Dear Parents and Nannies,
We have witnessed as a collective humanity that we are all hurting, which makes it especially hard to trust people. It makes it hard to see through the muck and trauma of the last few years and has made many of us reactive and defensive to things that might not have affected us in the past.
No one will truly ever understand your personal journey or the pain that you have endured throughout the Pandemic, political discourse, social changes, losses of loved ones, or working from home, all while raising children and living through unprecedented times. Many of us have unfathomable pasts, difficult to understand before COVID 19, a pandemic that kept us all home and amplified our already fragile psyche. The mental health crisis rose, leaving people suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, and more. Some people feel safe leaving their homes and others feel scared of the potential consequences of leaving their homes.
Friends became enemies; Family became estranged. Social media amplified the division in our communities, bringing constant disunity into our homes, right in front of our faces. Brought about by confusion, stress, and depression, our limit, or “fuse,” to challenges in our surroundings has significantly shortened in two years.
Social media, text, and email have made it easier for us to speak up. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it can make things tricky when we get used to being on defense. Whether you are a nanny or family, communication can sometimes feel like a minefield to navigate. When responding to people online or in person, take a deep breath, and follow these tips that we have found helpful over the years regarding healthy communication.
- Assume Positive Intent
It can be a challenge to assume positive intent when we have been harmed in the past. However, positive intent has the power to shift the entire outcome of a conversation. Being defensive is easy. Starting by assuming positive intent can deescalate a tricky situation quickly. If a family continuously leaves out their dishes, don’t automatically assume they left them for you to clean up. Next step is to ask questions before assuming.
- Ask Questions First (Without Sarcasm)
If someone is acting differently than normal, ask if they are ok. There may be more to the story. If they say something that doesn’t make sense, confuses you, or makes you frustrated – assume positive intent and ask for clarification. Try not to wear a chip on your shoulder, some people are still learning to communicate and regulate their emotions during such a traumatic time.
- Stay Solution Minded
There is always a solution. Instead of focusing on the negative, try to come up with a solution. Only focusing on how something is going wrong will not help things go right. If you are exhausted working from homes alongside your nanny or employer, work together to develop a plan. Have specific times that the parents interact with the kids (maybe lunch time,) rather than confusing children as parents walk in and out of playtime. Set clear and consistent boundaries with your children so that they know their nanny has authority during working hours.
- Consider Perinatal Mood Disorders
Many times we hear about employers being micro managers or helicopter parents. One cause for this behavior could be a Perinatal Mood Disorder. Postpartum Anxiety, Depression, or OCD all fall under the Perinatal Mood Disorder umbrella and are very common. Parents can develop a PMD for up to three years after their child is born. Postpartum Psychosis within the first two weeks of giving birth can be common. Being familiar with these mood disorders is key to noticing signs and symptoms with new parents. Being these mood disorders can be delicate topics, it is important to have a plan of action and permission from involved parties to express concern if it arises. We like to encourage everyone to lead with empathy, assume positive intent, and offer resources during these times.
- Be Open To Other Opinions
Remember that everyone is on a different journey and can always learn more. Don’t get us wrong, not everyone’s intent is positive. Even people with the best intentions can make mistakes or even have the opposite effect of what was intended. However, teachable people can go a long way in all aspects of life, including healthy work, friendship, and family relationships. It took our team a long time to learn how important it is to be teachable, and listening more than we talk has helped us adapt and grow in ways we never imagined.
- Being open and honest with Parents and Nanny Agencies
The saying goes – “If you see something say something.” We agree with this but not when it comes at the expense of others. The quickest way to avoid conflict is to address the source directly. If you see a parent, agency, or other entity post something that you disagree with or think could have been dealt with better – go to them directly. Privately email, call, or direct message them and voice your concern in a kind and respectful way. Always assume their positive intent first.
These tips come from years of therapy, lessons learned, articles read, and classes that we have taken as a collective to better ourselves with communication. We understand it’s not easy but it certainly is worth it!