitions – a transition from doing what they were doing to doing something with the parent, a transition from nanny to parent, a transition from parent back to nanny and a final transition to going back to what she was doing. Several such transitions can be a recipe for disaster. Are you willing to happily accept disruptions to your day?

4. How will you communicate? Will the work from home parent expect you to spend time talking extensively when you arrive, before you leave and during any of her downtime in between? Are you allowed to knock on the office door or does she prefer an email, phone call or text message? Understanding how, how much and how often you’ll be communicating with the work from home parent help you determine if the job is appealing to you.

6. Are you comfortable asking questions? Do you get the sense that it’s okay to ask questions? Are you willing to ask for guidance when you need it? If you are unsure of something, will you ask? Feeling out how receptive the parent is to helping you learn more about your job and her family can help you decide if the work situation would be a good one for you.

7. Are you both committed to having a unified front? Can you agree to praise in public and criticize in private? Are you willing to back each other’s choices and decisions in front of the kids? Do you feel like if you accepted the job you would be part of a team? Having an employer that backs you is essential to building your credibility and trust with the children.  An employer who won’t support you isn’t worth working for.

8. Can you be consistent? Since you’ll both be in the home and around, being consistent is essential. Can you agree to enforce the same rules and standards? Are you willing to parent the way the parents do? In a situation where a parent works from home, the nanny must work hard to maintain consistency. Are you okay with that?

9. Will the boundaries be defined? Is the child able to go see mom whenever he wishes? Is the office off limits? How will you know when it is okay and not okay to interrupt the working parent? Will she respect your time with the children? Having clear boundaries can prevent misunderstandings and promote mutual respect, which is vital in a nanny and employer relationship.

10. Can you commit to addressing issues as the come up? Are you willing to bring issues to the forefront as they arise? Are you committed to resolving disputes and letting the little things go? When your boss works in the next room, it’s a little harder to hide your irritation with her. When you work for a parent who is in the home, maintaining a stress free environment is important for both of you.

Working as a nanny for a work from home parent isn’t for everyone, but for those who can be flexible, are okay with going with the flow and are willing to work closely alongside their employer, a work from home parent could be a good employer match.


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6 thoughts on “10 Things to Consider Before Working for a Work from Home Parent

  1. This is a solid list. I’ve worked for a work at home mom for the past five years and have been lucky because she does essentially just hand over the reigns when I get to work every day, but I have other nanny friends who haven’t been so lucky and have had to deal with the fallout of the parent not allowing the nanny to be in charge when she’s on the clock. It definitely causes a lot of confusion for the children when that happens.

  2. I love working from home because it allows me to sneak out of my office every few hours and see my child, but it definitely has caused problems with my nanny in the past. If you don’t find the right match and you both don’t see eye to eye on how the relationship should be handled, it’s doomed.

  3. I’ve worked for two families where one or both of the parents worked from home. The first time was a disaster – the dad let the kids come and go from his office all day, back tracked on disciplinary measures I put in place and pretty much showed the kids that I wasn’t an authority figure. The second time (I can’t believe I actually did this twice, but thank goodness I did!) was a completely different experience. The mom worked from home and pretty much stayed in her office all day or went to meetings, etc. When she did come out, if the children questioned something she would defer them to me and remind them that I was in charge during the day. It was like night and day from one family to the next.

  4. I would never want to work for a family where the parent is home – it’s too hard on the kids, especially hwen they’r ereally young – to understand that they cant just run to mom during the day.

    • it’s certainly not a decision to make lightly, but like article points out, in the right situation it can work out really well, you just have to be aware of what you’re getting into and have clearly defined boundaries.

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