Caregiver Reminder: Always be on Alert
Recently an article made news with the headline “Father Blames Nanny for Children’s Drownings.” Whether or not the caregiver was actually a nanny is almost irrelevant (she was reported as both a live-in housekeeper and nanny). The bottom line is that when children are in your care, you must always be on alert.
As nannies, it’s part of your job to keep the children safe and healthy while in your care. It’s also part of the job to be present in the moment, when you are in their company.
How can nannies accomplish these objectives?
- Be aware of your surroundings. If there is a swimming pool in the home where you work, have you confirmed that the gate lock is functioning properly? While nannies aren’t qualified to deem a pool fence or lock safe, they’re definitely responsible for alerting parents to any obvious safety concerns. Consider the level of childproofing in the home you work in and bring any concerns to the attention of your employers.
- Put away your cell phone. When on duty, don’t use the phone or text incessantly. Remember, the parents are paying you to care for their children, not conduct personal conversations. While most employers don’t mind if you make calls or send texts during downtime when the children are napping or at school, when you are with the children, they deserve your full attention.
- Communicate who is in charge. When nannies and employers are at home together, assuming who is in charge can lead to trouble. The nanny may assume that mom’s outside with the kids, but mom may be upstairs in the shower because she thinks the nanny is outside watching them. When together, be sure to check –in and communicate who is responsible for the children.
- Be familiar with current safety recommendations. As with any career, it’s important to be aware of things that affect how you do your job. Subscribe to the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall alerts. Review the American Academy of Pediatrics website for important updates every few months. You’ll gain valuable guidance and information that can help you keep the children in your care safe.
- Strive to engage, rather than entertain the children. Engage is an active word. It requires your participation. Entertain in a passive word. It simply requires you to provide something for the kids to do. Engagement demands your creativity. Entertainment happens due to the creativity of others. Strive to create engaging moments with the children in your care. When you do, it guarantees that you are present in the moment.
- Keep things age-appropriate. When it comes to arts and crafts, games and outings, choose activities that are suitable for the ages of the children in your care. Doing a craft involving small buttons would be great for a seven-year-old, but for a two-year-old who likes putting everything in her mouth, buttons could be a choking hazard.
- Be proactive about keeping kids healthy. Nannies can help keep kids healthy by preventing the spread of germs by enforcing good hand washing habits. Nannies can also model and teach good hygiene principles, like the importance of brushing your teeth properly. During hot, summer months, nannies can offer drinks of water regularly to prevent dehydration. Serving nutritious meals and snacks and providing appropriate opportunities for rest are other ways nannies can help to keep the kids healthy.
It is always devastating when a child is killed, but it’s even more tragic when the death could have been prevented. Don’t risk a child’s health and safety to take personal calls or because you’re afraid to bring a minor safety concern to your employers. Instead strive to always be present and alert. The children deserve your full attention.