As a nanny, it can be hard to practice self-care. When your focus is always on the ones you’re caring for, it’s easy to throw yourself on the back burner. You tell yourself you’ll worry about yourself later.
When you’re working long days and full weeks, how do you give yourself permission to take care of yourself?
When you’re focused on the sick baby, the neverending clutter, meal prep, laundry, or the energetic preschoolers, how do you make time for yourself? On a busy day of go, go, go you may think there’s no time to stop and care for yourself, but that’s not true. And just because you’re on the clock doesn’t mean you ignore your basic needs.
But this article isn’t just for nannies — families, there’s a lot you can do to help care for your nanny and prevent burnout, as well.
Let’s take a look at the signs of nanny burnout and talk about how we can avoid it.
What are the signs of nanny burnout?
What is nanny burnout? As defined by the WHO: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.”
Nanny burnout often occurs when you:
- Ignore your basic needs and desires
- Work long hours
- Work a difficult or demanding job
- Have dissatisfied or ungrateful employers
- Are not being fairly compensated
Though there are many circumstances in which it can occur. So how do you recognize if you’re experiencing nanny burnout?
Some signs you may be burnt out are:
- Chronic fatigue
- Changes in behavior
- Weight gain
- Lack of motivation
- Increased anxiety
Do you relate to this list? If so, we’re here to help you feel your best self again. Because the good news is there are many things you can do to practice self-care as a nanny. It takes a bit of intentionality for both you and your employer, but it’s worth it! Let’s talk about how to avoid burnout as a nanny.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
Saying “no” is something many people struggle with. It’s hard to set and hold to boundaries, even if you know they’re what’s best for you. Because you spend so much time with your employer’s family and your job is so personal, it can be hard to set the boundaries that are necessary for your mental health as a nanny.
We often hear nannies tell us, “I feel so bad”, “I don’t know how to say no”, or “If I say no, what should I tell them?”. We get it.
However, saying “no” without any further explanation is an invaluable skill to learn to avoid overextending yourself. If your employer is asking you to stay late or work over the weekend, you have no obligation to agree. While it’s hard to say “no” in the moment, it’s important to respect boundaries and your mental health in this way. Not being able to say “no” is a major contributor to nanny burnout.
The more you practice this skill, the easier it will become. As you begin to respect your boundaries, your employer often follows your cues and does the same.
Remember to check in with yourself throughout the day.
Just because you’re on the clock doesn’t mean your needs should be ignored. In fact, to do your job well, your needs as a caretaker must be met.
When caring for little children, it feels impossible to get a moment to yourself sometimes. You’re lucky if you get to sit and eat a meal, rather than stealing bites between tasks. But when given the opportunity, it’s important to take a few minutes to eat a proper meal, drink some water, and take a few breaths. Think about yourself: how are you doing? How are you feeling?
Allow yourself to check in, see what your needs are, and how you can meet them.
If you care for babies, take a few minutes to relax while they nap. Read a book, check emails, eat a meal, or do a bit of yoga. Once you’ve taken a couple of minutes to care for yourself, you can tackle the chores that are impossible to do when little ones are awake.
It can take time to figure out how to structure your days so you effectively balance work and your self-care. While fitting yourself in can sometimes feel inconvenient, please don’t ignore it altogether. The children you care for need you to be well cared for too.
Have a detailed work agreement.
One way you can prioritize self-care as a nanny is by entering into a position with a detailed work agreement. Making sure you have adequate paid vacation time, sick days, paid holidays, and guaranteed hours helps you and your employer value your skills and your time and avoids nanny burnout.
It’s easy for employers to take advantage of your flexibility as a nanny, so having an agreement clearly outlining industry-standard benefits is a must for your self-care.
As a placement agency, this is something we assist nannies and families with to ensure everyone is respected and cared for in a new position.
Prioritize yourself in your free time.
If you’re a nanny working 60-hour work weeks, it can be difficult to squeeze in some time for yourself. Even if you do get the time, you often feel too worn out to want to do much, right?
However, it’s imperative to nanny self-care that you take time daily for yourself, whether it’s a five-minute walk or an all-day shopping trip. Self-care looks different for every individual, and your day-to-day self-care may also look different.
There are no rules for what you should do to take care of yourself as long as you are in tune with what you need.
What hobbies do you have? What makes you feel alive and rejuvenated? Fill your cup with those things.
Maybe self-care as a nanny looks like getting a manicure or pedicure, a massage, or spending time with family and friends. Maybe it’s attending a painting class or going on a hike. Maybe filling your cup looks like sitting on the couch and binging your favorite show or taking a long nap.
Whatever self-care looks like to you, prioritize it.
Don’t forget the power of fresh air and exercise.
What are some of the best ways to help toddlers or young children when they start bouncing off the walls, being cranky, or being difficult? Often, it’s taking them outside in the fresh air or getting them to run around and let off some steam.
The same can be true for you, too. In fact, studies show breathing in the fresh air and being out in nature has a positive impact on our mental health. Exercise that induces increased blood circulation can also improve our moods.
The next time you’re feeling anxious or irritable, try getting the kids out of the house to run around, take a walk, or play at the park. Or, if outside isn’t an option, play a game of hide and seek or tag in the house, have a dance party, or have a gymnastics session.
You’ll be surprised how much it helps with nanny burnout.
Families can help, too — here’s how.
Check-in with your nanny often.
Nannies aren’t the only ones that can contribute to their self-care. Families play an important role in avoiding nanny burnout too. One way you can do that as an employer is by checking in with your nanny frequently.
Ask them how they’re doing and see how they’re feeling about their situation. Are they satisfied with their position? Take time to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Remind them how thankful you are for them and how much you appreciate what they do for your family. You don’t always need to give your nanny a gift to let them know you value them. Sometimes, all they need to know is you see them, and they’re doing a good job.
Treat your nanny.
While giving your nanny a gift isn’t always necessary in contributing to their self-care, it can be a great way to show how much you value them. Treating them to a spa day or something you know they enjoy doing is a perfect way to show your nanny you see them and value them. When you give your nanny tickets to their favorite concert or sign them up for a class for their favorite hobby, you let them know you’ve listened and taken the time to get to know them.
If you’re home earlier than expected, let your nanny know they can go home early (without affecting their pay). Offer to pick them up a coffee when you’re getting some. Have them write a list of their favorite snacks so you can keep them at the house. You can do many things as an employer to show you care and avoid nanny burnout.
Respect your nanny’s boundaries.
There are many gray areas in the job role of a nanny, and it’s very easy to pile extra responsibilities on your nanny. One way you can help avoid nanny burnout is by respecting your nanny’s boundaries.
You can do this by creating a concise work agreement at the beginning of employment that outlines exactly what your nanny’s role is. Don’t add unnecessary tasks to your nanny’s workload simply because they’re there and can handle it. Respect what your nanny has been hired to do.
Similarly, don’t expect your nanny to always stay late, arrive early, or work on weekends. While there are special occasions when this may be acceptable, it’s difficult for your nanny to tell you “no,” so try to avoid putting them in this position in the first place. Respect their time off work, and remember they have a life outside of work.
Is your job the right fit?
Nanny burnout is no different than any other profession. Being a nanny is hard work, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Nannies work in someone else’s personal space where they’re not able to find privacy. They are “on” from the time they clock in through the time they go home — entertaining, teaching, and caring for little ones.
Sick kids, bad weather, and nap schedules can interrupt plans and keep nannies cooped up in the house all day. While nannying is a fulfilling job, it’s also a very draining, lonely, and isolating one. Lack of adequate self-care as a nanny and proper support from families leads to burnout. Burnout often leads to needing to find a new job.
As a nanny, prioritizing yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself and for the family you care for. As a family, you can do your part in avoiding nanny burnout by taking the time to show your nanny you value and respect them.
One way to avoid burnout as a nanny is to find a new job position. If you are struggling with a poor work environment and lack of benefits as a nanny, you may be considering a new position. Hello, Nanny! works with professional nannies to advocate for them and ensure they receive the industry benefits they deserve.
If you desire to work with a family who respects you, honors your time, and cares for your mental health, reach out to us. We can’t wait to help you!