Working as a nanny can be a stressful job, as nannies often work in isolation, take on tasks far outside the typical job description, and struggle to maintain a healthy nanny/family relationship. Burnout is common, and is harmful to both the nanny and the family she works for. Here are 10 ways a nanny can avoid burnout:
- Don’t take on more than you can handle. Nannies are natural helpers, and usually are more than willing to take on additional tasks as needed. This inherent desire to help is one of the things that make them great caregivers. However, that trait can backfire when they take on more responsibilities and tasks than they have the time and energy to do. Remember, one person can only do so much, so know what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing, and what’s required in your job. If your employer asks you to take on more than you can handle, politely say no.
- Keep the lines of communication between you and your employers open. A stressful nanny/parent relationship can be a huge contributor to nanny burnout. Make it a point to check in with your employers on a regular basis about things that are going on with the kids and things that are going on with the job. Let them know when there’s a problem, and be open to their feedback. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can address issues as they come up. This helps keep job-related stresses at a minimum and helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed and burned out.
- Maintain a life outside of your job. Nannies typically work 45 to 60 hours a week, and when you add on a commute, the schedule can be grueling. It’s not easy to find the time to do things you enjoy, but maintaining a healthy life/work balance is crucial to staying happy on the job. When all you do is work, or think and stress about work, it’s easy to fall into the burnout trap.
- Connect with other caregivers on a regular basis. Being a nanny is a unique job. No one except another nanny can really understand the job’s distinct challenges. By connecting with other nannies in your local area, you’ll have a safe place to turn to for support and resources.
- Develop a regular practice that reduces your stress. Working with children all day can be a stressful endeavor. Find a regular practice that you enjoy that can also help you keep stress at bay, such as meditation, a hand craft like knitting or crocheting, or yoga. It’s not important what the practice is, just that you enjoy engaging in it and that you do it on a regular basis.
- Exercise regularly. Nannies that have a regular exercise routine are better able to handle stress, which is one of the major contributors to burnout. Exercise doesn’t have to be a boring workout at the gym; the best kind of workout is the kind that you love, that helps you build strength and endurance while still having fun. Try hiking, swimming or biking. Explore a kick-boxing or yoga class. It can be challenging to find the time to fit regular exercise into your day but finding a workout that you love to do can make it easier to make it a priority.
- Have a financial cushion. Childcare isn’t a high paying field, and many nannies worry about making ends meet. Financial worries and feeling like you’re not getting paid fairly for the hard work you do can be a big contributor to nanny burnout. To help ease money stresses, build a financial cushion. Save enough money to pay your bills and keep you afloat for at least 4 to 6 months.
- Focus on the things about your job that you love. Every job has both good and bad qualities, but sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up solely in the bad things. After a while, it may seem like there are only bad things. By staying aware of the good things too, you can keep a more balanced, realistic view of your job. You will still have struggles and challenges, but you’ll also have lots of joys and fun moments.
- Avoid working too many hours. The typical nanny job demands more than the usual 40 hour work week. In some jobs, it’s easy for the hours to get out of control without the parents or the nanny realizing it. Before you accept any overtime, make sure you’re leaving yourself enough time to enjoy your friends, family and hobbies. Balance is the key.
- Leave a job when it’s time. Sometimes you’re simply not well suited for a job. Before you enter the burnout stage and your performance starts to suffer, it may be time to leave the position. Although quitting a job is never easy and should be a last resort, sometimes quitting is the best option for both the nanny and the family.
Nanny burnout is a serious thing. By taking precautions against burnout and maintaining a healthy life/work balance, you can stay happy in a position for a long time.