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How to Increase Your Nanny’s Job Satisfaction

How to Increase Your Nanny’s Job Satisfaction
  1. If you’ve taken the time and done the work involved in locating and hiring a nanny, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your nanny is happy and wants to stay. If your nanny is feeling burned out from the rigors of the job, she may decide to quit, or you may notice her performance suffering and have to release her.
  2. Either way, it’s a losing proposition for everyone concerned. The nanny has to find a new job, you have to find a new nanny, and your children aren’t getting the optimal care.

    Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your nanny happy on the job and minimize the possibility she’ll leave. We’ll explain the signs to watch out for and offer some helpful tips.

    Signs Your Nanny May Be Burning Out:

    While everyone has an occasional bad day, if you notice your nanny regularly exhibiting the following behaviors, it may be a warning sign she’s feeling overwhelmed by her job.

    Changes in Behavior

    Sudden changes in behavior may be a sign your nanny is burning out. Things to watch for include irritability and impatience. If you notice these changes in your nanny’s conduct, ask your spouse or friends if they think she seems distracted, or if they notice she doesn’t seem to be paying attention when she’s with your child.

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    Fatigue

    If your nanny was once a bundle of energy while taking the kids back and forth to school and running errands, but now she’s tired all the time, or seemingly disinterested, she may be burned out.

    Unhappy Kids

    Your nanny was doing a great job, but now your child seems unhappy or upset when spending time with her, this could be a sign something is wrong.

    Unreliability

    If your once-responsible and reliable nanny is suddenly tardy, starts calling in sick, misses appointments, or is no longer available to work occasional extra hours, she may be near the end of her rope, as far as the job is concerned.

    Preventing Burnout:

    The nature of a nanny’s job attracts people who like to help others. Because this is a nanny’s predisposition, she may find it hard to say ‘no’ to requests. If she starts feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work she’s expected to do, she’ll eventually burn out. Here are some tips to increase your nanny’s job satisfaction.

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    Preventing Job Creep

    “Job creep” is a term used to describe the gradual expansion of a nanny’s duties and responsibilities, which can grow to the point where they become overwhelming. Because the addition of new duties is gradual, the employer may not realize how much has been added to a nanny’s workload. If your nanny is experiencing job creep, she may become overwhelmed and want to leave.

    The key to preventing job creep is to respect your nanny’s boundaries. A written contract will delineate your nanny’s responsibilities and clarify her rights. Since new tasks need to be added to the written contract, this process in itself can help make an employer more mindful of the nanny’s workload.

    The contract should be clear, and include:

    • Daily duties
    • How the nanny will be paid, and how often
    • Working hours
    • Length of contract
    • Length of time each party requires to be notified about schedule changes
    • Tax, health, and other benefit information
    • The process involved in terminating the contract (verbal warning, written letter, etc.)
    • Household privileges, such as car, phone, internet, or TV
    • Information on driving, including which car to use, how gas will be paid for, etc.

    Open Communication

    You’re busy. That’s one of the reasons you hired child care help. Make some time to talk to your nanny and check in with her a couple of times a year to discuss how the job is going; this will allow you to make necessary course corrections. Ask her how her life is going outside of the job. She’ll appreciate it.

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    Recognize Her Good Performance

    Just like everyone else, your nanny wants to feel appreciated for her work. Praise her for a job well done. Let her know when she’s gone above and beyond the call of duty. Combine the ‘thank you’ with a small gift, such as a session at a local massage center or a gift card to her favorite store or restaurant.

    Respect Your Nanny

    Your nanny deserves to be treated with respect, and as an equal. She’s a trusted employee, not a servant.

    Keep the Relationship Professional

    Your nanny is an employee who works in your home, not your best friend. While there’s nothing wrong with being friendly, there’s a line you shouldn’t cross. Don’t say anything to your nanny you wouldn’t say to a co-worker at your job.

    Respect Working Hours

    If you’re out and are supposed to return home at a specific time but know you’re going to be late, call your nanny and let her know.

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    Pay Your Nanny on Time

    Forgetting to pay your nanny on payday or to pay her for overtime sends a signal that you don’t care. Using a nanny payroll company with direct deposit simplifies this process for you and means your nanny won’t have to run to the bank every payday to deposit her check.

    Give Her a Free Hand

    No one likes to be micromanaged. A little autonomy goes a long way toward promoting a good relationship and job satisfaction.

    Fund Expenses in Advance

    Expenses that arise in the course of the day may include things such as gas, meals, groceries, and activities. Your nanny shouldn’t be required to pay for these expenses and wait for you to reimburse her. Set up a petty cash jar for expenses or give the nanny a check card or credit card to for this purpose. Responsibilities regarding expenses should be spelled out in the employment agreement.

    Give Her a Break

    Everyone appreciates a little break now and then. Keep nanny burnout in check with an occasional paid day off. Your nanny will appreciate the gesture and get a chance to unwind. Think of it as a mini-vacation.

    Keep the Lines of Communication Open

    A large part of your nanny’s job satisfaction is based on good communication. You need to have reasonable, clearly expressed expectations. You should praise the nanny for a job well done and give and receive feedback. This will go a long way toward making sure your nanny is happy with her work environment, which in turn will make you a satisfied employer. Follow our tips and you’re likely to have a mutually beneficial, harmonious relationship with your nanny.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via shutterstock.com

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Kathleen Webb

Co-Founder, HomeWork Solutions

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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