Even the best nannies and loveliest kiddos have tough days sometimes. It’s inevitable! But part of our job as a professional is coming back the next day refreshed and ready to try again. This can be easier said than done. How do we reconnect with our nanny kiddos after a particularly challenging day? Here’s what I do.
How can we care for others when our cup is empty? It just doesn’t work. When we keep pushing through, burnout and illness are inevitable. I know it’s clichéd, but taking some time to calm down and recharge can make a big difference for the next day. As hard as it can be, don’t bump self-care to the bottom of your list. Make the time to recharge. My favorite strategies after a long day are a long walk, a hot bath, and rewatching a favorite movie. Make sure you’re actually doing things that will make you feel better long-term, like eating well, sleeping, and exercising, and not just self-soothing– doing things that make you feel better in the moment like an extra glass of wine or eating a pint of ice cream (though there are certainly those nights too)!
Be the Bigger Person
Once you get back to work, remember that you’re the adult and that your attitude can set the tone for the day. In order to not take poor behavior personally, remember that all behavior is communication. They’re doing the best they can! It’s unrealistic to expect a child will come to you apologizing for a rough day. Don’t force it. Let the new day be a fresh start for both of you, or consider modeling an earnest apology for your own behavior if it feels appropriate.
Have a Re-Do
These tough days can also be wonderful opportunities to teach life skills to children. Sharing your own feelings, coaching them on taking responsibility, and teaching them what to do differently next time can lead to role plays or “re-do’s” that actually strengthen your relationship. Keep it shame and blame-free, and focus on solutions.
Everyone feels better after getting some fresh air! If possible, get outside for a walk or some free play ASAP. I’ve found that walking with my nanny charges is a fabulous way to build connection. I’m not too quiet, but I give lots of space in the conversation for them to share their ideas, thoughts, and feelings with me.
What builds a better connection with a child than playing together? Get down on the floor, put away your phone, follow their lead, and get into it. Even 10 or 20 minutes of dedicated, focused playtime can make a huge difference in connection and repair. Legos, Magna-tiles, and coloring are some of my favorite go-to’s.
Cut Them (and Yourself) Some Slack
Everyone has big feelings, and everyone has off days. It’s completely natural, normal, and expected that there will be some challenges with your nanny charges. Relax and be flexible when you can, and remember that they’re still navigating all of these COVID-19 challenges on top of the regular ups and downs that come with growing up. Be kind to yourself, too! Nannying is so fun, fulfilling, and rewarding, but it’s hard, too. Kids are relentless. Don’t beat yourself up.
Coming in refreshed with a positive attitude and spending focused time together will help repair and rebuild after a tough day.