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4 Tips for Managing Your Nanny’s Tech Time

Cell phones, smart phones, iPads and other handheld, portable electronic devices are here to stay. They’ve become as much a part of the fabric of American life as clothing, cars, and computers.

But when it comes to the workplace, many employers are concerned about their employee’s overuse of these devices during work hours. Especially and rightly so, nanny employers.

So how can nanny employers ensure that their nanny is providing undistracted care and focused on her job at hand during working hours?

1. Be Realistic

Many nannies work 40 to 60-hour weeks. This means that they are working during banking hours, when their doctor’s office is open and during the normal business hours of many of the companies they engage with. And unlike employees who work outside of the home, nannies rarely have formal breaks where they can make and return calls and taking a morning off to do so isn’t usually convenient for her employers.

Working as nanny can also be isolating, especially in instances where the parents do not let their nanny leave the home with the children in her care to attend outings, playdates and activities with other children and caregivers. Engaging in short communication with other adults during the workday may decrease a nanny’s feelings of isolation which can lead to a reduction in stress and an improved quality of care for your child.

On the other hand, many nannies are also required to plan outings and activities for the children in their care. This often requires research, like confirming the operating hours of a location, getting directions, or coordinating outings with other caregivers. These are work related duties and therefore should be done during work hours.

2. Establish Ground Rules

But having a realistic understanding of your nanny’s need to utilize technology during work hours doesn’t mean allowing open-ended access to personal technology use.

As part of the nanny/family work agreement, a policy for personal technology use should be outlined. For families with young children, this may include allowing their nanny to use electronics during naptime or rest time after all other duties are completed. An ideal policy would include the length and frequency of any calls, appropriate use during work hours and where devices can be safely stored while at work, as well as the consequences for breaking the policy. This policy should always include never talking or texting while driving.

Some families may wish to limit use to emergency or business and work-related communications only, while others may allow for social use if other criteria are met, like the kids are in bed and all other duties are completed. Each family will have their own comfort level with regards to personal technology during the workday and should communicate that clearly and in writing with their provider.

3. Stay Consistent

And remember, asking your nanny to not utilize her phone during the day, then becoming enraged when you call or text her and she doesn’t immediately respond is problematic. This sends mixed messages to your nanny and undermines the policy you worked to create.

If your policy states no cell phone use during work hours and you call her on her cell phone, she may wonder if she should answer. If she answers too quickly, will you assume she had her phone on her and was using it? If she doesn’t answer, will you panic something is wrong? Whatever your policy is, be consistent in adhering to it so that any misunderstanding of the policy will be avoided.

4. Enforce Your Policy

But when technology in being abused during the work day, you must act. If you notice your nanny is spending too much time on her phone or is tethered to her personal electronic devices, say something. Remind her of the policy you agreed to and the consequences for not adhering to it. If abuse of technology use persists, be sure to follow through with disciplinary action as outlined in your policy.

While electronics use in the workplace can be a real problem for nannies and families, it doesn’t have to be. With some common sense guidance, you can assure your nanny provides undistracted care while ensuring she is able to care for herself and personal business when her work hours don’t otherwise allow.

Michelle LaRowe is the executive director of Morningside Nannies, Houston’s award-winning nanny agency, 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year and the lead educator at NannyTraining.com.

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