The Nanny Life: Coffee & Socialising On Work Time – Ethical?
(Prioritising personal time) Life working as a nanny (just like most jobs where kids are involved) has its many good days and bad days. There are the days when you feel so much love, warmth and happiness you think your heart might burst. The days when you’re absolutely sure you’re doing exactly what you were destined to do and that things could not be more perfect if you tried. These are the days when the kids you nanny for, your ‘charges’, feel like your own kids. And happily so!
Then there are the days when the baby hasn’t slept all night, won’t eat, is resisting cuddles and fighting off all attempts to settle down for a nap. There are the days when the kids have gooey colds, insist on wiping their snotty faces all over you and think re-papering the floor in dirty tissues for you to pick up is a good idea. And there are the days when the 7-year-old fakes a ‘sicky’ from school, and in doing so foils your plans to get out for a run with the pram whilst bub is sleeping. Although still preferable to when bub is not sleeping.
Then there’s the days when you’ve scheduled to meet a friend for a quick coffee in between errands. The baby’s asleep, your to-do list is done and you’re out anyways. You’ve got a window of opportunity and regardless, you’d still be stopping for coffee. So if you’re meeting a friend, what’s the harm? Besides, a rare conversation with another adult wouldn’t go astray!
Except now you’re loaded with guilt. Because should you really indulge in a personal activity whilst on work time? Should you have told BossMum of your plans and cleared it with her first? Should you adjust your time sheet to account for a 30 minute break? Should you stay back late that night to make up for it? Or should you put forward that maybe the autonomy and freedom has gone to your head because you’re obviously prioritising your own needs over work demands.
It’s an ethical dilemma that I’m sure many of you have faced occasionally, regardless of the career and workforce you’re in. Whether it be running to the post office whilst doing office related errands or stopping at the bank whilst you’re out. It could be heading home early because you’re ‘not feeling well’ when really you have a hairdressers appointment, or simply going the long way back to work from your lunch break so you can window shop the latest fashions.The feeling of guilt is always going to be there, more significantly, it’s how you rationalise it that’s important.
For the nanny life, is it really a wrong move? Because let me tell you, being a nanny is not an easy job. Forget the parenting woes, the grumpy badly behaved children and the long hours, truthfully, one of the hardest and most challenging factors of being a nanny is that it’s isolating. And many others agree, see here, here and here!
As a nanny you go to work in someone else’s home, you don’t have colleagues, you don’t socialize outside of work and you don’t often meet new people. It’s just you and the kids, the house, maybe a pet or two and a constant list of chores and activities each day. Stay at home mums and dads, I feel you! Yes you’ve probably picked up some Spanish thanks to Dora, but unless you’re getting a meaningful two-way conversation regularly, is it really enough?
Further Reading: 5 Things About The Nanny Job (You Probably Didn’t Know)
So should you feel guilty for arranging a coffee date in work hours or for deliberately booking the kids into a particular ballet studio (even if it’s further away) in the off-chance you’ll run into the other nanny that’s also there? Should you feel guilty for dragging the kids out, rain hail or shine, to the park each week? Each week at the exact same time because that’s when the other nannies seem be there and you’d really like the chance to exchange knowing looks and a friendly smile with fellow comrades.
Because can you really be expected to satisfy your needs simply by chatting all day with the baby or with the dog, or by singing Yo Gabba Gabba. Whilst the baby gurgling back to you is super cute, the dog sings along with you, and the brief encounter with the other “mums” at school pick up are all enjoyable, sometimes they just don’t cut it.
So is it wrong to take 30 minutes of personal time whilst on the job? Providing your work isn’t compromised, your attention and priority for the children remain constant and you’re still in work mode, in my opinion there’s nothing to suggest it’s not ok. Yes perhaps you should clear it with your employers and if needed, amend your hours ‘worked’ to match payment, but the act of having a coffee with a friend is not worth suggesting you’re a bad nanny. If anything, it’s helping to keep you satisfied.
If the occasional catch up with a friend leaves you feeling more comfortable with your work/life balance, leaves you happier and able to better manage the rest of your tasks, then I see it being an essential component to ensuring you fulfil your role beyond expectations.
>>> Have you prioritised personal time whilst at work?