Setting Boundaries With Your Nanny Boss

Even though, as a nanny, it’s crucial for you to immerse yourself with your employing family, there are times when the boundaries can become blurred. If your nanny boss changes his or her mind about discipline or schedules at a moment’s notice, it can wreak havoc on the family environment, your job satisfaction and the level of care you can provide for the children.

To avoid conflicts, uncertainty or confusion, it’s best to set boundaries with your nanny boss right away. This will help keep the peace in the household and provide an optimal environment for the children.

The Challenges of Blurred Boundaries

It’s common for parents, even nanny bosses, to change their mind at times. However, if your nanny boss is lacking consistency and it undermines your efforts, it can lead to a breakdown in the family environment.

“The most common challenge is how boundaries can change depending on the mood of the parent or the situation, says Vicki Hoefle, professional parent educator and founder of Duct Tape Parenting, a proactive parenting strategy. “The parents may have set the boundaries but then they leave it up to the nanny to enforce them. It is not uncommon in these scenarios for parents to disregard the boundaries and spoil the child because the nanny has been doing a bang up job with enforcing the boundaries.”

When boundaries are too rigid or too loose, you may feel as if you are playing a guessing game to determine how rules should be applied.

Approaching the Topic

In order to avoid conflict with a nanny boss, Hoefle recommends nannies ask questions to clarify the use of boundaries. Set up a meeting time to review the expectations, rules and boundaries so that all parties can agree on a parenting method for the children. “This will help establish both clear boundaries and expectations and future conversations,” she says.

For example, nannies can ask their bosses the following to gain clarification:

  • What is the goal for setting this boundary?
  • What is it you want your child to learn by setting this boundary?
  • Is this a safety boundary?
  • How rigid do you want me to be in enforcing this boundary?
  • Are there ever any circumstances where you would want me to disregard this boundary?
  • How would you like me to deal with the child if he or she resists or fights against this boundary?

While asking questions, reassure your nanny boss that clarification is key to providing the best care for his or her children.

Determining the Boundaries

It’s important for nannies to create a list of specific boundaries needing to be addressed, such as:

  • Food and Feeding
  • Sleep and Bedtimes
  • Toilet Training
  • Hitting, Biting (basic discipline)
  • Clothing
  • Homework for Older Children
  • Playtime and Cleanup

Create a book of notes or a nanny binder to document all instructions so you have a reference point. If conflicts occur with your nanny boss, you can point back to the original instructions and ask for clarification for how the boundaries have changed or will change.

Find ways, too, to institute a consistent routine that will work for both the children and your nanny boss. Establishing a routine for the child can make it easier for the nanny to implement permanent boundaries, says Hoefle.

A sample routine may be similar to the following to meet the child’s basic needs:

  • 7:00 a.m.: Wake up (allow child to decide how he or she will wake up)
  • 7:30 a.m.: Dressed before coming downstairs (allow the child to pick out outfit)
  • 7:45 a.m.: Eating at the table with two choices for breakfast (allow the child to help make breakfast and then clean up)
  • 8:15 a.m.: Brush Teeth and Make Bed

Children crave routines and will soon learn the boundaries set by the nanny and the parents. “One can see where the natural boundaries will be if there is an overall routine in place to support the healthy physical and emotional wellbeing of the child,” says Hoefle. And, with clarification from your nanny boss, the boundaries will no longer leave you guessing.

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One thought on “Setting Boundaries With Your Nanny Boss

  1. I tried to have a [civil] conversation with my employer once about this very issue, but she ended up getting angry with me and blowing the whole thing off. How do you recommend approaching this in a way that doesn’t cause problems between nannies/employers, especially if the employer is pretty sensitive?

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