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Tips for Working with Divorced Parents Who Share Custody

We often hear that half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. While that may not be exactly true — the numbers are a little more complicated than that — there’s a good chance that you may end up nannying for divorced parents sometime in your career.

Being a great nanny for any family involves being caring, efficient, and a good communicator, among other skills. The same goes for working with divorced parents. Let’s talk about why you need those skills below.

Communicate with each parent

We’ve mentioned the importance of communication on the blog a few times. You need good communication when you work around parents who are working from home during the pandemic. Good communication will help you navigate the pandemic in general, too.

When you nanny for divorced parents, you’re basically working for two different employers. That means clear, frequent communication is twice as important!

Every nanny and family might have their own unique communication system. It’s up to you and the parents to decide what your primary mode of communication will be: texts, phone calls, or emails. Just decide on a communication system for both parents and stick to it.

For example, maybe you have an ongoing group text with both parents to keep track of things like school updates, doctor’s appointments, big homework projects that are due soon, and so on. You could communicate daily through texts with the appropriate parents, and send weekly updates to both parents through email.

Outline a communication system with both parents. Write it down so everyone can follow it.

Keep track of rules and plans

Like the rules for communication, it’s a good idea to have the expectations for each parent outlined so that everyone is on the same page. You can use a notebook that travels between households, or a Google Doc that everyone can access or update.

Use this to organize:

  • Schedules. Keep track of which house the kids will be at on any given day.
  • Important dates. Plug in family vacations, time off from work, changes to schedules, doctor or dentist appointments, etc.
  • School calendars and plans. Keep track of big school projects, school holidays, or special events like sleepovers or birthday parties.
  • Other important info. Note any items that the kids should have at both homes, or items that they need to bring back and forth, like medication, toiletries, backpacks, or toys.

You can also use this document or notebook to list rules and expectations for each household. How much should the kids be studying during the week? How much screen time are they allowed? How should tantrums or disagreements be handled? Who handles child-related purchases?

Take the initiative

Communication system isn’t working out? Are your other policies like paid time off or running errands with the kids getting too complicated and hard to follow?

Take the initiative and bring it to the attention of the parents. You can even go a step further and have a solution ready that will take care of the issue. (Just be sure to ask them how they’d like to solve things first.)

If something is causing you, the children, or the parents stress, don’t think that bringing up a problem will add to it! The parents will appreciate your attention and willingness to find a solution.

Be there for the kids

Divorce is tough on kids. Remember that they have to adjust to another set of rules and shuttling back and forth between two different homes. They have to get used to their parents having two separate lives.

The children you care for need the comfort and reliability that you can provide. For example, if one parent can’t take the children on their appointed date because of a work emergency, explain to the kids why, but don’t have to go overboard with details. Take note of their reaction and behavior afterward.

Sudden, unexpected changes can make kids with divorced parents feel insecure or anxious. It’s important that you’re reassuring but honest with the kids

Find a family with Preferred ChildCare

Working with divorced parents can be challenging. But if you’re flexible, organized, and a great communicator, you can be an excellent nanny for children of two households.

If you’re searching for a new family in the Triad area, join the Preferred ChildCare team! We get to know each nanny so we can make the best possible match between nanny and family. We’re also here to support you through your career and answer all of your questions.

Apply to Preferred ChildCare now!

For more tips on working with nannies as a parent, follow the Preferred ChildCare blog!

Let us find your perfect nanny.


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