Like many parents across the country, the husband and I have begun discussing how bringing our nanny back into our home is going to work.
In Washington, Governor Inslee has announced that Phase 2 of the reopening is tentatively scheduled for June 1. This is the the phase where all in-home/domestic services can resume. Essentially, nannies and sitters are allowed to begin working with non-essential employee parents beginning June 1…..subject to change like all things COVID-19 related.
Our children and I miss our nanny so much! We are all excited to see her smiling face and our children are excited to restart some of the special activities/traditions that they have created with her (if you haven’t seen Wonky Donkey, check it out here).
It goes without saying, the hubby and I are excited because we sorely need a break!
The question that we have been wrestling with is how do we safely bring our nanny back into our home and protect her, her family and our family from being infected with COVID-19?
First, a bit about our current mindset. We believe that until a vaccine is developed, COVID-19 is going to be a continuing problem.
We’re worried at how quickly other states are opening up.
We’re worried that more and more people seem to be out and about and that many aren’t wearing masks/practicing social distancing.
We’re worried about our older children and the negative impacts that being out of school may be having on them.
We’re worried about how well we are doing with homeschooling.
We’re worried but we have decided that we are not going to let fear force us to put our lives on hold for the foreseeable future.
Second, I applaud Governor Inslee and his staff for the “reopening” guidelines they are releasing for other industries. Fingers crossed that the Governor releases specific operational guidelines for parents and in home child care providers. Since no information has been released yet and the scheduled reopening is less than two weeks away, my family has built a plan that I wanted to share with other parents and care providers.
Please understand that we built this plan for our family using information and guidance from Governor Inslee’s COVID-19 resources, advice from our family’s health care providers, and information from other government/non-profit resources like the CDC. Neither my husband nor I are public health experts so if you decide to use the below information, please do so at your own discretion. If and when operating guidelines are released by the Governor’s office, we plan to follow those guidelines.
Below is how we are currently planning to bring our nanny back into our home as safely as possible.
Step #1: Do we want to continue to work with one another?
The first step is a phone call we expect to make in the coming days to our nanny…
“Do you want to continue to work with our family? How do you envision working with our family in this new reality?”
We made this the first step because we want to ensure that our nanny is comfortable returning to work and want to engage in a dialogue with her about what her comfort level and expectations are. We want her to work with us to create systems that ensure we are all safe.
It’s clear that both families and care providers are going to have to make major changes in order to create as safe of an environment as possible for child care to begin again. We want to work with our nanny to approach this with eyes wide open.
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Step #2: The Pledge
This next step is one of many sensitive topics that my husband and I have discussed well into the night over the past couple of weeks.
While it would be heavy handed, inappropriate and probably illegal to try and dictate where our nanny goes, who she interacts with, and the choices she makes while not caring for our children (and we have no desire to do so), we are EXTREMELY concerned that we may be greatly increasing the chances that our family is infected with the novel coronavirus by inviting anyone into our home on a regular basis.
First, like many families around the United States, we have taken this pandemic very seriously:
- Our family has been quarantined since schools were closed. No visits with family, friends, etc. except from a distance or virtually.
- We only go out to parks and beaches when we can ensure that we will stay at least 6 feet away (or more) from others.
- When we do need to go to a store, gas station, etc. for something random, either my husband and I will go with no children in tow. We wear masks, hurry as quickly as possible through the store and then sanitize our hands and whatever we bought before coming into the house.
No one in our home has exhibited any symptoms and we want to keep it that way.
So how can we ensure that our nanny is taking this pandemic as seriously as we are?
The reality is, we can’t. We have to trust her and the decisions that she makes to ensure she keeps herself, her family, and our family healthy.
We’ve decided to make a pledge to our nanny and in turn, ask her to do the same for us. The pledge is simple:
“I/we pledge to follow the social distancing guidelines provided by Governor Inslee and the appropriate state government agencies. I/we will keep our social circles small, will always wear a mask and appropriate PPE when out in public and if I/we believe that we have been exposed to COVID-19, find ourself/ourselves in our situation where we could have been exposed to COVID-19, or exhibiting any type of fever or other symptoms, will immediately notify the nanny/family.”
I’ve already heard from many nannies that are being asked by their nanny families to not go here or don’t do that. Parents can’t dictate what their nannies do or don’t do when they aren’t caring for the children.
We trust our nannies to provide loving care and make smart decisions when caring for our children. We need to trust them to make the right decisions to protect their health and our family’s health while they are going about their lives.
Step #3: Temperature/Symptom Monitoring
Our nanny commutes about 45 minutes to our home. We have decided that one hour prior (or earlier if possible) to when she is scheduled to care for our children each day, we are going to text message her if anyone in our family has any of these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual aches
- Unexplained rashes
- Any loss of smell or taste
If we do report any of these symptoms to our nanny, she has the choice whether to cancel child care that day (if my husband and I haven’t done so already). If she or we decide that she shouldn’t come in that day, we are going to pay her for the hours she was scheduled to work.
We are also going to ask our nanny to message us if she has any of the above symptoms one hour before care is scheduled to start so that we can make the decision if we want to cancel care that day (if she hasn’t already). Again, we plan to pay our nanny for the hours she was scheduled to work that day if the decision is made to cancel care.
We are also going to take the temperature of everyone in our family and report that to our nanny in conjunction with any symptoms as mentioned above. We are going to ask our nanny to do the same for us. If anyone in our family has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, that will immediately cancel child care for that day and for a minimum of three days after that. Same deal for our nanny – if she has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, no child care that day and for three days after so that she can monitor her temperature and decide on next steps. We will pay her for the hours she was scheduled to work.
Step #4: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
This is another sensitive topic that my husband and I have debated relentlessly recently. Do we ask our nanny to wear PPE? Do our children need to wear PPE? Will our children be scared if our nanny is wearing a mask?
We have four children – ages 12, 5, and almost 3 year old twins. The 12 year old and 5 year old are very aware of what the coronavirus is and what we need to do to keep our family safe. In fact, our 5 year old has become the “Coronavirus Cop” constantly reminding us that we need to stay 6 feet away from others when out in public!
12 Year Old
The husband and I don’t see eye to eye on this one but we are going to have him wear a mask when the nanny is in our home. We don’t expect this to be a problem for him and plan to work with him for several days prior to our nanny restarting to ensure the mask he wears is comfortable, fits properly and can be worn throughout the day. We also plan on working with him to ensure that he doesn’t touch his face while our nanny is in our home. The hubby feels that this is important to protect our nanny and our 12 year old but I am not convinced that it is a necessity.
5 Year Old
This one is a bit more difficult. Like most 5 year olds, he doesn’t grasp the “rules” of wearing a mask (leave it on at all times, don’t put your fingers under your mask to scratch your face, etc.). We are not going to have him wear a mask when our nanny is in our home. Regarding “face touching” – we are going to try and come up with a game so that he doesn’t touch his face while our nanny is caring for him.
There is no way these two will wear a mask! We tried once (I don’t even know why we tried) which led to a lot of wriggling around and crying. We just don’t see how children this age could possibly wear a mask and follow the “rules”. We aren’t going to force it.
We would like our nanny to wear a mask but want to hear from her on what she thinks. We see many positive benefits (protect herself, protect our family, etc.) to her wearing a mask and very few negatives but as she is part of our child care team, we want her input.
We aren’t concerned about the older children becoming frightened by seeing our nanny in a mask. We have been more worried about our twins. We’ve now worn a mask around them dozens of times and while curious, they don’t seem to be frightened or experiencing any angst by seeing our faces covered. We don’t expect there to be any issues with them seeing our nanny wearing a mask.
That said, if you have younger children (especially infants), having your nanny wear a mask around them might be an issue. Parents need to make their own decisions on the positive/negative impacts of having their nanny wear a mask while caring for their younger children.
Me and the Hubby
We will both be wearing masks if we are in the house with the nanny during the day.
Step #5: Cleaning
This step is going to add a lot of work for my husband, our nanny and myself but we feel the below tasks are very important.
Like most parents, we have done an excellent job of drilling into our older children’s heads that they must wash their hands after using the restroom. The twins aren’t quite at the age where they are consistently washing their hands on their own accord but they are slowly getting better.
We are going to ask our nanny and everyone in our family to wash their hands before and after eating, coughing, blowing their nose, etc. – essentially, if you need to touch your face, please wash your hands before and after. We will ask our nanny to closely monitor the twins and if they cough, sneeze, touch their face, they are off to the sink for some hand washing.
We are also going to ask everyone in the house to wash their hands every 60 minutes (or if out and about, use hand sanitizer).
This one may be a bit of overkill but we want to be as safe as possible. We will clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces before and after our nanny is here for the day. This includes:
- Kitchen counters
- Outside of refrigerator, microwave, and oven plus knobs on stove
- Faucets in kitchen and bathrooms
- Toilet handles
- Door knobs
- Dining room table
We also plan to clean/disinfect the “high touch” toys that are children play with. It would be impossible and way too time consuming to try and clean all of their toys multiple times per day (and we feel that isn’t necessary). All of our kids have a couple of toys that they usually play with during the day – those will be cleaned/disinfected before and after our nanny is here.
Furnace Air Filter
We currently have a FPR 6 air filter installed in our furnace which DOES NOT filter virus carriers. We are switching to a FPR 12 air filter later this week which does filter virus carriers. We are going to replace this filter every 30 days instead of the usual 90 days to ensure we filter the air in our house as best as possible.
Be careful going higher than FPR 12 as they can restrict airflow to your furnace and cause problems.
Home Depot has a great guide on the different filtration levels of the filters they offer. Click the image below to check that out.
Step #6: Public Outings and Driving our Children
Our nanny doesn’t normally drive our children to activities. We have several parks located near our house that our nanny will usually walk or stroller the kids to. We are going to ask our nanny to continue to take the kids to parks to run around but playgrounds are off limits. A minimum of 6 feet from other people and more if possible is the goal with these public outings.
We will also ask our nanny to be very diligent about what the kids touch while out playing – our twins love to put their hands on everything (crosswalk buttons, streetlight poles, etc.). We will provide her with hand sanitizer and will ask for the kids’ hands to be sanitized immediately if they touch something that other people may be frequently touching.
As much as our children miss the Zoo, Aquarium, and riding Link Light Rail, we aren’t comfortable with our children going indoors with other people or riding mass transit at this time so those activities are off limits.
Couple of other thoughts….
Caring for children of other families
I’ve already received many questions about this topic.
“I am concerned that my nanny will be caring for other children as she only works part-time for our family. How can I ensure my family will be safe?”
Short answer is you can’t. Just as I mentioned earlier in this article: We trust our nannies to provide loving care and make smart decisions when caring for our children. We need to trust them to make the right decisions to protect their health and our family’s health while they are going about their lives.
I would definitely recommend sitting down (or having a phone call) to discuss how your nanny plans to keep all of the families safe that she works for. The nannies that I have spoken with recently have made it very clear that this issue is a huge priority for them.
For some families, there may be the option to increase the hours your nanny works with your family so that she doesn’t need to work for another family.
For other parents that can’t get comfortable with their nanny working with other families, they may need to pursue a different child care route for the time being.
Several discussions about how nanny shares should operate in this new reality have already popped up in our online communities. On top of such things like temperature/symptom monitoring and PPE usage, the general consensus seems to be:
- Share families should keep their social circles small and notify the other share family/nanny if they decide to invite a family member, friend, etc. into their home (or go to someone else’s home). The share families and nanny can then discuss if the nanny share should continue to operate, switch to the other share family’s house for a certain period of time, etc.
- Share families need to be honest and upfront about any physical interactions they and their children have had with people outside of their “circle”. Openness and transparency will be key for the share to continue to operate.
- Both the nanny and the share families will need to be hyper vigilant about hygiene and cleaning/disinfecting high touch areas and groceries/household items that come into their respective homes.
Remember that your nanny will be under more stress when returning to the nanny share because of increased diligence, cleaning, etc. One nanny share member of our community explained how their share is providing their nanny with two paid days off every other week to give her some time to recoup and relax. Consider making changes to the share that account for the additional load your nanny will be enduring.
Nanny bringing her own child into your home
This one has been on my mind recently as many nannies that have children are now caring for them everyday with schools closed.
Our primary nanny’s children are grown so this isn’t currently an issue for us but we do occasionally work with other nannies that do bring their children into our home. We’ve decided that we are going to handle this on a case by case basis.
First question that we plan to ask is how many other children has your child interacted with over the past fourteen days. If just one or two, then we will probably be okay with this nanny bringing her child into our home. If more than just a couple, we have decided that we will need to figure out a different option.
Even if our nanny is being super diligent about handwashing, face touching, and overall hygiene with her own child, our concern is that the possibility of COVID-19 transmission is much higher if her child has been interacting with multiple children recently. We may be overthinking this but we would rather be overly cautious than risk it.
As with everything coronavirus related, we have to trust that our nanny is making the best decisions to ensure the safety of all of the families that she (and her child) come into contact with.
I hope that you found this plan helpful and that it spurs a discussion in your household about how to safely begin working with your nanny again. As I mentioned earlier, this plan is a working document that we want our nanny to have input on to ensure that she feels as safe and comfortable as possible. If you plan on bringing your nanny back (or are hiring a new nanny), I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to include them in the planning process. Nannies and sitters are the keystone of your child care team.
I’d love to hear your comments and your plans on safely working with a nanny in the coming weeks and months. Please comment below and remember that our plan is contingent on Governor Inslee allowing in home child care providers to return to work on June 1.
I plan to update our family’s plan if/when the Governor’s office releases more guidelines on child care providers returning to their families and will share those updates here.
Stay healthy and well!
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