One of the most confusing situations for your children and your in home childcare provider is when a parent works from home. Why, well the children don't know who to go to for permission or other questions they may have, the babysitter isn't sure how much you want to be involved with the childcare, and if they are still in charge of the children in a way that they normally are when you aren't home; the whole dynamic changes. When you telecommute or work from home, and have a nanny or childcare professional in your home at the same time you really need to have clear boundaries for you, the children, and the childcare provider.
A lot of parents work from home now, and still have babysitters in the home at the same time. This is a wonderful thing for people but it is very confusing for everyone involved when it comes to childcare. Here are 5 suggestions to help you with the confusion and what to address when you work from home and have childcare at the same time. You can't assume that the kids will know you're at work, you can't assume the babysitter will know what to do with you in the home, and most importantly you can't be in the middle of everything while you work.
5 Musts when telecommuting with childcare
Remove and separate yourself physicallyFrom the child activities, and have a designated space where you do your work. You can't just plant yourself on the couch in the living room or the kitchen/dining area and think things are going to work out. I'm a very experienced babysitter and the situation where a parent is in the middle of a home trying to work is so hard. Kids want to involve the parent in their day, they want to play with the parent, they want to ask the parent questions that come up, and they want to discount the caregiver whenever they can. I've been told to make sure kids eat and when I try to follow my instructions they run to the parent in the room and whine until the parent will say it's okay they don't need to eat. What? Now the kids have been taught that whenever they disagree with the babysitter they can talk to the parent still in the home. Not a good set up.
Make it clear to the children that you are at workYou are not to be disturbed, and the childcare provider is in charge. This is the difficult step for parents. Parents are naturally the caregiver for their children, and when you are home that is really hard to turn off. You need to trust yourself that you chose a qualified babysitter/nanny, and they are going to adhere to the family rules. If you trust your childcare provider the kids don't need to get you involved. If the children cry you need to resist the urge to see what is going on or jump up and comfort the child. If you jump up and comfort the child and don't let the childcare professional do it then you are inhibiting the bonding and trust development between care provider and your child. You will also be more productive if you when you let the babysitter/nanny do what they were hired to do.
set good clear boundaries
At the risk of being redundant it is so important that the boundaries be clear and concise. Of course boundaries are guidelines and can be broken but should be adhered to as much as possible. Ask yourself when is it appropriate for the childcare professional and your kids to bother you, what will be your routine; will you have lunch time with the kids, would you like to chat with the kids briefly about school when they get home? Don't assume the babysitter/nanny will know what your boundaries are when dealing with your routine, and when you want to be involved with the childcare. You are working from home so you should have the freedom to check in when you want to but don't disrupt their routine at the same time.
inform the nanny/babysitter of the household rulesDo you let the kids jump on the furniture? Are the kids allowed to snack between meals even if they don't eat their main meals? If your children are allowed screen time what kind of things are they allowed to play and watch? You can't assume that the nanny/babysitter will know how your family deals with their children. Some families don't care if kids jump on the furniture, they may allow screen viewing of programs I may deem inappropriate, and trust me kids will always say mom and dad let us. It isn't enough to just inform of bedtime, bedtime routines, food and food allergies, but it is nearly as important to let them know what you really do allow your kids to do. Of course, with my experience, if I doubt what the kids are doing and they say their parents let them I always say that's cool but right now I don't want you to do this and wait until mom and dad get home.
Don't interfere with the routine of their day
What your caregiver has planned or is doing with your children don't get involved unless you feel that the children are being harmed. Again, it is really hard not to come to the rescue when you hear your children crying or angry, or frustrated or even giggling with happiness. But a pop-in is really disruptive the moment a parent pops in the kids think it is mommy/daddy time and it is difficult to get back on track. Transitions are always hard on children and when there are disruptions there is another transition that they need to go through yet again.
It is a dream for most parents to work from home but if you have children you must remember you have a job to do, and that you've chosen a care provider that you trust, and you need to let them do their job. When parents interfere with childcare when they work from home is absolutely one of the most frustrating thing that child care professionals face in today's world. If you actually realize what will happen with your children and childcare when you begin working from home then you will be ahead of the game. These guidelines will help you make a smooth transition, and really help your nanny/babysitter know what you expect from them. The homes that I've babysat for and parents work from home is when there is a designated office, and child space, parents say goodbye to the kids like they would if they worked in a formal office, and the day is treated the same way as if parents leave. When this occurs there is no confusion for children, you, and the childcare professional. Trust me, following these 5 steps to working from home will be so easy in the long run AND you'll be productive.