Protocol When Your Nanny Gets Sick
Your nanny is amazing: loving, patient, firm but gentle. However, she is not superwoman: she catches a cold or flu from time to time. You don’t want your kids to be exposed to a contagion, so you ask your nanny not to report to work when she’s sick. Crisis averted. But wait! Who is going to watch your kids on your nanny’s sick days? How can you plan for this occasion so as to minimize the disruption to your kids’ lives and your own life as well? You need to develop a protocol for just such an event. Here are a few tips for creating the protocol that’s right for your family.
- Assess your options for alternate caregivers. Is Grandma willing to pinch-hit on those rare days when your nanny is sick? Is the trustworthy stay-at-home dad next door willing to help you out by watching your kids along with his own on occasion? Is your best friend’s collegiate daughter, who is home during summers and holidays, willing to babysit as needed when she is home? Do you have available sick days at work which you can use in this situation? (Some employers may even allow you to bring your children to work on rare occasions.) Do you have access to a good daycare center that you can use with short notice?
- Write down your list of alternate caregivers in descending order of priority. Include their contact information and other relevant data on your list. Other relevant data may include their availabilities (i.e., only during summers and holidays), charges (i.e., the stay-at-home dad charges one bottle of chardonnay for each day that he watches your kids), and special considerations (i.e., Grandma does well during workday babysitting, but she tires more quickly than your kids do and thus may struggle to keep up with your kids if they need to be watched for more than about 9 hours in a day).
- Create and maintain a nanny resource box so that your substitute nanny will have all the information and tangibles needed to watch your kids successfully. A nanny resource box typically contains the following: emergency contact information (i.e., your cellular telephone number, your spouse’s cellular telephone number, your pediatrician’s name and telephone number, and the circumstances under which each of these should be called), a timeline of what to do (i.e., the kids should be taken to school no later than 8:10 a.m. and picked up after school no later than 3:30 p.m.) and where to do it (i.e., the address of the school), medicines, a list of recommended activities to keep the kids happily occupied, a few favorite toys or games, a list of forbidden activities (i.e., television viewing or Internet surfing), a list of appropriate means of disciplining your kids (i.e., time-outs, earlier nap times, etc.), a list of tips on how to establish quick rapport with your kids (i.e., “Janie loves talking about animals.”), a reasonable quantity of the items needed for watching your kids for a day (i.e., some diapers, diaper wipes, a few healthy snacks that are not temperature sensitive nor prone to staining, etc.), a list of where your household essentials can be found (i.e., “extra diapers are found under the bathroom sink, next to the changing table in the bedroom, and, occasionally, right on the living room floor”), and any other information and tangibles that your substitute nanny should have.
Then, when your nanny does call in sick (this is NOT a drill . . . repeat: this is NOT a drill!), you can remain calm because you have a plan in place. You can begin calling your alternates until you find one who is available. You can then provide your substitute nanny with your nanny resource box and have peace of mind in knowing that your kids are in willing, capable, well-informed hands even when their nanny is out sick.