Many nannies, at some point, may be asked if they’re available for overnight care of their nanny charges. This totally makes sense- you’re in the home almost every day, you know the routine and schedule, the children are comfortable with you, and the parents trust you. Of course it’s your choice, but I’ve found that overnights with my nanny kiddos are really fun and leave us feeling extra connected. Here are my tips for overnights with the nanny kids to ensure they end with high fives instead of tears.
Planning with your nanny family
I think the real key to successful overnights for your nanny family is prepping and planning beforehand. I encourage you to ask questions and make sure you feel prepared before it’s go- time. Don’t worry about asking too many questions and not looking like an expert. It’s much easier to know the details beforehand than be guessing or trying to frantically get ahold of parents while they’re traveling.
Before agreeing to anything, ask specifically what the schedule will be and if there are any additional duties to your usual job that will be expected. Discuss and settle on pay beforehand, so both parties know what to expect. Many nannies have a flat-rate overnight fee that covers the time when the children are asleep, though nannies who are watching infants will be up during the night and may choose to charge their hourly rate instead (don’t forget overtime).
Giving up your evening and weekend time is a sacrifice that needs to be worth it.
Nannies are empathetic and love to help, and it can be hard to stand up for yourself & your worth, but compromising on your pay will lead to resentment. Just like starting the job originally, both parties need to have expectations and compensation clearly worked out.
Once you’re getting closer to the actual overnight(s), having a written schedule is very helpful. You’re probably an expert on, if not the one who created, your nanny kiddo’s daily schedule, but are you familiar with their evening, bedtime, sleep, and early morning routines as well? Ask the parents to provide you with detailed notes about all of these times and anything else that’s outside of your regular hours & duties.
Will you be doing different school or activity pick-ups or drop-offs?
Serving different meals?
Will you be handing off to grandparents, other family members, or other caregivers?
When and how will those hand offs happen?
When can you expect the parents to return?
Will there be a set time for a FaceTime or phone call check-in with the parents?
You don’t need to have every minute of their trip figured out, but having an outline is very helpful.
You’ll also want to discuss a bit of emergency planning & preparedness with parents before they leave. I have a detailed emergency plan that’s already established with my nanny family, but before they leave for extended or international travel, we add extra info like where they are staying, contact info for extended family members, and make sure everything is up to date. If you don’t usually drive your nanny charges around, you will want access to a car with car seats in case of emergency.
Does your nanny family have preferred hospitals for care? Do you have insurance info for your nanny charges and a consent for care form filled out?
These are all things we hope to never use, but it’s better to be overly prepared for an emergency than frantically trying to figure these things out if something scary were to happen.
The last step before overnight care is packing yourself up. I bring way more stuff than I’ll actually need: extra crafts, activities, and books to share with my nanny kiddos, extra clothes for myself, and tons of snacks and La Croix! Do you need your own pillow or blanket for comfort? A tablet with movies for after the kiddos go to bed? Books, coloring books, journals, crafts- anything to keep you comfortable and content when the kiddos are snoozin’.
After all that prep work, it’s finally time for overnight care! I always try to go in well-rested and with a great attitude. We set the tone! I try to keep their routine as similar as possible to what it would be if their parents were home. I also am ready to wear those kiddos out with extra trips to the playground, long walks, physical games, and fun outings. When I’m working overnights, we stay busy!
Adjusting your expectations
Expect that your nanny charges will miss their parents. I always remember how much I missed my parents when they traveled, and that helps me come in with extra empathy. Each child is different, and some kiddos may do better with acknowledging & validating the feelings and then a distraction. Other children might want a hard-copy photo of their parents to carry around with them and look at during the trip. I’ve had kiddos write letters and draw pictures of what they want to do with their parents when they get home. We’ve also sent pictures and videos to the parents which helps the kiddos feel connected. Luckily, it really is easy to FaceTime or call, but this can sometimes exacerbate how much the kiddos are missing their parents, too. Knowing your nanny family and what kind of trip they’re on (personal, work, close-by, international, etc.) can help you determine how often to text, call, FaceTime, send pics & videos, etc. In my experience, you can’t send too many pictures, videos, or text updates, but every family is different.
On that note, kiddos very well might be extra emotional or sensitive while their parents are gone. This makes total sense. Their routine and primary caregivers are gone for now. Younger children might not understand why or how long their parents will be gone for. Try to find extra patience, empathy, and remember all of the Positive Discipline tools in your toolbox for the overnights. At the same time, look at this as an opportunity to have a little extra fun! Perhaps you get to see your nanny kiddos do a special class on the weekends that you aren’t usually involved in. Maybe you can play an extra long board game or go on a further-away outing because you don’t have your regular hand-off time. Is a fun popcorn and movie night in the cards? Overnights can be a super fun bonding experience with the right attitude and planning.
What to share with parents/caregivers
I leave very detailed notes for the parents about what we did on our overnights. I lean more towards oversharing the minutiae of our day, just because I know that a few days from now I’m certainly not going to remember what I served for breakfast or what playground we visited on which day. I think parents like and appreciate knowing what their kiddos were up to while they were gone. Personally, I like leaving written notes on paper for parents, but other nannies may prefer using an app that connects them to their families, dictating audio notes, or sharing a Google doc.
Lastly, try to sleep when the kiddos sleep! Honestly, the first few times I worked overnights, I didn’t sleep a wink. I was in and out of the childrens’ bedrooms checking on them over and over, and I ended up so exhausted. Use the monitors and tools available to you, and try to sleep once you know the kiddos are safe and sleeping.
Remember that the parents sleep while they’re at home, so we can too!
As fun as overnights are, I love handing my sweet nanny kiddos back to their parents and heading home afterward! Try to give yourself plenty of time to decompress, self-care, and catch up on rest once you get home. Can you treat yourself to something fun like a massage or new book with the extra income you just made? Rest, relax, and refresh.
You did it!