How many childminders will the average child have in their lifetime? It’s likely over a dozen. Life happens and it brings different people into our circles at different times—which includes minders.
If you ask most parents, almost all will say they’re interested in hearing about a new, reliable nanny. That’s because in the back of our mind we know it’s a transient role. (Note: permanence doesn’t equal importance.) Schedules change, locations change, priorities change. It’s good to have a strong list of nannies you can call.
That said, children crave stability. It’s important to take time and care to properly introduce any new person into their life, even if it’s just for a single night out.
The best way to help break the ice between your child/ren and the new sitter is to break the ice between the two of you beforehand. Schedule interviews over the phone or in-person. Don’t rush these. Yes, it’s time for you to make sure they’re qualified, but it’s also time to build a rapport with the person that’ll be taking care of your child/ren. Building your own relationship with the minder will make it easier for you to introduce them to potentially nervous or shy little ones.
Adults like to have information on any new people we’re about to spend time with. Children are no different. Before the scheduled sitting, talk about the childminder with your little one. Share their name, what they’re like, and other bits of information you learned during your interviews. Then spend some time talking about things they might like to do together.
On the day of the sitting, make sure you build-in time to walk-through the routines and any extra details that’ll be helpful (where the games are, child-friendly snacks, art supplies, etc.). Try to avoid asking a new nanny to arrive the moment you need to be walking out the door. That timing can be stressful and affects everyone involved. For first sittings, plan to spend up to 30 mins getting everyone introduced. You can even get your child/ren involved. Sometimes, a task (like showing the nanny where the games are) will help break the ice with a new person.
Once the new childminder is settled into the house, don’t prolong the goodbyes. At this point, you’ve done the work to make sure you and the nanny are comfortable and set to move on. Nothing throws a spanner in that works like long, lingering goodbyes. If it’s the first time you’re leaving your child/ren with a new nanny, this might be the hardest part, but it’s important to keep it brief. A quick, confident goodbye sends signals that everything is, and will be ok.
Setting things and activities your child/ren loves out will help make the goodbyes quick. For babies, that’s familiar items and pacifiers. For toddlers and older children, it’s the activities they love to do, but don’t always get the chance to do. Think about some of the things that need supervision. i.e. science experiments, play dough, games, etc.
When a nanny is new, it’s good for you to take some extra steps to help them build a bond with your child and guide them toward things they’ll like to do together. A good nanny will start to learn and plan fun activities on their own, but that takes time and knowing who you’re planning for.
Overall, transitioning to a new childminder smoothly just takes a little planning and forward-thinking. It starts with opening the lines of communication and talking to multiple nannies to find the one that fits your family best.