Question: My nanny is hesitant to care for my children when they are sick. What do I do?
Answer: One of the advantages of employing a nanny is that your children will receive the care they need—while healthy or sick—in the comfort of your own home. That said, germ exposure is an issue that affects everyone! As we head into the thick of flu season, I recommend the following:
1) Have a sick policy in place
This would establish specific guidelines that outline scenarios such as when the child is too sick to be cared for by the nanny. For instance, is that point when a fever is present? How high does the fever have to be? Is the child vomiting? Is a rash present?)
2) Determine a policy that applies to both the children AND the nanny
Ask yourself questions such as: is it acceptable for the nanny to work when she has a head cold, but otherwise feels okay? How will you keep germs from spreading?
3) Take a team approach
I recommend active communication and record keeping. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the nanny to make judgment calls, make sure you are accessible to guide her decisions. If you need to call the pediatrician, consider asking the nanny join in on the call.
4) Ask your nanny to keep records
It may have been a while since you recorded your child’s bottle and diaper activity, but when a child of any age is ill, grab a note pad! Track fever readings, medication doses and times, and other important symptoms. This will be helpful if/when you have to speak to the doctor about your child’s health when he/she was with the nanny.
As a reminder, we all have different views when it comes to illness. Some are highly susceptible and are extremely cautious about being exposed to germs. Others have stronger immune systems and less worried about illnesses, making them more relaxed and flexible. Making the mistake of assuming your view is in line with your nanny’s can be cause for uncomfortable conversations down the road. I hope these tips provide a framework for an honest conversation between you and your nanny.
Above all, stay well!