Choosing and Having an In-Home Care Provider: a 6 step process
Step 6: The Relationship and Saying Goodbye
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
As with many other things, this maxim applies well to a healthy care-provider/care-receiver relationship. Having someone daily in your home is a very intimate thing. They may see you early in the morning when you haven’t had time to compose yourself, or may see you at the end of a very stressful day when you may be a bit short tempered. If you are receiving care during the early postpartum period they may witness you experiencing a whole gambit of emotions and amidst a very intense time of change, they may be with you during the intimate act of breastfeeding or counseling your child; given the nature of providing care in your home an in-home care provider may be witness to otherwise private moments between you and your family. In some cases this involvement in intimate moments of the day may serve to strengthen your bond with your care provider. In other cases it may create feelings of being invaded or exposed. Should you, at any time, feel as if a private moment has been interrupted by the presence of your in-home care provider, or feel a sense of invasion address this feeling immediately. When working in someone’s home the line of privacy can often be very vague and every family is different in regards to how they function around an outside person, even the most tenured in-home care provider can unintentionally step on toes. Here are a few preventative steps which may help to secure your own lines of privacy and security:
Define space: if there are any rooms in the house you would rather not be entered be sure to keep the doors closed and communicate your wishes. If your child generally naps in your bedroom but you would rather not have your bedroom entered consider changing your child’s nap space prior to beginning in-home care.
Schedule carefully: if you find you are embarrassed to be caught in your pajamas or if the arrival of your care provider seems to be interrupting or adding chaos to a daily transition such as getting an older child ready for school, politely request that your care provider arrive a bit later. Some care providers may, out of courtesy, arrive 15 minutes early so as to provide transition time, if you have calculated transition time into your required start time communicate this and request that they arrive no sooner than the agreed start time. Contrarily if they are quick to leave upon your arrival and you would prefer they stay for a while to chat about your child’s day, schedule to arrive home before your agreed conclusion time or ask to extend your agreed upon conclusion time. Often care-providers may be serving more than one family in a day or may have a personal appointment, always remember to be as respectful of their personal time as you expect them to be of yours.
Communicate personal levels of privacy: if you are, in general, a private person, communicate this clearly with your care provider. Many women find that when nursing privacy goes out the window, to reserve your private times consider delegating tasks during nursing times such as asking your care-provider to prepare a meal or help with family laundry in another room. Be clear that you prefer they knock and announce their presence or wait for your invitation before entering a room you may be nursing in.
In all of this communication is the key, every family has their own unique patterns and preferences which have been created and maintained for a long time, having a stranger participate in your family’s daily life may bring light to behaviors and patterns you may not have even been aware of. Never be uncomfortable about communicating any small problem and try to avoid assuming that with time the care-provider will figure things out on their own. Take the initiative because after all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you have to unexpectedly end care refer to the agreed upon arrangements in your contract, there is a reason why you talked over them in the beginning. Maybe you unexpectedly lost your job, or perhaps the care-provider just isn’t working out for you, maybe upon returning to work you find you’ve changed your mind and would rather return to being a stay-at-home parent, or a preferred care option has come up such as a relative moving into town. Whatever the reason, respect the agreement made with your care-provider. In most cases any early termination of service requires a 2-week notice or an agreed upon compensation. By having previously made arrangements for any unexpected changes you have, hopefully, avoided any hurt feelings or misunderstandings. Be clear about your reasons, fulfill your agreement and perhaps offer to write a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference. Realize than an abrupt change in care will also affect your child, prepare for any transition such as having a transition week where care is shared between your previous and new care providers, or schedule time for the family member to provide care along side your previous care-provider. Do what you can to respect that a relationship has been formed between your child and the care-provider and saying goodbye may be difficult for all involved regardless of the circumstances.
If your relationship has been positive and healthy and has run it’s natural course you may feel like your family and your children are losing a close friend. While your care-provider may no longer be a part of your daily family life it is still possible to maintain a relationship, perhaps schedule date nights when your previous nanny or mother’s helper can spend an evening with your children; invite your previous care-provider to birthday parties or other celebrations; if your relationship has ended due to a move, start up a pen-pal relationship. This change may be the first of many for your child so work with your care-provider to form a plan on how everyone will work together to help this saying goodbye be smooth for your child.
See Steps 1-5 here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
About the author
Celina Wigle is a Postpartum Doula and Infant Multiples Relief Nanny. Since 2000 she has provided care for over 60 families as a nanny, babysitter, mother’s helper, teacher, and doula. She received a degree in writing from PSU in 2006. More about her background and services can be viewed at www.celinawigle.com